Brazen Life Personal development meets professional aspiration Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Copyright © Brazen Life 2011 (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) (Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life) 1440 Brazen Life 144 144 Personal development meets professional aspiration. Personal development meets professional aspiration. So there’s this awesome job, the sort of job you’d just die to land (and tell your friends about)! But the awesome job isn’t nearly like the job you have now. So how do you make it from current job to awesome job? In our podcast series, we’re hoping to provide insights and answers to that very question. We talk to young people who have amazing jobs or are doing something really cool and interesting and ask them how they did it. So listen along for good information and some inspiration, too. job, search, jobs, career, advice, job, hunt, networking, Gen, Y, interviews, millennials Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life Jaclyn Schiff, Managing Editor of Brazen Life no no How to Convince Your Boss to Invest in New Recruiting Technology Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Is your company ready for new recruiting technology? Here are a few tactics you can use to get the executives on board -- and willing to foot the bill.

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Recruiting is a unique mix of technology and humanity. With so many changes recently, the basic applicant tracking systems we’ve relied on for years no longer make the cut.

Broad talent management software provides limited recruiting capabilities, and without programs to source talent, organize referrals and track progress, the comprehensive, candidate-centric recruiting functionality recruiters need is incomplete.

While it seems like an obvious necessity for any recruiter, such an extensive recruiting platform can be a hard sell. Executives not involved in everyday recruiting tasks often believe an enterprise suite will solve all problems, but as recruiting becomes more and more like marketing, closing deals with candidates — and not just posting jobs and scheduling interviews — is high priority.

Now that recruiting has the greatest business impact of any HR function, executives should pay attention. To give them the push they need to embrace new recruiting technology (and foot the bill), here are four tips for getting your C-suite on-board: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Get a sponsor

Once you’ve decided it’s time for a recruiting platform upgrade, finding an ally in your company is the first step. Determine who else in your company might have the most at stake: Do you have a technical leader in need of key players on the IT team? How about a sales manager looking to grow their team before a big launch?

Isolate which members of your company’s ecosystem stand to benefit from fresh talent and make your case to them first. Getting as many allies as possible will benefit you in the long run and help your executives understand how far-reaching a comprehensive recruiting platform can take the company.

2. Understand your ROI

For your business-minded C-suite, hard numbers matter. To get your execs on board, make your case by showing the measurable upside to investing in a recruiting platform upgrade — and the measurable downside. Demonstrate how the right technology can help you conserve time, increase productivity, reduce costs and secure the best hires.

For example, if your company finds value in referrals, explain to your executives that referrals are hired faster, so they can understand why a solution that facilitates referrals will enhance efficiency and cut time-to-hire.

Or, if your executives are concerned with the longevity of candidates, tell them that employees hired by referral stay with a company longer than those hired through other sources, helping them see why a comprehensive platform is essential for pinpointing long-term hires.

Ask your executives what their priorities are, and do your research into why an upgrade would address those issues. That way, you can select the perfect recruiting partner for your hiring efforts.

3. Involve IT early on

Thinking about IT before you’ve even picked a recruiting platform might feel a bit counterintuitive. After all, now that most recruiting platforms are available in the cloud, they require less maintenance, are less expensive and are more accessible to both recruiters and candidates. Even product updates are fully streamlined, so you can be sure your recruiting platform is constantly up-to-date.

But your IT department might have plenty of concerns around security, data and downtime when they implement a new system, so be sure your new recruiting platform has all bases covered. Make sure your IT team is comfortable early on by explaining the benefits of a new system, and go over critical infrastructure requirements to select the best possible option.

4. Leverage data to measure success

Because many companies rely on data to make business decisions and drive strategy, finding a recruiting platform that can capture relevant data and create the required reports has never been more crucial. Analysts and industry experts have faith in the value of data in recruiting.

What data actually matters? Your recruiting platform should be able to track applications and hires — along with their productivity — by source, so you know where your best talent comes from and where to concentrate efforts.

Plus, keeping track of your referred employees helps you evaluate the value and longevity of your employee referral program. Finally, use the success of any nurture campaigns you conduct among prospective candidates to evaluate which messages work best. If you can’t analyze, customize and apply your data, measuring the success of your recruiting program becomes harder.

As the dynamics of the recruiting industry continue to evolve, recruiters are turning to a customizable, candidate-centric recruiting solution to secure quality talent. Unfortunately, getting your executive suite on board — and ready to spend — is a bit of an uphill battle.

If you recruit strategic allies, do your research and incorporate data, you can easily build a strong case that’s sure to bring your executives to your side.

Kimberley Kasper is the Chief Marketing Officer at Jobvite and responsible for all areas of marketing including marketing communications, programs, and operations. She has spent over 20 years working for SaaS and cloud technology companies. You can find her on LinkedIn.

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10 Hacks for Using for Your Job Search Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 An online job search expert offers her insider tips for using to fine-tune your search and find the right jobs.

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Whether you’ve been looking for a new job for five minutes or five months, you have one thing in common with every other job seeker on the planet: You’ve visited at least once.

Love it or hate it, Indeed is one of the most popular search engines for job seekers. It’s a powerful search engine with the muscle, intelligence and flexibility to help you find just about every open position out there — which can also be overwhelming and problematic, leaving you exactly where you started: Still wanting a new job, but lost as to how to find the right opportunities.

Indeed’s search results will vary from day to day or even hour to hour as new jobs open and others close. The job that was open yesterday morning may not be listed today. Of course, the reverse is also true — you found nothing in your search yesterday, but today could be your lucky day because an employer (or several of them) posted new jobs that are just up your alley.

If you don’t find that perfect-fit job today, try again later today, tomorrow, next week or next month. You can also set up an Indeed “Job Alert,” to be notified via email as soon as positions that meet your selection criteria are posted.

Basic keyword search 101

Like any other search engine, there’s an art to searching Indeed. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Take a search for an office manager position. Type those two words into the search bar, and you’ll get jobs that contain both the words “office” and “manager” in no particular order. Some postings may have those words side-by-side or in two different places. The “manager” and “office” aspects of the job could be completely unrelated to each other.

So, results might include jobs like “Product Support Front Line Manager, New York office” or “Bookkeeper/Office Manager.” You might also get results that include the words “office” and “manager” just about anywhere in the job description.

This simple search is best used when you want to find jobs or employers requiring a specific degree (like BS or MBA), a professional designation (like CPA), a certification (like PMP) or something similarly specific that contains only one distinct word. Then the results could be useful to you regardless of where the term appeared, in the job title or in the description.

Shortcuts to narrow your search to jobs relevant to you

These search shortcuts will help you cut through the noise find exactly the positions you’re looking for. All these hacks apply only to’s “what” search box. Add your preferred location to the “where” box, or leave “where” empty to see what’s available across the country.

1. Enclose phrases within quotation marks

To tell Indeed to search a specific phrase, enclose the words in quotation marks.

  • Are you looking for your first job or changing careers? This search will be helpful to you, no matter where the words appear in the job posting: What -“entry level”
  • Do you know exactly the job you hope to land? Put that job title in quotes and search away: What -“office manager”
  • Do you have amazing Microsoft Office chops to bring to the table? Use this search to find jobs that meet your skill set: What -“Microsoft Office”

2. Specify job titles

You can also search for specific job titles on Indeed. Pretty simply, too. Just add the word “title” followed by a colon: What -title: accountant

Indeed will then search only the titles of postings. Remove the title:, and the search engine will also look for those words in both the job title and the body of the job description.

3. Specify job titles that are phrases

Since there are so many different types of accountants, ask Indeed to find exactly the ones you want. For this example, let’s use tax accountant.

If the job title is a phrase, like tax accountant, combine Hack # 1 and Hack # 2 to be more specific: What -title: “tax accountant”

In this case, you’re telling Indeed you want to only see jobs with titles that include the words “tax accountant.”

4. Identify your target employers

Like specifying the job titles you want, you can also tell Indeed to find your target employers. Similar to the way you tell Indeed to find specific job titles for you, have Indeed search for jobs with a specific employer by typing in the company name.

For example, let’s say you want to work for XYZ Company. You’re curious about what job openings they have right now. To find open jobs at XYZ Company, use this query: What – company: “XYZ Company”

5. Find a specific job title at a target employer

Combine Hack # 3 and Hack # 4 to find specific job titles with a target employer. So, if you wanted to be a tax accountant for XYZ Company, your query would look like this. What -title: “tax accountant” company: “XYZ Company.”

6. Find jobs that require a specific skill set

Maybe you’re trying to figure out which jobs are best for you by exploring job titles used to describe people who have similar skills. Or maybe you just want to see jobs that require a specific skill set you have or are considering acquiring.

In this example, we’ll assume you’re curious which employers need people with social media skills. So, you would do this search: What - “social media”

7. Search specific job titles plus a skill set or industry

You know exactly the job you want, and you’re looking for that job with a specific skill set included. So, if you wanted to find executive assistant jobs in the real estate industry, you would combine a job title search with a keyword search.

That search would look like this: What -title: “executive assistant” “real estate”

8. Search specific job titles minus something you hate to do

Say you want an administrative assistant job, but you don’t want to be the receptionist, too.

To find the admin assistant jobs that exclude those with receptionist duties in the descriptions, your search would look like this: What – title: “administrative assistant” -receptionist

9. Search specific job titles at specific companies, minus something you hate to do

In this example, you’ve decided you want that administrative assistant job (without receptionist duties) at our mythical XYZ Company. Your search would look like this: What -title: “administrative assistant” -receptionist company: “Example Company”

10. Try Indeed’s “Advanced Job Search” to drill down further

To refine your search results even more, try Indeed’s Advanced Job Search. You can specify estimated salary ranges, job type (full-time, part-time, contract, internship or temporary), and other interesting options.

Susan P. Joyce is an online job search expert observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Susan is editor and publisher of and Follow her on Twitter at @JobHuntOrg for more job search tips.

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Here’s How to Get the Most Out of Your MBA Program Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Don’t tackle that MBA without first asking yourself these key questions and learning to get the most out of your business school investment.

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MBA programs are all designed with the same goal in mind — to turn out well educated, ready-to-lead MBAs. But not all MBA students are created equal, as evidenced by that mid-career professional looking to launch into the next phase, the young college grad planning to enter the workforce with that all-important master’s in hand, and the entrepreneur who recognizes that while experience can be a great teacher, she can also be an expensive one that could use a little formal education as a supplement.

Would completing the same program, in the same way, benefit all three of them equally? Of course not. And neither does it benefit you. Follow these five tips to personalize your MBA and to maximize your investment: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Figure out why you are enrolled in an MBA program

Duh. This sounds like a no-brainer, but have you done it? I mean, really done it. If you haven’t, do it now, before you enter the first class. Sit down and evaluate your goals.

Are you looking for a promotion? Do you want to improve your skills for the position you’re already in? Do you want to earn more money? Start a business? Find a new opportunity? What do you imagine happening once you graduate? Is that goal attainable? Or are you going back to school because because your employer will pay for it, so why not do it?

No matter what your goal is, you have a long, hard road ahead, so make sure that is clear in your mind before you embark.

2. OK, you know why you are going back (or continuing to go) to school. It’s time to start

Look at your options. Do you want to go to evening classes? Weekend intensives? Online? A combination? Or full-time? Refer to No. 1: Assess your goal (and your current situation, of course). The in-class setting does add time to your schedule — commute time, waiting time, break time — but it also adds something that can be hard to get online: networking.

Yes, your MBA is all about improving yourself, but would it benefit your business to get to know other professionals looking to improve themselves? For the entrepreneur, any answer but “yes” should be seriously reexamined.

For the college grad, same thing. Who better to refer you to an open position than someone who knows that you have a stellar education? For others, consider your position and whether you handle outside business and clients. If so, consider at least a combination of classroom and online courses.

3. What’s your field of expertise? Marketing, finance, HR, management

An MBA program will expose you to all facets of business administration, but most programs also offer the ability to add an emphasis. Sound good? Well, take a look first at the added investment — those extra credit hours equal more time and more money. Do you really need that emphasis? If your employer is paying, and you have the time, it may be worth it. If not, look at ways to customize your courses to get the most out of your field of interest.

If you’re in marketing, and you’re taking that required accounting class, how do the two relate? Consider this: Great marketing is all about improving the bottom line. Use the time in your accounting course to understand the relationship between income and expenses, and your role in that. Successful marketers know how to balance budget and ROI, so take advantage of this opportunity to get the “behind the scenes” look at what the people who write your checks see. And then be sure to use that knowledge!

4. Get to know your instructors

Many MBA courses feature an asset that can be under-utilized: successful professionals who are in the position that you are enrolled to attain right at your fingertips.

One of the best ways to personalize your MBA is to form relationships with those instructors who strike a chord with you. Maybe they work directly in your field, maybe they have relationships that can help advance you, or maybe they’re just really great people who genuinely like to help others succeed. You may find a friend, a future employer, a referral source or a mentor — and they are standing right in front of you.

5. Ask to adjust assignments

This is a great benefit to getting to know your instructors. You are not just like the person sitting next to you. You’re unique, and so are your goals. Whenever possible, ask if you can tailor your assignments so that you can get the most out of the experience.

Let’s go back to the marketing/accounting example. You’ll have to do the basics, of course. But if you could also enlist your instructor to help you design an assignment that would teach you how to demonstrate the relationship of a marketing expenditure to the bottom line of your organization, you’ll come out of school not just with a degree, but with a serious competitive advantage.

An MBA can be an asset, a necessity, or a stepping stone, but when you personalize your experience and take control of your education, it is guaranteed to set you up to succeed.

Amanda Aschinger has worked with just about every type of person, business and entity imaginable. When she isn’t out telling great stories on video and film, she enjoys writing them. Amanda is a serial entrepreneur and a lover of great businesses.

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Live in San Fran? Here’s How to Launch Your Sales Career Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 If you live in or near San Francisco, love the idea of launching your career in sales and want to work for a company consistently ranked in the top 100 “Best Companies to Work For,” we’ve got an event for you.

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If you live in or near San Francisco, love the idea of launching your career in sales and want to work for a company consistently ranked in the top 100 “Best Companies to Work For,” we’ve got an event for you.

Intuit’s Demandforce is hosting a fun online event to hire rock stars for their Account Executive roles. It’s on Thursday, August 5 from 1-3pm PT.

Learn more about the event and register here »

At this online hiring event, you’ll chat directly with Intuit recruiters to learn more about the role, and get the inside scoop on what it’s like to work for Intuit. You’ll be matched in timed chats with Intuit recruiters while they see information about your awesome background. And if they think you could be a fit for the role, you’ll hear from them about next steps.

Here’s what Intuit says about this event:

We are looking for people who want to grow within the Company and become the next top sales executive. Our sales team is energetic, positive, competitive, and excited to be part of one of the fastest growing companies in the Bay Area.

Register now for this exciting event and get your foot in the door! Register here »

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Want More Productive and Less Stressed Employees? Try This Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Your employees’ debt is not just bad news for their credit score -- it’s bad for business because it distracts them from their work.

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You help your employees work through business challenges and take an active interest in their professional growth. So why should you care if your top performer spends $20 on spider rolls for lunch every day?

Financial stress can have a profound impact on your employees’ ability to focus, manage work-related stress and be productive on the job.

According to a recent study, nearly half of American full-time workers say they spend work time worrying about personal finances. Twenty-nine percent said they manage financial issues on the job, and 46 percent admit to doing so up to 2-3 hours per week.

While most wellness programs focus on physical fitness, stress management, preventive care and chronic disease management, they often ignore financial health — a factor that can be the primary cause of stress and distraction.

If you’re ready to help your employees get their financial health in order, follow these seven simple and relatively hands-off steps. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1.  Know where you stand

Measure the levels of stress your workforce is under and investigate the causes. Many Fortune 500 companies give employees comprehensive assessments of personal, organizational and financial health.

Make sure to tailor your assessment to the specific needs of your company and your employees. Questions like “I am satisfied with my current financial situation,” “I live paycheck to paycheck,” or “Financial stress is taking a toll on me,” will give you a sense of the pulse of your workforce.

2.  Educate, encourage and force choice about 401ks

Saving for retirement with a 401k is one of the most painless paths to financial health. 401ks (or their nonprofit equivalents 403bs) are generally a gentle way to broach financial health with employees. You can teach key financial principles like paycheck discipline, tax-avoidance, tax-deferral and the time-value of money.

Most companies have an annual meeting around enrollment dates that lightly touch on why people should invest early. But after that, it’s up to employees to invest.

Do more. Offer online challenges with short videos. Provide success stories from retiring employees, offer small incentives beyond matches and consider offering or increasing matching amounts.

Research shows that 401k investments increase radically if you force employees to choose whether they want in or out. Don’t make your default “don’t invest.” Instead, set up 401k auto-enrollment and force employees to opt out.

3.  Teach people how to invest

Again, most 401k vendors will offer yearly orientations. But a one-hour session with a financial salesperson won’t do much to teach employees about the complex art of investing.

Bring in an independent voice quarterly or bi-monthly who can explain some or all of the following:

  • Asset allocation
  • Risk mitigation
  • How 401ks, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) work
  • How to avoid hidden fees
  • How to compare investment vehicles
  • How to speak the alien language of investing

How many of your employees know what dollar cost averaging is and how it relates to them losing money on their investments? This can be done cost-effectively using webinars or video conferencing.

4.  Offer workshops about financial basics

Bring in experts to hold informal, fun workshops in-person or online.

These sessions can walk the fine line between informational and invasive, but if they’re done well by credentialed professionals with transparent financial motives, they can change lives.

Plus, financial literacy is a business skill that employees can apply elsewhere at work.

5.  Introduce the IRS

Demystifying taxes helps employees avoid those stressful surprises that steal focus from work. The IRS as an abstract concept is terrifying. Bring in a tax expert to tell people what they should do when they suddenly owe money to take the fear and loathing out of taxes.

HR should make sure to “lawyer up” on some simple disclaimers here, by the way.

6.  Teach stress management skills

Without these skills, employees can enter a dark cycle of despair. Which is a shame considering there are literally hundreds of free and low-cost services that offer a free hour or two with a financial counselor to help people get started down the path to fixing their financial problems.

When employees do get in trouble, lean on your Employee Assistance Plans, many of which offer financial and related stress management counseling.

7.  Focus on HOW people deal

Let’s face it — life is stressful. You can’t just give everyone a raise to reduce financial stress. Even if you could, financial worries don’t vanish when wallets fatten. Stress — financial or otherwise — is a condition of life that can be addressed with simple, positive behavioral approaches.

Help your employees get support from friends, family and professionals if needed by launching stress-relief challenges in your wellness or employee engagement programs.

While the concept of integrating financial wellness into broader employee programs may be new and scary to HR and Benefits departments, offering a program that includes financial stress tools, assessments, advice and support can be a game-changer.

Connecting your bottom line to that of your employees isn’t always easy, but it’s important. And smart.

Henry Albrecht is CEO and co-founder of Limeade, an enterprise wellness platform, and has led the company from an idea in his basement to a leading national engagement, wellness and incentive management company. He previously spent several years in the financial well-being business with leading financial management company Intuit.

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10 Networking Tips from Your Grandfather That Still Apply Today Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Your grandparents may be old-fashioned, but when it comes to building their network, they know their stuff. Here’s what you can learn from them.

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In today’s fast-paced world of branded personal narratives and social media blitzes, it can be hard to slow down. You live in the golden age of ceaseless self-promotion, but that doesn’t mean your every exhale needs to contain a horn-tooting statement nor your every keystroke a mini press release.

Yet, to many people, this is exactly what the word “networking” implies: an all-out firestorm of meeting and greeting, everything delicately iced with your signature brand of modest self-congratulation. It’s no surprise you’ve spent years shying away from the process. Who wants to deal with all that?

Well, the good news is that this is a misperception. Done right, networking needn’t be stressful or feel sleazy. Instead, take a cue from good old Grandpappy, and apply a more old-fashioned approach to this sometimes daunting chore. Check out these 10 tips for ways to start building your network authentically and worry-free. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Be on time

Punctuality always helps to make a great first impression. But being on time can reward you in more ways than one. For instance, Entrepreneur recommends showing up early for conferences and events. That way, you get a chance to scope out the scene before the crowds roll in and can easily find other people to connect with.

2. Don’t discount anyone

The idea of networking is frightening. In response, we tend to take a fear-based approach, only listing someone as a potential contact if a) we know them pretty well and b) they owe us one. Instead, make a list of everyone you know. That way you won’t miss someone who could help you.

3. Be formal

All right, so “To Whom It May Concern” has gone the way of the dinosaur. But people still appreciate formality and may take umbrage if you use their first names uninvited. To avoid looking presumptuous, use last names until otherwise informed, along with a “Mr.” or “Ms.” Avoid using “Mrs.” unless you happen to know the lady in question is married.

4. Celebrate good times

In the old days, people celebrated their clients’ wins and triumphs, marriages and babies, successful ventures and new launches. Grab some small-town spirit and send congratulatory notes to those in your network. It’s a great way to connect and put yourself back on their radar.

5. Get to the point

Granddaddy didn’t mess around, so why should you? If you’ve got a question to ask, ask it. State the nature of the favor you’d like instead of beating around the bush and hoping someone will suggest it. Get to the point: Everyone appreciates it.

6. Be strategic

Networking shouldn’t resemble a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Make a plan, then follow it. For instance, you might start by making a list of the contacts you regularly turn to, then broaden that list with online contacts you don’t know quite as well. Next on the strategic agenda: cold-calling.

7. Give like there’s no tomorrow

You’re not in kindergarten, but the golden rule still applies. If you want someone to do something for you, be generous in turn. Helping people is a great way to get noticed, so make introductions and do small favors whenever you can. Especially when giving costs you nothing, as is the case with a short positive review or testimonial, it’s a savvy thing to do.

8. Follow up

Although “following up” can seem synonymous with “badgering the heck out of,” that’s not true. When you wait a respectful amount of time before checking back in with a potential employer, client or contact, you appear conscientious and organized. Just don’t go overboard: If someone doesn’t get back to you after two attempts, beat a quiet retreat.

9. Keep it local

Your grandfather often didn’t have much of a choice, but you do. While networking outside your area isn’t off the table, you may get further in your hometown. Equal opportunity is a nice idea, but in reality, people like to help others in their own community. Plus, when it comes to the job search, employers usually respond better to applicants who don’t have to move.

10. Be polite

Good manners consist of more than “please” or “thank you.” They also require that you respect the time, interests and energy of others. If you’re pitching an idea, for instance, check in with phrases such as “Would you like to hear more?” This tells your listener that you care about them and value their opinion, which increases your chances of actually getting a yes.

Sarah Beth Moore is a freelance writer and web designer living in the Pacific Northwest. She has a master’s degree in education as well as journalism, and blogs at

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What Big Data Could Mean for the Future of Recruiting Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Big data is transforming our lives in a lot of ways, and now it’s moving on to HR. Does this mean our current recruiting methods will soon become obsolete?

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Can you imagine a world where you don’t have to sift through piles of resumes? Where a small list of qualified candidates lands on your desk, waiting for you to make the final hiring decision?

With the growth of big data, this isn’t some futuristic fantasy — it may soon become your reality.

A recent Mashable article calls big data “the future of recruiting,” because it allows companies to analyze huge numbers of potential candidates to quickly produce a shortlist for a position.

What does this mean for recruiters?

No more searching through closets full of files to find qualified candidates. Instead, computers scan vast amounts of data, including social media profiles, resumes, jobs applications, employment records, business cards, and HR databases.

As Mashable explains:

“Once this material is in hand, algorithms go to work. The optimal result is an array of information sorted into patterns and matches, all thanks to keywords and scores that narrow the initial candidate pool to individuals who demonstrate a proclivity and background suitable to the open positions.”

The new HR dream team

Not to worry, though; big data won’t replace recruiters anytime soon.

This new process is called “people analytics,” and despite the fact it’s becoming a valuable HR tool, it’s still that: a tool. Recruiters remain instrumental in analyzing the data presented, and in interviewing and ultimately selecting someone who’s a good fit for the company.

With big data on your team, all you need to focus on is interpreting the results to find the perfect hire.

And it works. The article cites Xerox as an example, which used big-data tools to “cut the attrition rate at its call centers by 20%.”

Less paper-pushing for recruiters, and better hires for companies? Sounds like big data for the win.

Do you use big data in your hiring process? If not, do you think you will in the future?

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 Accept a Job Offer: 5 Crucial Steps Before Saying Yes Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 When someone offers you a job, don’t answer right away. Take these five steps before you make a commitment.

The post How to Accept a Job Offer: 5 Crucial Steps Before Saying Yes appeared first on Brazen Life.

After a challenging job search, you finally received the call you’ve been waiting for! Your interviewers liked the potential they saw in you, and a few days after your final meeting, they picked up the phone to tell you the good news: You’re the one they want. They’d like to offer you the position and they hope you’ll accept their terms and start working as soon as possible.

You may be pleased and flattered by the offer, but before you say yes, make sure you pause and take these five critical steps. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Keep a cool head

Whatever you do, don’t let the excitement of the moment push you into a hasty decision. Your employers will probably discuss your candidacy in glowing terms and tell you how happy they were to meet you and how optimistic they feel about bringing you onboard. They’ve already decided that you’ll make a great addition to the team, and they’ll probably enjoy sharing this with you. But don’t get carried away. Accepting a job can be a major life decision, and before you say yes, you have the best possible opportunity to negotiate the terms of your agreement.

2. Say thank you

Before you get down to business and start talking about the terms of your employment, thank your potential managers for the offer. Saying thank you won’t lock you into a commitment — it’s just a pleasant and professional way of showing respect and gratitude.

3. Be honest about their salary offer

Expect your potential employers to include a clear annual or hourly salary rate in their informal offer. They should also include a clear explanation of your basic insurance benefits, commission details and bonus rates with the intention of listing these again in a formal written offer later on. But be aware that they may not do this and may expect you to speak first and clearly state the preferred terms of your employment. If you’ve done your research and have an answer ready, feel free to share your terms. But if not, don’t speak until you’re ready.

4. Ask for some time to think about your decision

No matter the terms of your employment, and no matter who speaks first during your negotiation process, ask for at least 24 hours before you provide your official answer. This will give you time to discuss your decision with your friends and family, and it will give you the time to conduct some research into the standard salary and benefit rates for this type of position if you haven’t done this already.

5. Consider your current position

If your current position involves an “at-will” agreement between you and your employers, then legally, you’re free to walk away at any time for any reason. But for the sake of courtesy and professionalism, it’s a good idea to give your employers two weeks’ notice before you walk away. Your new managers will probably factor this two-week period into your start date, but if they don’t, you’ll need to make this request on your own. Make sure you leave your previous employer on good terms, and make sure you’re satisfied with your formal written offer before you sever your existing ties.

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

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Fancy Being an Entrepreneur? Here’s Where to Begin Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 If you crave the entrepreneurial lifestyle, but aren’t sure how to exactly make the leap to becoming one, follow this guide to get there.

The post Fancy Being an Entrepreneur? Here’s Where to Begin appeared first on Brazen Life.

Are you “over” your 9-to-5? If you’re sick of going into the office every day and feeling totally uninspired as you sit in your cubicle working hard to grow someone else’s business, the entrepreneurial lifestyle might be a better fit for you.

As an entrepreneur, you can set your own hours and work around your own priorities. Most importantly, you get to build something you feel truly passionate about. Making your own business successful sure beats working for the man.

While you may fancy the idea of becoming an entrepreneur, you may not know where to begin. As with most daunting life changes, getting started is the hardest part. How do you figure out what the market needs – and how do you create it?

Follow these steps to identify where to focus your talents and skills as an entrepreneur and take the right steps to build a successful business. (Click here to tweet this list.)

Start with your passions

Start by exploring your passions and your strongest skills. Create a list of industries you’d want to work in.Given the long (often unpaid) hours that go into getting a business of the ground, choosing an industry that fascinates you is the first step. Be sure to cast your net wide; many skills can apply to more than one industry.

For instance, a developer might start her own software tech business. Or, she might explore health tech and develop better algorithms for calculating health risks and insurance pricing.

Get analytical

Conduct a comprehensive analysis on the industries in the list.Now that you’ve narrowed down your industries of interest, ask the following questions:

  •       What businesses are doing well in these industries?
  •       What customer needs are being addressed?
  •       What customer needs are not being addressed?
  •       What are new startups in these industries doing differently?
  •       Are news articles and stakeholders predicting a good outlook for each industry?

Your industry analysis should be able to answer these questions. The answers should reveal needs that existing business are not addressing, opportunities they are not exploiting or innovative combinations of services and products that are not yet offered.

Brainstorm solutions

This is a most important step. Use knowledge from your numerous hobbies and academic interests to harness your creative energy and think strategically. From your analysis of industries and unaddressed needs above, narrow down what can be feasibly addressed. Brainstorm potential solutions – and not only the obvious ones.

Remember that innovation could be as simple as new combinations of existing services or products. In his book “Where Good Ideas Come From,”Steven Johnson explains that good ideas come less from thinking outside of the box, but thinking through multiple boxes. The entrepreneurial mind does not create ideas ex nihilo — it instead curiously seeks to make uncommon combinations and improvements on already existing systems.

Iterate frequently throughout your brainstorming process. Seek to define new solutions and to define unique combinations of solutions. Pay attention to solutions that can be easily translated into business. Remember, you need to make money, too. Most entrepreneurs seek sustainable, scalable solutions that can be easily monetized.

Translate your solutions into value propositions

Once your brainstorming has yielded positive results, refine your ideas until you can explain in a sentence or two what solution your business will offer. Boom! You have already defined the value proposition for your business.

You’re not there yet though. In the next couple of months, your value proposition will evolve. Let it! Intense networking and research should characterize this process. My favorite piece of advice from Johnson’s book urges entrepreneurs to connect rather than protect. Talk to your professional networks about your idea. Talk to experts at innovation hubs in your college or city. Get feedback and incorporate it in refining your proposition.

Using your knowledge of your industry and market, define what your competitive advantage is. Try to capture it in your value proposition or your business model.

Design a plan of action

What’s next after your well-defined idea? Design a plan of action and an accompanying timeline detailing your priorities and deadlines. Many idea creators will work on finding a good team, seeking funding, understanding the market and refining their product to better meet market needs.

You’re now an entrepreneur. Make it work!

You’ve probably come across frightening statistics about how many new businesses fail. That should not dampen your drive, but it should prepare you to be ready to learn from your mistakes and to go back to the drawing board when necessary.

Nkatha Gitonga is a rising senior at Harvard interested in entrepreneurship. She works  for a Legal Department Management firm in Boston.

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How to Find a New Career: Avoid These 5 Mental Traps Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Ask yourself: If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do with your career? That’s a good start, but it’s not everything.

The post How to Find a New Career: Avoid These 5 Mental Traps appeared first on Brazen Life.

You probably fell into your current career.

Yes, I know you planned. You carefully considered your choice of degree. You got a job you were qualified for.

But you only assessed opportunities that were right in front of your nose.  

Your choices were (unwittingly) limited. Limited by your environment. Limited by the expectations of friends, family and teachers — and yourself.

Career theorist John Krumboltz called it “planned happenstance.” A bit of planning, yes. But also luck. Being in the right (or wrong) place at the right time.

How to make your own luck

Instead of fishing in a pool of limited options, you have the chance to find where the most delicious fish are swimming.

Then, when chances do arise, you will be ready, and want, to say yes.

Increase your luck by knowing the five most common reasons people stay limited: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. You don’t know what you want

You think you need to be sure of your passion before you can make it a reality. Not knowing is paralyzing you.

You are afraid that making the wrong decision will have you go through the pain of change for nothing, especially if you are interested in a radically different career.

So you take no action at all.

The truth is, to find a career you love the action comes first, then the decision.

Find ways to test the water before diving in. Pick small, frequent actions that give you insight into potential careers, without making a commitment (yet).

Simply talk to someone already in a job you’d like to explore. Even better, shadow them for a day.

Want a creative career? Create intensively for 30 days.

Or come up with five ideas for how you might get paid for activities you already do for free, or used to love doing as a child, and implement one of them.

Learn from doing. Then decide if you want to commit.

2. You think your dream career is not realistic

It is dumb to decide you can’t do something before you’ve even tried it.

Throughout history people have made things happen, despite barriers bigger than most of us will ever face.

Maya Angelou became the first black female bus conductor in San Francisco by turning up every day for nine months, even though she’d been turned away on the first day.

Annys Darkwa came out of prison and founded a social enterprise while living on welfare payments.

Grace Quantock became a writer and award-winning entrepreneur despite living with chronic pain and multiple disabilities.

Realistic is a state of mind.

If you knew you could not fail, what would you do with your career?

3. You are too busy

We are all busy. But we are not all victims of our busy-ness.

Do you ever watch TV, use social media or go to the bar? Then you can choose to make time to work on your career.

On a scale of one to 10, how much of a priority is your career? Seven or above?

Then make time.

4. You know what you want, but you don’t know how to go about it

You are in the right place. Find one to three articles on Brazen that solve your biggest problems.

Don’t just read them, do what they suggest. Otherwise you have just found another way to put off taking action.

Try articles that help you find ways to meet potential employers or customers, use online tools effectively and apply for jobs in compelling ways.

Stick to a few actions that you will do thoroughly. Set a deadline, and find a buddy who will hold you accountable.

5. You place too much importance on a singular dream

I know this sounds backward, but taking steps toward something you deeply care about can be terrifying.

If you fail at this, what do you have left? You will have killed the dream.

The more important something is to you, the more scary it is.

The reverse also applies. The scarier something is, the more likely that you are going in the right direction.

Hear your inner critic screeching ever more loudly? Is that voice in your head telling you that this is too risky, you are not up to it, people will judge you?

Good. Then you are probably on the right track. You are worth the risk.

Adjust the details of your action plan if you need to.

But don’t stop.

Devi Clark is an author and career coach at NewLeaf Coaching, which specializes in helping career changers find work that makes a difference. She is founder of the Outsiders’ Network, a community for people who feel different from the social norm.

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How to Answer the 5 Toughest Interview Questions with Confidence Tue, 22 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Keep stumbling over tough interview questions? Here’s what you need to know to answer them with confidence -- and get the job.

The post How to Answer the 5 Toughest Interview Questions with Confidence appeared first on Brazen Life.

The interview process can be a nerve-wracking experience. For some, it’s tough to be the center of attention answering rapid fire questions for 30 minutes. Others lack the confidence and organization to make sure they hit all the points they want to emphasize.

But, undoubtedly, the most stressful part of interviews is the standard questions that seem to have no good answer, the ones that have plagued every job seeker before, and often during, the actual interview. No need to worry though: there’s a way to answer those questions in a manner that’ll satisfy the interviewer and portray you in a positive light. (Click here to tweet this bit of hope.)

1. Why are you leaving your current job?

Whatever your feelings about your current employer may be, you never want to speak poorly of the company — and you don’t want to paint yourself in a negative light either. Make it simple: you and the company are no longer a good fit.

Of course, you’ll have to go into a bit of detail, but make it about your long term goals and how they don’t align with what your company can offer you. During this part of the interview, strike a balance between offering some detail without rambling on. The worst thing you can do is throw your current employer under the bus, so make it a no-fault conversation.

2. Where do you see yourself in five years?

One of the cardinal rules of an interview is to remember that you’re interviewing for a specific job, not for the one you want in the future. That being said, it’s almost a certainty that interviewers will ask about your goals and aspirations. When answering this question, tie it back to the position you’re actually interviewing for.

A good answer is to say that you want to grow within the organization, using the position you’re interviewing for as a basis to learn. Make sure to keep it within the same industry though. If you’re interviewing for a position in HR, don’t say your five-year goal is to work in finance — that won’t sit well.

Employers like to know you see a job in their company as a stepping stone to more senior roles within their company — certainly not within an entirely different industry

3. What is your biggest weakness?

This is one where interviewers will look for the most honesty, so avoid the standard “I work too hard” answer; it’s a safe one and comes across as such. Instead, be honest about the things you need to work on — whether it’s overseeing a team or managing budgets.

As long as you remember to bring it back to how you’d like to learn more, you’ll have the interviewer’s respect.

4. Can you explain the gap in your employment history?

Given the recent recession, it’s not uncommon to have some holes in your resume. Yet, interviewers want to hear how you used that time off to still progress your career in the long run.

Perhaps you went back to school to get a degree, took a specific course to improve your skill set, or even volunteered or interned at an organization to keep your skills fresh. Either way, employers want to see an effort to learn transferable skills, no matter how you do so.

5. Why are you the right person for this job?

This is the time to sell yourself, but too many people are afraid of sounding boastful. Don’t be. Use this opportunity to show how your skills align with those that the position requires.

You might say, “What I’ve heard from you is that this position requires XYZ, and my prior experience doing ABC has prepared me to do that very well.” Ask questions so you can clarify and amplify your qualifications. This question allows you to put your best foot forward and make your case for the job, so take advantage of it.

Sure, it can be anxiety inducing, but at the end of the day, an interview is an exciting first step in the process of finding a job that meets your needs and allows you to reach your goals. Once you have the confidence to answer the toughest questions, you’ll be able to go far in your career.

Jennifer Kochilaris is a Regional Vice President for the South Florida region of Adecco Staffing, US. She manages 27 colleagues within her organizational structure and is proud to work with them to support hundreds of clients within a variety of industries in the South Florida market.

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Want the Corner Office? Do These 6 Things Now, and You’ll Run the Show Later Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Start charting your path to the corner office right now. It doesn’t matter how young or inexperienced you are.

The post Want the Corner Office? Do These 6 Things Now, and You’ll Run the Show Later appeared first on Brazen Life.

Though you know you one day want a C-suite title, you realize it’ll take some time to get there. No one puts the recent grad or entry-level associate in the corner office off the bat.

So should you hang back and wait awhile before stepping up? Of course not! You should chart your path to the top right this very minute. As an aspiring executive, you need to develop your plan for a robust career now. You need to develop right skills, find the right connections and learn how to be in the right place.

Get started with these six actions and you’ll be well on your way to that corner office. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Grow your LinkedIn network strategically

Connect with as many of your coworkers and former colleagues on LinkedIn as you can. As you move along in your career, it will be even harder to track down the key people from your past jobs.

This will help you keep in touch with your network both actively and passively, build and foster relationships and help align future references for your executive position.

Connect not only with your peers, but also with leaders you’ve interacted with one level or more above your position. Additionally, do not shy away from reaching out to those lower on the totem pole than you. You never know where they’ll go, and you have no idea if a subordinate may rise faster than you.

Once you make the connection, stay connected on a regular basis to stay relevant, be helpful and remain top of mind. LinkedIn makes it easy for you to stay in touch and showcase your expertise through updates and activities.

The more ongoing social proof you have behind you, the stronger your overall executive presence will be. So get connecting!

2.  Join college alumni networking groups

You spent all of those tuition dollars. Now it’s time to get a return on your investment. Joining your college alumni networks — both online groups and offline chapters in your city — can help expand your network and build your reputation.

These communities already have a built-in sense of inclusiveness. You have the opportunity to meet professionals at every level who have shared experiences with you and are willing to help another alumni succeed.

3. Find internal and external mentors

Mentors not only shine a light on your true potential, but also help guide you to the top through advice, support and advocacy.

You should have at least two professional mentors – one at the company where you work and one who works elsewhere.

Your mentor at work will help you navigate the corporate structure and gain sponsorship to move up along your career path. You want to build this relationship into an advocacy for you. Leverage this mentorship to get insider office politics information, understand who the key players are and hone in on areas of opportunity.

Your external mentor will help you grow in your field and expand your network of connections. Rely on them to help guide your long-term path, share trending industry information and become a known entity outside of your job.

4. Invest in your skills

No one cares more about your career than you do. Be sure to invest in your own personal growth and development.

Your focus needs to be two fold: Hard skills that are relevant to your industry and soft skills that help shape you as a leader.

Be sure to stay current on industry trends and emerging technologies as well as leadership techniques and best practices. The better-rounded of a candidate you are, the easier it is for you to be supported at the executive level.

5. Get involved in associations and charities

When you look at the boards and participants of many associations and charities, they’re filled with executives from different companies and functions. Associations and charities are a great way to get involved with an issue or organization that’s important to you — while at the same time mining networking gold.

You must be genuinely interested in the association or charity you choose for relationships to take root. It will take some extra work and time for you, but the lasting impact and connections are well worth it for aspiring executives.

6. Stop eating at your desk

Eating alone at your desk can be a career killer.

Most people think if they eat at their desk, they’ll be viewed as an industrious employee. While some corporate cultures may view that positively, failing to connect with fellow professionals outside of work can be detrimental to your career. Breaking bread with co-workers and professional friends is an effective way to do nurture your network before you need it.

Consistently leveraging these six actions throughout your career will help you stand out among other candidates. Keep doing these over and over, and you’ll make your aspiring executive dreams a reality.

Lisa Rangel of, is a former recruiter, LinkedIn job seeker group moderator and a leading resume writer. She authored the DIY Branded Resume eBook” and 99 Free Job Search Tips from an Executive Recruiter.”

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6 Tips for Negotiating with Someone More Powerful Than You Mon, 21 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Ever feel intimidated when negotiating with someone who has more sway than you? These tips will help you get what you want.

The post 6 Tips for Negotiating with Someone More Powerful Than You appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you’re negotiating with someone who has more sway than you, it’s an understatement to say it can be intimidating. It may seem like fighting an uphill battle, even defending opinions, services or products you passionately believe in.

Fortunately, you can prepare yourself ahead of time and use strategies during the negotiation to help you come out on top. Here are six ways to avoid looking like a deer caught in headlights during your meeting — and maybe even get what you want. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Stay calm

Feeling nervous is a natural reaction to intimidation. This is understandable, especially if this meeting is an important one — say, an annual review where you’d like to fight for a pay raise or a round of funding that could make or break your dream venture. Remember: The people you speak to may be more powerful than you, but you’ve earned a right to their presence.

Our thoughts can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you continually tell others, “I’m really nervous about this meeting,” you’ll be nervous. If you instead say, “I’m a little nervous, but I know I will make a great argument,” you’ll be surprised how much more successful you’ll be. Don’t think of yourself as not worth their time or attention, or that’s what you’ll be.

2. Prepare excessively

Preparation should be your mantra. It’s better to be over-prepared for a meeting with a superior or powerful colleague than it is to be under-prepared. Doing your homework allows you to make a more knowledgeable first impression, create better counterarguments and feel more at ease during the negotiation process.

If you’ve adequately prepared, you can predict the other side’s objections ahead of time and back yourself up with facts. If you prepare for every eventuality, you’re less likely to leave money or other benefits on the table.

3. Be an optimist

One of the worst things you can do is negotiate against yourself. Understand what you, your services or your mission is worth, and don’t undersell or second guess yourself. Aim high, and you won’t be disappointed when you meet somewhere in the middle.

There are many examples of this strategy working in the salary negotiation world. In some cases, employees have negotiated higher salaries, such as Henry, who negotiated himself to a $120k salary from an underpaid $60k one in a project management role.

These success stories are real — but they require determination, a strong understanding of market value and the optimism to aim high.

4. Focus on the other side’s needs

Stop obsessing over your needs, and take a look at the other side’s. They’re in it for themselves; they have specific needs that must be met, and if you can show how you can meet those needs, it’ll be far easier for them to make a positive decision.

HydroWorx is by no stretch of the imagination the only company that provides aquatic therapy pools, but they cater to a star-studded client list that includes NFL teams, NASA, Navy Seals and NBC’s Biggest Loser, because they know how to meet their needs.

5. Listen

How will you know what needs must be met if you don’t listen in the first place? Instead of talking over the other side to make your piece known, you’ll command far greater respect if you practice good listening skills. The key to negotiation is knowing what questions to ask. Throw out the right questions — preferably probing, open-ended ones — and you’ll know how to respond.

You can always walk away

It doesn’t matter how powerful the person you’re negotiating with is; it’s important to be able to walk away. Not to say you should, but the option should be there. If you’re unwilling to walk away, the desperation will show in your communication, and your opponent will have the upper hand.

Negotiate with options, and you’ll be able to make a strong case.

When you follow these six essential negotiation techniques, you’re more likely to achieve your goals. Even if you aren’t as powerful as your opponent, you have value to offer and a case to make. Stay strong and optimistic, keep your ears open and never forget the option to walk away.

Savannah Marie is a social media enthusiast and writer from New York. Read her blog and laugh at her tweets.

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Why Impatience is a Virtue: Stop Planning and Start Doing Fri, 18 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Impatient? It’s time to stop viewing that as a character flaw. Here’s how your impatience can actually benefit you.

The post Why Impatience is a Virtue: Stop Planning and Start Doing appeared first on Brazen Life.

Many impatient people feel guilty for the way they are. They see their haste as a character flaw. But the truth is, impatience is a virtue, not a vice.

People who don’t plan are rock stars. They live confident, fun and happy lives and rarely have a problem making big life decisions. Obsessive planners are the opposite. This is because obsessive planning and waiting to take action erodes your confidence and decision-making abilities.

Life is better when you think big and take action. (Click here to tweet this quote.) But not everyone feels this way. A lot of people rely on obliga­tion, passivity and herd mentality to get things done. As a result, they don’t get things done.

They set up systems saturated with meetings and committees until all any employee can see is an endless string of plans and plans to make plans. This death-by-committee lifestyle is what turns action-taking employees into wait-and-see rodents.

Human or lemming?

Business and individuals who plan obsessively by default will move forward — like lemmings over a cliff.

Research on groupthink, or herd mentality, shows that humans and other animals like fish, buffalo and birds collectively respond to environmental changes with low levels of cognition. Large groups are often led, not by the proactive choices of each individual, but by a large collection of dull responses.

At the same time, self-esteem studies show that the more pressure someone feels to fit in, the less self-respect they have. And the less self-respect they have, the more pressure they feel to fit in.

The cycle of trying to fit in with the herd and hating yourself for it traps a lot of people. Obsessive planning starts this cycle. The only way to get off the hamster wheel is to set action-taking as your new default state. This means being willing to fail and act before you’re ready.

Taking action fixes mistakes

Many of the brightest minds in business have tried the Marshmallow Challenge. The challenge works like this: People are divided into teams of four. Each team is given 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti, a yard of tape, a yard of string and one marshmallow. Each team is given 18 minutes to build the tall­est structure they can with marshmallow on top.

The results are surprising.

The worst performing groups include recent MBA graduates and CEOs of large organizations. One of the top performing groups is kindergarteners. Why?

The MBAs and CEO planned obsessively until time ran out, then hurried to build a tower of spaghetti and place a marshmal­low on top, only to watch it crumble in the last second. The kindergarten­ers, being kids, took action and figured out what worked and what didn’t.

No plan survives contact with reality. Obsessive planning works against you in everything you do. Especially in today’s world. Things change too quickly. Testing is the new planning. And testing requires constant action-taking and constant adaptation.

Action is a virtue

Action-takers are the new superheroes. They leap big decisions in a single bound and land on their feet. Obsessive planners, on the other hand, are the villains. Prolonged study, deliberation and planning are often signs of weak­ness and insecurity, not wisdom and patience.

Planning is safe, which is why most people set it as their default state. They plan, then freeze, then plan some more — completely paralyzing themselves in the process. It’s far easier to talk about possible solutions to a big problem than to try out a solution.

Heroes rush in. Fools wait.

Waiting for the right moment or the right person is naïve. No one’s coming to pave a safe path to success for you. No one’s going to magically appear and pick you for greatness. Fairy godmothers don’t exist.

Stop waiting. Be an action-taker. Be a “rock-start” and a superhero. Make something big happen right now.

Dr. Isaiah Hankel is a scientist, international speaker, and author of Black Hole Focus. He works with Fortune 500 companies, startups, and individuals to help them develop an entrepreneurial mindset. Visit his website or find him on Twitter.

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Next Time You Meet Someone New, Try Asking These Questions Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Your job is not your our identity, so why is “What do you do?” one of the first questions you ask when you meet someone? Here are five alternatives that will be sure to get the conversation going.

The post Next Time You Meet Someone New, Try Asking These Questions appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you meet someone, what are the first questions you ask? Probably what their name is, where they’re from, and what they do.

But is “What do you do?” a good question to ask anymore? Why are we so focused on what someone does for a living — and in today’s job-hopping society, does it even make sense?

Freelance journalist Mónica Guzmán doesn’t think so. In a recent GeekWire article, she says the classic question is outdated, explaining: “Its assumptions are stale, and we need an upgrade.”

Your job is not your identity

Why the need for a change? Guzmán says these question make your job the item of utmost importance, as well as the source of your identity — two assumptions that aren’t true for everyone.

If you’re stumped at what else to say, Guzmán offers five alternatives, which she culled from her Facebook community.

Here are our favorites:

  • What are you working on these days?
  • What do you like to do?
  • What are you building?

Since these questions are more personal and open-ended, Guzmán says they’ll allow your new friend to choose the direction they want the conversation to take — whether it be their job(s), hobbies, or passions.

Do you think “What do you do?” is outdated? Will you try out any of these alternatives at your next networking event?

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

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Breastfeeding and Work: 4 Tips for Pumping on the Job Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Trying to juggle breastfeeding and your career? Here’s how to handle your manager and your schedule.

The post Breastfeeding and Work: 4 Tips for Pumping on the Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

Coming back to work after having a baby is a big adjustment. It might be more difficult to work the hours that you used to because you need (and want) to get home to your baby. You’ll need to find and manage a relationship with a child care provider. And you need to make a plan for when your baby or child care provider is sick.

If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll also need to figure out how you’re going to pump at work. Juggling breastfeeding and a career isn’t easy, especially if you work in a male-dominated environment where pumping breaks aren’t the norm. Here’s how to make sure your pumping schedule doesn’t negatively impact your career. (Click here to tweet.)

1. Present your plan for pumping to your manager as a solution, not a problem

When you talk to your manager about pumping at work, don’t present your needs as a list of demands. Don’t say, “I need a private room with a lock to pump breast milk three times a day for 15 minutes. I’ll also need a sink and microwave to wash and sterilize my pump parts.”

It’s not that all of that isn’t true — that’s probably exactly what you need. However, when you say that, you’re giving your manager a problem to solve, which — let’s face it — no one appreciates. Instead, say, “I talked to HR, and there is a lactation room that I’m planning on using. If it’s OK with you, I’d like to pump three times a day for about 15 minutes. I’ll be able to bring my laptop with me and work during this time, so it shouldn’t impact my productivity. You’ll be able to reach me using instant messenger at that time. Does that work for you?”

Of course, if you DO have a problem that you need solved — let’s say that your company has no lactation room and the only place that you have to pump is in the ladies’ restroom — then it’s fine to ask your manager for help. The key is to try to work out any issues that you have on your own first. This goes for any workplace concerns that you have, but it’s especially important in this situation, as you could be pumping for a year or longer and your manager’s perception of how you handle this could linger.

2. Don’t (overly) call attention to your pumping schedule

While there’s no need to keep the fact that you’re pumping for your baby a secret, it’s also not something that you need to broadcast on a regular basis.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking pumping breaks at work, but you can’t control what your coworkers think of it. They might think that you’re getting preferential treatment or that they’re getting extra work so that you can pump, even if that’s not true.

The goal is to take the focus off of your need to pump, and put the focus on the fact that you’re going to get the job done. Instead of saying, “I can’t go to the meeting because I have to go pump,” say “I’ll need to leave the meeting 15 minutes early, so I’ll catch up with you afterward to see what I missed and go over the next steps.”

3. Stick to a schedule, but be flexible

It’s a good practice to schedule pumping sessions in your calendar — that way you can make sure you don’t get scheduled for back-to-back meetings and end up without any time to pump. It also helps ensure that you don’t forget to pump.

Sometimes, though, something will come up — a meeting will run long or a coworker will want to pull you into a last-minute conversation when you’re scheduled to be in the lactation room. If you can’t make it there when you’re scheduled to, get there as soon as you can and pump for longer than you normally would. As long as this doesn’t happen every day, it should be fine.

4. Get the most milk that you can out of every pumping session

A lot of women who pump at work deal with stress about not pumping enough milk for their baby for the following day. This issue can have a negative impact on your career if you’re thinking about your breast milk supply instead of working or if you’re waking up in the middle of the night to get extra pumping sessions in.

What can you do about this? If you need to increase your supply, one easy thing that you can try is eating oatmeal for breakfast, as many women have noticed that their supply is slightly higher when they do this. Also, make sure that you get the most milk that you can out of every pumping session — do breast compressions, pump long enough to get a second let-down, and relax — don’t keep looking at the bottles to see how much you’ve pumped.

At the end of the day, if you’re just not pumping enough, consider supplementing with formula. Your baby is still getting your breast milk, and your sanity is important, too.

The most important thing is to get your pumping in — and get the most milk you can — while making sure the focus is on getting your work done.

Amanda Glenn is a technology architect, has two kids, and has spent 27 months of her life hooking herself up to breast pumps at work. She writes a blog about exclusively pumping breast milk, and you can find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

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Financial Tips for Newlyweds: Follow These Steps When You Tie the Knot Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 The biggest game changer in your career and finances could be tying the knot. Avoid financial disaster by following these tips.

The post Financial Tips for Newlyweds: Follow These Steps When You Tie the Knot appeared first on Brazen Life.

When it comes to your career and financial investments, you take a measured amount of pride in your decision-making methodology. Over the years, you’ve worked hard and saved your pennies. You don’t just jump haphazardly into an investment, nor do you blindly trust every “lucrative” job offer that crosses your path.

Rather than dump your hard-earned money down into some bottomless get-rich-quick scheme, you’ve done your research and ensure your stock portfolio is working for your retirement. After several years of managing your career choices and navigating various financial options, you have solid money-wrangling skills.

So with all of this monetary management know-how, you’re more than ready to handle making (potentially) the biggest career and investment move of your life, right? No, I’m not talking about adopting an aggressive stock portfolio. The biggest game changer in your career and finances could be tying the knot.

Marriage: It’s not just about love

When it comes to getting married, many couples underestimate the gravity of the investment and overlook money matters until they become serious issues. Just as you wouldn’t accept a new job offer or enter into a business deal without running the numbers and fully understanding the costs, combining incomes — and debt — should be handled with the same amount of care.

Read on for tips on how to manage finances and improve the likelihood that your new investment – your marriage – will succeed. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Be honest

If you were interviewing for a new job, you wouldn’t lie about your skills. If you got the job based on false premises, eventually you’d be revealed as a fraud. It’s not worth it.

Lying about your finances to your partner is just as detrimental — both to your financial stability and your partner’s trust. Be honest about your debts, income, savings and other finances. If you’re uncomfortable discussing money with your spouse, that’s an issue you need to address. Unless you win the jackpot or fall into an insanely big inheritance, your debts won’t just go away. In fact, the longer you ignore money issues, the more your debt will grow and the more serious consequences you will face.

Be honest and upfront about what you’re working with. It’s better than getting your truck repo’d the day after your honeymoon.

2. Get on the same page

If you take your career seriously, you’ve likely thought through your five-year plan. Do the same for you and your partner’s finances. Figure out where you what you want to achieve together, then start working towards it.

Once you’ve laid out your combined incomes and financial obligations, make a plan to get on the same page. Establish who will pay the bills, when they will be paid, and from which account the money will be drawn.

Just as important: Establish a discretionary spending budget. Both partners deserve an independent, pre-determined portion of the budget to spend. Though you are unified in your finances, it’s important to have personal independence as well.

Sticking to your agreed upon spending plan reinforces that your own needs and wants are only part of the deal. Now that you’re married, you’re half of a two-person dream team. You and your spouse are in this budget management game together.

Respect your partner by not spending outside your means; although not always fun, it’s practical. Paying down your existing debt (and managing how much new debt you accrue) will be far more satisfactory in the long run than buying something you can’t afford to begin with.

3. Over communicate

Effective communication is the cornerstone of every healthy relationship, both at work and at home. You already know you won’t be as successful at work if you can’t communicate effectively with your peers and superiors. The same is true in your marriage.

Make sure you’re clear on what “effective communication” is. This does not count the following: yelling, bullying, lying and manipulating. If you work as part of a team, you know the project’s success depends on every team member being on the same page. Doing a project twice (or failing to complete it at all) because of miscommunication is both frustrating and potentially detrimental to your career.

Marriages follow a similar logic. Is something about the budget bothering you? Talk about it with your partner and reach a solution as a team. Building up resentment towards your spouse won’t help resolve anything, and in fact will likely make things worse.

4. Embrace failure

In both your career and personal life, you often learn more from your failures than you do from the successes. In fact, it’s the failures that make it possible to succeed.

At some point, your plans will go awry. Whether you overspend or under-communicate, you’re bound to hit a few bumps in the road. It’s okay to fumble (and maybe even fail) a few times; it’s all part of the growing process.

The important part becomes how you and your partner learn and grow from these hurdles. Don’t let a slight detour derail your progress completely. Rather, allow these moments to teach you and move you forward towards your financial goals.

Master ponderer Confucius once said, “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” This is true for reaching any goal — but especially relevant for goals that do not produce instant results.

Marriage is both a career and an investment merger that without a doubt requires some serious planning by both parties. By taking a proactive approach to your happily-ever-after, you can avoid some of the most martially disastrous pitfalls around. So, go ahead, say your vows with confidence knowing that you have budgeted for wedded bliss.

Josh Redfield is an Arizona-based mountain biking junkie. When he’s not out on an epic ride, you can find him utilizing his law degree to write about any matter of legality that causes a ruckus.

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How to Motivate Your Startup Team to Produce Great Work Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Struggling to keep your team focused on results without constant supervision? Here’s how to motivate them to create great work.

The post How to Motivate Your Startup Team to Produce Great Work appeared first on Brazen Life.

With limited funding and resources, most startups have to stay results-focused while racing against rapidly changing market conditions, consumer demands and overnight competitors. Founders and other business leaders have plenty to do without  micromanaging employees — especially when they should have their eyes on the prize and not over their employees’ shoulders.

Without constant supervision, how do you keep your team focused on results? It begins with accountability.

When the organization values personal responsibility and integrity, people work with focus and autonomy. But accountability only works if everyone agrees to it and holds others to their own commitments. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

There should be an unspoken agreement that every employee will work diligently towards completing their goals. This is not merely an agreement between employees and managers; it must exist in every relationship in the organization.

Is it better to be feared or trusted?

Intimidation doesn’t solicit authentic accountability, and any sense of responsibility born of fear won’t last long. Sure, people will get their work done, but it isn’t self-motivated. They’ll only perform to the point where they won’t incur your wrath.

Instead, establish trust with the team. Trust is at the center of accountability. It leads to self-motivated individual engagement aligned with a mission. Foster relationships founded on trust with managers and peers because most people show up more for other people than they do for themselves.

Entrepreneurs looking to gain trust should consider how they communicate with employees. By checking in regularly, you invite people to communicate their big wins, their innovative ideas and the places where they’re stuck. You instill a sense of ownership in your talented team.

Employee engagement and accountability emerges when your people feel heard and supported. Employees must be committed to their jobs from a place of desire, not fear. They’ll be more engaged and show up as accountable, reliable people.

Be the change

How valuable is your word? Without having integrity and demonstrating that you hold yourself accountable, no one else will feel the need to live up to their commitments and follow through on their duties. A leader willing to say, “I dropped the ball on this initiative” welcomes the same candor from everyone else at the company.

You can’t hold someone accountable unless an expectation is clearly voiced ahead of time and updated regularly as projects and responsibilities change. Without well articulated goals, employees quickly get frustrated. And frustrated employees stare longingly at the exit sign.

Have regular conversations and let everyone on the team know what’s expected of individual and collective efforts. Meet weekly to realign everyone around their goals. Give and receive regular feedback so expectations remain clear. If you wait until an employee’s annual performance review to discuss accountability issues, you’re behind the curve.

Accentuate the positives

Managers dread having the tough conversations with employees. No one ever wants to resort to punitive measures for poor performance. The fear of embarrassment or termination is the worst type of motivation and can often stifle the creativity you need from employees. Fear can motivate, but it’ll never inspire.

Positive reinforcement and constant support work better than intimidation or fear of being fired. Offer compliments, acknowledgments and rewards when others live up to their word and perform exceptional work. When employees know their manager supports them, they’re more likely to be fully engaged in their daily tasks.

You can’t always throw carrots around the office, and sticks don’t motivate. But by giving and receiving regular feedback in a culture that highly values trust and accountability, people will naturally show-up more engaged, empowered and driven to do their best.

David Hassell is Founder and CEO of 15Five, a SaaS company with a powerful and simple solution that gathers critical insights from employees in minutes each week, enabling informed management to get the visibility they need to boost engagement and drive alignment across their entire teams.

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Think You’re MBA Material? 3 Ways to Know for Sure Tue, 15 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If you’re embroiled in the great MBA debate, there’s a way to finally make your decision. But it may not involve what you’d expect.

The post Think You’re MBA Material? 3 Ways to Know for Sure appeared first on Brazen Life.

Should I get an MBA?

Ah, the great MBA debate.

Like any heavy decision, a myriad of moving pieces and puzzling parts are involved. And there’s no shortage of internal voices and talking heads offering their unsolicited advice. For every post you read in support of an MBA, you find another cautioning against an MBA. Whichever argument you choose to make, you don’t have to look far for support.

The reasons to get an MBA are plenty. To advance your career. To pivot in your career. Because someone else is paying for it. Because you want a two-year party to figure out what the hell you want to do with your life.

And there are just as many reasons against an MBA. Because an MBA education is becoming obsolete. Because you could self-educate yourself. Because your time is better spent learning how to code. Oh yeah, and because of the whole student debt thing.

The reality is that the stars will likely never align on a definitive yes or no if we try to answer the question on this level. So we need to take the MBA debate to a higher altitude.

What does a good decision look like?

The secret to figuring out your stance in the MBA debate is remembering that it’s a fraction of a much bigger and broader debate. (Click here to tweet this thought.) It’s not just about deciding whether or not an MBA is important for your career — it’s figuring out whether an MBA fits within what’s important to you and what you want to get out of life. Which means we may need to crack open our psychology books and rip out a page or two.

Before we can make a good decision, we need to know what constitutes a good decision. To do that, we first have to define our decision criteria. This means working out our values – that which is most important to us. — career psychologist Rob Archer.

What’s your decision criteria?

As Archer reveals, until we know our decision criteria, we can’t recognize (let alone make) a good decision. For our MBA debate, the factors for deciding to do an MBA might be:

  • Intellectual stimulation
  • Being surrounded by like-minded peers
  • Location (the chance to live in a new city)
  • Prestige (or name/brand recognition)
  • Career opportunities or access to alumni (or a broader network)
  • Salary increase, among others

Only you can determine your own decision criteria. Until you do, it’s hard to know what a good decision might look like.

What do you value most?

The next step to cracking the MBA conundrum is understanding our values — what’s most important to you individually. Not your parents, teachers, friends, colleagues, the Financial Times, Richard Branson or even Brazen Careerist. It’s easy to confuse our values with the values that have been passed down or piled onto us.

Without knowing our own values, we risk getting lost in a spider web inside our heads, pulled in multiple directions without an anchor to guide us down a specific path. Our values provide us with gravity in situations when we risk floating into oblivion. And keeping our values in mind grounds us and helps us to focus our decision-making process as we align them to our MBA decision criteria.

What do you value you most in work and life? Check out this list of 400 values to spark some ideas.

In her guide 8 Ways to Escape the MBA Debate, Adele Barlow practiced this exercise in exploring her own MBA decision. Some of her winning values included (her quotes parenthetically):

  • Self-expression and creativity (“freedom trumps status”)
  • The pursuit of excellence (“prestige is sometimes part of this, sometimes not”)
  • Providing value (“sometimes indicated by cash flow, sometimes not”)
  • Location independence (“ideally, I can combine travel and work”)
  • Collaboration opportunities

Decision criteria + values = clarity

The decision to do an MBA (or not) is a personal one. It depends on what kind of person you are and who you want to become. It requires you define what a good decision looks like. And perhaps most importantly, it requires you to know your values — which is sometimes easier said than done.

Because at the end of the day, the person who has to live longest with your MBA decision is you.

Matt Trinetti is the director of The Escape School, an organization providing online & offline events, courses, and guides to help unfulfilled corporate professionals escape into more meaningful work. Their guide 8 Ways to Escape the MBA Debate is available now.

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Networking Events in Cleveland: 6 Groups Worth Checking Out Mon, 14 Jul 2014 17:00:12 +0000 Cleveland’s startup scene is growing, and young professionals can make valuable career moves in this lakefront city.

The post Networking Events in Cleveland: 6 Groups Worth Checking Out appeared first on Brazen Life.

Cleveland’s not one to be left behind in the Rust Belt region’s decline. The city’s startup scene is growing, and young professionals can make valuable career moves in this lakefront city.

From the city’s healthcare industry hub to advanced manufacturing facilities to academia, professionals are finding meaningful roles in the Cleveland area. Here are six groups that’ll help you meet the right crowd for you. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Cleveland 20/30

The Cleveland Professional 20/30 Club offers programming in four areas: social, networking, philanthropic, and educational. A weekly networking breakfast on Friday mornings can help you ease into this active network. Nervous about approaching fellow attendees? Networking Committee members are happy to make an introduction.

2. Mobile Monday Cleveland

Mobile Monday hosts events around the world, but Cleveland’s growing tech scene makes its speaker series worth attending. Featured guests share their experiences in the business-meets-tech space, but you might also find yourself sounding off in mobile tech discussions. There are only six events each year, so register early!

3. Engage! Cleveland

In the early stages of your career? Engage! Cleveland will help you explore ways to grow in the local professional community. Take a nonprofit leadership workshop, visit public art events, or sit back and listen at the Young Professional Speaker Series. Seasonal mixers remind you to take time to relax.

4. ClevelandGives

Choose a unique volunteer opportunity! But first: your group of local professionals will learn a practical skill to assist you in your task for the day. You’ll go home with business cards in your pocket and an appreciation for your newly-practiced skills.

5. Neighbor Up Network Night

Neighborhood Connections hosts this monthly meetup to encourage networking on a hyper-local level. Keep an open mind as you explore ways to connect with locals in your industry — or in vastly different fields. Neighborhood Connections partners with community groups to offer volunteer opportunities and job fairs: two more great ways to network.

6. Network After Work Cleveland

There’s no programming or long-term commitment. Just pick at monthly event and grab your name tag — color-coded to help you find your industry — and get ready to meet a few hundred professionals at some of Cleveland’s hottest downtown watering holes. Tickets for each event cost under $20. Arrive early to these all-evening events and you’ll be able to enjoy some light appetizers on the house.

What other networking events in Cleveland would you add to this list?

Lisa Rowan is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C.

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3 Tips for Growing a Team (and a Business) When Everyone Works Remotely Mon, 14 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If you haven’t launched your startup because you don’t have an office, stop waiting: You don’t need one. Just keep these tips in mind.

The post 3 Tips for Growing a Team (and a Business) When Everyone Works Remotely appeared first on Brazen Life.

Six years ago, we decided that each founder of our startup would work from their house or apartment. The idea was to avoid committing ourselves to the expense of an office rental.

Everything started as an economic decision, but today, when we can afford to rent an excellent workplace, we still choose to work from home. The work and life quality is simply better. Even while making our enterprise scalable, we continue to implement our philosophy of successfully working remotely.

Back in 2008, we were the only startup with no office. Today, many startups adopt this new working style.

To improve as an enterprise, we studied how to implement this methodology with 26 startups that also work without an office. Here are the three main pillars we learned. (Click here to tweet this list.)

Email and teleconferences aren’t adequate

Working with no physical office makes constant communication essential. But we had to define how we communicate when we don’t physically see each other every day.

Email (Gmail) and teleconferences (Skype) definitely weren’t it. We used these during our first years of work and we were wrong without doubt.

Email wasn’t developed as a tool to manage and optimize team work. And certainly not to be used as a to-do list. Skype ended up being our worst enemy because it turned into the meaningless face-to-face meetings like we used to have with our boss. They were a total waste of time.

During the third year of our startup, we decided to change to Basecamp and we now use Trello. These are tools created with the aim of helping remote teams work efficiently. What’s most important is that it allows us to control “where” each one of us and our colleagues are working in real time (without having to bother them via email).

In this way, we reduced email interaction to almost zero and eliminated teleconferences. Our startup policy is to not have group meetings anymore. Everything is communicated through text.

For programmers like us, who need between four and five straight hours of work to reach our maximum potential, the distraction or interruption of a meeting results in losing those working hours.

Task division is the key to success

The second pillar, based on our own experience and what we learned from other entrepreneurs, is to define what each member of the project must do from the first day. This is another place where we made mistakes.

Going to a workplace and personally seeing each other allows us to be in constant contact to define what everyone will do and avoid having several people work on the same task, which wastes time.

Everyone frequently works from a different place. The lack of assignment of tasks and responsibilities is the main cause of failure. And as a startup, we don’t have bosses or project managers to tell us what and when to do something.

As entrepreneurs, we don’t know how to begin, since that’s the aim of the new project: trying new things, innovating and being able to find a repeatable and long-term scalable business model.

Regardless, we need to define responsibilities. For example: one of the founders is in charge of programming, one handles designing, one takes legal and/or accounting tasks, and the other manages client support. Now we’re able to assign specific tasks as they arise (e.g., database backups, billing and control).

This item may seem obvious and even simple. It seemed like that to us at first too, but over time it became the backbone of our startup progress. Having somebody responsible for each area (e.g., technical area, administration area) is the only way to successfully move forward every day.

Our office is our clients’

We define our office as our clients’ office. This means that when we work as a startup, we’re sitting next to our potential client in their office and learning from them: what they need, how they interact with our tool and what pieces of advice or criticism they have.

Not having an office we must show up at every day doesn’t mean we should stay locked up at home. This can lead us to a disconnection with the outside world, where our startup will develop and interact with to grow.

Emiliano Canova is a programmer and teacher at the University of Córdoba and co-founder of SOAP, a new online mechanism for education, specialized on mobile technology and devices with wireless interaction.

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Why Working at Lunch is Bad for Your Career — and for You Fri, 11 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Close your laptop, grab your turkey sandwich and make a mad dash away from your desk.

The post Why Working at Lunch is Bad for Your Career — and for You appeared first on Brazen Life.

Pop quiz: Where did you eat your lunch yesterday? Let me guess… you scarfed down a sad turkey sandwich wrapped in crinkly plastic in front of your laptop while “working.”

I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s something no one else will tell you, so listen up. Working during lunch is hurting your career AND your health.

You should not work during lunch. You need to quit cold turkey. But you can get more done while working through lunch, you say?

Read on for a few reasons why you need to step away from the laptop and stop dropping crumbs on your keyboard. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Your productivity suffers

You think working during lunch gives you an extra hour of work every day. Bonus, right? But imagine you had one hour of your life back each day.

By making an agreement with yourself to take a proper lunch break every day, you’ll be more productive in the other work hours to get your work done (since you no longer have that hour to “catch up.”)

When you work through lunch, you give yourself permission to focus on less important tasks — and you make yourself even busier than you should be. If you don’t give your body enough rest during the week, it will eventually catch up to you.

2. You de-prioritize your physical and mental health

When you work during lunch, you don’t focus on what you’re eating. Instead your focus is on the screen in front of you. Use this hour lunch break for its original purpose: Your lunch break. Let your body rest.

Working during lunch most likely means you’ll be staring at a computer for an hour instead of socializing with colleagues. Even if you socialize with colleagues about work face-to-face over lunch, that human connection is better than emailing back and forth over your lunch break!

3. Management sees you as less productive

Management will never tell you to stop working through your lunch. What management cares about is how productive you are, and not necessarily how hard you work (Like this idea? Tweet it.) Working harder than your colleagues does not mean that you’re more productive than them.

But if your boss sees you work through lunch every day, she’ll assume you’re unable to control your workload and are more prone to make mistakes.

The best way to avoid giving off signals that you can’t manage your workload? Don’t work during lunch.

4. Food eaten away from your desk simply tastes better

There may be no scientific evidence that will back this claim. But from my own calculations and personal research, a turkey sandwich eaten outside on the patio tastes 10 times better than the same turkey sandwich eaten at a desk. Your taste buds can’t really explain it either, but they love it when you’re not eating lunch at your desk.

Do yourself a favor. Take a lunch break every single day. Not only will it make you more productive, management — and your health — will thank you. And while you’re at it, check out a few more tips to eat better at work (not surprisingly, one of them is to not eat at your desk.)

Robbie Abed is the the author of the book Fire Me I Beg You and is an experienced independent IT Consultant. If you want to advance your career by leaving your day job, sign up for the Summer of Quitting email course. It will be the best decision you make all day.

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What If Working Less — Not More — is the Key to Higher Productivity? Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Despite advances in technology, Americans are working more than ever. Read why one professor thinks working less could actually make us more productive.

The post What If Working Less — Not More — is the Key to Higher Productivity? appeared first on Brazen Life.

How many hours do you work each day? If you’re like the majority of Americans, your answer is probably eight or more.

But what if, instead, you only worked six hours per day? Rather than losing valuable working hours, do you think you’d actually be more productive?

University of Iowa professor Benjamin Hunnicutt does. In his recent book “Free Time: The Forgotten American Dream,” he examines our growing workweeks and shrinking leisure time.

The Tale of the Six-Hour Work Day

In addition to the fact that our 40-, 60-, and 80-hour workweeks take away simple pleasures — such as time spent with family or enjoying the outdoors — Hunnicutt argues that they aren’t even effective.

And happiness expert Alexander Kjerulf tends to agree. On his blog, he highlights one story from Hunnicutt’s book: when, during the Depression, cereal factory Kellogg’s switched to six-hour work days rather than lay people off.

This is what happened:

“The company found that the shorter workday influenced employees to work harder and more efficiently. The results included drastic reductions in overhead costs, labor costs, and the number of work-related accidents. Unit cost of production ‘is so lowered we can afford to pay as much for six hours as we formerly paid for eight,’ Kellogg boasted in a newspaper in 1935.”

Not to mention, the employees enjoyed a higher quality of life, finally having time to pursue hobbies and spend quality time with their loved ones.

It is said that history is the best teacher. Given our overstressed, overworked, and overwhelmed working world, it might be time to take a page from the 1930s and give six-hour work days a shot.

Do you think we need more leisure time? Would we be more productive if we switched to six-hour work days?

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

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Hate Your Job? 3 Ways to Make the Most of It Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 As you’re job hunting and planning your escape, follow these tips to make the most of your less-than-ideal job.

The post Hate Your Job? 3 Ways to Make the Most of It appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you’re having a bad day at work, it’s easy to fantasize about an entirely different career solving all your problems. While a new job or environment could be a better fit, focusing only on your external circumstance negates the impact of one important factor: You.

Your habits and attitudes will follow you into any office. Focus on improving your existing work relationships and how you approach the job you have now, and you’ll reap the benefits both now and in your future career.

So start now with what you’ve got. Follow these three tips to make every 9-to-5 hour count, no matter how little you enjoy your work. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Build your community

We often withdraw from people when we’re not feeling so hot. Yet relationships are important to your well being. A kind word or a shared laugh can brighten anyone’s spirits. Consider what you can do to increase your sense of connectedness in your workday.

Inter-office connections are one place to start. Say hello to the person at the front desk. Go to that happy hour. Pop your head into a less familiar office.

Make a bit more effort than usual to be friendly to the people around you. See if you don’t perk up as well.

Of course, you won’t want to cozy up to every coworker. If your coworkers are part of the problem, you can take two plans of action:

  • Increase your sense of community by spending more time with friends outside of work. You might grab coffee with a familiar face, work out in the morning with a buddy or catch up with someone over dinner.
  • Join an interesting or relevant organization. Some clubs have lunchtime events, which would help to both break up your day and increase your support system.

You’ll improve your day-to-day experience the more you increase your participation in communities around you. Not only that, but you’ll also expand your network, which may just lead you to your next opportunity.

2. Learn to appreciate your smaller freedoms

One of the most fundamental desires we all have at work is to feel a sense of control, even over the little stuff. In his book “The Power of Habit,” author Charles Duhigg sites a study in which manufacturing workers were allowed to schedule their own shifts and design their own uniforms. Their productivity increased by 20 percent.

You can also use the core idea of increased autonomy to your advantage.

Where do you already have autonomy or control at your office? Do you have a flexible schedule, a cubicle to decorate or your choice of assignments? Put your attention and appreciation towards those small pockets of freedom.

Then, consider what other areas of autonomy might be available to you. Perhaps you could propose a task to lead. Or you could liven up your cubicle with meaningful photos.

Taking these extra steps will increase your sense of ownership of your work. When you feel in charge, you’ll feel more engaged. And when you’re more engaged, your work week won’t feel like it’s dragging on.

3. Try a new routine

If your workday is a struggle, you’re likely worn out by the time you get home. It’s easy to slip into a less-than-ideal routine. You might plop in front of your computer or TV. Your bedtime might start to creep later and later. And mornings turn into a frenetic rush.

Try to find one small part of your day you could improve. Maybe you set an alarm for your bedtime. You could go for a walk before settling into tonight’s TV marathon. Or you could give yourself extra time to get ready for work so your mornings are less frantic.

Your daily habits have a larger impact on your day than you may realize, and they’re well within your power to improve. The better your habits outside of work, the more energy you’ll have once you get to work. You’ll be better prepared to learn what works for you in your job — and to set yourself up for success in your next position.

You can improve your work week without switching jobs. Focusing your attention on building your connections, improving the parts of your job you can control and developing healthier routines.

Pick one of these three areas to give special attention to today. By taking these proactive measures, you not only make your work day more tolerable, but also develop helpful skills and habits for future positions.

Alison Elissa Cardy is a professional career coach who specializes in helping men and women around the world figure out their career direction. If you’re feeling stuck in a job that doesn’t suit you, take the free Career Direction Quiz to get insight into what’s holding you back and what you need to do to move forward. Find her on G+.

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Why Working for a Failing Company is the Best Career Move You Could Make Wed, 09 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Was taking a job at a company that’s going under the worst career decision of your life? Nope. In fact, it could be the best career decision of your life.

The post Why Working for a Failing Company is the Best Career Move You Could Make appeared first on Brazen Life.

So you took a job with a company that’s sailing on rocky waters, eh? They probably didn’t tell you that in the interview. (Why would they?)

If they had told you sales are down, operations are a mess and accounting looks like the place piles of paper go to die, would you have signed on? If you have a ton of experience already, you know what you need to do: Go find something better.

If you’re a young professional with limited experience, you have two options: (Click here to tweet this list.)

  1. Jump ship and start swimming toward the sweet, sweet, sandy shore of unemployment
  2. Tie yourself to the mast and prepare to go down with the ship

All right, enough with the sailing metaphors.

Why the company’s failure is your win

Here’s the scoop. If you landed a job in a company that’s heading straight down the tubes, you’ve just hit the jackpot. You, more than your friend who scored a stable yet boring data entry job, have an opportunity to get years of experience in a short time.

You may have been hired for specific duties in a certain department, but that doesn’t mean other areas are off limits. In fact, when a company is in dire straights, they need as much help as they can get in every department. And they need that help to be cheap. What’s cheaper than an already inexpensive junior employee taking ton on more work?

They get the help they need without spending more money, and you get experience. It’s a fair trade.

A fresh face in a sea of jaded employees

If you haven’t worked for a failing company before, here’s the down low: Most of your other coworkers will be extremely jaded. They feel like they’ve tried everything. Eventually, they stop moving forward and breeze through the day.

Your biggest asset is that you aren’t cynical from the mental beat down of having worked for a dying company for years. Your willingness to put forth new ideas hasn’t been eroded. If those ideas are good, you’ll be told to run with them. And if your implementation is flawless, guess who your boss will ask next time they need a fresh perspective on something?

Yes, you have an opportunity to do whatever you want. But there’s a catch to all of this: You must be proactive and take initiative.

If sales are down, pick up the phone and start selling. If operations are a mess, put forth a plan to get things back on track. If you’re ambitious, the sky’s the limit (because, quite frankly, your boss is probably running short on solutions).

If you just want to do the bare minimum, you’ll be walking away with nothing gained. What a waste.

Scratch the company’s back, they’ll scratch yours

There’s a certain level of altruism that goes along with this approach. It feels good to pitch in and help keep a company afloat. People depend on their paycheck, and if you can help keep the doors open another year, you’ve done them a great service.

But, here’s the real reason why you should stick around: leverage.

With all the additional skills you gain by working at a failing company — skills you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to develop otherwise — you’ll be more valuable. You can leverage those transferable skills into a better position elsewhere.

Advance your career faster than ever

You see, at the beginning of your career, you often make lateral moves. For example, if you’re a Human Resources Associate, you might switch jobs and become — you guessed it — a Human Resources Associate. As you build up your experience, you can eventually start moving vertically into a higher-level position.

Slow and steady does not win the race. When it comes to your career, move up and do it quickly.

If you’re a Human Resources Associate with experience in marketing and operations, you’ll set yourself apart from other candidates and command a higher salary with more responsibilities. That’s how I went from lowly copywriter to senior marketing manager in two years without a degree in the field.

Here’s the bottom line. Everything in life has risks and rewards. Usually, the higher the risk, the greater the reward. There’s a chance your employer could close the doors tomorrow, leaving you jobless. But aren’t you in the same place if you quit?

Stick it out, build new skills and leverage those skills for a better job down the road. You’ll be glad you did.

Mike Thorpe is a former 9-5′r turned freelance writer. You can hire him through his website and follow him on Twitter at @freelancemike.

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Working Harder Won’t Get You Promoted, But This Will Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Think you should get promoted because you work hard? Think again. Instead of working your butt off, follow this strategy.

The post Working Harder Won’t Get You Promoted, But This Will appeared first on Brazen Life.

In our quest for financial freedom, we often work hard seeing a promotion as a direct payoff for our sweat equity.

But if you really want to see your efforts pay off, you must be more strategic. Many employees tend to ignore the big picture that influences whether or not they get a promotion.

Truth is, the CEO and leadership team of your company have a vision they want to see come to life. By tapping into your boss’s vision for success, you can position yourself as a key contributor to the mission of the company, advancing you to the next level of responsibility and income.

Step 1: Find out what’s bugging your boss

If you want to know and understand executive-level thinking, talk to a few execs. One recent study, cited by Quint Careers, found that in four out of five promotions, those who had been promoted had developed a mentoring relationship with their bosses.

Initiate small talk about work and family. Engage in general chit-chat. Make a regular habit of asking your boss if she needs help with anything. Pinpoint trouble areas and look for solutions. Be sure to stay positive and solution-oriented in your daily communications.

Communicate that you’re fully invested in the success of the company with your words and your behavior. Volunteer for additional work. Being the first to sign up for extra projects will relieve pressure from your team and your boss.

Raise your hand and take ownership over what you may think to be even the most menial of tasks. Taking care of the needs of your company will help establish you as the “go-to” person when your leadership team has a need.

Step 2: Improve upon existing processes and challenge norms

You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Instead of badmouthing your boss and your company by complaining, position yourself as a rising leader within your department. Focus on finding a solution. Look for ways to fill in the gaps in your company. Listen to what others are saying and try to determine what connections can be made.

Instead of whining to your boss about system failures, prescribe a remedy to the problem. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Research competitors and similarly structured businesses in different industries to come up with possible solutions.

A form may need to be developed. A meeting may need to be held. New software may be needed to address that problem. Follow the existing process, fill in gaps and suggest improvements.

When you improve on processes, be sure to include your superior officers in your decision making process. Involving executives can encourage them to continue their support and endorsement over time.

Step 3: Stay positive

Another way to position yourself for a promotion and to get on the winning team is to maintain a positive demeanor. Let your daily interactions with your boss be pleasant and productive.

Research shows that a positive, cheerful person is more likely to be paid more and promoted faster. It may be easy to keep a good attitude when all is well, but when the chips are down, a person’s true character usually shows.

When you’re facing criticism or are dealing with a high-stress project that’s coming apart at the seams, allow yourself time to process your anger, fear, anxiety and other emotions. Cool down before responding to avoid coming off as defensive.

Look on the brighter side of the situation. Stay focused on what lessons you can learn from the project’s failure. Find ways you can rise above the situation and concentrate on a solution, instead of the problem.

Don’t get caught up in negative talk like gossiping and complaining. Maintain a positive demeanor about work and life in general. Set a standard for yourself that your co-workers and bosses can respect.

Step 4: Show leadership

Leadership doesn’t begin with a title. Leadership starts right where you are. Focus on how you can become an architect of change in your job now.

Learn what skills you will need to achieve higher performance at your next level of promotion. Sometimes this may mean looking beyond your job title and assessing the needs of the company to determine your next move.

By accepting greater responsibility, you gain an opportunity to display your array of talents as well as prove your value to the company. Show the executives you care about the company and are willing to do what it takes to push the business along.

As you develop your stance as a mover and shaker in the company, you’ll start to see your name rising in executive conversations and pretty soon, your promotion will fall right into place.

Nora Jacques is a Freelance Blogger and Content Strategist with a desire to see people optimize their inner strengths and resources, with unique strategies and principles centered on productivity, family values and faith. Connect with Nora on Twitter or on her blog.

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The Worst Workplace Icebreakers, Plus Activities Your Team Will Actually Enjoy Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 We’ve all suffered through team-building exercises that were more morale-buster than morale-booster. Here’s how to make sure your company icebreakers actually engage your employees.

The post The Worst Workplace Icebreakers, Plus Activities Your Team Will Actually Enjoy appeared first on Brazen Life.

No matter how much technology develops or how modern our workplaces become, it seems that bad team-building exercises never change. It’s gotten to the point where just hearing the words “team building” is enough to induce epic eye-rolling and stifled groans of displeasure. But why?

Shouldn’t these bonding rituals be fun opportunities to get to know our colleagues and take a break from our workaday duties?

They should be. But they usually aren’t.

Unfortunately, activities that are meant to build camaraderie are often just exercises in frustration and boredom. The solution is not to do away with these activities, but to revamp them so you can actually start building valuable bonds in your team. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

The worst of the worst

Before we tackle what to do to improve your team-building efforts, let’s take a brief look at the kinds of activities that are the least effective at bringing people together.

1. Child’s play

As cute as it may seem while you’re planning, any activity that insults the intelligence of the adults participating is not a good idea. Mature professionals don’t want to hold hands, sing or make animal noises. Kids love that stuff but, unless it’s in the context of an improv comedy class, nearly all adults hate that stuff.  

2. Personal bubble

Americans like more personal space than people from most other countries. Studies have shown that we prefer to have about 1.5 to 4 feet of space between ourselves and even close friends and acquaintances. So, when planning team-building exercises, think about how close they’ll require people to be to one another.

3. Performance anxiety

Fear of public speaking ranks up there with fear of spiders and axe murderers. In fact, some studies have shown that 75 percent of Americans fear it. That means three out of every four people sitting in the conference room listening to the “fun” activity you’re describing are internally freaking out about being forced into the spotlight.

4. Too much information

Never plan activities that ask people to share private details of their personal life — this isn’t a college dorm, it’s a professional workplace. Sure, there are probably a few colleagues to whom you divulge your secrets, but that’s by choice. Games like “Never Have I Ever” or “Two Truths and a Lie” feel intrusive and inappropriate, so they’re best left out of the office.

5. Fixing what’s broken

This may be the worst sin of them all. Oftentimes, team-building exercises will be employed to repair damaged relationships. Let me assure you that cheesy games and activities will not solve these problems. If anything, they will exacerbate problems because they force employees to interact closely with people they resent. Any child can tell you that games aren’t fun with your enemies. If there are real problems among team members, you need to use real, problem-solving mediation suited to intelligent, opinionated adults.

It gets better

Don’t let the frequency of bad activities deter you from your team-building efforts — you can make it work with the right planning. Ultimately, you know your people and what they like, but here are a few tips to help guide you:

1. Add some competition

As long as the stakes are low, the teams are fair and the race is fun, competition can be a great way to bring people together and get them to let loose. Just make sure that the activity is something that everyone is capable of participating in.

For example, a physical challenge might not be a good idea. Also, the prize should be attractive but not so valuable that it breeds resentment among the non-winners.

2. Pay employees for their time

Required bonding should not take place after work hours. No one likes being forced to have fun when they could actually be having fun with their own friends and family. If team-building is part of the job, it should take place on the job.

3. Don’t beat a dead horse

If you’re in the middle of an activity that isn’t going well and it’s obvious that people are not engaged, just stop. There’s no use forcing the issue when it could be detrimental for morale. Plus, your team will respect you for admitting that it’s tanking as opposed to watching you fake-smile as you soldier on.

Incorporating input

If you’re not sure what your team will enjoy doing, the solution is simple: Ask them! Why not tap a few influential employees for their opinions? They’ll tell you if your idea is cringe-worthy or not. If that’s the case, elicit their ideas. You might be surprised at what they tell you.

If team-building happens on a regular basis, consider assigning the planning to a different department or committee each week. It will be fun to see what each group comes up with, and you may find that people are more likely to happily participate when they’re being led by their peers.

When it comes to workplace bonding, go back to the drawing board and find a new approach. The best way to see if your idea is a dud or not is to have a practice run-through. Something that seems good on paper may actually be painfully awkward in action.

Despite how aware we are of the failure of most of these kinds of activities, many companies continue to recycle the same tired, hated games year after year. For once, it’s actually time that we reinvent the wheel.

Rod Miller is the Head of New Program Development of Corporate Award Source, an online supplier of custom corporate awards, and is also a frequent contributor to several career blogs.  For more information, visit Corporate Award Source or connect with Ron on Google+.

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Networking in the City of Brotherly Love: 9 Must-Attend Philadelphia Events Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Next up in our best networking events series is Philadelphia. Here’s a list of where to meet the types of people who will help you take your career to that next level.

The post Networking in the City of Brotherly Love: 9 Must-Attend Philadelphia Events appeared first on Brazen Life.

In case you haven’t heard the buzz, Philadelphia is gaining a ton of recognition lately as a hotbed for innovation, startups, jobs and more. In other words, for young professionals entering the workforce or looking for cool opportunities, Philly’s the place to be.

Named one of the top 20 happiest cities for young professionals by Forbes and, there’s no shortage of worthwhile groups to join and networking events to attend here in the city of brotherly love.

Get out your calendar! Here are nine can’t-miss networking events in Philadelphia.

1. Philly Tech Week

Save the date for a magically techy week here in Philadelphia every April. Philly Tech Week, hosted by Philly, brings together thousands of people for more than 140 events in the span of one week. With different tracks including media, development, civic, business, access and creative, you’re sure to find at least one event to pique your interest. Plus, you can play Tetris on the side of one of Philadelphia’s largest skyscrapers (seriously). Philly also puts on their own regular networking events year-round, so be sure to stay tuned to their site for details.

2. Philadelphia After Work

With more than 500,000 members in 42 locations throughout the country, Philadelphia After Work is part of the popular national group Networking After Work. With upcoming summer events from at some of the city’s hottest bars, come grab a drink and enjoy a relaxed, casual setting for networking with some of Philly’s top business minds. Upon your arrival, you’ll receive a color-coded name tag by industry, so you can easily find those you might have a connection with. Philadelphia After Work meets monthly from 6-9 p.m.

3. Young Professional Network Philly

Chambers of Commerces are usually a good place to start when looking for great networking opportunities, and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is no exception. With a super active Young Professional Network (YPN), this niche group of the Chamber offers networking events, educational seminars (they recently hosted one on personal branding), volunteer opportunities and more.

4. Social Media Club Philadelphia

With monthly-ish happy hours, Social Media Club Philadelphia is your go-to group for the latest chatter on all things social media. Bonus: this organization has a pretty active and interesting Facebook group filled with daily commentary on the latest social media tips and trends.

5. Philly Geek Awards

The ultimate geeky networking event is the annual Philly Geek Awards, put on by Geekadelphia, which honors Philly’s vibrant geek scene at the most perfect venue possible: the Academy of Natural Sciences. Philly’s brightest minds come together for this black tie affair complete with cocktails, delicious food and a night of honoring some of the coolest geeky things happening in the city. Rub elbows with the winners of awards like scientist of the year, startup of the year, comic creator of the year and more. The 2015 awards are coming up on August 16.

6. Philadelphia TechBreakfast

Networking events aren’t just for after hours! Start your day right with a networking event over breakfast every month at Drexel University with like-minded techies, startups and businesses. Modeled after existing TechBreakfasts all over the country, this group meets monthly to demo the latest technologies with a “show and tell” approach to networking. No more boring PowerPoint presentations here!

7. Startup Grind Philadelphia

A global startup community designed to “educate, inspire and connect entrepreneurs,” Startup Grind came to Philadelphia in 2013 and has been hosting insightful monthly events ever since. Hosted each month, network with fellow entrepreneurs and hear from some of the area’s most prominent startups, fireside chat style. While you’re there, get a glimpse at one of Philadelphia’s unique coworking spaces, as all of Startup Grind’s events are hosted at Benjamin’s Desk.

8. Philly Ad Club YP Third Thursday Networking Happy Hour

Gather together with some of Philly’s most creative minds each third Thursday of the month for a casual networking happy hour with the young professionals subset of the Philly Ad Club. If you work in advertising, marketing or communications, this group is for you. Plus, you’ll get to make the rounds of some of the city’s coolest bars and event spaces.

9. TEDxPhiladelphia

Love watching TED talks on YouTube? Watch them in real life at the all-day event put on by an independent not-for-profit group each year in Philadelphia. Last year’s theme was “The New Workshop of the World” and the event sold out well before the much-anticipated date. Speakers ranged from a high school junior to the CEO of a Philly hospital to a Project Runway winner, giving attendees a wide variety of inspiring and insightful content throughout the conference. A date hasn’t been set for 2015, but watch their website so you can snag a ticket before they’re all gone.

Jessica Lawlor is a public relations professional and freelance writer in the Philadelphia area. Her work has been published on Ragan’s PR Daily, Muck Rack, Brazen Careerist, Mediabistro, Business Insider and AOL Jobs. She blogs at about getting gutsy- stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy.

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3 Tough Job Interview Situations and How to Handle Them Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Closing a business deal is a lot like nailing a job interview: how you communicate matters. Here’s how to be translate your skills.

The post 3 Tough Job Interview Situations and How to Handle Them appeared first on Brazen Life.

Once the interview is over and you’ve landed the job, it’s smooth sailing from here on out, right?

Not exactly.

If your job includes communicating with clients and closing deals, you’ll have to go through the job interview process over and over again. Luckily, you can translate the skills that got you in the door to help your sales shoot through the roof. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Here are a few interview situations and how you should handle them:

The interviewer asks about a particular skill, and you don’t have it

When an interviewer asks you about a skill you don’t have, you have three choices: you can misrepresent yourself and hope you don’t get caught, say you don’t have the skill and wish them luck on their candidate search, or you can emphasize a related skill you have while expressing your eagerness to learn and quick mastery of new material.

The first choice is not only pretty unethical, but also a great way to burn bridges within your industry. If the skill is important enough to be mentioned in the interview, it’s probably used frequently; you’re going to get nailed on it sooner or later.

Compare this with a prospect asking about a product you don’t have or a service you don’t provide. They need 24/7 communication, and you have a strict “no work on weekends” policy. You can say you’re always available, but if it’s important enough for them to ask in the interview, you can bet your phone will be ringing on a Saturday. Are you willing to answer it?

The second choice is more ethically balanced, but doesn’t do your business any favors. You came into the job interview for a reason and did your research. Unless there’s a huge miscommunication on the nature of the business, you should have something to offer.

Few business “soul mates” exist, so if you bow out the moment you think you can’t reach their ideal, you’re going to be turning away perfectly good business. Ask questions to probe deeper; they may be asking for a particular service or product, but what they really need is for you to fill a need. If you can discover what the client needs, you may be able to offer something of your own that would make you a perfect match.

The interviewer asks a straightforward question, and you need to set yourself apart from the competition

If an interviewer asks you a factual question, and you know the answer is on your resume or in your cover letter, it’s not because they’ve forgotten. They’re giving you an opportunity to tell them how that fact makes you the perfect candidate.

Interviewer: “It says here that you studied at Prestigious University.”

Wrong answer: “Yep.”

You just blew an opportunity to tell the interviewer how getting the Perfect Degree at Prestigious University and your school involvement makes you the best person for the job. On the other hand, the interviewer might bring up something on the resume because he or she is confused about it, and it may be broaching a delicate topic.

Interviewer: “I see a two year gap between your jobs at First Company and Second Company.”

Wrong response: “That’s correct. I did not work in 2010 and 2011.”

See the pattern? A prospect may ask about any number of things, and it’s your job to spin everything in a positive light.

Prospect: “It says on your site that you were named the Top Widget Seller of the Decade.”

Wrong response: “Yep.”

Right response: “It sure is! We competed against thirty-four other widget manufacturers and were rated in three different areas including customer service satisfaction. You mentioned earlier you had trouble with your last supplier and their bad attitude. I’m glad we can show you have a track record of happy customers.”

The interview is over, and you’re told you’ll hear from them within a week

Typical interview etiquette tells you to follow up to thank the person interviewing you immediately with a handwritten, mailed thank you card.

Why not transfer this practice over to meeting prospects? If you maximize every moment with potential clients, then you have – at minimum – learned about their company, made a networking contact and practiced your sales pitch. For that alone, they certainly deserve a thank you card.

Even if you don’t happen to match what they need for this job, you made a positive contact and put yourself in an excellent position to be contacted in the future.

Treat every discussion with a prospect with the same preparation and positive attitude you did during your interview for the position, and you’ll get that same fist-pump high-five feeling of being hired over and over again throughout your career!

Bret Bonnet is the CEO of Quality Logo Products, a promotional products distribution company that he helped to establish in 2003. His efforts earned him a spot on Counselor Magazine’s list of the top 30 entrepreneurs under 30 within the promotional products industry.

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Creative Portfolios: 9 Awesome Websites to Showcase Your Work Thu, 03 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Step one: Put together an amazing portfolio of your best work. Step two: Attract clients. Here’s how to do it right.

The post Creative Portfolios: 9 Awesome Websites to Showcase Your Work appeared first on Brazen Life.

Creative writers, journalists, web designers, photographers, visual artists, musicians and virtually all creative persons interested in attracting clients should have an online portfolio to show potential clients samples of their work.

But where’s the best place to host that portfolio?

Quite a few places online offer creatives a home for their work so others can check it out. Here are nine essential online portfolio locations every creative professional should consider. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Your own website

No matter where else you post your work, you should have a website to showcase samples of your creative projects. Whether you’re a writer, a musician, a web designer or work in another medium, you should have a website.

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the perfect portfolio site, especially if you’re looking for business clients. Fill out your profile completely and add new projects to your portfolio on a regular basis.

Writers can add new links and descriptions of their bylines to the “Publications” section of their profile. You can also upload files to LinkedIn, so if you’re a photographer, web designer, musician or another creative, upload your portfolio files and feature them on your LinkedIn profile.

3. Google+

Joining Google+ has its perks, not the least of which are the benefits associated with increased rankings when members of your network conduct a search.

Besides the Google search and authority benefits, you can add links to sites you’ve contributed to on your Google+ profile. If you’re a small business, you have the added benefit of listing your freelance business at Google+ Local for more effective geotargeting.

4. Behance

Behance is a dedicated portfolio site for all kinds of creatives, from architects to web designers. You can showcase visuals of your work and network with other professionals worldwide.

5. DeviantART

Visual artists of all kinds can show their work off at DeviantART, which is a social network for visual artists.

Flash animators, photographers, graphic artists, digital artists and even literary artists can showcase visual representations of their finest work. DeviantART has several active groups, so you can meet other artists in the same field. You can also buy and sell your artwork through the site.

6. Flickr

Flickr, owned by Yahoo!, is one of the oldest photo sharing sites on the web. Many photographers use it as a portfolio site. You can assign usage rights under the Creative Commons license to give your work wider distribution.

7. Shownd

Shownd is another all around portfolio site for web designers, illustrators, writers and all sorts of creative artists. Employers can post jobs. Creatives can browse the job board.

8. YouTube

Just like Flickr, YouTube allows you to upload videos. You can have your own YouTube channel and share your creative videos with the world. This is a great showcase for animators, directors, producers, videographers and even voice and screen talent who want to use the world’s largest video sharing site as a portfolio destination.

Since Google owns YouTube, you’ll have the added benefit of making your videos easily searchable on the Web.

9. Scribd

Scribd has recently changed its business model. Independent book publishers and authors can distribute their books through Scribd, using it as a membership library.

Whether you’re a full-time freelancer or hustling on the side to get your business off the ground, use these nine portfolio destinations to help you build your business and attract new clients.

For more information about how to promote your portfolio once it is posted, check out Christopher Jan Benitez’ article, “How to Make Your Online Portfolio Really Work for You.”

Allen Taylor is a freelance writer who hangs his hat at Taylored Content. You can see his online writing portfolio at LinkedIn, at the Hire Me tab on his website, and at Google+.

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How One Company’s Decision to Eliminate Job Postings Could Affect Recruiting Thu, 03 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 One online retail giant is getting rid of job postings. Could their new way of recruiting work for your company?

The post How One Company’s Decision to Eliminate Job Postings Could Affect Recruiting appeared first on Brazen Life.

Transactional. Spammy. Inefficient.

These are words that online shoe retailer Zappos might use to describe the traditional recruitment process.

And they’re not the only ones. Since bad hires can cost companies a lot of money, many recruiters have begun looking for alternatives to the endless cycle of job postings and resumes.

Zappos, which has no job titles and pays employees to quit, is already known for its experimental policies. Now, it’s turning the recruitment process on its head.

The Social Side of Recruitment

As described by a recent Wall Street Journal article, hopeful Zappos employees will no longer be able to apply to traditional job postings:

“Instead, they will have to join a social network, called Zappos Insiders, where they will network with current employees and demonstrate their passion for the company—in some cases publicly—in hopes that recruiters will tap them when jobs come open.”

By eliminating job postings and “keeping a pool of willing and able candidates at the ready,” Zappos hopes to streamline their recruiting and hiring processes, as well as find better candidates, the WSJ reports.

Though few companies have taken measures as extreme as Zappos, several — such as General Motors — are starting to become more social (and less formal) in their hiring practices, the article says. We’ve seen that in our experience, too, with more companies recruiting through social media and video, online networking events, and open-ended job postings.

The bottom line: You want to find people who are a good fit for your company. To do this, it might be time to turn to social media and other informal forms of recruiting.

Because if Zappos’ new methods prove successful, maybe even resumes will go the way of the VHS.

Do you think the recruitment process most companies use is outdated or inefficient? Should other companies follow Zappos’ lead?

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

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5 Tricks for Turning Your Summer Internship or Temp Job into a Full-Time Job Wed, 02 Jul 2014 17:00:42 +0000 Your temp job or internship can help you with your long-term career goals -- as long as you show up with the right attitude and play your cards rights.

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It’s summertime! After long semester, you’re ready to hit the ground running. This will be the summer you’ll gain valuable work experience that will pad your resume for life after graduation.

Whether you’re working an unpaid internship or picked up a temporary administrative job to earn extra cash, make this summer count. Just because you’re in a temporary gig doesn’t mean you can slack.

Believe it or not, your internship or admin job can serve as the perfect jumpstart to your career for life after graduation. Follow these five steps to leave a long-lasting and positive impression. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Be punctual

“If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” This is what my first mentor shared with me as the secret of successful first impressions. Being punctual demonstrates you respect your employer’s time.

While everyone has days where something comes up — an epic commute due to an accident or other roadblocks that are out of your control — don’t fall back on these excuses frequently. Make an effort to be on time.

It doesn’t matter if other employees in the office strolls in late. As a temporary employee or intern, you want to leave a good impression. Make a point to be early.

2. Dress for success

It’s often easy to identify the “the temp” or “the intern” just by looking around the office. Don’t let this happen to you. Leave your flip flops, short skirts, jeans and other summer wear at home. Save your ripped jean shorts or cute summer dress for the weekends — not the office.

Even though you’re low on the totem pole, dress professionally so your employers can treat you an equal. First impressions do matter!

3. Put down your iPhone

While on the job, take a much needed break from social media, G-chat and texting. You’re here to work, not to hang with your friends online. These distractions can get in the way of your career.

Yes, you may find yourself struggling with FOMO. But remember your employer has clear expectations on why you’re here for such a short time. They want you to support them on a specific project or task.

So while you’re on the job, try to let go of the distractions and pay attention to the work in front of you.

4. Be enthusiastic about all your assigned tasks

Always maintain a positive and enthusiastic attitude to whatever task you receive. This is the ultimate “make it or break it” on whether you get promoted to better projects or are offered a permanent position.

As a temp or intern, you may assigned to take care of menial, administrative tasks such as opening the mail, filing and copying. Treat each task as if it’s important (because it is.) Employers use your attention to detail and attitude to gauge your initiative, willingness to be part of the team and your work ethic.

Your boss can see when you roll your eyes and knows when you complain about your tasks. Keep those gripes to yourself. Your reputation — and future career — will thank you.

5. Steer clear of office politics

Socializing at work is a great way to connect and network. With that said, you want to stay as far away as possible from any office gossip. Avoid bad mouthing your coworkers or spreading rumors you may have overheard.

Remember, even if you do not continue working long-term with this company, you’ll likely want a reference or two at the end of your assignment or internship. To stay in the good graces of your employer, don’t engage in the office politics.

Look at your temp or internship experience not as a short-term in-between gig, but as an amazing opportunity for professional growth. These few months will help you expand your network and gain new skills and experiences that will come in handy in the future — so make this time count.

Laura Yamin is a Career Coach. She works with women who’ve decided they are done living their lives to please everybody else and are ready to transition into a career that makes them excited to get out of bed on Monday mornings.

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Hot Tech Trends: A Sneaky Technique for Predicting What Will Be Hot This Year Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If only you knew what would blow up next on the tech scene. Psst… you can. Here’s a smart way to predict the next big trends.

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If you’re looking for a formula to predict the next big tech trend, stop looking now. You won’t find a foolproof formula. The VCs behind the top firms prove again and again that they clearly have something going for them — although I’m not one to say whether that’s simply their incredibly intuitive gut or a complex equation locked in a vault behind a couple of large Rottweilers.

What I can tell you is that other than the big brains at VC firms, one of the best people to ask about the next big thing in tech is your friendly neighborhood tech recruiter. Specifically one who is privy to a broad portfolio of clients spanning a wide array of Tier 1 VCs.

The fact is, we have an advantage because we see across the whole range of their recent investments. This gives us unique visibility to the startups that will most likely be successful. We can spot the trends before anyone else.

Tech recruiters hold the keys to the next big thing

Some of the trends we’ve seen coming a long way out include Cloud, Big Data, “The Internet of Things” and mission-based technology such as crowd-funding platforms. The simple trick is that recruiters have access to a company’s back-end hiring database, so we can see exactly which positions are open and how openings there are.

For example, recently, there’s been a significant uptick in demand for data scientists and machine learning specialists for Big Data, and for cognitive scientists who are critical in helping companies understand how humans engage with technology — whether it be mobile social networks and online communities, or Google Glass and smart watches.

As recruiting firms increasingly invest in technology to make the search world more effective, they’ll become even better at spotting the next big thing. Imagine, for example, if we had access to a program that could follow who’s moving from one company to the next and where those people have been. Some companies — PayPal and Salesforce to name a couple — are known for churning out entrepreneurs, and these execs bring the crowd along with them.

If you could visualize who’s moving from a successful company to a new opportunity, you could probably state with considerable confidence what the next hot company would be. As the saying goes about A players: ”A’s attract A’s and B’s attract C’s!”

Follow the money

Of course, recruiters are pretty stealth. We don’t publish the jobs we’re working on and generally don’t announce placements we’ve made. But, it’s relatively easy to see where VCs are investing. If you want to infer the next big thing, it’s a good idea to follow the companies backed by top tier funds.

The firms to keep your eye on are Kleiner-Perkins, Sequoia, Benchmark, Accel, Greylock, Andreessen-Horowitz and Khosla. You can gather your own data by subscribing to free newsletters such as Pitchbook News and the CB Insights Funding Flash.

You can gain even more insight by looking to the younger set in your own family. Kids may be the best at spotting tech trends without even knowing they’re doing it. These days, teenagers are earliest adopters of apps like Snapchat and Whatsapp and practices such as media streaming. In my family, there’s no fight over the TV because our kids watch everything on laptops and portable devices.

There’s no magic crystal ball for spotting the next hot trend or startup. Whether a company will be successful depends on a variety of factors, but one of the chief indicators is people. The more access we have on the data surrounding those people, the better we’ll be at predicting the next big thing. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Iain Grant is a partner with Riviera Partners, a technical recruiting firm in Silicon Valley. Iain is responsible for managing executive-level searches for Riviera’s retained practice, where he focuses on helping companies meet the challenge of growing beyond the start-up phase by recruiting world class leaders.

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Overworked and Underappreciated at Work? Here’s Your Survival Guide Tue, 01 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 If you feel overworked and underappreciated at your job, it’s time to do something about it. Here are a few tips -- including when it’s right to quit.

The post Overworked and Underappreciated at Work? Here’s Your Survival Guide appeared first on Brazen Life.

Have you ever felt like you were being taken advantage of at work?

Well, welcome to corporate America.

Unless you work at a notoriously employee-friendly company such as Google or Zappos, you need to accept that the company you work for may be more interested in the bottom line than your happiness.

In an ideal world, you’d be recognized for all your awesomeness. They’d erect monuments in your honor for getting that report turned around on such a tight deadline. Do they know how hard you worked on that stinking report?

But this is the real world, and you’re going to have to fight off demanding bosses, difficult coworkers and your own bad habits. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Here’s how you can survive in a company that’s looking out for number one — and how to know when it’s time to call it quits.

1. Stop looking for recognition

This is a tough but vital strategy for surviving a thankless job. There will be times when your job requires you to work early and stay late, come in on weekends and perform duties beyond what your job description covers. Just do it.

If you need to complete a big project or prepare for a major event or presentation, it’s in your best interest to suck it up and get it done. Sometimes being extraordinary is considered a requirement, and you’ve got to accept that you shouldn’t expect a round of applause for every extra task you complete.

2. Don’t be a pushover

When you’re passionate about what you do and you do it with friendly people in a happy environment, you tend to be more committed without expecting anything in return.

Excitement and engagement are good for your career and your health, but make sure you draw a line between the habit and the exception. If you’re routinely being asked to commit more time than is fair to ask, you have every right to communicate your feelings and negotiate something in return (like a raise or a promotion).

Remember, it’s up to you to communicate your needs and expectations.

When to call it quits: There’s a difference between being overworked and being exploited. Calling you in repeatedly on your day off without notice and/or asking you to perform tasks that make you uncomfortable are good reasons to look for opportunities elsewhere.

3. Watch for workplace hazards

If you’re unlucky, you might work with someone who’s actively trying to set you up for failure. This person might take credit for hard work that you did or throw you under the bus when you least expect it.

First, err on the side of generosity. It’s possible that this person is overwhelmed with personal or professional issues and being inconsiderate without realizing it.

But if your coworker’s behavior is clearly antagonistic, put this person on your radar as a workplace hazard. Do your best to minimize your interactions with him or her.

4. Honestly evaluate your behavior

If you find that the relationship between you and your coworker or boss is deteriorating despite your best efforts, you need to act. But before you do, take an honest look at your workplace behavior to see if there’s any chance that you could be the problem.

Do you show up late? Do you gossip and cause drama in the office? Do you bring smelly tuna sandwiches for lunch or steal your coworkers’ snacks? Evaluate your behavior from an outsider’s perspective to see if there’s anything lacking.

When to call it quits: Unprovoked, mean-spirited behavior is a red flag that a coworker is out to get you. This is a relationship that might not be worth attempting to salvage. And, of course, verbal abuse or sexual harassment in the workplace is absolutely inexcusable.

5. Be willing to walk away

If you’ve exhausted all of your options, you need to play your final card: Look for another job.

Life is too short to work for jerks, and your career is too important to waste your time trying to please a team that isn’t a good fit. Think about what you’ve learned from this position, and let it inform your next strategic career move.

It can be hard to give your best to your job and come away feeling unappreciated — especially when a warm smile or a simple thank-you was all you were after.

Fortunately, your fate is in your hands. Stand up for yourself, ask for what you need when you know you deserve it and be prepared to move on if you can’t get it.

Hellen Barbara is the founder and president of Pubslush, a global crowdfunding and analytics platform for the literary world. She presently serves on the board of directors for the Gavin’s Got Heart Foundation, is a member of the Exceptional Women in Publishing organization, and is a Power Circle member of 85 Broads.

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Work (or Want to Work) for a Nonprofit? Join Us for This Free Networking Event Tue, 01 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 No time for face-to-face networking? This online lunch-hour event makes it easy to meet ambitious young 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, July 17th, at noon EST, we’re hosting a FREE networking event for the Brazen community, with a focus on professionals who work at NONPROFITS and ASSOCIATIONS.

That means if you work for a nonprofit, or you want to work for a nonprofit, you should join us!

Click here to register.

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

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

How It Works

It couldn’t be easier to join this event. Register now, and we’ll send you a link to join us on Thursday, July 17th.

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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8 Subtle Habits That Will Get You Noticed By Your Boss Mon, 30 Jun 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Want to quickly make a good impression on your employer? Make these key habits part of your work routine.

The post 8 Subtle Habits That Will Get You Noticed By Your Boss appeared first on Brazen Life.

Growing up, you were probably told to study hard, get good grades, go to college, and find a job with a respectable company, where you could spend 30 or 40 years working your way up the corporate ladder.

And for the millions of you who have chosen that path, there is good news. You don’t always have to play the waiting game — you know, the one where you wait for a promotion, you wait to get a raise and you wait to be noticed.

Having spent more than 10 years working my way up from peon status to being in a partnership in a $200 million financial planning practice, I have come to understand what it takes to make headway in corporate America.

I actually rose up the ladder and found myself in a very lucrative job. And I did it without any fancy credentials or even a college degree. I did it by studying people and building relationships with my peers and bosses.

Tips for getting noticed

There are so many things that employees can do to get noticed and stand out from their coworkers. So many employees try to fly under the radar and just get by without stirring the pot. Don’t be that employee! You want to be noticed by your superiors. (Click here to tweet this bit of inspiration.)

Go after it. The cream always rises to the top and you need to be the cream! There is no need to be obnoxious, aggressive or pushy. This will only serve to alienate you from your coworkers and arouse resentment.

Instead, try using these subtle habits every day and you’ll be amazed at how fast you get noticed.

1. Make eye contact with your boss

This is a sign not only of confidence (bosses love confidence), but also of honesty. Ever try lying to people’s faces? It’s extremely hard to look them in the eye when you do.

2. Remember what matters to them

Know their spouse’s name, their children’s names and their pets’ names. People love when others remember the things that they hold most dear. Doing this will not only show that you care but will strengthen your relationship.

3. Be bold

Be the first one to ask a question in a meeting. Don’t worry about looking stupid. The fear of criticism will prevent most people from opening their mouths and therefore getting noticed. A good boss will appreciate the moxie you have for being willing to engage.

4. Never show up late

Bosses hate tardiness because it takes away from productivity and most bosses are compensated in some form or another on productivity. By being late, you are in essence taking money from their pockets, disrespecting them and the firm, and showing them you don’t take your job seriously.

5. Own your mistakes

It’s far too easy to blame someone for breaking that damn copier, but own up to it and you will be rewarded. Not monetarily of course, but by gaining respect as an honest person. If you screw up a deal that costs the firm money, take ownership of it and ask how you can do better next time. Especially in very large companies, where it’s easy to go unnoticed, be the responsible one who can own up to making a mistake.

6. Be dependable

Yes, it will suck having to work late when you have tickets to the Red Sox game, but think of the upside. By sacrificing your time (and fun) in the short term, your long-term future may brighten significantly. Be the team player who is available in a pinch. Being the go-to person when a deadline needs to be met can become a huge asset to your career.

7. Have fun

Believe it or not, bosses actually like to see their employees having fun. It is possible to enjoy your work. Silencing your laughter when your boss turns the corner only shows that you think work has to be boring and may look like you are hiding something. Bosses want happy employees because they are far more productive and less likely to quit.

8. Be a creative thinker

Most employees will simply do what they are told and not much more. Try anticipating what your boss or company might need. Think ahead and surprise your boss. Good bosses will be receptive to your suggestions and feedback, so give it to them. Statements like: “Have you thought of XYZ?” or “Do you think it would be more productive if we did XYZ?” can make a huge difference in how you are viewed by your employer.

Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. Be constructive if you think you have a better solution, as many bosses may view your advice and feedback as threatening.

Try developing a few of these habits at a time and see how it affects your job. Remember, good things happen to good employees. And to be recognized as a good employee, you first need to be recognized!

Steve is a contributing writer for, a site dedicated to helping you eliminate bad habits, creating better ones and making major life changes. To learn more, check out the free report 77 Good Habits to Live a Better Life.

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8 Things the TV Show ‘Episodes’ Can Teach You About Starting a New Job Mon, 30 Jun 2014 10:00:49 +0000 Just because you landed your dream job doesn’t mean everything is smooth sailing for here on out. Avoid these career blunders as you transition to your new job.

The post 8 Things the TV Show ‘Episodes’ Can Teach You About Starting a New Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

Imagine for a second you were offered the job beyond your wildest dreams. It pays well, the location is amazing, and it will take your career to the next level. Awesome, right?

Even if everything sounds great, hold it right there. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Potential dangers could be hiding behind all the perks of this seemingly amazing job. And if you aren’t prepared, you could sabotage your career once you realize everything’s not as picture-perfect as you imagined.

To avoid damaging your life and career, you might want to learn from the American-English hybrid comedy Episodes (starring Matt LeBlanc, a.k.a. Joey from Friends, as himself.) (Click here to share this thought.)

In the show, the husband-wife writer team Sean and Beverly get the chance to shoot the U.S. version of their successful British comedy series. They head to LA where they face excessive cultural differences, absurd personalities and unrealistic expectations from their bosses.

While it’s fun to watch, you wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. Don’t let the entertainment business background fool you. Episodes has plenty to teach when it comes to your career. Here are eight lessons Sean and Beverly learn the hard way on the show. Avoid making the same mistakes with your own career.

1. Have your backup plan ready

Sean and Beverly are often stuck with unreasonable demands from the network and have to keep working together despite personal problems. If they had more ideas at the ready, their work would be less stressful.

TV writers are often advised to have several ideas to pitch at any given point. The same tip applies for all careers: Keep your options open.

Until you sign your contract (and even then, things are hardly ever set in stone), be prepared for people to change their minds and other unpleasant possibilities. Keeping your resume updated never hurts, for instance.

2. Prepare for culture shock

Even if you’re not leaving your hometown or country, your new job will likely have a different way of doing things. Yes, your day-to-day life probably won’t be as drastically different as moving from London to LA and everyone you meet might not seem like aliens.

But differences like company culture, bureaucracy or even your new boss’s management style can take some getting used to. It’s easier to be prepared than stunned over and over again. Do your research beforehand so you know as much as possible what you’re getting into.  

3.Learn to handle politically incorrect people

The fictional Matt LeBlanc is insensitive, politically incorrect and sometimes annoying, and he’s not the only one. In real life, you’ll meet plenty of people who seem to be void of professionalism, common sense and good manners. Learn to tolerate, ignore or handle. They aren’t going anywhere.

4. Steer clear of burning bridges

In Episodes,Matt LeBlanc has been a jerk to his Friends cast members. When he needs one of them to appear on his show, they all turn him down. (As far as I know, Matt is on good terms with them in real life.)

Try to take differences and problems in stride. You never know who you might need help from. You don’t have to be phony or a pushover, just try not to lose your cool.

5. Network when and where appropriate

I had a great public relations teacher who said PR was about three things: networking, networking and networking. Sage advice, and it also applies to career management.

I landed a part-time teaching gig I love simply because I mentioned to a friend I was interested in teaching. She had just started working for an education consultancy firm and her boss was looking for a teacher. Yes, I got and kept the job due to my own skills. But the introduction came through networking.

Beverly and Sean are terrible networkers. They mostly keep to themselves, and they barely socialize (or interact) with their own cast. Their show isn’t successful and the network has a new manager. Even if they return to London, having friends and connections in Hollywood can help them.

6. Don’t get involved with your boss

There might be some love stories out there, but you’ll possibly end up complicating your life. Don’t let your skills and reputation be overshadowed by your private life.

In Episodes Carol, the assistant network executive, makes this mistake. Her boss Merc is pretty obnoxious, but love is blind, and she hesitates when the network offers her his job. She dumps him soon after, and wants the job. But the network has already hired someone else.

7. Hire capable people

Beverly and Sean suffer from having the world’s most incapable (and reluctant) secretary. It decreases motivation and productivity. Having good manners is expected, but it doesn’t mean you have to put up with people who don’t do their jobs.

8. Be ready for your ideas to be tweaked

The funniest parts of the show are when the LA executive transforms the distinctively British parts into scenes for an American audience. For example, he makes the old, fat boarding school headmaster a hockey coach in the form of Matt LeBlanc.

It’s up to you to decide how much change you’re willing to accept, but your ideas will often shape and transform once editors, managers and bosses get involved. Don’t get too fixated on the purity of your ideas. If your projects take unacceptable turn, you have two options: Get upset about it or enjoy the ride.

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in a great opportunity. But it’s only to your advantage to be ready for the potential situations and problems that can arise no matter how awesome a job seems on paper.

Pinar Tarhan is a freelance blogger and writer for hire. She’s big on creating and managing a career you love. You can catch up with her on Twitter and her blog Addicted to Writing.

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Social Media Mistakes That Make You Look Like a Rookie Fri, 27 Jun 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If you’re trying to jumpstart your career, take a good look at your social media profiles and make sure you’re not making one of these mistakes.

The post Social Media Mistakes That Make You Look Like a Rookie appeared first on Brazen Life.

Social media is more than just your primary source of puppy and kitten videos. It’s a hub for connecting with others, learning new ideas and sharing information.

Why does this matter to a careerist? Because your social profiles are a one-stop shop for job leads, networking, industry information and other resources that can help propel your career.

Using social media the right way gives you access to people who can impact your career, for better or worst.

Social media is important, so don’t waste your shot to make a positive impression. Are you making these social media mistakes? (Click here to tweet this question.)

Misattributing quotes or information

Ever see an awesome quote or powerful statistic on one of your social channels and share it without checking the information? If so, it’s time to change that.

Misattribution is a major faux pas that has become far too common. Though people know everything they read online isn’t necessarily true, they don’t always take the time to research before sharing.

Here’s a practical example:

According to Pew Research Center, 72 percent of adults in the United States were using social media as of May 2013. For 18 to 29 year olds, 89 percent reported using social media.

Notice how the statistic is supported by the time period the data came from and the facility that provided the research? If you so choose, you can go to Pew Research and see the study results for yourself. It gives substance to the information.

You don’t have to go into as much detail in a social post, but you definitely want to make sure that information is right before sharing it.

Sharing incorrect information, even if it’s trivial, can damage your credibility. Take the extra step and find the original source before sharing, especially if it’s a social media account for business.

Participating in every single trend

Social media trends aren’t for everyone. If your social profiles are used for work purposes, don’t jump into a trend unless it makes sense for the company or brand.

Even if you don’t use social media for work, it can still impact your career. If a job recruiter finds your profile, do you really want his or her first impression to be your results for “Which (Insert 90s Movie Title Here) Character Are You?”

#RememberWhenEveryoneWasUsingComicallyLongHashtags? Or doing the Harlem Shake? Some people love seeing a page full of social trends, but others find it irritating.

Don’t rely on memes to tell your message. If you can incorporate social trends in a smart or interesting way, go for it. If you’re just doing it because everyone else is, don’t bother.

Ignoring analytics

Not using analytics as part of your strategy is a wasted opportunity. Do you know how many people see what you share? Does anyone click on the links you share?

Analytics can help you figure out how engaged your followers are. You can learn what is and isn’t working and make adjustments.

What you measure will depend on your goals. If you’re trying to find a job and sharing your portfolio through social media, you can measure whether people open the link or not.

If you’re an entrepreneur trying to build brand awareness, tracking your mentions and social shares could do the trick.

You don’t have to be stuffy or super serious in your social efforts. Just be smart.

Erin Palmer is a writer and editor who tries to make the most of her social media channels (though she can’t resist a puppy video). She’s been published in The Chicago Tribune and The Huffington Post, yet she still gets excited every time she sees her byline.

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A Wacky Way to Remember Someone’s Name the First Time You Meet Thu, 26 Jun 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Is remembering people’s names a constant struggle? If you want to get ahead at work, you’re going to have to do it -- and this simple trick might be the ticket.

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Remembering names is key to forming effective relationships. But for many of us, it remains a difficult skill — sometimes even a constant source of embarrassment.

What if we told you there was an easy way to remember everyone’s names — a simple visualization technique that’s been around for almost 80 years?

A recent Fast Company article reveals the trick of a master: Dale Carnegie. He is the author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” which has been a bestseller since its release in 1936.

Carnegie believed that the sweetest sound to anyone’s ear is their name, and that if you want to succeed at work, you’ve got to get good at remembering them.

So… What’s the trick?

The article describes his“memory-linking technique,” which suggests associating the details of someone’s name with a visual representation. Meaning, create an image in your mind that depicts the traits of their name, along with other key elements like their profession or physical appearance.

The wackier the image, the more it will stick out — and the more likely you are to remember it.

Fast Company gives the following examples:

“If you meet Jill Hamlette who’s a professional basketball player, imagine her fighting with Jack over an enormous piece of ham in her basketball uniform. If you meet Bill Turner who’s a musician, imagine him DJing at a turntable with a bunch of dollar bills in his hands.”

Next time you shake hands with someone, try it out. And let us know how it goes!

Do you have a technique for remembering people’s names? What do you think of memory-linking?

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

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MBA Recommendation Letters: 5 Tips for Convincing Admissions to Say Yes Thu, 26 Jun 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Hoping for that MBA acceptance? This advice from business school grads and an admissions official will help you get into your favorite school.

The post MBA Recommendation Letters: 5 Tips for Convincing Admissions to Say Yes appeared first on Brazen Life.

Business, it is often said, is all about relationships. Success often hinges more on whom, rather than what, you know.

That’s one reason it’s important to secure superior recommendation letters when applying to graduate business school programs. If you can show MBA admissions committees that you’ve done a great and strategic job networking with impressive people who are willing to go to bat for you and to attach their names to your application, that demonstrates that you are good at developing and managing relationships.

The reverse is also true, of course. If you choose your recommenders poorly, that reflects on your ability to maintain sophisticated networks and connections. These five proven tips for MBA recommendation letters come straight from MBAs and from business school faculty and staff: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Be pushy and informative

When Shael Sokolowski applied to business school, he submitted recommendations from two people — the head of a well-regarded advertising agency, where he had worked, and a marketing professor from college from whom he had learned a great deal.

“In both cases, these folks had come to know me well, personally and professionally, mentored me, and witnessed my growth,” says Sokolowski, who earned an MBA from Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business in New York in 2010.

“They knew I was ambitious, and when I connected with them, I talked to them about how much I valued our relationship and noted that their assistance would help catapult me to the next stage of my career, beginning with an MBA,” says Sokolowski, who is now a group account supervisor at the marketing agency IOMEDIA.

He had to push himself to contact an individual at the ad agency who he knew was insanely busy, Sokolowski remembers.

“There’s no harm in trying. The worst scenario is no response or a ‘no’ response,” he says. “You don’t need to think big or go home either. Someone who can articulate who you are, where you’ve come from, and where you’re going — especially what you’re capable of — will do.”

2. Now isn’t the time for autobiographies

However tempting it may be, never write your own letter for your recommender, advises Shari Hubert, associate dean and director of MBA admissions at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in Washington, D.C.

“If the person asks you to draft something for them to sign, either find another recommender or let them know that you really need for them to write it, but that you’re willing to provide them with some background information to make it easier on them to recall various projects you may have worked on,” Hubert says.

3. Don’t second-guess instructions

If an MBA program asks for only one recommendation, that means the committee only wants one recommendation letter, Hubert advises.

“If they say they would prefer not to have a professor, then do not submit one,” she says. “There are usually reasons why schools have their specific guidelines, so it’s best to always follow them.”

4. No relatives, but yes to former bosses

If you work for your family business, you shouldn’t ask your mom or dad to pen your recommendation letter, even if she or he is the company CEO, according to Hubert. “Find a client if necessary or another supervisor, non-family member,” she says.

If you don’t want your current employer to know that you are leaving the company to go to business school, it’s OK to ask a former manager to write a recommendation letter, she says.

5. Meet with your recommender

Ideally, MBA applicants and their recommenders will meet several times, so that the mentor, coach or sponsor understands where the applicant is coming from and what she or he aspires to do, says Darren  Kowitt, a Columbia University MBA and admissions consultant.

“A plan that’s been percolating and brewing for months has a mellower, more refined texture,” Kowitt says.

The recommendation letter should “strongly resemble the candidate, but in the author’s words,” he says. “Too much coaching leads to interpretations of close coordination and ghost-writing, and anything too obvious there is a blatant affront to a process whose authenticity measures are hard to enforce in anything other than a gentlemen’s agreement fashion.”

Menachem Wecker is co-author, with Brandon Withrow, of “Consider No Evil: Two Faith Traditions and the Problem of Academic Freedom in Religious Higher Education” (forthcoming from Cascade Books).

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Why You Should Stop Looking for a Job, and Improve Your Skills Instead Wed, 25 Jun 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Learn to look at your resume and your career the way employers do and you’ll start positioning yourself for better opportunities.

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Today’s job market is changing dramatically. Companies are constantly hiring and firing and the days of lifelong careers at a single organization are over. We’re living in a “gig economy” where one- to five-year stints are the norm and people need to plan their careers around a market that’s becoming more unpredictable.

From an employer’s perspective, it’s all about relevancy. How relevant are the skills you have to solving the problems my business faces? From an employee’s perspective, it’s about building marketable skill sets to leverage from one opportunity to the next. In this marketplace of skills, why do people still focus on finding jobs?

Take a look at resumes. Resumes speak to who you were — jobs you held in the past, education completed, etc. They do not reflect what employers really care about — how you will help them advance their organizations. Employers hire skills and future potential, not credentials and past accolades. (Click here to tweet this.)

This idea of “skills” has changed how I perceive my career planning as well as that of the people who work for me. Rather than looking at positions as jobs with specific pay and responsibilities associated, we try to look at them as periods in which you’re developing specific skills that will help grow our business. This philosophy enables honest conversations around each employee’s role and allows us to work together to develop skills that we need and that they want.

In pursuing a skill-focused career planning philosophy, I look at three aspects that help answer the question: What skills do I choose to acquire and how do I position myself to receive opportunities that leverage/grow these skills?

1. Finding yourself

About nine months into starting my company, Growth Spark, I had to decide whether to continue freelancing or to build an agency. I figured the best way to determine what hires I needed was to examine the role that I saw myself playing in the business.

So I developed what I call “base analysis,” which I conduct annually to determine what skills I need to develop. Base analysis looks at the individual tasks I perform and asks three questions:

  1. Am I good at this task?
  2. Do I enjoy performing this task?
  3. Does this task directly contribute to growth for the company?

I get as granular as possible in evaluating the answers to these questions. Anything that scores a yes to all three, I continue to perform. This same process can be applied for skills-focused career planning to look at current (and past) jobs and list the tasks/roles you’ve performed. Focus your career planning around leveraging your strengths and going after “Level 3” skills.

2. Growing yourself

Once you’ve identified the skills to develop, set yourself on a track of continual learning. I like drawing from the Japanese work philosophy “kaizen” about continuous incremental improvement. In a market where technology evolves at a pace that can retire skill sets in just a few years, continuous self-improvement is a necessity.

Luckily, many entrepreneurs have capitalized on this trend by creating alternative education companies. Organizations such as General Assembly provide online and offline courses to help working professionals continue building skills in marketing, design, business strategy, etc., at a fraction of the cost of traditional education.

3. Positioning yourself

The last piece in skills-focused career planning is about positioning yourself to get opportunities to continue to refine these skills (while getting paid). I often suggest to people evaluating job opportunities that they view themselves as a consultant. The potential employer is a client who needs help solving a particular set of issues that match your skill sets.

The most successful consultants focus on marketing themselves as a unique brand and sell their portfolio rather than their resume. Consultants continually demonstrate their expertise through blogging and social media, as well as by speaking and building a personal website to showcase their portfolio.

4. Learn before you earn

During college I had an internship with a consultancy that worked with startups. My boss (now mentor) said something that stuck with me: “Learn before you earn.” The idea of building one’s career around learning and acquiring skills develops the resiliency necessary in today’s unpredictable job market.

Ross manages Growth Spark, a Cambridge, MA, based agency that helps e-commerce companies design interfaces that convert visitors into customers. A graduate of Babson College, he is a serial entrepreneur in the technology space with experience in digital marketing, business development and strategic management.

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2 Questions You Should Ask Before Leaving Your Job Interview Wed, 25 Jun 2014 10:00:00 +0000 What you say in your job interview could be the difference between getting the job or not. Here’s what you need to say to snag the job.

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Do you know the impact key words and powerful phrases can have during a job interview? You may think think the interviewer is judging you as a whole, taking into account everything from background, experience and professional demeanor to personality and favorite hobbies.

The truth is, most interviewers judge you based on what you say and how you behave (body language) before they evaluate the details of your resume.

Ninety percent of hiring decisions are made on an emotional, gut level. (Click here to tweet this statistic.) Candidates are hired based on the right turn of phrase, strong handshake or eye contact — and the rest is emotional justification. Psychologists call this “motivated reasoning.” Most business decisions are made in this way, with little logic.

The two questions you need to ask

While most job seekers focus on coming across as competent in the interviewing process, the successful ones focus on being likable and memorable. The use of key words and phrases play an important role in this.

For example, try to end your first interview by asking the interviewer two questions:

  • “How do I stack up with the other candidates you have interviewed?”
  • “What do I need to do to get the job?”

These questions can make an enormous difference between getting a second interview (or hired) or waiting by the phone for weeks. Not long ago, one of my hiring clients interviewed seven candidates for a mid-level purchasing managerial position.

The candidate we referred for the position, Mary, used these questions to close her initial interview. The interviewer took notice and told us Mary was the only one who asked how she compared to the others. When he kicked her resume up to the next group of interviewers, he told them, “I interviewed several candidates initially and she was the only one who asked for the job. I really like her.”

Mary spent a mere two and a half hours interviewing with this company — one hour at the initial interview and an hour and a half with the next group. She became the “best” candidate because of the powerful phrases she used in the interviewing process.

In fact, the vice president of procurement told her that while she wasn’t the most qualified applicant, she had come across much better than the others during the interviews. Mary was hired and she’s convinced that these two simple questions helped her nail the interviews and land the job.

Foot in the door, not in the mouth

Most job seekers are surprised to learn that during an average hiring cycle, you need to spend four hours in face-to-face interviews. The interviewers listen intently to what you have to say, so you don’t have a lot of wriggle room for making mistakes, flubbing or forgetting. Most mistakes candidates make center around saying the wrong thing or saying something that is interpreted the wrong way.

To overcome missteps during an interview you have to be prepared — and to be prepared you must practice, practice, practice. Even if you’re good at talking about yourself and fast on your feet, interviews have their own particular language. Learn it backward and forward – or you risk saying the wrong thing.

Here are some strong words you can use to describe yourself: passionate, practical, quick study and good communicator.

Keep in mind that throughout the job-hunting process you must be courageous in your quest for a job, putting yourself out there despite knowing you’ll be greeted with rejection.

Analyze interviews that don’t bear fruit, learn from them and move onto the next. Maybe you ended on a weak note, saying something like “Well, where do we go from here?” Or “I might be interested.”

Instead, asking the interviewer how you stack up to the competition, and what you can do to get the job, indicates courage. You’re telling them, “I’m a serious candidate. Hire me.”

Tony Beshara is the owner and president of Babich & Associates, established in 1952 and is the oldest placement and recruitment service in Texas. He has been a professional recruiter since 1973 and has personally found more than 8500 individuals jobs.

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3 Reasons Having a Professional Website Will Land You Your Next Job Tue, 24 Jun 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Websites aren’t just useful for businesses to attract clients. Having a website can help you get a job too, whether you’re a freelancer or traditional employee.

The post 3 Reasons Having a Professional Website Will Land You Your Next Job appeared first on Brazen Life.

Head to any website targeted toward the self-employed and you’ll hear the same thing: You need a website to land clients. But what about those with more traditional jobs: Why consider creating a website? Maybe you’re happy with your traditional job, and you’ve got a killer resume. That’s all you need, right?

Unfortunately, a killer resume doesn’t always cut it. You’ve likely experienced this firsthand, having gone into interview after interview with little to show for it. But there’s nothing more you can do to make your resume shine short of printing it on pink scented paper (and Elle Woods already did that one).

At this point, it’s time to give yourself more of an edge in the job hunt. How do you do this? One way is to create a website. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Not sure if creating a website is worth it? Here are some reasons why a website is a good idea even when you’re a traditional employee.

1. It serves as an online portfolio

It can be tough to show what you’re capable of in an interview or through a one to two page resume. With your website, you can do more to showcase your talents, and since it’s available publicly, you can reach more recruiters while giving them a convenient path to your portfolio.

Imagine this:

Instead of handing over a portfolio binder to the hiring manager, you give him access to your site by sharing your domain name. He’s stunned by your professionalism (and thankful he doesn’t have to worry about carrying around or misplacing your binder), and you don’t have to worry about getting your binder back before your next interview. Plus, you can incorporate digital content on a website, like an introduction video.

But this portfolio option only raises more questions. Why not just use LinkedIn or other platforms to showcase your expertise? Three reasons:

  1. A website sets you apart from other candidates.
  2. It gives you more freedom in the layout and upload options so your personality can shine through.
  3. It helps you establish an emotional connection with your website’s visitors.

Another major question you probably have: What should I include in my portfolio? Try incorporating these elements:

  • An about page that gives a brief overview of who you are, what your education and experience is, and what you can do or have done as an employee.
  • A portfolio page showcasing your previous projects. Try to include pictures whenever possible.
  • A testimonials page sharing recommendations from previous employers or coworkers.
  • Contact details so people can get in touch.
  • A professional headshot.

Consider these examples of professional portfolios in various industries for inspiration:

2. Use it to attract job leads (without even trying)

Let’s say you set up a website. You’ll probably list it on your resume so hiring managers can learn more about you.

But your website can do so much more than that. Before you even see a job listing and apply to it, most hiring managers are already looking for you. Today, 80 percent of jobs are never listed, reports That means hiring managers are already on the search before you are.

How are they finding these qualified individuals? Many will tap into their networks and receive recommendations from people they already know, while others will go on the search themselves.

When recruiters look for qualified individuals, they might start with search engines, head to directories or go on a social media search. With a website, you can reel in those recruiters by having extra to offer. It’ll help you stand out from the crowd.

Even more than that, a website expands your visibility. If a recruiter uses a search engine, your website is more likely to show up than your LinkedIn profile. And if you have a blog, you could attract hiring managers to your site when they’re not even looking. They might like what they see and contact you.

How can you make your website more visible?

  1. Include the URL in your signature on any professional platform, including LinkedIn, email and business cards.
  2. Learn about and use SEO techniques.
  3. Talk to and interact with people in your industry through online group forums. Share your URL on your profile.

3. Boost your credibility through blogging

Brazen has talked about how blogging can boost your credibility countless times. As you blog in your niche and market that content, you can create a social following.

If you could tell a hiring manager you have 10,000 email subscribers on your industry-related blog, you’d probably raise a few eyebrows. This alone can serve as proof of your expertise, giving you stats to measure your success by and show that people hold you in high esteem within the field.

Check out these great posts for more about using your blog to get a job:

When does a website make sense?

While a website is certainly a great job-landing tool for some people, it doesn’t always make sense for every job seeker. Consider starting a website when:

  • Other people in your industry have one.
  • Your work is visual (such as photography, architecture or advertising).
  • You already have a portfolio that you could turn digital.

Are you ready to boost your professional appearance and start seeing more results from your interviews? Start by digging into how to build a website with PCMag’s guide.

Alicia Rades (@aliciarades) is a freelance blogger and writer eager to create content on blogging, writing, and career topics. Learn more about her and her blogging services at, where you can download her free Which Freelance Blogger Should I Hire? Worksheet.

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Forget the To-Do List: Here’s a Better Way to Identify Your Priorities Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Having trouble figuring out what you should focus on in your career? Forget all the advice you’ve heard before and try this.

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Are you tired of the same old advice on prioritizing, like “Know what’s important to you,” “Write a To-Do list” and “Use this productivity app”?

Well, here’s the good news: That’s about to change.

All you need is a clean piece of paper, a pencil and a place where you can sit back, relax and enjoy some coffee (or whichever beverage you prefer). (Click here to tweet this thought.)

On the paper, draw a five-column table. Label the first column “My Priorities” and list everything you consider important to you in that column. Then, label the succeeding columns with the following questions, in order:

Column 2: Why am I doing this again?

List the reasons why the items in Column 1 are important to you.

For example, if you’re a full-time office worker who freelances on the side, your priorities will include “My Job” and “My Freelancing Side Gig.” You can write “Because I need a stable source of income” next to “My Job,” and “Because I want to turn my creative passion into a profession” next to “My Freelancing Side Gig.”

Whatever you do, don’t leave anything out. This is important for the next step, which is…

Column 3: Are the “whys” worth it?

In this part, think about whether your priorities are worth struggling for. Going back to the previous example, is the “stable source of income” worth the extra hours you spend at the office? Is your pursuit of your “creative passion” worth the complaints from family and friends that you don’t have enough time for them — or for yourself — anymore?

If your answer to these questions is “Yes,” put a checkmark in Column 3 next to the corresponding item in Column 2. Otherwise, leave the space blank.

Column 4: What’s the worst that can happen if I ditch this?

Sometimes, the priorities listed in Column 1 bog you down, to the point that you feel like dropping some of them. In that case, you’ll want to visualize the logical worst-case scenarios that can happen from doing so, and list these scenarios under Column 4.

This may be a bit difficult, since humans aren’t hardwired to think about worst-case scenarios, but you have to do it if you want to psychologically prepare yourself for the worst. It’s best if you list as many items as you can in this part, so you can easily answer the question…

Column 5: Am I prepared for the worst?

If the scenarios you listed in Column 4 happen to you today, will you be prepared for them? Under Column 5, put a check mark next to the corresponding item in Column 4 if “No,” and leave the space blank if “Yes.”

Tally Time

Better take a deep breath first, because this is going to be the hardest part of the exercise. (Don’t worry; it’s also the last part.)

Add up the number of Column 3 checkmarks and the number of Column 5 checkmarks per Column 1 item. For example, let’s suppose “My Job” has 12 checks in Column 3, and seven checks in Column 5, while “My Freelancing Side Gig” has 11 checks in Column 3, and two checks in Column 5.

Then, subtract the numbers in Column 5 from the ones in Column 3. “My Job” would have five net check marks (12 – 7), while “My Freelancing Gig” would have nine (11 – 2).

Based on these final numbers, rank your priorities from highest to lowest, in terms of net checkmarks. Using our examples, “My Freelancing Gig” would have the highest score, and should therefore be your top priority.

Voila! You have an instant, organized list of your current priorities. Pretty neat, huh?

If there’s one thing you should prioritize, it’s your priorities. Why not try this exercise today, and let us know in the comments section how it worked for you?

Issa Mirandilla writes about freelancing, writing, marketing, careers, and other business-related topics. Give her a nudge on Twitter or visit her website here.

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Choose to Be Brazen: Why Confidence at Work is the Key to Everything Mon, 23 Jun 2014 10:00:00 +0000 We all have a choice in how we live our life -- here’s why you want to choose to be brazen and the tips to get you there.

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You know how some words have an energy about them? Brazen is one. It gives an energy of power and confidence. Whereas its antonyms — timid, shy, meek — have a much different energy.

Interesting how a simple word — brazen — can make us feel a certain way and elicit a sense of power, strength and confidence.

Being brazen means taking ownership and being unapologetic about our lives. It’s a powerful word that serves as an anchor for when we want to make big (or small) shifts in our lives and our careers.

When I use brazen, I don’t mean being bossy, controlling, rude or self-absorbed. I mean the choice to be brazen in a conscious way. Anytime we step into a place of certainty, confidence and boldness, it doesn’t equate to being cocky or rude. It’s a grounded choice to proceed with an intention and goal of certainty from an authentic place.

It’s a fine line between being assured, certain and bold from a conscious place and being those characteristics from a rigid, inflexible, close-minded place. Choose the former.

When it comes to how you want to live your life and navigate the waters of your work and career, which would you prefer: to be brazen about it or meek?

As with anything in life, being brazen or timid, confident or insecure, happy or sad are all choices. The beautiful thing about being human is that we have a choice in how we feel, what we think and how we choose to act.

Our choices really do dictate what our lives look like. Learning how to be direct and conscious about our choices — how we feel, what we think or believe and how we act — are the ingredients required to get the most out of our lives.

But what does being brazen mean in this day and age? How can it help us to stand out in a crowded world of amazing, talented entrepreneurial people? How can it make us feel happier or help us shift something that we’ve been trying to shift with little to no success?

Maybe we want to improve a relationship, but can’t find that missing ingredient. Perhaps we’ve struggled financially, and the solution eludes us. Maybe we’re searching for the perfect career or want to make our current career choice more empowering.

Choosing to approach any problem or issue you face with a focus of being brazen is creates an energy that can assist you far beyond what you imagine.

If we don’t make the choice to pursue our goals with confidence and boldness, we won’t get what we want. Our energy will scream “You don’t really want it,” or “I don’t believe you!” The choice to be brazen about what we want is the choice to succeed and own our lives.

Here are four quick tips to increasing your success in life and business by choosing to be brazen: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Clarity

Be clear about your goals, intentions and desires. Without clarity or a plan, there’s no point. It’s that old saying: fail to plan, plan to fail. Create a vision of the outcome you want and be detailed about it.

For example, if you have a big job interview, take time to get quiet, maybe meditate, and  come up with your ideal vision of how you want the interview to go. How will you feel? What will you be wearing? How do you respond and handle interview questions?

Create the ideal situation in your mind first, so you can create the reality. See and feel what you want before it happens.

2. Commitment

If you’re wishy-washy with what you want, it’s not going to manifest. Being committed is an essential component of getting what we want and where we want to be. And commitment is a choice.

When you want a clear path, a better job, more money or a better relationship, being committed to your path is essential. If you don’t commit, it’s not a big want or desire.

3. Consistency

Once you have a clear plan and vision in mind, make the choice to be consistent. Create a plan that keeps you accountable and on track with your goals and intentions.

4. Consciousness

Be conscious about what you want to create in your life and career. It’s often required to step into a larger and bigger place of ownership and accountability. Being conscious means being aware and noticing what’s working and what’s not. It means being clear about and committed to your goals. It’s being consistent at all times.

Making a conscious choice to live in alignment with the definition of brazen — bold and without shame — is a masterful way to approach your life. We can have all the information and “how-to” to lead the exact lives we desire, but if we don’t implement those steps, it’s a waste of time.

And it comes down to a choice. Our ability to choose is our ability to create lives we love — right down to our health, our wealth, our relationships and our success.

But most of us forget how powerful a little choice can be. We can choose how to feel, what to think and how to react to situations in our lives — and that’s our point of power.

It’s a choice to be brazen or not.

Carrie Jolie Dale is an author, choice strategist and manifesting ninja. She is living proof that anyone can find happiness, meaning and purpose in their life by mastering their choices. You can find Carrie at, Twitter, and on Facebook.

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How to Attract Top Talent: 10 Companies Job Seekers are Dying to Work For Fri, 20 Jun 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Which companies do top professionals want to work for? LinkedIn’s annual ranking tells all, including how these employers manage to attract the best workers.

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Feeling blah might not sound like a big deal, but when it comes to American business, workplace disengagement has huge consequences. Recent research has found that less than one-in-three American workers is actively engaged in their jobs, a fact that Gallup estimates costs the economy $450 to $550 billion per year.

But not every company suffers from an epidemic of employee disengagement. A handful of top companies really do get it — engaged workers aren’t just happier and more productive, but also the source of the vast majority of breakthrough ideas. (Click here to tweet this thought.) In addition to being great places to work if you happen to be looking for a job, these best-of-class companies can serve as inspiration for managers hoping to better inspire their teams.

So who exactly are these much desired organizations, and how do they attract top talent?

Every year LinkedIn aims to find out with its annual ranking of InDemand Employers, compiled by sorting through reams of data from the website. The latest edition is now out, so who made the list of America’s dream employers? Here are the top ten:

  1. Google
  2. Apple
  3. Amazon
  4. Facebook
  6. The Walt Disney Company
  7. Nike
  8. McKinsey & Company
  9. PepsiCo

There’s no shock at the top of the list as Google and Apple retain their (unsurprising) position at the top of the heap from last year. Nor were there any huge movers, but Amazon, with its bold and much chattered-about initiatives including drone delivery and controversial hardball tactics with publishers, did climb a couple of spots from number five to number three. Walt Disney, however, was two slots less magical this year.

So what makes a company such a dream employer? LinkedIn suggests five factors that these firms emphasize when hiring that keep them so demand among talent and so deeply engaging once they hire.


The best companies for employee engagement, unsurprisingly, encourage team members to bring their whole selves to work. “The culture at NBCUniversal is not a faceless corporate culture, it’s a culture that allows people to have a personality. Being true to your personality while maintaining professionalism is the key to success with landing your dream job here,” says NBCUniversal (ranked #15) VP of Talent Acquisition James Ryding, for instance.


Top employers engage deeply with candidates on social media and encourage potential hires to have deeper connections to the company than a simple scan of the webpage.

Team orientation

The firms that topped the list don’t hire many lone wolves. Adobe (ranked #24) VP of Global Talent Selection and Development Jeff Vijungco says: “We want individuals with a unique skillset that complements the team, a sense of urgency to deliver beyond what’s possible and ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ team players.”


Top workers don’t just work — they also dream big. “When you interview, show us your passion, your innovative mind, and intrigue us with your big ideas on the impact you could have on our company, customers and our community,” says SVP of Global Employee Success Monika Fahlbusch.


If you want to hire top employees, don’t expect them to do the same thing day in and day out. One of the keys to being engaging and in demand is routinely shaking things up and encouraging employees to follow their passions. “Prospects should be open and determined about pursuing passions yet flexible enough to jump in to anything,” says VMware (ranked #19) Director of Executive Staffing Anu Datta.

Employers: How could you emphasize these five factors to bring in more top recruits?

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London. She writes a daily column for, contributes regularly to Forbes and Women 2.0 and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch and GigaOM, among others.

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The post How to Attract Top Talent: 10 Companies Job Seekers are Dying to Work For appeared first on Brazen Life.

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You Won’t Believe the Theme of This Coworking Space Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Denver’s Green Labs is no ordinary coworking space. Read on to find out what makes it unique. (Hint: It’s spelled W-E-E-D.)

The post You Won’t Believe the Theme of This Coworking Space appeared first on Brazen Life.

Freelancers, entrepreneurs and side-giggers: Have you ever thought of joining a coworking space? It seems they’re popping up everywhere lately as a way to maintain in-person connections even when all your work is online.

Here’s a new coworking space to add to the list: Green Labs in Denver. To a casual observer, this shared office looks like all the others: sleek furniture, open workspaces, fast wifi, strong coffee, and plenty of networking events and classes.

Sounds great, right? Well, there’s a catch. As the world’s first cannabis coworking space, you can only join Green Labs if you work or invest in Colorado’s legal marijuana industry.

The booming business of weed

Don’t start picturing an office filled with bongs and Twinkies, however — this is much more than a high-tech frat house.

Two University of Michigan entrepreneurs recently founded Green Labs with the hopes of centralizing investment in the cannabis industry.

In their words:

“We cater to the new and rapidly expanding cannabis industry precipitated by the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado. Our members work side-by-side with other entrepreneurs, attract venture capital and private funding through our investment arm, the Denver Angels, and learn best practices in digital marketing, programming, and legal strategy.”

Since several states are soon predicted to follow in Colorado’s and Washington’s footsteps, THC-centric startups are only expected to grow in number — which means there might be a Green Labs in your city before you know it!

What other interesting coworking spaces have caught your eye?

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

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The post You Won’t Believe the Theme of This Coworking Space appeared first on Brazen Life.

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Why You Should Always Keep a Running List of Your Career Accomplishments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Sometimes it’s worth bragging. Here’s why you need to keep a list of your accomplishments, even if you love your job.

The post Why You Should Always Keep a Running List of Your Career Accomplishments appeared first on Brazen Life.

Every professional should keep an up-to-date list of his or her accomplishments, responsibilities and results.

Academic advisors sometimes call this a “brag sheet,” and they draw from it when writing recommendations for students. Keeping a list of your professional accomplishments serves a similar purpose.

This list acts as a repository that you can draw from whenever you need to. Don’t anticipate looking for a new job or updating your resume soon? You should still keep a list of your accomplishments. Here’s why:

1. Keep better track of your experiences

It’s difficult to remember all the details of our experiences. Documenting them close to when they happen enables you to accurately keep track for the future. This will make it easier to weave relevant experiences into a resume or cover letter. It’ll also help you simply remember.

2. Have readily available phrases and statistics to draw from

When you run into the VP you admire in the elevator and she asks, “So what have you been up to?” you’ll have articulate, meaningful responses to give her rather than saying, “Not much,” or giving her a generic, “Things are so crazy!” This also applies to when a recruiter reaches out to you on LinkedIn or when your uncle asks about your job over the holidays.

3. Give yourself choices

You’ll likely never include everything you’ve ever done in a resume or a conversation, but keeping a list of your accomplishments gives you options. When you’re ready to apply to your dream job, you can pick and choose the most relevant, compelling items.

4. Observe your own trends

Keeping stock of your accomplishments lets you observe your own trends. Are there any project areas you’ve really knocked out of the park? Do you post the best results when working on a team or alone? Maybe you’ve led multiple cross-functional teams and not even realized it. Documenting what you’re doing and how you spend your time helps you identify patterns that might influence what turn your career takes next.

Ready to start or update your list, but unsure how? Create a simple list. To save time and write in a professional tone, try to keep the list as a “master” version of your professional resume.

Don’t forget to apply well-known resume writing tips like including statistics to quantify your results, using strong action verbs and writing about work you’ve done in the past tense and current work in present tense.

It’s common to get caught up in our day-to-day and lose sight of our careers in a broad sense. The day-to-day is important, but it’s equally important to step back every now and then and take inventory of what we’ve been up to. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Keeping this sort of list fresh prepares you for when the time comes to spruce up your resume, apply for a job or speak about an experience or specific result quickly.

Jane Scudder is a marketing manager and culture team lead at Passionate about career development, culture, and change management, she blogs in her spare time, follow her musings here:

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A New Way to Earn a University Degree Without the Cost: Work at Starbucks Wed, 18 Jun 2014 18:00:00 +0000 The coffee giant isn’t the only company with a tuition reimbursement program, but it is one of the only ones that won’t insist you stick around afterwards. Check out the details of this cool new program.

The post A New Way to Earn a University Degree Without the Cost: Work at Starbucks appeared first on Brazen Life.

Barista has long been one of those dead-end jobs that parents threaten their kids with should they slack off in their education.

“You better study for that math test,” the stereotypical concerned parent might say, “or you’re going to end up slinging coffee at Starbucks for the rest of your days!”

But now with a new announcement from the Seattle-based coffee giant, selling grande lattes might not be the the end of a barista’s educational journey. The company just announced it will reimburse employees who earn an online degree. In partnership with the well regarded Arizona State University, Starbucks is offering free tuition to the university’s 33 undergraduate and about 30 graduate online programs with no obligation to pay back anything. (Click here to tweet this news.)

Who benefits from Starbuck’s new educational program?

There are a few caveats, but the deal remains pretty sweet no matter how you look at it. To be eligible, employees need to have the grades to qualify to attend Arizona State and must work 20 hours a week or more at a company-owned Starbucks (not a franchise location).

The company particularly rewards employees who have taken some classes already and are now going back to complete their degree; students who enroll as juniors or seniors get a free ride, while workers who have less than two years of college under their belt when they enroll are eligible for a partial tuition reimbursement of around $6,500. Starbucks advisors will help employees apply for PELL grants and other forms of financial assistance as well.

What could that be worth to an ambitious barista? Arizona State tuition runs about $10,000 a year, so for a Starbucks employee who enrolls as a junior and gets a free ride through graduation, that’s worth about $20,000.

Starbucks claims it’s making the heavy investment as an effort to fight inequality and develop its workforce. “There’s no doubt, the inequality within the country has created a situation where many Americans are being left behind. The question for all of us is, should we accept that, or should we try and do something about it,” CEO Howard Schultz said in a release.

Starbucks’ workers may be the big winners of this new program, but the move is also a huge win for online education in general and Arizona State University in particular. “The company isn’t disclosing the financial terms of its agreement with Arizona State University. But the program could significantly boost the enrollment for Arizona State’s online program,” commented The Huffington Post, for instance.

What other employers will pay you to go to school?

Starbucks is far from the only big employer to offer to reimburse educational expenses, but it is one of the very few that doesn’t require employees to stick around after they complete their degrees. As InThe Capital’s Molly Greenberg notes, “this is an intriguing move made by Starbucks, as most large organizations that offer tuition reimbursement plans require their employees to stay on staff for a specified duration of time in order to also benefit from their workers’ degree.”

Who else might be willing to foot the bill for your degree? Business Insider helpfully rounded up 15 companies that provide some form of tuition assistance and details on the terms of their programs. Firms include Best Buy, Home Depot, UPS and Gap.

What do you think of Starbuck’s new educational program? Would you be more likely to work for a company that offering reimbursement for education?

Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer based in London. She writes a daily column for, contributes regularly to Forbes and Women 2.0 and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch and GigaOM, among others.

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Want a Promotion? 5 Fool-Proof Strategies for Moving Up at Work Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If you want a little change in your career without leaving your company, start working toward a promotion. Here are a few helpful strategies.

The post Want a Promotion? 5 Fool-Proof Strategies for Moving Up at Work appeared first on Brazen Life.

Sometimes it seems like everyone is searching for the next best thing and following their bliss to ultimate employment fulfillment. But some like what they do. Not everyone wants to leave the company they work for; they simply want to climb a few more rungs up the ladder of success.

Let’s face it, in our economy, sometimes the best play, career-wise, is to stay put. Greener pastures may not turn out so green, if they even exist at all.

This article is for those of you after that elusive goal of a promotion. Just like any other goal, landing a promotion requires strategy, patience and perseverance. You don’t have to toss out all the rules to get ahead, but you can’t sit by idly and expect it to happen for you either.

Here are five tips you can use to climb that ladder. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Do what you do better than anyone else

The first step is to perform well in the position you have. Don’t just do what’s expected of you: go beyond and get noticed. Will putting in some extra effort always be rewarded? Honestly, no. Sometimes your efforts will go unnoticed. But over time you’ll build a reputation as a serious worker who’s willing to put the company or team first. That will eventually pay off.

2. Find your Yoda

What would Luke have been without Yoda? Everyone needs a mentor to teach them the ins and outs of the field and company culture. Seek people a few rungs higher who’d be willing to take you under their wing. You’ll be surprised how receptive people can be. After all, you acknowledge them as experts and worthy to learn from. It’s flattering.

In addition to learning valuable skills and techniques from someone who’s been around the block, you’ll have an ally in a position to help you land a promotion at some point.

3. Go back to school

Learning new skills, keeping up with trends and becoming an expert are all sure-fire ways to get noticed by the higher ups and pave the way for a promotion. This used to mean costly courses and night school, but no more.

Today, professional development is so prevalent you can easily find an online course or seminar that fits your budget and schedule. You can also leverage the web and create your own personal learning network.

Follow the trend setters in your industry on social media. Interact, learn and grow. Before you know it, you’ll have established yourself as an expert in your chosen field.

4. There’s no “I” in “team”

Yes, it’s cliche, but cliches get their start in truth. As the structure of corporate America becomes flatter and more projects are done by teams, being seen as a team player has become vitally important.

Don’t try to steal credit or place blame. Work hard as a team member and get the job done, even if it means taking on more than your fair share. People will notice and eventually those higher up will want your drive and work ethic higher up.

By being a team player, you build your reputation and increase your value to the company.

5. Act like you already have the promotion

No, don’t start telling your peers what to do and walk into meetings five minutes late. Start asking for more responsibility. Jump in to volunteer to help a neighboring department. Willingly take on a little more than you need to to help out your boss.

Hustle means something, and the more you do it, the easier it’ll become. People will grow to depend on you. When you’ve made yourself indispensable, you make yourself promotable.

Remember, sometimes the best job opportunities are right under your nose. Put a plan in place and be ready the next time a promotion is made available.

Steve P. Brady is  a teacher, executive resume writer and career consultant who specializes in helping educators and others grow their careers. Follow him on twitter @Steve_p_Brady

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