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

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

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

Effective email networking

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

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

Rule #1: Be brief

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

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

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

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

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

Bam. He knows exactly what you want.

Rule #2: Be helpful

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

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

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

Rule #3: Be conversational

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

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

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

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

Hi, John -

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

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

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

Take care!


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

Rekindling the love of email

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“To whom it may concern.”

Business Insider warns:

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

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

  • Dear Sir or Madam
  • Dear Webmaster

A better way to start an email

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Get specific with your goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Quantify your success

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

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

Meh. Moving on.

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

Now that’s a quantifiable achievement.

3. Stand out with your personal qualities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Hit the pavement

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

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

2. Take your hunt online

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

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

3. Do your homework

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

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

4. Target your resume

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

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

5. Follow up creatively

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

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

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

6. Google yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accounting ninja. Conversation architect. Social media unicorn.

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

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

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

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

1. Research your industry for trending job titles

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

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

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

2. Network with professionals who have the jobs you want

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

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

3. Determine which job titles suit your skills and experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Perform background checks

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

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

2. Look for flexible applicants

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

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

3. Ask for employee referrals

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

4. Write better job descriptions

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

5. Offer excellent compensation packages

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

6. Go with your intuition

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

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

7. Get input from your team

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

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

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

How have you landed your best employees?

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

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

The post 4 Insanely Flexible Jobs That Will Help You Escape Corporate America appeared first on Brazen Life.

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

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

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

Lifestyle careers.

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

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

1. Tutor

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

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

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

2. Nanny or Au Pair

Do you like kids, teaching and traveling the world?

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

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

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

3. Pet sitting and dog walking

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

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

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

4. Teach English abroad

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

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

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

What other jobs make for great lifestyle careers?

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

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

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

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

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

Create a digital product

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

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

Set up shop

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

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

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

Build an email list

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

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

Focus on guerrilla marketing strategies

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

Create a strategy with these resources:

Keep the risk low, but not your expectations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top-ranking companies for culture and values

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

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

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

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

How to find an employer with awesome culture

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

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

Top-ranked companies for culture, from Glassdoor

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

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

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

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

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

So what makes it special?

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

What you can learn from the Fool

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

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

Your company identity

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

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

Your company values

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

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

Your unique perks and bonuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Jump into a pool with your coworkers

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

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

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

2. Give more notice than necessary

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

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

3. Bust your hump until the last day

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

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

4. Leave for something your company can’t offer

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

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

5. Stay in touch after you leave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. She believes she will succeed

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

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

2. She faked it until she made it

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

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

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

3. She has a brand vision

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

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

4. She takes time to appreciate her success

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

5. She controls her public image

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

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

6. She takes risks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Give up on submitting applications cold

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

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

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

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

2. Dig up some dirt

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

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

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

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

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

3. Act as though you’re already hired

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

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

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

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

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

Reframe your job hunt

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

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

What will you do to stand out?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Boston Networking Club

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

2. Boston New Technology

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

3. Wonder Women of Boston

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

4. Boston Volunteers

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

5. Boston Girl Geeks

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

6. Socializing for Justice (SoJust)

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

7. Young Women in Digital

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

8. Effortless Networking for Job Seekers

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

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

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

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

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

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

A handwritten letter sets you apart from everyone else

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a novelty

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

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

It’s tangible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re stumped about how to take action, here are a few things you can do to get you on your way to living in the grey:

1. Create opportunity

Think of two people in your life — from your personal or professional network — who should meet. Look for people with common interests or similar goals. Shoot a quick note to each explaining why they should meet. Introduce them and see what happens.

When you add value to the lives of people in your world, it comes back around.

2. Share your aspirations

Tell one of your friends or family members about a business article you’ve read or why you love a certain brand. Seek out their insight on the topic and engage them in conversation you might not have otherwise had. This is a great way to nurture your (healthy) obsessions. Name your aspirations and share them with the ones you love.

3. Make your colleagues your friends

Make a lunch date with the coworkers, freelancers, contractors, peers and mentors who help you build your business. Celebrate your collaborations by getting to know each other in a non-work way. Talk about hobbies, travel or pets. Anything that’ll help everyone get to know each other on a deeper level.

Just make sure there’s no work-talk.

Let us know what happens as you try these things. Share your results with us in the comments below.

Nidhi Thapar is the Editor + Community Manager for Live in the Grey. Join the Live in the Grey 10-day Risk Makes Life Remarkable challenge, get out of your comfort zone and be brazen!

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Could Doodling Make You More Productive? Thu, 14 Aug 2014 17:00:46 +0000 Do all of your napkins and notebooks have doodles on them? If so, be proud: new research shows that doodling might actually help you focus.

The post Could Doodling Make You More Productive? appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you’re in meetings, do you ever receive dirty looks for doodling all over your notes? If so, it might be time to send out an office-wide memo.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reveals doodling may actually be good for you and your career. Citing sources in neuroscience, psychology and design, the article calls doodling a “thinking tool,” saying recent research has shown it can help you focus and grasp new ideas.

The benefits of doodling

If you’re a doodler yourself, your first-hand experience probably backs up the research.

The doodlers quoted in the article ranged from a teacher to a med student to a philosophy professor. They all said doodling during meetings and lectures helped them pay attention and unify their ideas.

And not only does doodling help you organize your thoughts, it might even help you remember them.

The WSJ reports:

“People who were encouraged to doodle while listening to a list of people’s names being read were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later, according to a 2009 study in Applied Cognitive Psychology.”

Carrie Smith, the artistic entrepreneur behind Careful Cents, agrees:

“Since picking up my sketching and doodling again I notice that my productivity has greatly increased — I can actually recall stuff easier, too. I find myself doing it most when I’m on calls with clients and while taking notes of webinars, classes and etc. It helps me focus because I can make references to what I’m learning in a much more fun way versus just writing letters. I also find more creative ways to handle problems that arise because I’m thinking more outside the box.”

So the next time you find yourself doodling at the office, don’t feel bad — be confident about your unique way of processing information.

Do you doodle? Does it help you focus?

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

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Why Declining a Job Offer Could Be the Best Decision You Ever Make Thu, 14 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 When you’re desperate to switch jobs, you might be ready to jump at any offer. Here’s why you should hold out for something better.

The post Why Declining a Job Offer Could Be the Best Decision You Ever Make appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you’ve been job hunting for ages, you may be tempted to accept the first offer you get — even if you sense it’s probably a bad fit. In a tough economy, you may feel lucky to have even been offered a position. But sometimes, it’s better to just say no.

Granted, if you’ve been living off your credit cards for awhile and you’re about to be evicted, you can’t be picky about where your next paycheck comes from.

But if you want to make the next big step in your career, you can stand to be a bit more selective. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Go into each interview with an evaluative eye, and value yourself enough to turn down the wrong job.

Look out for these eight warning signs. If you notice several of these red flags throughout the interview process, think twice about accepting that job offer.

1. The hiring manager doesn’t respect your time

You arrived early, dressed the part and delivered smart, well thought-out answers to every question. But did your interviewer fare so well? Did they leave you waiting for 30 minutes? Did they constantly check their phone throughout the interview? Did they act as if they’d never seen your resume before?

It’s not a good sign when someone comes unprepared to an interview and fails to show you basic courtesy. If the hiring manager is late, unprepared and distracted, imagine what it’d be like to work with this person every day.

2. Everyone seems miserable

We all have our bad days, but a general feeling of misery hanging over the office should give you pause.

It’s OK to ask the interviewer what they like about working there; if they struggle to come up with a reason, it could mean that none exist. Encountering employees who seem unhappy, angry or bored is a red flag.

3. You’d be stepping backwards, not forwards

If you’re changing careers, you may have to accept a pay cut as you build new experience and skills. But be careful about how big of a step back you’re willing to take.

For example, if you’ve worked as a managing editor for the last few years, you probably shouldn’t accept an editorial assistant position just because you’re desperate for a change of scenery. Unless it’s guaranteed you’ll move up the ranks quickly (and get that in writing), the step in the wrong direction will raise a red flag on your resume.

4. The company seems unstable

Do your due diligence to research the company, both online and by asking your network. You want to know if this organization recently laid off a big portion of their staff or is struggling financially.

Find out if this is a job you’re still likely to have six months down the road. And don’t be afraid to address these concerns in the interview.

5. The company has a bad reputation

Whether because of a scandal or poor business practices, if the company isn’t well-respected in your industry, you don’t want that scarlet letter on your resume. Could working here could hurt your career advancement down the road?

Again, milking your network for information and online research (Glassdoor is a great resource) can usually tell you a lot about how the company operates and perceptions past and present employees have.

6. The company’s morals don’t match your own

Respect your beliefs enough to turn down a job that goes against your morals. If you’re a staunch anti-smoking advocate, don’t take a job at an advertising agency whose main clients are cigarette companies. If you’re a Democrat, don’t take a job on a Republican’s campaign.

Working for a company that goes against your values will make every single work day difficult. You’ll also send mixed signals when you’re job searching down the road.

7. The recruiter seems dishonest

Maybe you discover that the job advertised is actually significantly different than the one you end up interviewing for. Or you’re offered a certain salary and benefits, then they change their mind at the last minute.

If the company seems like they’re trying to pull one over on you, do you really want to put your career in their hands?

8. The pay is simply too low

You should be willing to be flexible for a job you really want, but don’t undersell yourself or allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Know your worth — but be realistic about your prospects.

Get details about the full compensation and benefits package before accepting any job offer.

If you encounter any of these eight red flags as you’re interviewing for a job, think twice about the job offer on the table. Remember that you want your next job to be the right move for you professionally — not just another dead-end job you’ll want to leave in a few months. If a job isn’t the right fit for you, hold out and keep searching for something long-lasting.

Have you made the decision to turn down a job? What were the red flags for you?

Michelle Kruse is the Recruitment Editor and Content Manager for, a resume writing and editing service, where she manages a team of over 40 professional resume writers. Her prior experience includes 10+ years of hiring and recruiting experience and a background in coaching and leadership development.

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MPA vs. MBA: How to Choose the Right Master’s Degree Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Can’t decide whether you should get an MPA or MBA? Before you make your final decision — and drop the cash — consider these factors first.

The post MPA vs. MBA: How to Choose the Right Master’s Degree appeared first on Brazen Life.

Stuck deciding between a Master in Public Administration (MPA) and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) is a hard place to be. Although it depends on what you want out of the degree, here are some factors that could help you make the choice to invest upwards of $120K and two years of your life in the hopes of a career-catapulting move. (Click here to tweet this list.)

Research the true return on your investment

It takes anywhere from three to six months to explore your options, take the GRE and finish applications. You pay to up your pedigree, and make no mistake: a university name is something you brand yourself with. It isn’t like the purchase of a car that may last 10 years. The college you choose will be your alma mater for life.

strong alumni network should be taken into consideration and can be an added value. Universities are seen as their own tribes — in becoming part of one, you’re instantly part of a network of thousands with similar goals, aspirations and outlooks on the world.

The first steps to deciding on an MPA or MBA

  • Check into colleges that specialize in your interests and desired networks.
  • Attend university info sessions and don’t limit yourself to area colleges. Many great programs are 100 percent online, and that may even — ideally — allow you to work full time while going to school to lessen your debt load.
  • Look for grants and scholarships. These are rarer for professional degrees, but if you can find a college that’ll pay your way, go with that.
  • Keep your eye on the bottom line. The ROI, whether it be salary or your empowerment to save the world. You don’t need a degree for either of those, but a master’s degree may increase your chances, especially with a career change.

Decide whether you’re mission driven, profit driven or both

Let’s simplify the process with some definitions and uses of these two professional degrees.

Investopedia defines an MPA as a professional “degree in public affairs that prepares recipients of the degree to serve in executive positions in municipal, state, federal levels of government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)” and an MBA as a “graduate degree [...] that provides theoretical and practical training to help graduates gain a better understanding of general business management functions.”

Both degrees focus in the management of organizations. But each has pros and cons that could influence your choice.

With MBAs, you’ll pay a prettier penny than an MPA. If you’re more motivated by profit and growth, and if you’re fascinated by the inner workings of economies, finance, operations and customer development of corporations, an MBA may be more in line with what you want.

If you want to step out into the world of entrepreneurship, but would like the formal business background, an MBA may be your best bet to becoming your own boss and creating your own company while minimizing risks. You even have options to customize your program with concentrations in the emerging social enterprise sector and entrepreneurship.

An MPA can be easily described as an MBA for nonprofit and government work. The curriculum tends to cover similar ground, but with a focus in the way these methods apply to the public service sector. This could pigeonhole you if you’d like to go corporate again, but the degrees offer so many of the same courses you can move between the two.

Your MPA may even be preferred in companies with big government contracts.  Folks who veer towards MPAs tend to have a stronger interest in politics and public policy — both in creating and executing it.

If you’re mission motivated and want to learn about the way local, state and the federal-level work and use that knowledge to contribute to making government work better, an MPA could be your ticket.

The emerging new economy

It’s important to highlight the emergence of the fourth sector when considering an MPA or an MBA. The new economy predicts that the nonprofit, government and business sectors will collaborate to tackle economic and social problems.

Either an MPA or an MBA can open your mind to these emerging models in the new economy and the doors will follow. You can even do a double masters and get the best of both worlds.

Jillian Jordan is a content developer and brand manager in higher education with a bachelor’s in journalism and a master’s in public administration. She’s a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, has completed a solo trip around the world, wants to crowdfund climate change — and doesn’t find that a lofty goal at all. Find her on Twitter: @Jillisin or @hubandspokecc

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5 Underestimated Mistakes That Will Seriously Hold You Back at Work Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Afraid to brush up on the basics? That could be the one thing setting you up for failure on the job.

The post 5 Underestimated Mistakes That Will Seriously Hold You Back at Work appeared first on Brazen Life.

You can be bad at something because you make errors, because you aren’t cut out for the task the way your employer needs you to be. Or maybe you’re simply not as good as your co-workers, who can also turn into your competition.

In short, if you’re slipping at work, there could be a few reasons: (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Fear and failure to begin with the basics

Think you know it all? Don’t be too sure. We all are often guilty of assuming that we are already aware of the basics in our field, which then leads us to skip reading the instructions and reviewing the fundamentals.

Deep down we fear that revisiting the basics may reveal our weaknesses to the world. This marks the onset of problems. Publicly we remain deluded and misjudge our capabilities but then our work begins to suffer because of our lack of knowledge and escapism.

Start by focusing on the details and taking small steps, as this will increase your awareness, strengthen your foundation and improve your performance on the job. Knowing the basics also improves your chances of professional growth.

2. Rushing through the work without giving too much thought

What do you do when you are assigned a new task? Many professionals jump at it so that they can quickly get over with it. This may be one of the reasons why you are underperforming as you may not be taking enough time to understand what is required of you.

Don’t rush through just to get the work done — you’ll end up making the same mistakes and will eventually spend more time rectifying the errors.

Time management is obviously important for professionals but the key is to slow down and try not to finish everything in one day. You will then see an improvement in how you manage the tasks and get better results.

3. Lacking concentration and getting distracted

Studies show that there are several hours in a day that are whiled away because professionals are sidetracked. You too may be wasting precious time because you are not focused enough and also need to spend extra hours correcting the mistakes that you made due to your lack of concentration.

To boost your performance, focus clearly and practice what you are doing. Even top professionals in their respective fields don’t shy away from practice to achieve perfection.

4. Allowing frustrations to get the better of us

Frustration is likely to mess up your day in the office. Whatever work you try to do, your frustration will interfere with it because the anger will continue to build and the adrenaline will flow. Then work will further irritate you and every task will get the better of you.

Instead, you should seek new ways to prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed and frustrated. Accept that things don’t always go as planned. It may not be a smooth day at work but when you learn to control your emotions and master your mood it leads to things becoming easier and more workable.

5. Doing something we have no real interest in

If you don’t put your heart and soul into what you do, you may lose interest in the work and your performance is likely to deteriorate.

Doing a job that you find boring or laborious will most certainly lead you to being bad at it as you are not motivated enough and don’t have that drive to give your 100 percent. You will only aim at completing the work, without caring much about the standard of quality.

By doing something you are passionate about or at least are interested in, you tend to execute better as there is a willingness to learn new things and improve. Climbing the professional ladder becomes difficult when you have no desire to exhibit your capabilities. To progress in any field, you must have a desire to continue working and an objective in sight.

Devika Arora is a professional writer who has been writing articles and blogs with a special focus on career development and job search. She is currently working with a popular job search portal addressing the employment needs of young professionals.

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7 Innovative Ways Recruiters are Attracting Top Talent Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Gone are the days of stiff cover letters and awkward interviews. If you want to be at the top of your recruiting game, try these seven new techniques.

The post 7 Innovative Ways Recruiters are Attracting Top Talent appeared first on Brazen Life.

Recruiting isn’t what it used to be. And for most recruiters, that’s a good thing. These days, there’s less reading through stacks of formal resumes and cover letters, and more interacting with candidates on a casual — and often digital — basis.

Here are seven modern methods recruiters are using to bring in new talent:

1. Open-ended job postings

You may have heard that Zappos did away with job titles — but did you know that digital media company Upworthy recently listed an “Open-Ended Job” with no title or specifications?

Whether this will become a trend remains to be seen, but it does remind recruiters of an important lesson: hire people, not skills. Whether a candidate is passionate about your company and mission is often more important than whether they can type a certain speed or have experience in a specific field. Skills can be taught; attitude can’t. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

2. Video interviews

Gone are the days of flying a bunch of candidates to your office for final interviews. With today’s video technology, that’s an unnecessary waste of time and money.

Savvy recruiters are interviewing their shortlist on Skype, Google Hangouts, or recruitment-specific video software. With these video interviews, you’ll probably find a candidate or two who’s clearly not a good fit. Once you weed them out, you can then invite the top few to an in-person interview with the whole team.

3. Online networking events

Though attending career fairs and networking events in person can be a valuable experience, let’s be honest: they also cost a lot of time and money.

That’s why many recruiters are now turning to online networking events. Humble brag: This is our speciality! It gives you access to a wide range of candidates, without spending precious hours traveling or talking to people who aren’t a good fit. And we’re not just saying that because we offer an online-event platform; here at Brazen, we use online events to make hires, too.

Want a free demo of our online-event platform? Request one here.

4. Social media

Social media and recruiting seem to be a match made in heaven. Networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are great places to find potential employees, share job postings, and develop relationships with recruits. You can also encourage your employees to recruit people from their own networks.

Even more importantly, studies show people recruited via social media are more likely to be hired, and stay on longer than candidates found via other methods. This is one of the quickest, easiest and most effective ways to update your recruitment practices.

5. Big data

Though it may sound like something out a sci-fi movie, big data is a real tool that’s making recruiters’ jobs easier.

Instead of searching through the filing cabinet to find potential candidates, hiring managers are using specialized computer programs to analyze thousands of applications and resumes, filtering them by skills and qualifications — after which it’s your job to pick the winners. This means better candidates and a more enjoyable job for you!

6. Other effective digital tools

In addition to specialized recruiting software, plenty of other digital tools are now helping recruiters do their job better.

Some popular tools include SurveyMonkey (for assessing candidates on specific subjects), writing tests (to make sure the candidates really want the job), and Google Hangouts (to highlight job openings and engage with potential candidates).

7. Unique company-specific policies

Some companies are really going out on a limb, forging entirely new recruitment paths. They’re experimenting to see what works for them, and in the process, crafting their own unique hiring practices.

For example, online retail giant Zappos (which we mentioned doesn’t use job titles), no longer posts job openings. Instead, they encourage wannabe employees to network with recruiters on their own private social network. Tech company Automattic requires all potential hires to audition with the company, during which they do actual work and are paid $25/hour. Around 40% of applicants make the final cut.

Over the past decade, technology has transformed the world of recruiting, and it shows no signs of stopping. Through it all, however, the special skill possessed by all great recruiters remains: the ability to see through all the tweets, jargon and interview questions to find someone who’s truly a great fit for the company.

Have you tried any of these innovative recruitment techniques at your company?

Ryan Healy is COO and Co-Founder of Brazen Careerist. Follow Ryan on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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This One Change Will Make You Far More Productive at Work Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 Does the workday pass by in a blur of distraction and lack of productivity? Try practicing mindfulness. Here’s how to start.

The post This One Change Will Make You Far More Productive at Work appeared first on Brazen Life.

Ever had a work day like this?

You go to work, throw yourself into whatever project you’re working on, and don’t notice what’s going on around you. You forget you have coworkers and get distracted by emails and the latest celebrity gossip.

By the time you realize it’s the end of the day, you’ve avoided what you’re supposed to be doing and haven’t accomplished what you need to. You go home feeling disconnected, frustrated, tense, stressed, annoyed or any other combination of negative emotions.

You can get out of this awful cycle by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness means you experience life in the present rather than reliving the past or worrying about what might happen in the future. It allows you to focus more on work, so you get more done at the office — which means leaving work at your job instead of bringing it home.

Here are three ways you can practice mindfulness at work:

1. Create a ritual to start your work day

It’s great to have a ritual to start your day so you don’t just sit down at your desk, dive into work and lose awareness of what’s going on around you. When you get to work, take a minute to look around your work environment. Is it organized? Is it comfortable?

It’s easier to get lost in your work and avoid your surroundings if they’re disorganized and uncomfortable. Straighten up so your workspace is somewhere that you want to be. Make yourself a cup of tea or get your bottle of water out so you don’t dehydrate. Breathe deep and get comfortable.

2.  Take regular breaks

A break can last a few minutes, but make sure to turn off your “work brain” when you’re taking it. (Click here to tweet this thought.) This will prevent you from going through your work day on autopilot and forgetting to look away from your computer for a bit.

You can use your break to connect with your coworkers by focusing on them, rather than drifting off into thoughts of what you “should be” doing. Take some time to enjoy lunch away from your computer and phone to avoid reading email. Or stay at your desk and enjoy a few short minutes of meditation or deep breathing. You’ll find you’re more focused after these breaks.

3.  Check in with your body

Pay attention to the sensations of your body — is your back tensing up? Are your hands cramping? Do you feel pressure in your chest? All of these physical signs let you know what’s going on. They signal that it’s time to slow down and eat lunch or drink some water.

Maybe you’ve been sitting too long and need to stand up and stretch. Or you need to look away from the computer screen for a few minutes to give your eyes a break and avoid a headache. Or if you’re continually feeling tense and have a hard time relaxing, it may be time to use that vacation time you’ve been saving up.

Which one of these mindfulness practices will you try out first?

Nicole Liloia, LCSW is a stress+less coach and therapist who helps smart-yet-stressed women center themselves and develop self-care plans that stick so that they can stop feeling overwhelmed and start enjoying their lives. Find her strategies to stress less and live more at

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How to Set Smarter, More Meaningful Goals for Your Career Mon, 11 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Working hard, but still feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Your goal setting is to blame. Here’s how to create better goals — and be happy.

The post How to Set Smarter, More Meaningful Goals for Your Career appeared first on Brazen Life.

We all know that person.

“What are you going to school for?” I asked the student organizer at a university event I spoke at.

“Oh, finance,” she answered.

“So working with numbers really lights you up, then?” I said.

“What do you mean?” she replied.

“I mean, are you stoked about finance? Do you love that world?”

Blank expression. “Oh, God no. I pretty much hate it. But being an accountant is good money. And my dad wants me to do this. And he’s paying my tuition.” And she just shrugged, as if it all made perfect sense. I saw two things in her future: A Mercedes. And Prozac.

Cut to your own aspirations. You’re hoping, plotting, reaching. You make a plan to get it, a bucket list, the degree, the job, the big goal.

Except you’re not chasing the goal itself, you’re chasing a feeling

We have the procedures of achievement upside-down and inside-out. We go after the stuff we want to have and accomplish, and what we want to experience. (Click here to tweet this quote.) Then we hope and yearn we’ll be fulfilled when we get there.

But it’s backwards, and it’s burning us out. What if first, we got clear on how we wanted to feel in our life, and then we laid out our intentions? What if your most desired feelings consciously informed how you plan your day or your year, your career, your holidays, your life?

You know what’ll happen when you have that kind of inner clarity attached to outer action? You’ll feel the way you want to feel more often. Decisions will be easier to make. You’ll know what to say “No” to and what to say “Heck yes” to.

Getting truthful

We can deceive ourselves into thinking that certain things will bring us happiness. Self-deception is part of self-discovery. Inevitably, we’ll do things for the wrong reasons.

Learning to stay close to our soul is an organic process, full of missteps along the way.

Let’s go back to the university student, who, despite loathing accounting, was going to become an accountant to please her father. She could arguably say that pleasing her dad made her “happy.” And she “feels good” about that.

But that’s not whole happiness. In truth, her pursuit is driven by fear. Perhaps fear of independence, fear of disapproval or fear of hardship.

Her focus isn’t on being happy. Her focus is on not being unhappy. There’s a vast and absolute difference.

We can always find ways to justify our behaviors to meet soulless goals. It was the right thing to do. It’s the bottom line. I had obligations. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. There was a lot of money on the line. I was too far in. It’s the way it’s always been done.

I’ve worked hard to hit targets and launch stuff that made me feel flat and less than proud. I’ve joylessly pursued goals I didn’t fully believe in, because I wanted to be successful. That’s twisted.

And it never paid off, no matter how good I looked while I did it, no matter how together everyone else thought I was. It cost me — big time. My definition of success needed a major overhaul.

And that’s what’s required when we decide the journey matters as much as the result and that we want to have a good time: we radically alter our personal definition of success.

How do you create meaningful goals?

You desire map. Here’s a crash course in desire mapping:

  1. Get clear on how you most want to feel – your core desired feelings.
  2. Create goals that’ll make you feel that way. Do you want to feel courageous, bold, connected, creative, empowered…? Awesome! Clarity rocks.
  3. What do you need to do, have and experience to create those feelings? Break it down and those become your goals for the year and your plans for this weekend — and your future.

Danielle LaPorte is the creator of The Desire Map: A Guide To Creating Goals With Soul (Sounds True bestseller of 2014), author of the bestseller, The Fire Starter Sessions (with Random House/Crown), and co-creator of Your Big Beautiful Book Plan.

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Unhappy at Work? 5 Simple Ways to Change Your Company Culture Fri, 08 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 If you dread going to work every day, you may have a company culture problem. But you’re more powerful than you think. Here’s how to create change -- even if you’re not in charge.

The post Unhappy at Work? 5 Simple Ways to Change Your Company Culture appeared first on Brazen Life.

If you feel like it’s been a long week and it’s only Tuesday, your company might have a culture problem.

If your company says it values teamwork, but runs a grown-up version of The Hunger Games, you might have a culture problem.

If your coworkers spend more time trolling LinkedIn for better job opportunities than doing actual work… well, you get the idea.

A rancid company culture can manifest itself in many ways, from dysfunctional processes to ineffective communication structures. Any one of these is a sign it’s time for a change.

You probably have some great ideas for making things better (free donuts, anyone?), and you don’t need to be in charge to change your company’s culture from within.

You’re more powerful than you think

Most often, people within an organization have a bigger impact than they realize. In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Hogwarts is terrorized by Professor Umbridge, who refuses to teach spells in Defense Against the Dark Arts class. What do Harry, Ron, and Hermione do? They start a club to learn how to defend themselves and teach other students.

You don’t have to start your own version of Dumbledore’s Army to make a difference. You’re the one at the heart of the work, which means the passion, creativity and motivation for change can stem from you. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

As the public face of the company, it’s in management’s best interest to keep you happy. You make the sales and interact with customers every day, so if you’re off-message, the company’s in trouble.

Employees are also powerful when organized. The advent of the organized labor movement led to eight-hour workdays, paid lunch breaks and other conditions considered standard practice today.

By consciously adopting a different way of doing things, you can change company culture. The reason employees have this power (whether they realize it or not) is because their day-to-day behavior drives company performance.  

Your actions don’t have to be extreme to be effective. You can launch small initiatives, like a company recycling program, lunch outings or staff appreciation days. These changes don’t make headlines, but they can improve morale, boost productivity and increase employee engagement — which all contribute to the bottom line.

You can shape the way your organization does business, but it takes time to make it stick. Here are five ways you can initiate change in your company culture (without undermining your leaders):

1. Provide constructive feedback

Let people know how their behavior affects others. People are sometimes oblivious to the impact of their actions. Propose alternatives, consider how your suggestions will affect all levels of the organization and know that not everyone may agree.

2. Acknowledge misalignments

You’ll never win people over by attacking and criticizing them — even if they do suck at communicating. Recognize misalignments, but do so in a way that doesn’t put people on the defensive. Nobody likes to be attacked or put down, and your supervisor won’t appreciate these “contributions.”

3. Lead by example

Don’t wait for company-wide policies to change — or worse, succumb to the norm and perpetuate the problem. For example, if you want to improve communication between departments, become the model for it. Find a more efficient process for everyone, and get the change started.

4. Experiment and reflect

Look for small, low-risk situations where you can innovate and make mistakes. Try an online scheduling tool and prove how much time it saves. If people like the results, management will likely adopt it.

One of our associates developed a better way to analyze the qualitative data we collect for clients. His new approach added value by increasing the depth of our analysis, so we adopted it. The people closest to the issue usually have figured out how to do it better, but many times, they feel it’s not their place to speak up or fear their supervisor may disapprove.

5. Manage up

Do whatever you can to enhance your manager’s effectiveness. Learn her communication style. Work around her weaknesses, and complement her strengths. Make your manager’s job easier, and you’ll become indispensable and influential.

If you have a positive relationship with your manager, she’ll be more open to your ideas, and you can become a bigger catalyst for change.

Like most important things, change takes time. After all, it took Harry seven books to defeat Voldemort (not that your boss is Voldemort). But by demonstrating how changes will contribute to the company’s bottom line, leading by example and establishing a healthy relationship with your manager, you can make a difference. And as a bonus, your weeks won’t feel like they should be over by Tuesday.

Chris Cancialosi, Ph.D., is Managing Partner and founder at gothamCulture. The team at gothamCulture focuses on identifying the underlying causes of organizational obstacles and assisting leaders in developing and executing breakthrough strategies to elevate performance. The team provides critical, thought-provoking insights to leaders who desire to use organizational culture and leadership as key drivers of performance.

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This New UK Law for Employees Might Make You Wish You Lived There Thu, 07 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 A new law in the UK allows anyone to apply for a flexible work schedule. Though it sounds like a dream come true, it could backfire.

The post This New UK Law for Employees Might Make You Wish You Lived There appeared first on Brazen Life.

Do you dream of working in your PJs, taking conference calls from your couch, and avoiding the daily commute? Do you still want the security of working for an established company, but long for the freedom of working from home?

If you live in the UK, this is no longer just a perk; it’s your right.

As reported by the BBC, a new law recently went into effect that gives all UK employees the right to ask for flexible working privileges, and more importantly, requires employers to provide a legal reason for saying no.

This is in contrast to the United States, whose Department of Labor states: “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not address flexible work schedules. Alternative work arrangements such as flexible work schedules are a matter of agreement between the employer and the employee.”

Many UK workers are eager to take advantage of the new law, with a recent Glassdoor survey finding that 17 percent of employees are planning to submit or resubmit a flexible working application.

But is a flexible working law a good idea?

Tom Ewer, the online entrepreneur behind the popular blog Leaving Work Behind, thinks it’s a step in the right direction, saying:

“To me this is a sign of the times, and I mean that in a positive way. I believe that as a culture, we need to shift from an attitude of employees being ‘present’ at work for a certain amount of time to simply judging people on their performance… Having said that, I don’t foresee this prompting any huge immediate shift in the UK working environment. It’s a great start, and I’m sure some people will take advantage, but I would imagine that the majority of business owners will find a reason to reject such requests.”

Though the BBC cites government estimates of £475m in economic benefits in the next 10 years,mainly due to increased productivity and lower turnover, concerns remain. The BBC reporter points out the law could make it “harder for those more in need of flexible working, increasing the risk of discrimination claims, and adding unnecessary red tape.”

Claire Mulry, an American citizen who’s lived and worked in the UK for 10 years, doesn’t foresee any big changes:

“Most business want more from their employees than a traditional 9-5 day, so I think it’s great that employees can request a flexible working pattern in return… [But] I don’t think it will dramatically change the working environment. As someone without dependents who enjoys an office working environment, I will not be applying, but I hope employers are open and able to deal with employee requests for those who need it.”

Still in its infancy, there’s no way to tell how this new law will affect the economy or lives of UK workers. But one thing’s certain: over here in the States, we’ll be watching.

Do you think flexible working policies should be written into law? Or should this be up to each individual employer?

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

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Productivity Hacks for Your Job Search: Search Smarter, Not Harder Thu, 07 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 When you have job leads out your ears and your inbox becomes harder to manage, streamline your job search with this simple mantra.

The post Productivity Hacks for Your Job Search: Search Smarter, Not Harder appeared first on Brazen Life.

You likely began your job search methodically and with purpose. But over time, as multiple leads come in, as you write multiple resumes, and as you make multiple phone calls, both your desk and email inbox become filled with leads and questions. Your overflowing inbox is paralyzing.

As you weigh your options, you feel like you cannot neglect even the smallest task. Doing so prevents you from moving forward and getting anything accomplished at all. At this point of overwhelm, try instituting the Marine Corps maxim: Do it, delegate it or delete it. (Click here to tweet this idea.)

This simple mantra is all you need to follow up and follow through with greater efficiency. It’s the same idea behind the organizational tip of touching each piece of paper only once.

Procrastination kills confidence

Why is it important to follow this rule? Not only does it instill confidence in those around you, but it also helps maintain your confidence. The lurking knowledge that you’re procrastinating is a confidence killer.

And in the same way, it’s hard to feel at the top of your game when you know you’ve left behind piles of laundry, an unmade bed and a sink full of dirty dishes. Likewise, it’s hard to present your best self at an interview or coffee meeting when you have an inbox overflowing with requests, complaints and exhortations.

1. Hone in on your “do” list

“Do” items include following through on all leads for all sources, be they be from networking events or friends-of-friends introductions. You should research every company or connection.

While you may not follow through on every opportunity or lead, you need to keep the mindset that your job search is your job. Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked.

What, specifically, are you looking for? Any info on the company — their mission, their bestselling products or their competition — can help you. The more you know, the better you can align yourself as the candidate who can further their goals, enhance their status or plug holes using your own unique skill sets and ideas.

2. Know when and what to delegate

You might think you should have someone else do this background research, but this particular task isn’t the best use of delegation — a highly underrated skill set, by the way.

It’s far better to delegate those tasks you use as a form of creative procrastination disguised as “necessary” work. Do you honestly need to invest more time reformatting your resume, updating your website and even organizing your interview wardrobe? How do these tasks connect you with the right job or organization? The fact is, they don’t.

Unless you’re a designer or web developer, these tasks are generally best handed off to those trained in these skill sets. Not only will you give yourself time to focus on what only you can do, you’ll also end up with a far better looking document or site.

3. Delete the bad leads to focus on the good ones

Do you keep posting your resume on random job sites all over the Internet? Delete that task from your to-do list. Focused follow through on personal recommendations and with accredited sites is far more likely to yield the results you seek.

You should also delete those leads you find via what I call “Internet daydreaming.” This generally looks like a job that was something you considered doing during your summers off in high school, which just happens to be in Hawaii.

You should still follow up on any personal ledes — don’t delete those. So when your child’s camp counselor suggests you get in touch with their cousin “because it seems like you have so much in common,” pursue it. Following through could reveal their cousin is the vice president of the firm you’ve been angling for a connection to for the last six months.

But regardless of whether these leads result in the outcome you want, you need to remember that personal leads are just that — personal. Thanking the person who offered them is mandatory to building the kind of effective, comprehensive network you will need throughout your career.

As you can see, adopting a “Do it, delegate it or delete it” policy gives you a framework for following up and following through during your job search. It’s important to be fully focused on dedicating your efforts to each day’s top priorities. This is a simple way to make sure your maximize your efforts to best achieve your goal: That perfect job.

Frances Cole Jones is a nationally renowned career expert, a top 5 speaker in Communication by, President of Cole Media Management, and the best-selling author of the new eBook Wow Your Way Into the Job of Your Dreams (Open Road). Connect with Frances on Twitter and at

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3 Steal-Worthy Secrets of Amazing Self-Starters Wed, 06 Aug 2014 17:00:00 +0000 It’s not easy to simultaneously make things happen both for your boss and for your own career. Learn how to tackle your workday to be more efficient and productive.

The post 3 Steal-Worthy Secrets of Amazing Self-Starters appeared first on Brazen Life.

Promise me something. The next time you update your resume (which you should do frequently, even if you’re not looking for a job), you will scrub it completely of the words self-starter, highly-motivated and driven.

Why, you ask?

Because you’re lying to yourself.

The reality of being a self-starter

The reality is that it’s easy to be aself-starter when you get to do something you enjoy.

The reality is that it’s easy to stay highly-motivatedwhen you know precisely what must be done – and how to accomplish that task at a high level.

The reality is that it’s easy to feel driven when you know the outcome you’re after and precisely how to make it happen.

Much harder is being able to start when you lack a clear understanding of how long the task will take or how hard it will be.

Much harder is staying highly motivatedwhen the path forward becomes increasingly challenging or ambiguous.

Much harder is staying driven when you begin to second-guess whether the outcome will really be worth the effort required to achieve it.

The secrets of real self-starters

Real self-starters – people who have the ability to keep moving forward even when the path is unclear, challenging and ambiguous – reinforce their natural willpower and self-discipline with structure. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Specifically, they create simple systems and processes that enable them to protect both their time and mental energy and preserve it for the highest-value, highest-effort work.

If you want to protect your time and energy – and do more higher-value, higher-impact work, here are three specific areas for which real “self-starters” often create systems to preserve and protect their precious time and energy. This is why true self-starters get more done in the same amount of time the rest of us have.

1. Make “me time” a priority for 90 minutes each morning

The CEO of a startup once told me the following: “The only part of my day in which I am in complete control is between the time my alarm goes off and 8 a.m.” Unless you’re a doctor or an emergency responder, that statement is likely also true for you.

Given that you only have a limited window of time under your complete control, it’s essential that you make those moments count.

How should you spend your precious morning minutes? Based upon the patterns and habits of other self-starters, your morning routine should likely include of a mix of the following activities, each and every day:

  • Exercise. You don’t need to log an hour-long workout every single morning. The key is to work out long enough to create a physiological change in your body: At least 20 minutes or more of sweat-inducing activity.
  • A healthy breakfast. Sure, we all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What’s unique about the habits of true self-starters is that they often eat the exact same thing every morning – typically some combination of veggies, fruit and protein.
  • Reflection. While some may prefer to do this at night, the morning is a good time to pray, journal, meditate or practice an alternative form of reflection. In the words of one solar company COO, this regular daily activity helps “maintain perspective and keep first things first.”
  • Generosity. Think it’s better to give than receive? One Fortune 500 HR executive I work with likes to start each day with one act of generosity – sometimes a letter to a friend, other times a networking introduction or helping a colleague with a work project.

2. Master your email inbox like a boss

Just like a great start to your day, a well-organized system to manage your inbox will help you preserve both your energy and time.

These are three common characteristics among the email habits of real self-starters:

  • They read and respond to email only at specific, scheduled, times during the day. This runs in stark contrast to the default mode of reading and responding email virtually all day.
  • They have a “start” time and “end” time for email. They establish (and communicate to colleagues) a defined period before which or after which they do not checking or responding to email. (Often times, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.)
  • They spend no more than 10 minutes writing any particular email. As one Fortune 500 SVP shared with me, if the email takes longer than 10 minutes to write, it’s a conversation that should be taking in person or via phone. How much time have you spent trying to craft the “perfect” email?

3. Stay on top of money management

Fears and emotions related to money — how much we have, how much we need and why — can corrupt our ability to focus and do truly meaningful work.

Similar to the way they manage their inbox, real self-starters use systems to ensure they don’t waste precious time or energy “worrying” about money. While some use professional money managers and financial planners, here’s a simple step to get you started:

Schedule time for money management each month. LearnVest CEO Alexa Van Tobel, likes to say that you should “treat your financial life like your social life. Put it on the calendar.” A common benchmark is 45 minutes a month.

Use this time to ask and answer these five questions:

  1. What was my personal cash-flow? In other words, how much money came in and how much went out last month?
  2. How much money did I save last month in either a company-sponsored 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA)?
  3. What did I buy last month? Of those expenditures, which brought me the greatest happiness?
  4. What will I do differently with my money this month as a result?
  5. If I had more money right now, what would I do differently – personally or professionally?

True self-starters are more than just strong-willed and self-disciplined; they’re also organized. More specifically, they use structure and systems to protect and safeguard their most valuable time and energy – to ensure that it is spent on their most challenging, meaningful work.

What systems and processes do you use that help you to make progress – even when it’s hard?

Ben Sands writes at Regret Free Life where he helps the smart men and women make great decisions about the stuff they care most about. For useful ideas about your career, money, relationships and path forward join his free newsletter.

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5 Simple Ways to Get Noticed at Work Wed, 06 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Want to stand out -- in a good way -- at work? Here are a few easy ways to improve your performance.

The post 5 Simple Ways to Get Noticed at Work appeared first on Brazen Life.

No matter what industry you work in, all careers boil down to one rule: don’t be stepped on, stay one step ahead. Stand out from your colleagues so when it’s time to discuss raises and promotions, you can be a strong contender.

Trying to break away from the pack? Here are a few ways you can improve your performance at work and stay a few steps ahead of everyone else. (Click here to tweet this list.)

Excel at organizing

The first step to being more productive and keeping yourself ahead of the game is to get yourself and your workspace more organized. You’ll never waste time searching for an email or a document you worked on six months ago. It’s all neatly filed and at your disposal.

Start with your inbox first. Go through all of your emails and organize them so you can refer back to a point if needed. You might not need ten folders, but have one for company emails (updates from human resources about health benefits or tips from IT) and one to save important emails from your boss.

You never know when you need to find that one memo your boss forwarded to you a week ago.

Next, get your desktop and folders on your hard drive organized. If you don’t need a document or it’s out of date, either get rid of it or put it in a folder specifically for out of date items. A cleaner desktop will help you prioritize what you need and indicate where you can find useful information.

Be the early bird

Though it may pain you to get out a bed a little earlier, being the first in the office is never bad. It shows your dedication and excitement to get started.

Unless your boss gets into work more than an hour before you, try to beat him or her to the office. Even if you’re not the first, your boss probably won’t know when he or she walks in and sees you with your coworkers. Your boss will only see that you’ve arrived early and are already hard at work.

Whatever you do, try not to be the last person. It’ll get you noticed in a bad way and does nothing to get a jumpstart on your workload.

Lay off the multitasking

Most people think they’re pretty good at multitasking. Most people are wrong.

Studies have shown that only about two percent of people can multitask effectively. Chances are you’re not part of that small percentage, so put down your phone, close the Facebook tab on your browser and concentrate.

At best, focus on one or two projects at a time. This will ensure your full dedication to those projects, and you have a better chance of completing them on time. The quality of the projects also goes up once you’re properly focused.

Close social media tabs

You know you shouldn’t, but you do it anyway. All you wanted to do was check your sister’s vacation photos, and suddenly, you’ve wasted a half hour scrolling through Facebook. What’s worse, your boss passed your desk, and you think she saw your browser open to the site.

Most companies have policies against employees using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter while they’re on the clock. Some go so far as to block the sites entirely, but a lot of the time, it’s not an option when companies use social media to promote their brands.

Social media does take away from your overall productivity, so before logging on, remember you won’t get ahead or make a good impression if your boss sees you scrolling through pictures or pinning your favorite photos on Pinterest.

Befriend colleagues

You might think of them as competition, but succeeding in the professional world is a team effort. If you’re the social pariah at work, you’re going to have a hard time staying ahead of everyone, even if you work nonstop.

Though you may not always like them, your coworkers have experience and knowledge to offer. You never know when you’ll need help with a project, and if you’re on good terms with your colleagues, they’ll be happy to give you a hand.

Helen Sabell, CEO and Principal of The College for Adult Learning, is passionate about adult and lifelong learning. Connect with Helen on LinkedInGoogle+ and Twitter.

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4 Strategies for Finding the Right Recruiter for Your Job Search Tue, 05 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 Know what will help you land the job of your dreams? Connecting with a recruiter who knows the right people. Here’s how to add that vital recruiter to your network.

The post 4 Strategies for Finding the Right Recruiter for Your Job Search appeared first on Brazen Life.

When looking for a job, do you still spend all of your time looking for openings on job boards and sending off dozens of applications? That’s so 2004! No one does that anymore.

All the cool kids are using their network to get referrals for jobs that aren’t on job boards, and the coolest of the cool kids don’t just stop with people they know — they reach out and network with recruiters. But hold on, tiger. Don’t go firing off emails to every recruiter you come across. You have to find the right kind of recruiter for you. (Click here to tweet this list.)

1. Check your network

First the obvious: use your network!

Reach out through LinkedIn, emails, or however you stay in contact with your contacts, and focus on people in your industry and with the same level of experience. See who has dealt with recruiters, or knows someone who has, and write down anyone who gets positive reviews.

Stick to recruiters in your niche. They will have dealt with companies and employers in your industry and can help guide you through the hiring process.

2. Network on niche job boards

You might be thinking, “He just poked fun at job boards, and now he’s saying they’re useful?” Yes. Yes I am.

Good niche job boards have two advantages over larger, more general job boards like Monster and Indeed:

  • Job postings might mention a recruiter or recruiting firm by name, so you can research and contact them.
  • They have an established community of professionals in your industry, with whom you can communicate and build your network.

So, second verse same as the first — reach out to the community and see if people are willing to recommend recruiters they know and like. Barring that, you can see which recruiters and firms work in your niche.

3. Find recruiters on Twitter

Twitter has become a fantastic resource for both jobseekers and recruiters. You can use it to find recruiters in your niche and engage with them.

In the search bar, type something like “accounting recruiter” or “IT recruiter” to find recruiters who specialize in an industry or specific job. On the left side of the results page, click on “people” to narrow the search so you only find actual recruiters.

Another resource is, where you can perform the same type of search as on Twitter, but narrowed by location.

Check each person’s Twitter profile for links to a personal website or recruiting firm’s site. Recruiters you find this way will be similar to those you find on niche job boards — you’ll need to do some research on them unless you know someone who can recommend them.

4. Find recruiters with Boolean strings

Here’s a new twist on an old trick: A lot of recruiters use Boolean strings to find candidates through Google, job boards, or social media sites such as LinkedIn. You can use the same method to find recruiters.

You can use strings to search for recruiters on specific sites, such as LinkedIn. On Google, search something like the following: “marketing recruiter” AND San Francisco –inurl:dir.

Here’s that string broken down:

  • site: restricts the results to what it can find ONLY in that website, which was LinkedIn in the above example
  • “Marketing recruiter” restricts results to pages that contain the exact phrase within the quotation marks
  • AND San Francisco further restricts results to the phrase in quotes that also have the location somewhere on the page
  • -inurl:dir removes any results that go to directories, which won’t be useful for you

Basically, use the same formula and commands that recruiters use to find candidates, but sub in “recruiter.”

5. Reach out and be courteous

Once you’ve made a complete list, refine it to a handful of recruiters that seem best for you and your goals. Next, reach out to them while you keep in mind a few important things:

  • They have to maintain a good relationship with employers, not you specifically.
  • They’re knowledgeable about your niche, so they can give valuable advice.
  • Having a good relationship with recruiters could help your career for years.
  • Staying in contact with them helps keep your relationship strong.
  • Whatever help or advice they give you, thank them for their help and advice.

The last thing to remember is that these tips should not be the only method you use for finding a job. You shouldn’t stop searching through job boards — yes, job boards — and building your personal brand online.

Brian Stewart is a career content writer at They are the only resume writing company that offers a professionally written resume coupled with the guidance of recruiters to guarantee that your resume will get results.

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Work (or Want to Work) in Recruiting or HR? Join Us for This Free Networking Event Mon, 04 Aug 2014 17:00:16 +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, August 21st, at noon EST, we’re hosting a FREE networking event for the Brazen community, with a focus on professionals who work in RECRUITING and HR.

That means if you work in recruiting or HR — or you want to work in recruiting or HR — 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, August 21st.

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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Why Being Happy in Your Job is Even More Important Than You Think Mon, 04 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 With the lines between home and work blurring, being happy on the job is more important than ever — maybe in ways you didn’t even realize.

The post Why Being Happy in Your Job is Even More Important Than You Think appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you wake up in the morning, do you feel fairly energetic and ready to start your day? Or do you dread the prospect of getting out of bed and facing another workday?

If it’s the latter, hear this: Life is too short to spend at a job that doesn’t make you smile, challenge your intellect or offer opportunities for both personal and professional growth. (Click here to tweet this quote.)

Unfortunately, many of us were raised to believe that work isn’t supposed to be enjoyable — in fact, you may have heard the line, “It’s called work for a reason!” once or twice. As a result, there’s a vast portion of professionals who find themselves trudging through the day, desperately waiting for the clock to strike 5 p.m.

Eight hours a day may seem minimal, but consider this: Within your lifetime, you’ll spend roughly 90,000 hours at work. Even worse? For a growing segment of the workforce, there’s no longer such a thing as a division between home and work.

These two formerly segmented sections of life are blending together, allowing for one to bleed into the other, for better or worse. As a result, when you’re in a poor professional situation, it doesn’t take long for you to start hating life. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a positive work experience can increase your overall happiness significantly.

Here are three direct benefits of a positive employment situation — and they’re all awesome.

1. Improved health

People under a lot of stress suffer from a multitude of side effects ranging from body pain and difficulty sleeping to more severe side effects such as social withdrawal and drug abuse. Furthermore, being in an unhappy work situation can even affect one’s appearance. Research shows that 50 percent of Americans have gained weight at their current job — in fact, a whopping 13 percent gained over 20 pounds.

On the flip side, a happy work scenario can help you skip out on the headaches, fatigue, binge eating, irritability and stomach ulcers. According to researchers at Aon Hewitt, “Employees who perceive their organizations as having a strong culture of health are happier, less stressed and more likely to take control of their well-being than employees in other organizations.”

2. Happier relationships

When you’re spending your workday feeling imprisoned, unhappy and unfulfilled, it can carry over into your personal life — particularly if you’re keen on venting your workplace frustrations on friends and loved ones. Nobody wants to spend time with a curmudgeon, whereas happy people naturally attract others to them. When you’re happy with your life, others will take notice!

3. Increased productivity

This one is a big perk for employees and employers alike. When you’re feeling good, you’re able to focus and actually accomplish work, which in turn fuels continued success.

In fact, research shows that happy employees have 31 percent higher productivity, have three times higher sales and perform 20 percent better than their unhappy counterparts! It goes without saying that when you’re doing your best at work, things like promotions and raises will come even more easily.

Perhaps you’re already familiar with the many reasons finding career happiness is vital, but are just not convinced that you have the skills to go out and snag your dream job. Nonsense!

For many people, the biggest roadblock between them and their dream job is their mindset. Learn to adopt a positive mindset and adapt your habits accordingly. Worried your background isn’t up to par? Check out tips from people who transitioned into a job they love — without related work experience or education.

Now’s the time to take inventory of your job happiness. If you’re feeling good, rock on. But if you’re feeling trapped or find that your job is sucking the life out of you, it’s time to get inspired and change it up. Finding a job you love may require a bit of legwork, but the return on investment is well worth it.

Dr. Kerry Schofield heads up the U.K. component of Good.Co’s science team and is one of the key designers of the psychometric model. Kerry graduated from the University of Oxford in 2003 with a degree in experimental psychology, followed by an MSc in research and statistics and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology.

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What Employers Want to See When They Google You Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:00:00 +0000 You already know employers will Google the heck out of all potential candidates. So what do you really want them to see?

The post What Employers Want to See When They Google You appeared first on Brazen Life.

If you have an ounce of common sense, you know the basics of keeping your social media profiles “clean” when applying to jobs.

You already avoid pictures with red Solo cups. You don’t share anything you wouldn’t want your mom to see. You keep a close eye on your privacy settings. These are necessary strategies for job hunters in the digital age. But they are likely not enough to make you hirable.

When employers search online, they want your digital presence to give them more than a person free of red flags. Employers want to get a sense of – buzzword warningyour authentic self. (Click here to tweet this thought.)

Except there’s one caveat.

Although employers say they want to “get to know the real you,” they filter that online info through their assumptions of what it takes to succeed professionally. And your oddly obsessive interest in cats is probably not what they’re looking for to gauge your potential for career success.

How do we know what employers want? We asked. My colleagues at The University of Texas at Austin and I asked several employers: What are you looking for online? What would make you more likely to interview or hire someone? Less likely? And we discovered that though employers say they want to get to know the “real you,” our research suggests employers want people with things most of us expect of politicians:

  • An electable personality. Employers want people who are confident and professional online, yet not arrogant. Good employees will communicate in a way that shows they are stable, friendly, curious, creative and reliable. Unsurprisingly, employers want to hire candidates they think will work well with others.
  • Appropriate endorsements. Employers use your recommendations and connections to gauge your proficiency and trustworthiness.Glowing recommendations and connections to people employers know and trust seemed to increase the chances of an interview or offer. Conversely, employers said that being connected to “inappropriate networks” doomed candidates. (That’s right — employers used the word “doomed.”)
  • A curated public image. Employers said they wanted to see “a consistent, professional presentation that cuts across social media.” They want to see you’ve taken time to think about your online presence. Employers interpret inconsistencies between your offline and online presence as potential deception.
  • The right kind of private life. Employers were more likely to interview and hire people who had clear lines between their personal and professional lives. They valued people who had “acceptable… professional interests.” All passions are not created equal. If your Instagram photos display your interest in wine or cooking, you show maturity and curiosity in the world around you. Pictures of your beer pong championship or Pokémon card collection… not so much.
  • Mainstream values alignment. The employers we interviewed wanted workers whose values align with both their own personal values and the values of their organization. Some organizations disqualified candidates that had “pictures depicting a socially liberal lifestyle.” Others disqualified candidates for expressing spirituality “too strongly.” In general, people who showed respect for their work, life and relationships did better than those who complained frequently.

Now after reading that list you may be thinking: “What a great way to recreate myself as a corporate drone and have no personal life.” Or perhaps all of the above makes perfect sense, but you just don’t have a personal PR team to help you manage your online image. You may also have genuine concerns that this cybervetting stuff could verge on illegal discrimination. (It can, which is a key reason we continue to study cybervetting and share our results with employers and policymakers).

But how can you address this? Given all the different things we do online these days, not all of these expectations lend themselves to easy advice.

Yet there are strategies that can help you meet employers’ expectations without necessarily giving up friendships, social support, recreation and all the rest-of-life stuff you do online.

Consider what you want out of life

What are the tradeoffs if you prioritize your professional life online? What do you gain and what do you lose?

Part of this process involves figuring who you are and who you want to be. By acting online and offline in a way consistent with what you value, you simplify the work of impression management and increase the chances of finding a good professional match.

This is easier for some of us than others. Biases based on race, gender, sexual orientation, political views, and even favorite hobbies still affect hiring decisions.

Get advice and feedback

Talk with people who know you well and people who know the industry or occupation well. Ask friends what three words come to mind when they evaluate your online image. Feedback can help you understand how your online identity could affect your career and the rest of your life.

Curate accordingly

Decide how much you want to curate your online information to match who you are and want to be. Then do it. Assuming that you aren’t entering a spy-training program, having some information online is generally better than nothing. Manage privacy settings, check Google and Bing, update your profile photo and share your expertise in relevant online communities.

Choose and manage digital relationships carefully

We are known by the friends we keep online. If you haven’t done so, use LinkedIn to develop and maintain a network of relevant professional connections. Ask people with whom you’ve worked or volunteered whether they can offer you an endorsement.

And of course, consider not doing certain things online (or keeping them as private as possible.) Is sharing your Farmville progress or Words With Friends score doing much to help your image as you’re hunting for a job?

Brenda L. Berkelaar is an author, teacher and researcher at The University of Texas at Austin Moody College of Communication. Her work helps people navigate and thrive in contemporary careers and life in the digital age.

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This Industry Desperately Wants to Hire People Under 30 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:00:00 +0000 This American industry is in dire need of young and excited minds. Here’s how you can get a job with them.

The post This Industry Desperately Wants to Hire People Under 30 appeared first on Brazen Life.

When you think of where you’d love to get a job, does the federal government spring to mind?

If you’re a Millennial, probably not. A recent Wall Street Journal article reports that the percentage of government employees under the age of 30 hit an eight-year low in 2013: a paltry 8 percent. That’s right: young people aren’t going to work for the U.S. government.

From the WSJ:

About 45% of the federal workforce was more than 50 years old in 2013, and by September 2016, nearly a quarter of all federal employees will be eligible to retire.

An industry in which almost 25 percent of people will be at retirement age in two years? If you’re a savvy job hunter, bells should be going off in your head.

Though it may not seem as exciting as working at a startup or innovative tech company, the U.S. government can still be an excellent place to work, with perks like steady pay, good benefits, enormous potential for growth, and hopefully, the knowledge that you’re contributing to the greater good.

How you can get a government job

If you’re interested in working for the federal government but aren’t sure where to start, here are some tips:

  • Figure out which jobs you’re interested in: The government is a huge organization, and there are jobs for any skill set and interest. Here’s a guide to federal occupations sorted by college major, and a list of agencies ranked by satisfaction by employees under 30.
  • Consider a prep program: The Pathways Programs were established to get young people into government. They offer a paid internship program for current students, a development program with training and mentorship for recent grads, and the esteemed Presidential Management Fellows Program for those with advanced degrees. You might also check out this post on how to find a Washington internship.

If you’re under 30, working for the government could be the perfect opportunity to earn a steady paycheck, start your career — and maybe, just maybe, change the world.

Would you consider working for the federal government? Why or why not?

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

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Your Career To-Do List for the Summer (Warning: Not for Slackers) Thu, 31 Jul 2014 10:00:00 +0000 While everyone else takes it easy this summer, now’s the perfect time to take your career by the reins and propel yourself to the top.

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Summer, summer, summer-time.

Time to sit back and unwind…

In the immortal words of Will Smith (or Ella Fitzgerald crooning about “easy livin’”), summer is usually seen as a time for kicking back, slowing your roll and enjoying a little well-deserved R&R. Most people use the long, hot days of June through August to let things slide a little.

But, you’re not most people. And your career isn’t like most people’s, either.

So while everyone else is taking long lunch breaks and extended vacations, now’s the perfect time for you to step up your game, set yourself apart and boost your career opportunities. You can use the summer months to stand out and get ahead while the rest of the pack takes it easy.

1. Learn something new

One of the best ways to boost your marketability and secure that raise/promotion/shiny new job you covet is to follow one rule: Always Be Learning. (Click here to tweet this rule.)

Trade your fluffy beach read for industry publications so you can stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments. Boost your skill set at your own pace by registering for a massive online open course (or MOOC) like Code Academy or Udemy. Sign up for a webinar or workshop on an aspect of your job you’re not so strong in, like delivering a strong presentation or writing a killer proposal.

Heck, download a brain-boosting app like Lumosity and play a few rounds while you’re lounging in the sun. (We didn’t say you couldn’t have any fun.) Whatever you do, just don’t let your brain go mushy this summer. Keep the positive career momentum going.

2. Grow your network

Summer is a great time to meet people. Everyone’s getting together for barbeques, company picnics, weddings, you name it. While you’re out and about this summer, make a point to expand your professional network.

Work on a quick, unobtrusive elevator pitch you can slip into conversation, and keep your eye out for opportunities to use it. You don’t need to be obnoxious about it; something as simple as sharing what you do and where you want to take your career next is all you need to lay the groundwork for an informational interview or personal recommendation that could lead to your next big thing.

You may find the guest you’re seated next to at your cousin’s wedding works for your target company, or your coworker’s spouse might introduce you to someone who winds up becoming your perfect mentor.

3. Update your personal brand

Whether you’re on the job hunt or seeking a promotion, you need to invest time in the brand of you — especially if you’ve been in the same place for a while and have gotten a little complacent. (It happens.)

Tackle any or all of these to-dos to clear the career cobwebs and keep your personal brand fresh and compelling:

  • Update your resume.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile and optimize it for keywords.
  • Start a blog or create an online portfolio.
  • Pitch a piece to a magazine, blog or other publication in your industry.
  • Pick one of your ho-hum social media accounts and learn everything you can about rocking it.
  • Google search your name to see what people (read: potential employers and networking contacts) will find when they search for you. Clean up anything that could be professionally embarrassing.

4. Spearhead a project / take on extra responsibilities

Many businesses face a work lull come summer-time. Now is the perfect time to take on new tasks, increase your experience points and demonstrate your worth to your employer at the same time.

If you have a great idea for your company you’ve been keeping to yourself, come up with a plan of action to make it happen and pitch it to your boss. Make sure they know you’ll still be on top of all your usual responsibilities, but are just taking this on project on the side.

Management looks for people who show initiative and seem invested in the company’s success, so while your coworkers take extra long smoke breaks to enjoy the warm weather, use this opportunity to show why you’re the employee to watch.

A bonus benefit of tackling a project in the summer? With lots of coworkers out on vacation, you’ll have fewer interruptions and distractions, giving you more time to focus.

You can also take advantage of your coworkers’ vacations by taking on tasks they would normally handle, learning more about how the company works and expanding your skill set in the process.

5. Start a side hustle

If you’ve been contemplating a side hustle for a while, now is a great time to get started. Don’t wait until the darkest depths of winter; It can be tough working up the will to hustle after your day job’s done when the sun goes down at 5 p.m. every day. Start a side gig now, when the days are long and the sky is sunny — it may be the boost you need to summon that extra energy and motivation.

Set up a workstation on a cafe patio, on the deck of your family’s summer rental or even on the hammock in your backyard to get some extra rays and get moving on your dream. (Just don’t get too comfy!)

6. Ramp up your job search

Think summer’s a bad time to go on the job hunt? So does everyone else, which is why your efforts could pay back double. If you’re on the job hunt, don’t halt your efforts just because the weather’s gotten nice. Keep at it; employers still need workers over the summer, and you could be their next great find.

Yes, key decision makers can sometimes be hard to reach over the summer — but on the flip side, they might also have more flexibility to meet with you, and your name could stand out even more simply because you’re not competing against so many other candidates.

7. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to gain new experience and meet new people while also giving back and doing something good for others. Sign up to clean up a local park, build a home for Habitat for Humanity or help at your church’s annual rummage sale.

With the extra hours of daylight (and the extra energy sunny days can bring), you may find you now have an opportunity to donate some time you couldn’t previously fit into your schedule.

How are you planning to take charge of your career this summer? Share your ideas in the comments!

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

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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.

The post How to Convince Your Boss to Invest in New Recruiting Technology appeared first on Brazen Life.

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.

The post 10 Hacks for Using for Your Job Search appeared first on Brazen Life.

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.

The post Here’s How to Get the Most Out of Your MBA Program appeared first on Brazen Life.

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.

The post Live in San Fran? Here’s How to Launch Your Sales Career appeared first on Brazen Life.

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.

The post Want More Productive and Less Stressed Employees? Try This appeared first on Brazen Life.

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.

The post 10 Networking Tips from Your Grandfather That Still Apply Today appeared first on Brazen Life.

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?

The post What Big Data Could Mean for the Future of Recruiting appeared first on Brazen Life.

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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