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Really Different or Rarely Different?

Really Different or Rarely Different?

I hate labels such as “Millennials” – a term first coined by Strauss & Howe in their book Generations.

My wife asked me to write an article on Millennials in the Workplace. The general definition of Millennials seems to be those born between 1980 and 2000. Now, I am in the habit of doing (almost) everything my wife asks of me, but why me? I doubt I have anything more to add to the myriad of opinions out there. Everyone has a position on the topic, and none of the research is conclusive. I have spent the last week having an internal debate in my head and thinking of reasons why I should not do this. I can’t justify turning down my wife…

So here is my Generation X (generally born between 1960 and 1980) observations, solely within the workplace.

This is based upon what I have observed, what I feel etc., not scientific conclusions, just my biased non-researched views. So there, you can’t challenge me for this article. And, by the way, what qualifies me as remotely capable of writing down my views? Probably because I have three Millennials as kids and that I work with about 30 of them at Wazee Digital every day.

The way I think about Millennials in the Workplace is to begin by understanding what they faced when they entered the workplace. Yes, there could be all sorts of psychological factors that influenced them prior to that. However, I focus on what they faced from about 2005 to 2010 when the earliest group of them left their college and protective parent years behind and entered the workplace. Not quite losing the generational lottery, but during this short 5-year period here is what they generally saw:

  • Global Financial Crises & the Mortgage Loan debacle
  • Many of their parents unemployed and or savings depleted
  • Disastrous and costly Middle East Wars
  • Climate Change and an Environmental mess
  • Political gridlock
  • Corporate scandals
  • Resurgent China and offshoring depressing wages
  • Terrorism close to home

As I think about it, the only things Generation X have provided Millennials that provide great utility are The Internet, the cellphone & e-commerce.

So, I totally understand why Millennials often exhibit a high degree of skepticism and distrust with Generation X. Estimates say that by 2020, nearly half of all workers in the workplace will be Millennials. I believe all workplaces have this unavoidable Millennial/Gen X combination – typically with Gen X as management and Millennial as non-management. Workplaces will have to understand these factors and challenge the traditional management/employee dynamic. For me, the cornerstone is all about inspiring the Millennials, understanding the different views and avoiding stereotypes.

While I agreed with my wife to write an article (short), not an essay (long), let me close by listing all the disparaging terms I hear about Millennials and give you my opinion as they relate to the workplace: They.

  • Have a lesser work ethic than Gen X – untrue. You are not inspiring them.
  • Want to do meaningful work – true. What’s wrong with that?
  • Have been so sheltered – why is this even relevant? If it’s true it’s the Gen X’s fault – so fix it.
  • Are overconfident – great.
  • Provide immediate candid feedback – who wants to work with folks who “suffer in silence” anyway?
  • Think communication is texting – true. Texting and email are great for information sharing but awful for convincing or relationship building.
  • See supervisors as mentors, not bosses – yes, Gen X’ers they actually want your help!
  • Are over-entitled – sometimes. Probably because Gen X parents overprotected them and are not finding that “air-cover” in the workplace.
  • Don’t have a defined career path – fair point. Keep encouraging and give them the freedom to explore.
  • Value job satisfaction over financial rewards – correct. But the Gen X obsession with money has not worked out so well.
  • Look for a better work/life balance – correct. Why not? Travel, health, and rest are proven to provide more productive employees.
  • Don’t trust management – correct. Most Gen X management teams have not earned this trust.
  • Change jobs when the going gets tough – fair point. This is one the Millennials must own. The grass is rarely greener.
  • Don’t ascribe to Corporate Values – partially true. But most corporate values are BS anyway.
  • Rudely multi-task – yes, Millennials (and a number of Gen X’ers) you are guilty as charged. You can’t fully participate in a conversation and have one eye on your phone.
  • Have a strong BS detection antennae – correct. They sniff this out very well.
  • Have a greater sense of community purpose – correct. Companies should be part of the societies in which they live. Millennials are challenging companies to turn this from an annual report fable into a true commitment.

Hopefully, my views can form part of the beginning of a generational understanding in the workplace not the end of the debate. Yet most of all, I hope that Millennials have the courage to mimic the Gen X strengths and learn from our Gen X’s many mistakes – so that they can preserve my social security benefits for years to come!

Mark A. Pougnet | COO and CFO

Conducting a Successful Job Search

Thanks to the Internet, searching for a job today is vastly different than it used to be. Until fairly recently, a job seeker browsed local classified ads, found a compatible-sounding job listing, prepared an elegant résumé on bond paper, and sent it out by fax or U.S. mail. That has changed. Today, finding and landing a great job comes with the challenge of learning how to utilize the many available Internet resources to aid in your search.

Searching for a Job on Internet Job Boards
Searching for a job online has become a common, but not always fruitful, approach. With all the publicity given to Internet-based job boards and career sites, you might think that online job searching makes finding a job easy. Job board sites such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com list millions of jobs, but actually landing a position is much harder than just clicking your mouse and waiting for a reply; it takes perseverance and wise use of online job boards.

  • Career Builder (careerbuilder.com)CareerBuilder claims to be the nation’s largest employment network. Users can search millions of jobs by category, geographic location, keyword, industry, or job type (full-time, part-time, internship).
  • Indeed (indeed.com)One of the newest and fastest growing job search sites on the Internet, Indeed.com is a metasearch engine that uses a Google-like interface to search the Internet for open job listings.
  • Monster (monster.com): Monster.com offers access to information on millions of jobs worldwide using a search technology called 6Sense that matches applicants with the best job opportunities for their skills. Because of this cutting-edge search system, many consider Monster.com to be the Internet’s premier job site.
  • College Grad (collegegrad.com)CollegeGrad advertises itself as the “number one entry-level job site” for students and recent graduates. In addition to searching for entry-level jobs, users can also search for undergraduate and graduate degree programs to help them develop marketable skills.
  • Career JournalPart of The Wall Street Journal; CareerJournal provides listings for high-level executive and finance positions.

Beyond the Big Internet Job Boards
Many job seekers may turn their backs on job boards but not on online job-searching tactics. Savvy candidates know to search for jobs in other ways. Some examples are:

  • Company Web Sites: Probably the best way to find a job online is at a company’s own website. Many companies now post job openings only on their own websites to avoid inundation by the volume of applicants that respond to postings via online job boards. Many job seekers find that they are more likely to obtain an interview if they post their résumés on company sites. This allows a more direct connection to decision makers, and job seekers can keep their job searches (and personal information!) more private than on job boards.
  • Professional Organization Websites: Online job listings have proven to be the single most popular feature of many professional organizations, such as the International Association of Administrative Professionals, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Association of Sales Professionals, the National Association of Legal Assistants, and the Association of Information Technology Professionals. Although you pay a fee to join, the benefits of being a member of a professional association in your career field are enormous. Remember that it is never too early to start networking. If you join a professional organization while you are still in college, you will be setting yourself up for future success as you build a network of professional connections.
  • JobCentral National Labor Exchange: JobCentral is a public service website provided by the DirectEmployers Association, a nonprofit consortium of Fortune 500 and other leading U.S. corporations. Many companies now use jobcentral.com as a gateway to job listings on their own websites, which results in the advertising of millions of jobs. Best of all, this service is free and bypasses the big commercial job boards. You can search for a job description or job title, and apply directly on the website of the hiring company.
  • Local Employment Web Sites: Although many of the big job boards allow you to search for jobs geographically, many job seekers have more luck using local employment websites such as CraigslistCumulus Jobs and JobStar.
  • Niche Web Sites: If you want a job in a specialized field, look for a niche website, such as Dice (dice.com) for technology jobs, Advance for Health Care (www.advanceweb.com/jobs/healthcare/index.html) for jobs in the medical field, and Accountemps (www.accountemps.com) for accounting positions. Niche websites also exist for job seekers with special backgrounds or needs, such as older workers (www.workforce50.com) and veterans (www.veteranjoblistings.com).

Social Media Sites
Perhaps you already use sites such as Facebook or Twitter to communicate with family and friends. Did you know that users are increasingly tapping into social media sites to prospect for jobs and that recruiters use these sites to find potential employees? LinkedIn is currently the top site for job seekers, with over 200 million users, including job seekers and recruiters. Other popular sites include Plaxo, TheLadders, BlueSteps, and Jobster. Twitter has created a job search engine called TwitJobSearch (www.twitjobsearch.com), and many companies now post recruitment videos on YouTube. Savvy job seekers use these tools to network and to search for available positions. Of course, the most successful job seekers understand the necessity of maintaining a professional online appearance and taking the time to connect personally with recruiters.

Use Caution
Be aware of the dangers associated with using Internet job boards and other employment websites. Not only could your current boss see your résumé posted online, but a fraudster could also use your information to steal your identity. The following tips can help you safely conduct an online job search:

  • Use reputable sites: Stick to the well-known, reputable job boards. Never use a site that makes you pay to post your résumé or a site that makes you feel uneasy.
  • Be selective: Limit the number of sites on which you post your résumé. Employers dislike “résumé spammers.”
  • Use a dedicated e-mail address: Set up a separate e-mail account with a professional-sounding e-mail address for sending and receiving emails related to your job search.
  • Limit personal information: Never include your social security or other identification numbers on your résumé. Consider omitting your home address and home phone number to protect your privacy when posting on big job boards.
  • Post privately: If given an option, choose to post your résumé privately. Doing so means that you can control who has access to your e-mail address and other contact information.
  • Count the days: Renew your résumé posting every 14 days. If you keep it up longer, it will look as if employers have no interest in you. If you have not received a response in 45 days, pull your résumé from the site and post it somewhere else.
  • Keep careful records: Keep a record of every site on which you post your résumé. At the end of your job search, remove all posted résumés.
  • Protect your references: If you post your résumé online, do not include your references. It is unethical for job seekers to post their references’ personal contact information online without the references’ knowledge.
  • Do not respond to a “blind” job posting: Respond only to job postings that include a company name and contact information. It is unfortunate that many scammers use online job boards to post fake job ads as a way to gather your personal information.

Finding the Perfect Job (For Students)
A successful job search requires an early start and a determined effort. Students with proactive personalities are the most successful in securing interviews and jobs during and after college. These successful candidates are not passive; they are driven and “make things happen.” Recruiters respond to a proactive nature. They will also consider your education, life experience, grade point averages, and internships when reviewing your qualifications. Communicating what you have learned inside and outside the classroom—and connecting with other—people will continue to be critical elements in landing a great job. Traditional job search techniques, such as those below, can help you find a position that fits your interests and skills while building your professional and personal network.

  • Check announcements in publications of professional organizations: If you do not have a student membership to professional organizations, ask your instructors (or librarian) to share current copies of professional journals, newsletters, and other industry resources.
  • Contact companies in which you are interested, even if you know of no current opening: Write an unsolicited letter and include your résumé. Follow up with a telephone call. Check the company’s website for employment possibilities and application procedures.
  • To learn immediately of job openings, use Twitter to follow companies that interest you.
  • Sign up for campus interviews with visiting company representatives: Campus recruiters can open your eyes to exciting companies, job locations, and positions. They can also help you prepare by offering mock interviews.
  • Ask for advice from your instructors: Your teachers often have contacts and ideas for conducting and expanding your job search and growing your skills.
  • Develop your own network of contacts: Networking still accounts for most of the jobs found by candidates. Therefore, plan to spend a considerable portion of your job search for developing a personal network.
  • Attend career fairs: Job fairs are invaluable in the quest to learn about specific companies and future career options. The more you know about the company and its representatives, the more comfortable you will be soliciting a position and giving a great interview.

For information on conducting a successful search for a job, creating a standout resume or performing well in your interviews, contact us. Our Career Services can help you succeed!

Seven Ways to Nurture Your Company Culture

“Defining Your Company Culture” helped you ask the questions – and come up with the answers – that hone in on, and clarify, the culture you want your business to represent. But, it’s not enough to just define your culture, you need to maintain it, communicate it and keep it a living, breathing part of your business. Consider these seven ways to nurture your company culture. Define and communicate your core values. It’s easy to be cynical about this – until you realize how important it is. Some companies come into existence knowing their core values are to “never sacrifice quality” or “always do the right thing.” But if they don’t communicate it, and hold employees to that standard, those values go unsupported. Know your values and communicate them. If you’re not so clear on your values, ask your team to (anonymously) comment on what they think the company’s values are. This could be a rude awakening if you haven’t been careful to manage your values, but it can also give you an idea of what messages are coming across – so you know which messages you need to manage. Defining and communicating your values is key to bringing everyone on the same team to support the specific vision of your company. Keep it fun. Culture is all about a certain version of fun. No matter what business you’re in, you can have fun. You could host events for families (summer picnics?), publish media that is specifically for your employees (a weekly newsletter to keep them informed and inspired), dress-up days (wear costumes to work) or any engaging and fun activity that purposely blurs the lines between personal and work life. Show employees you care about them (for real). To build loyalty among your employees, make sure to show you care about them in the totality of their lives. When they start working for you, find out their kids’ birthdays and their wedding-anniversary date, to commemorate those events with a card or a call. Ask about their hobbies and interests, so you can talk about those things, or reward them in ways they’ll actually enjoy. Hire only the types of people who fit your culture. Finding people who fit for your company can be difficult. It’s common to interview dozens of people and only find one that would actually match your environment. Though hiring is a challenge, don’t settle for someone just because they’re a body to fill a position. Make hiring easier by narrowing the field. Place well-crafted employment ads that define the culture, and demonstrate what fitting that culture would mean in action. Create interview questions that help you define the candidate’s fit for the culture (“How do you spend your free time” or “Select three values from the list below that tell us what kind of person you are.”) Administering a skills test during an interview is a great way to see what aptitudes a person brings with them and get a feel for how a person reacts when they don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Everything about your interview (and possibly a probationary period) should allow the candidate to demonstrate how well they fit your vision, mission, and culture. Hire only the employees that really fit. Get rid of employees that “don’t fit.” Now that you’re trying to hire the best fit for your company, apply that logic to deciding who to keep. Odds are you have staff that is holding you back from embodying the identity you’re trying to bring to life. Many of us have worked for a company where employees whine, act like children, are difficult to work with and generally don’t produce the work results or have the personal qualities that make them a good team member. If you’ve given employees the tools they need to succeed and they aren’t succeeding, you have an obligation to remove them from your team. No matter how developed your culture, retaining staff that undermines your cultural values has a negative effect on your team. Check in to see how it’s going. Come up with ways to measure your employees’ satisfaction periodically, and then respond to their feedback. Be sure to make any feedback you request anonymous, and don’t just focus on the positive feedback while ignoring signs that you need to improve your management. Employees want to know that you take their ideas seriously. When you receive feedback that is negative, act on it. Change the situation. Make things better. Employees will notice if you pat yourself on the back for the positive feedback and ignore the rest. Deal with the criticism and use it to make your culture stronger, clearer and more attractive for your employees. Acknowledge your employees. Everyone loves getting a paycheck, but that’s not the most important thing about having a job. We spend so much of our time at work that how we are made to feel at the office determines how happy we are. We all want acknowledgment, respect, recognition, and a simple “thank you.” Don’t expect that paying the wages is all it takes to get great work, and loyalty, from your team. Give them a little extra appreciation and they’ll keep supporting your culture and company success. Once you’ve taken steps to define your culture, keep developing and maintaining it. After all, when employees enjoy coming to work, they are more likely to contribute their best efforts and stay around. Though nurturing the culture you have defined is a daily, challenging task, it can help you boost productivity and retain your top talent.

5 Common Workplace Myths

Everyone brings ideas about what’s “good” and “bad” in the workplace. Your ideas about how you are supposed to perform your role will affect not only the company and the team, they will affect you too! While some employees choose to stress out, check out, just wing it, stay in a rut or keep their mouth shut, wise, professional employees keep it together, stay focused and contribute. If any of these 5 workplace myths are directing your actions at work, you might want to reconsider your ideas of what’s “good” and “bad”.

Multi-tasking is the best way to go: Just because you can do more than one thing at a time doesn’t mean it’s effective. If you are splitting your attention between a phone call and an email, odds are good you are not going to be focused enough to take in the details of either task. You tune out your conversation while you’re typing your email, or send your email while you’re talking and lose focus that would allow you to catch your mistakes. Especially if you have a lot of work to do, do one task at a time. If you’re multi-tasking, you might limit your ability to get the job done effectively. Stay focused, and each part of your work will turn out better. And, you’ll save yourself the stress of juggling too many things at once.

It’s OK for you to chat with your friends at work: You may have close and long-lasting friendships with your coworkers. If you do, keep them professional. Don’t give preferential treatment to your friends or exclude other team members. Establish clear boundaries that will help you and your friends stay out of deep or personal territory, and keep your actions and discussions professional.

You don’t need to track your work because you know what you’re doing: Chances are you have a lot of individual tasks, processes and deliverables tugging at your attention. If you’re not keeping track of what needs to happen, and when, you might miss important details. You’ll be more productive if you plan your day ahead of time and group similar tasks to create a more streamlined workflow. If mornings are the most hectic, plan your day at the end of the previous weekday – or vice versa. Having your tasks and timelines mapped out will keep you on track when there is so much work to do that it’s hard to think.

It’s better if you stay in your comfort zone: Most jobs are routine. If you’re not careful, you might think that you should stay right where you are, doing exactly what you’re doing, just the way you’re doing it. Things are working, right? Everything is fine. However, coming out of your comfort zone is important – as a push toward professional and personal growth. To push the envelope a bit, reinvent processes to make your work more accurate or efficient, volunteer for projects or tasks that pose a challenge, ask a supervisor for direction on expanding your knowledge. Learning new skills makes your mind stronger, and spreading your wings a little might help you create professional connections. Of course, you need to be a reliable and focused employee, but while you’re at it, push your limits.

Being assertive will get you in trouble: The professional environment is a collaborative space. Though some team members are more ‘senior’ than others, each person has unique knowledge and perspective to contribute. There are times when stating what you think, want or believe in can be intimidating. If the stage isn’t set for smooth and easy dialogue, you might need to be assertive. But don’t worry. Assertive doesn’t mean aggressive, or that you should deny other’s rights to state their opinions. It just means to stand firm and thoughtfully (and calmly) state your ideas and suggestions. Take an active part in the discussion and advocate for change when it’s needed.

The rules you follow at work can support, or hinder, your Professional success. Your attitude, methods and personal style can allow you to contribute your best at work, become a valued member of the team and grow your skills. You spend a lot of time at work. You might as well make good use of it!

Looking for a new opportunity? Contact us today!

How to Answer the Most Common Interview Questions

Job interviews can intimidate even the most hardened professionals. It’s a challenge to be on the spot and come up with targeted answers to questions that you may not have prepared for, especially when you want to be (or NEED to be) offered a job. Even if you’re a perfect fit for the job and a great communicator in normal circumstances, on the day of the interview you might find it difficult to convey your skills when stammering becomes your primary method of communication. But preparation… ah, preparation. It can foil the nerves and make you sound concise, even erudite.

How do you prepare? With some online research and time spent considering your strengths, interests, and needs, you can be prepared to answer a variety of interview questions. Below, we’ll cover the ten most common questions. With just a few well-constructed sentences, you can win over an interviewer and find the words to express just how perfect you are for the position.

As you look over the questions below, think about how you might answer. Your responses don’t have to be wordy but, if you want the job, they do have to be well-targeted and speak to the point the interviewer is trying to get you to talk about.

Tell me a little about yourself. The interviewer really wants to know how you’ve directed your life experience to be where you are today – and how they might benefit from your experience. A seemingly innocuous question, this one could sound like you’re being asked to share about your personal life. But, it isn’t a personal question. It’s an opportunity, like every other interview question, to tell the interviewer how you fit into the company or position. When sharing bits of your history, include accomplishments or experiences that have helped prepare you for the job you’re applying for. Make your answer succinct; don’t expand on your entire personal or professional history.

How much do you know about the company? The interviewer really wants to know if you’ve done your homework and knew what you were getting yourself into before you sat down for the interview. You could give a simple answer, something you found on the company website, but the interviewer has already heard that from candidates they didn’t hire. Make a short statement focused on what you know about the company’s goals, vision and culture and add a personal touch about how you gravitate toward, and might support those goals.

Describe your areas of strength. The interviewer really wants to know how the skills and attitudes you’re bringing to the table might play out against the responsibilities of the role. Whichever of your strengths you choose to highlight, pick the ones most relevant to the position, and then elaborate. For instance, if great at working under pressure, you might say, way like “I am able to manage multiple priorities effectively and under pressure. I think that will be important as a (Job Title).”

Describe a few of your weaknesses. The interviewer really wants to know how self-aware and honest you are, and how your shortcomings might show up if you are hired. Everyone has weaknesses, and if you can’t talk about them, or show you’re working on self-improvement, you’re not going to be able to answer this question. You don’t have to share too much personal information, just a couple of things you’re currently struggling with but are trying to improve. For instance, “I’m not great with conflict so I’m working on developing my communication and stress management skills. I’d like to learn to remain present, open and communicative when conflict arises so that I can excel in situations where conflict is a necessary part of strategy development.”

What is your greatest professional accomplishment? The interviewer really just wants to hear you say that the work you’ve done has had a positive, productive result. Give the interviewer some context before you dive into what you did and what was achieved. If you’ve singlehandedly reworked the company’s operational goals, improved workplace efficiency, or increased revenue by 500%, say so. For some in the workforce, this will be a tough question to answer. If you’re not a manager or process developer, your positions might not have afforded you the opportunity to accomplish extraordinary things. But in each position, there is room for accomplishment. Describe anyway in which you’ve excelled at your position and highlight the results of your efforts, even if the results aren’t mind-blowing. You might have more to say here if you’ve expertly managed finances to reduce expenses by 25% or managed company mergers. Don’t be shy about stating your accomplishments, no matter your previous experience.

Why are you looking for a job? Why did you leave your last job? The interviewer really wants to know if you were in a position that didn’t fit you, if you behaved badly, or if you’ll make excuses to explain why you’re interviewing. No matter the reason you’re looking for a job, keep it positive. Don’t throw anyone under the bus, even if you had to leave your last job because the manager was inept, yet entrenched, and brought down the morale of everyone in the office. Give a short explanation and then state that you’re trying to find a better fit, and you believe the company you’re interviewing for is that fit.

Why do you want this job? The interviewer wants to know if you really want the job and understand the company and the role you’ll be playing. Employers want to hire someone who is enthusiastic about the job. This is another opportunity to fill your answer with reasons you’d be a great fit for the job and company. Rehash why you are the best pick for the role and why you’re excited about working for the company. Talk about how you think you can contribute immediately and make an impact long-term.

Why should we hire you? The interviewer really wants to know why they should care that you want the job when so many others do too. Here is another opportunity to tell why you’re the best hire. Try to stay away from half-hearted responses like, “I’m fully capable of the work required.” Focus on how well you’ll fit into the culture, that you’re great to work with and how thrilled they will be with their choice when you use your skills and experience to their benefit.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? The interviewer really wants to know if you’re interested in moving through or moving up. This is not a personal question. It’s about where you see your career going. If you’re interviewing for a job that has no room for advancement, don’t say, “I see myself growing into a new position with the company.” In most professional roles, there is a need for ambition and drive, so an answer focused on growth would be appropriate. Demonstrate that you have realistic expectations of the position and your trajectory, and know that it’s ok if you don’t have it figured out yet. Maybe this position will help you define what’s next.

Do you have any questions for me? The interviewer wants to see if you’ll take the easy way out and say “No.” Always, always, always say, “Yes” to this question. Before your interview, do some online research to identify questions you might ask the interviewer. (We’ve posted an article with some great questions to ask, which you can find at https://aclivity.com/questions-to-ask-in-an-interview/ ) When this question comes up, you have a chance to learn more about how the company might be a good fit for you. Ask about the team, the pressure, the expectations, the down-sides – anything to gain insight into the reality of working for the company.

When you have been offered an interview, it’s important to make the most of the opportunity. Being prepared to answer the interviewer’s questions will help you feel at ease while you are trying to make a positive impression. It will also help you stand out from other applicants. Remember that job hunting is about finding the right fit. Though you want to convince the interviewer to hire you, be sure it’s a job and company that really fit what you have to offer and can support you in taking your career where you want it to go.

For more interviewing tips, or to take advantage of our Career Services, contact us today!

Is Your Resume Catching Attention?

If your resume reads like a job description, it probably will not land you an interview. A recruiter is more likely to contact you for an interview if you have effectively quantified the work you have performed in your previous positions. When evaluating the strength of your resume consider the tips below.

  • Highlight certain skills and experiences by using a “Strengths & Skills” section at the top of your resume. Use bullet points to detail the skills you have used and the ways you have succeeded in your career; just make sure those skills align with the job description.
  • For each previous employer, list the company name and department, size (in revenue), industry, number of employees, the states or countries the company operates in and the name, title and department of your direct supervisor.
  • Use action words! Words such as managed, led, organized, reduced, improved and won are all great ways to communicate that you have actively contributed to your employers’ success.
  • Demonstrate how you have utilized your skills to create measurable success for the companies for which you have worked.
  • Quantify your work. Use dollars, numbers and percentages to show that show you have been an asset to your previous employers. You could detail the number of your direct reports, size of your department or budget, important schedules you have followed, reduction in turnover rates during your employ, specific projects you have successfully completed or key entities you have supported. You could also include information on changes in company rankings, revenues, clients, customers, sales and/or procedures directly attributable to your efforts. Be sure to highlight time or money saved and increases in efficiency. Draw the recruiter in with numbers that prove you are a great candidate for the position for which you are applying.
  • Proofread your resume! Typos and omissions speak volumes about your attention to detail.
  • Perform a final review of your resume, ensuring that it clearly describes your strengths and accomplishments in a quantifiable Remember, recruiters want to hire people with experience in the role they are staffing!

Our Career Services can help you create a resume that communicates your unique skills! For more tips on finding and landing the right job, contact us today! We’re here to help!

Writing A Cover Letter

Your cover letter is just as important as your resume. Cover letters offer you an early opportunity to highlight your experience specific to a position or company. Any time you are responding to an advertised opening, inquiring with a company about possible opportunities, or asking to do some networking within a company of interest, you should include a cover letter.

All cover letters should:

Explain why you are sending a resume:

  • Introduce yourself and let the reader know what you are asking for. Be specific: are you responding to a specific ad for an open position? Are you inquiring about future opportunities? Are you looking for an internship?

Indicate how you learned about the position or the company:

  • Reference the location of a job posting, or name a networking connection or current employee. If you were referred by someone, mention their name to solidify the referral.
  • State why you are interested in the position and/or company.
  • If you are not responding to a specific position, indicate the types of positions you are interested in.

Convince the reader to view your resume:

  • The cover letter forms a recruiter’s first impression of you. Take the time to write a detailed letter that demonstrates your communication skills and reflects your personality.
  • This is your opportunity to “sell yourself.” Call attention to any skills and experiences that directly relate to the job or company.
  • Let the reader know why you are a perfect fit for the position.
  • Provide any information requested in the job advertisement, especially if the information is not on your resume.

Indicate your plans for a follow-up:

  • Do not assume the company’s contact will call you. Provide your contact information as well as a statement about your intent to follow-up.
  • If you are applying for an advertised or open position, take the initiative! Say something like, “I will follow up with you in the next two weeks to arrange a time to meet and discuss my qualifications.”
  • If your cover letter is expressing an interest in the company, but not for a particular position, say something like, “I look forward to contacting you in the next couple of weeks to learn more about your organization and possible opportunities.”

Our Career Services can help you find and land the right job. Contact Aclivity today! We’re here to help!

The Value of Using LinkedIn

LinkedIn

The Value is in the LinkedIn Basics

There is so much untapped value that comes from becoming a member of LinkedIn, if you were unaware. LinkedIn can help you promote your business if you own or operate one, it is a fantastic way to network with others in the industry of your choosing, or locate either new talent or a new career!

LinkedIn is the place to meet:

  • Where else can you mingle with the more than 500 million members from all around the world?
  • More than 250 million active members each month
  • The average LinkedIn member has an average annual household income of $140,000
  • Two people create a LinkedIn profile every second!
  • LinkedIn now has 3 different job posting platforms in use.
  • Nearly 50% of LinkedIn members have decision-making authority for their companies
  • The people on LinkedIn are there primarily to network or grow their business

The top ways that LinkedIn promotes you:

  • LinkedIn allows members to create a personalized professional presence
  • It’s an online resume that can work for you all day long by creating a place to post your experience and intentions.
  • LinkedIn encourages the community to endorse you via online recommendations that back up claims you make about your professional abilities and character.
  • LinkedIn is a professional forum to share links, images or documents that demonstrate work you’ve done.
  • The forum is set up to gain introductions to potential employers, colleagues, or clients in your field.
  • Follow companies that you are interested in pursuing and directly search member job postings.
  • Join various groups that align with your interests and participate in discussions. Having an interest group in common with another LinkedIn member is one way you can invite others into your network and have access to group job listings.
  • One of the most famous statements in business is, it’s all about who you know. So step towards the best way to be more connected than you could have ever imagined. With LinkedIn, you can benefit from the connections of people you know and benefit others with your connections.

To get started on LinkedIn, you’ll need to:

  • Know how you’d like to use LinkedIn. Are you directing people to your website? Are you looking for employment? What you want out of the social network will determine how you use it.
  • Create a login and take the time to create a profile that demonstrates your unique strengths and experience.
  • Check in frequently and make connections to resources that align with your current or desired field.

With a few basic steps in place, you can market yourself or your business worldwide!

If you’d like more help getting started on LinkedIn, email shenia.ivey@aclivity.com to receive information on personalized coaching and training!

Seven Ways to Nurture Your Company Culture

Last week’s article “Defining Your Company Culture” helped you ask the questions – and come up with the answers – that hone in on, and clarify, the culture you want your business to represent. But, it’s not enough to just define your culture, you need to maintain it, communicate it and keep it a living, breathing part of your business. Consider these seven ways to nurture your company culture.

Define and communicate your core values. It’s easy to be cynical about this – until you realize how important it is. Some companies come into existence knowing their core values are to “never sacrifice quality” or “always do the right thing.” But if they don’t communicate it, and hold employees to that standard, those values go unsupported. Know your values and communicate them. If you’re not so clear on your values, ask your team to (anonymously) comment on what they think the company’s values are. This could be a rude awakening if you haven’t been careful to manage your values, but it can also give you an idea of what messages are coming across – so you know which messages you need to manage. Defining and communicating your  values is key to bringing everyone on the same team to support the specific vision of your company.

Keep it fun. Culture is all about a certain version of fun. No matter what business you’re in, you can have fun. You could host events for families (summer picnics?), publish media that is specifically for your employees (weekly newsletter to keep them informed and inspired), dress-up days (wear costumes to work) or any engaging and fun activity that purposely blurs the lines between personal and work life.

Show employees you care about them (for real). To build loyalty among your employees, make sure to show you care about them in the totality of their lives. When they start working for you, find out their kids’ birthdays and their wedding-anniversary date, to commemorate those events with a card or a call. Ask about their hobbies and interests, so you can talk about those things, or reward them in ways they’ll actually enjoy.

Hire only the types of people who fit your culture. Finding people who fit for your company can be difficult. It’s common to interview dozens of people and only find one that would actually match your environment. Though hiring is a challenge, don’t settle for someone just because they’re a body to fill a position. Make hiring easier by narrowing the field. Place well-crafted employment ads that define the culture, and demonstrate what fitting that culture would mean in action. Create interview questions that help you define the candidate’s fit for the culture (“How do you spend your free time” or “Select three values from the list below that tell us what kind of person you are.”) Administering a skills test during an interview is a great way to see what aptitudes a person brings with them and get a feel for how a person reacts when they don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Everything about your interview (and possibly a probationary period) should allow the candidate to demonstrate how well they fit your vision, mission and culture. Hire only the employees that really fit.

Get rid of employees that “don’t fit.” Now that you’re trying to hire the best fit for your company, apply that logic to deciding who to keep. Odds are you have staff that are holding you back from embodying the identity you’re trying to bring to life. Many of us have worked for a company where employees whine, act like children, are difficult to work with and generally don’t produce the work results or have the personal qualities that make them a good team member. If you’ve given employees the tools they need to succeed and they aren’t succeeding, you have an obligation to remove them from your team. No matter how developed your culture, retaining staff that undermines your cultural values has a negative effect on your team.

Check in to see how it’s going. Come up with ways to measure your employees’ satisfaction periodically, and then respond to their feedback. Be sure to make any feedback you request anonymous, and don’t just focus on the positive feedback while ignoring signs that you need to improve your management. Employees want to know that you take their ideas seriously. When you receive feedback that is negative, act on it. Change the situation. Make things better. Employees will notice if you pat yourself on the back for the positive feedback and ignore the rest. Deal with the criticism and use it to make your culture stronger, clearer and more attractive for your employees.

Acknowledge your employees. Everyone loves getting a paycheck, but that’s not the most important thing about having a job. We spend so much of our time at work that how we are made to feel at the office determines how happy we are. We all want acknowledgement, respect, recognition, and a simple “thank you.” Don’t expect that paying the wages is all it takes to get great work, and loyalty, from your team. Give them a little extra appreciation and they’ll keep supporting your culture and company success.

Once you’ve taken steps to define your culture, keep developing and maintaining it. After all, when employees enjoy coming to work, they are more likely to contribute their best efforts and stay around. Though nurturing the culture you have defined is a daily, challenging task , it can help you boost productivity and retain your top talent.

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