Self-employment and freelancing: Have patience, forget ‘perfect’

by Ann Wilkins Jefferson, ‘92

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, many of us find ourselves working from home whether we want to or not. You have a glimpse into how you’d operate as your own boss freelancing or running a business from home – except maybe not with children, a spouse or roommates around all day.
If you have to or want to continue working from home, here are tips to keep in mind:

1. You need to forget about “perfect.”
Finding a perfect time and business plan is counterproductive. Just get the process rolling and the fine-tuning can come later. Of course, you may have to work nights and weekends to do research and build a foundation.
Don’t worry about being perfectly qualified to start advertising your services or product, either. Repeat this phrase often: “Done is better than perfect.” Write it on post-it notes and put it in several places where you’ll see your new motto daily.
If you’re consumed with being flawless, you’ll waste precious time. Simply START. Yes, striving for excellence is a great goal, but as mega-successful entrepreneur Mark Cuban of Shark Tank stated, “Perfection is the enemy of profitability.” It can paralyze you if you’re preoccupied with it.

2. Take advantage of any major life changes (like being quarantined?!).
After graduating college with a degree in Communication – Rhetoric, I held a few very rewarding fulltime jobs for the next nine years. But when my husband, Cal, and I welcomed our third child, we faced daycare payments for three adding up to half my salary and benefits. Rather than both working outside the home, we decided I’d stay with the kids for financial reasons and their well-being. That transition led me to freelancing.

3. Seize opportunity when it knocks.
My first self-employed gig came when the newspaper where Cal worked sought a freelance writer. He volunteered me before I even had a chance to hear details. I almost turned it down, unsure of being exactly what they wanted. Yet I made a key decision in working for oneself: I jumped at the chance to get out of the gate and on the way.
Those first three writing assignments turned into six, then ten, then to about 15. I grew self-assured the more assignments they gave me, gained much-needed additional income, and kept my resume current. Carrie Fisher aka Star Wars’ Princess Leia but also a best-selling author, gave advice to fans along those lines on having courage to begin: “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

4. Have patience and persevere.
If you’re starting a home business and it’s not looking great, remember it takes time to be successful. A helpful motivator: Print out President Calvin Coolidge’s quote on persistence called “Press On” and paste it in your workspace.
Cal, a former editor of Ohio State’s student newspaper The Lantern, earned a bachelor’s in History and then Journalism. In 2012, two decades after his first degree, he launched a “side’ business with two coworkers that grew into fulltime work. None of them have MBAs. But they had vision. After two initial shaky years, patience and persistence paid off!

5. Take calculated risks.
Of course, you’ll also have uncertainties. And if you’re married, starting a home business is a team effort. I stopped freelancing and volunteered for a mobilization to Afghanistan in 2012, as I’m a Navy Reserve officer (we came to that agreement after many discussion and weighing the risks). This way Cal stayed home with the kids and had the freedom to work on the new venture while they were in school. I was able to provide a steady paycheck and medical insurance through my mobilization. Not everyone needs to make a move quite so drastic, though for us it worked.
What could work for you? We are in an era when operating a company or teleworking is possible in various fields due to recent technology and apps, often with little overhead from a home office. You’ve heard before, “Necessity is the mother of all invention” and another ala desperation led to success. But for you it could be neither: Maybe you’d be good at or better at what’s already being done.
Read about those who had successful start-ups and why; Entrepreneur magazine is a favorite of mine. Look up how Sir Richard Branson started Virgin Airlines – it’s a great example about not overthinking, just taking action. Ask trusted colleagues or friends for advice and critique on what you’re planning or take a look at your website or product. Consider joining freelancer sites like Upwork.

6. Don’t forget reaching out to fellow Buckeyes for guidance!
Use your Ohio State alumni connections on LinkedIn, social media and at the Alumni Association for direction and feedback. You’re part of the biggest college alumni group in the world (if that still holds true – if not, it’s the greatest). We’ll cheer you as you go!

Ann Wilkins Jefferson is a 1992 graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor of arts in Communication – Rhetoric track. She held fulltime jobs as an assistant press secretary for a U.S. Senate campaign, and communications/ marketing director for a non-profit before starting freelance writing, primarily for two major clients. Aside from her civilian career, Ann is a lieutenant commander and Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve, a career that takes her around the world. She’s a veteran of Air Force Reserve Public Affairs and a graduate of U.S.M.C. Officer Candidate Course. She and her husband C. Calvin Jefferson, III, ’92, ’95 live in a Cleveland suburb with their four kids (including their oldest graduating from Ohio State in May 2020!). Cal is president of UnionHistories.com, where Ann assists with operations, editing and events.

 

Alumni Spotlight – Marissa Lee

Marissa Lee, 2009 – Fisher College of Business
Founder and CEO, SOW EVOLVE and HR Strategist, PPG Industries

 

 

What brought you to Ohio State University?

 

I’m originally from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but I grew up in Columbus. Growing up in Columbus I couldn’t escape the reach of The Ohio State University, even if I wanted to, but I always loved OSU. As I decided where I wanted to continue my education, OSU and University of Pittsburgh rose to the top. I visited both universities and they had great business schools, campus life, and offered me scholarships. However, there was just something about OSU…the feel, the sense of something bigger…so I decided to become a Buckeye.

#FunFact Even though I didn’t chose University of Pittsburgh, I have been surrounded by their graduates most of my career. I’ve worked for two Pittsburgh based companies.

How did your experiences at OSU help to shape your career path?

 

I grew so much during my time at OSU. I had the chance to continue to find different aspects of myself, get more comfortable with my voice, meet some awesome people, and strengthen my relationship with God. I could go on and on but one thing that really stands out from my collegiate journey was how I decided on my field of study. In the beginning, I wanted to get a dual degree in business and education. I had spent a lot of time tutoring others and many of my teachers had been very influential throughout my life. Also, I wanted to make money and I wanted to graduate in 4 years. So, I decided to pivot. I chose to go the business route and explored other ways to fulfill my teaching dreams which brought me to my major selection. Human Resources was always “it” for me. It was going to allow me to develop people, shape organizations and teach…just in a different setting.

One of the things I loved about Fisher College of Business was that we were able to get an introduction to other functional areas. Through that exposure, I was able to discover my affinity for Operations Management and Logistics which led me to become a triple major. I also minored in English. My multiple interests required a higher level of commitment, time management, and understanding of a study/social life balance. I wanted this so I did everything in my power to achieve it on time.

I have always had a high propensity to succeed and my OSU experience helped me stay true to that vision and hone my work ethic. Now as I balance working in Corporate America and building SOW EVOLVE, I’m able to use some of the same tenets I used to graduate with 3 majors and a minor within 4 years. Ultimately, allowing me to grow in my career and provide others with a blueprint to do the same thing.

What advice or insight do you have for alumni and current students considering your career path?

 

I would tell anyone considering my career path to:

  1. Maintain your integrity

Integrity is your foundation and I consider it an absolute essential in the HR space…especially since we operate in more of an influencer role. As an influencer, we have a responsibility to show courage and take a stand to maintain that footing. This may not always win you friends but it will garner respect.

  1. Think Business, but be Human

HR is far more than hiring and firing. When leveraged appropriately, HR can be a competitive advantage for an organization. As a true partner to the business, one must claim their seat at the table by understanding the business and providing comprehensive strategic solutions which allows one to be viewed in a different light. Analytics and storytelling will be key to getting buy-in. As you help move the business forward and execute on decisions, always remember your dealing with people. People that want to grow, develop, progress, and depend on the organization as part of their livelihood. Be conscious of that. Your work will change lives so take that responsibility seriously.

  1. Build Relationships

The saying, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is so true. You will not get anywhere alone. From an encouraging word to a recommendation, your network is essential to helping you navigate through this journey. So take the time to nurture those relationships.

  1. Be patient

Nothing happens overnight but it will happen one night or day, if you stay the course. Imagine if I would have gave up when I couldn’t find a full-time job until 2 years after graduating from college. Challenges will come but don’t let them deter you. Be patient and keep going.

 

Handling a Layoff – What Now?

This post was originally written for Coach’s Corner in February 2018, however, in light of recent economic events, we felt that it was especially pertinent to re-share this information for any alums who might need it now.  For additional advice, you may also view our recorded webinar, “Laid-Off, Now What?” here.

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Layoffs – they happen to the best of us now and then.  Whether your company is downsizing and needs to cut departments and/or positions, or has simply decided to change their direction and deemed your position no longer necessary, layoffs can happen at any time.  Though this is a difficult situation to grapple with for anyone, there are some things that you can do in order to prepare yourself to deal with the loss of your job in the best way possible.  Below are a few tips on what you should do if you have been laid off, or are anticipating a layoff in the near future.

  1. – Check with your company about what benefits you may be entitled to

If you anticipate that a layoff is coming soon, or if you have been given notice that you are being laid off, one of the first things that you will want to do is contact your benefits representative and determine what, if any, benefits you are entitled to.  Benefits may include the continuation of health insurance, severance payments, retirement/pension payouts, and more.

Companies that employ more than 20 people are mandated by law to offer health insurance through COBRA for released employees for up to 18 months upon termination.  However, unless stipulated as part of your severance package, you will need to pay for the COBRA premiums yourself… and often they are quite expensive.  If you find the cost of maintaining COBRA insurance prohibitive, you also have the option to shop the federal Health Insurance Marketplace for insurance options.  You can compare these with the COBRA policy(ies) available to you and determine which will best meet your needs.

If you are enrolled in a 401k through your company, you may also be eligible for a lump-sum payout of your benefits upon release from your position.  The tax rules on this vary based on the specific type of retirement plan you have elected to enroll in, and your benefits administrator can generally direct you to the person(s) who can answer tax questions for you with regard to this.

Companies are not generally required to offer a severance package, and many will not – especially for non-executive employees.  Still, if you are being laid off, you are encouraged to ask whether or not this is an option for you.  The worst that can happen is that they say no – however, you might be surprised in finding that a package or settlement is offered, regardless of your seniority level.

  1. File an unemployment claim

Once you are officially unemployed, you will need to visit your local unemployment office or career center and file an unemployment insurance claim.  If you have been employed with your company for more than 90 days, and have been laid off through no fault of your own (the rules differ slightly for people who have been terminated due to actions of their causing), you should be eligible for unemployment.  Unemployment benefits pay about 60% of your working pay, up to a certain amount that is established as the limit.  This maximum limit for payment varies by state, so check with your local office to determine how much you may be eligible for.

Also, remember that unemployment insurance only pays for a certain amount of time.  The benefits do not continue indefinitely, so it is critical that you utilize the time that you have while receiving the benefits well.  Many states have a requirement that you actively apply for a certain amount of jobs per week as a stipulation for continuing to receive the benefit – you can also take classes or do additional continuous improvement as well (more on that later).

  1. Update your resume and references

Hopefully you are a person who updates his or her resume on a regular basis, keeping it fresh and ready for any opportunity that comes along.  If not, however, don’t fear.  There are many resources available on the web and in person to help you update your resume, regardless of how long it has been since you were last in the job search.  The career consultants in the Office of Alumni Career Management are one such resource, as we are happy to work with you to ensure that your resume and other job search documents (cover letters, follow up notes, etc.) are on par with what is generally expected in today’s job market and that they are showcasing you in ways that clearly define the best things about you to any prospective employer.

References are also a critical part of the job search strategy – especially since most people today are hired via networking connections as opposed to simply applying for posted jobs.  If you’d like a reference from your previous employer, make sure that you ask your supervisor or other associated personnel while they still remember who you are.  If you are employed by a large company and those that you work closest with are being terminated as well, you should ask for a letter of reference from management or human resources to ensure that you have that information to pass along to any future prospective employers.  You’ll also want to exchange contact information with any colleagues who you’d like to use as a reference for future purposes.  Remember that this is a two-way street, and offer to be a reference for them as well at some point in the future, should they need it.

  1. – Maximize your time

Being laid off can leave you shell-shocked, and unsure of what to do with yourself.  Whether this is your first time being unemployed, or if you’ve been down this road before, it is important to recognize that this is an opportunity for growth.  Sure, you’ll be looking for jobs and establishing or reestablishing connections as you work your way into a new employment situation, but remember that that isn’t all that you can do.  You also now have time to do some professional development.  This can be done by taking a few courses through LinkedIn Learning, continuing education classes through an association you’re affiliated with, or even enrolling in a certificate program through OSU!  Anything that you do to demonstrate that you are interested in continuing your growth and development will bode well by helping you make additional connections and demonstrating to potential employers that you are still capable and willing to learn new things.

  1. – Breathe

This is perhaps the most important of all the advice here today.  Being unemployed, for any amount of time, for any reason (that isn’t voluntary) can be incredibly stressful.  Make a concerted effort not to let yourself get caught up in the overwhelming thoughts about how you “don’t know what to do”.  Your situation does not have to be permanent – take things day by day, and remember to take care of yourself in the meantime. Make relaxation and self-care an important part of your re-employment strategy – you’ll feel better and be more focused as a result.

Best Practices for Virtual Interviewing

In our rapidly-changing world, it is easy to become overwhelmed – especially in the wide world of business and job searching. Many of you may have found yourself unexpectedly unemployed over the last several weeks, or you may be seeing the job search strategy you’ve meticulously crafted over months completely upended by the recent changes in the economic market. You may even be a manager in charge of filling specific roles and needing to add in the additional (and unanticipated) hurdle of technology when sourcing and vetting candidates.

Technology, though, does not have to be a dividing tool. In fact, technology is what will likely keep us together and productive in these unprecedented times. COVID-19 has drastically changed the landscape of the way we connect and work for the foreseeable future – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to stop us from successfully connecting. It only means that we need to adjust our expectations and be more intentional with our verbal communication while doing so.

Below is an excerpt from an article written by alumnus Jim Bollenbacher. Jim is the VP and Managing Partner at Bridgeway Search Group, a premier recruiting and staffing firm. Here he shares some excellent tips on how to make certain that your virtual interviews are successful.

Best Practices for Video Conferencing Interviews

  1. Be sure both parties have tested the technology at least two days before the interview.
  2. Internet connection, audio, and video.
  3. Pick a location with minimal distractions in the background.
  4. Send specific instructions on logging in, finding user names, who is initiating the conference, etc.
  5. Exchange phone numbers before the interview in case there are technical difficulties.
  6. Direct each party where to look. Although it might feel unnatural you should look and speak into the CAMERA not the screen.
  7. Position the camera at eye level.
  8. The bottom of your frame should start at the chest.
  9. Have a clear agenda. Who will lead the call and how will the call conclude?

Everyone wants to perform well . . . interviews are stressful enough. If both participants are confident with the technology and have a clear agenda, then they can focus on what’s important . . . are they a match?

Stay safe. Don’t let COVID-19 stop you from achieving your 2020 goals!

To read the full text of Jim’s post, or connect with him on LinkedIn, please visit the original article here.

 

Ask the Coach: Artificial Intelligence and Your Job Search

Hello all!

Last week, this office presented an engaging webinar on the subject of Artificial Intelligence in Your Job Search.  The program was well-attended, and the audience very engaged – so much so that we were not able to answer all of the questions on the broadcast!  Therefore, we have taken the time to answer some of those we didn’t get to on the presentation for you here – enjoy!

What if you left employment to regroup, decided to launch a business, but now want to return to the corporate world…how do you best speak to this?

Well, the answer to this actually depends on how successful your personal venture was, and the reasons that you chose to re-enter the corporate world.  Generally speaking, however, I would recommend that you put your business on your resume as an entry under “Professional Experience” and describe the work that you did, and things that you accomplished the same way that you would a job for a company that was owned by someone else.  This will allow the applicant tracking system to read your experience and parse it the way that it would a typical experience point, and give you the appropriate credit for it.

Do systems track applications from the same applicant across companies that use the same tracking systems and report that data to their clients?

No, each company has a specific license, and theirs is a “closed system” – so, while you may apply for several different jobs through an ATS, the various companies only see (and rate you on) the positions that you applied for specifically with their company, using their site.

If you upload your resume and other docs, and get no response at all, are there typically ways to follow up in person (phone or email) to talk to a person to get attention to your resume?

That’s where networking comes in!  I recommend that you search for someone from that company’s HR department using LinkedIn and connect with them there.  For a more formal approach, you can use LinkedIn to find out the HR personnel’s name(s) and Hunter.io (the Email Hunter) to locate the person’s email address and send them an email.

Who determines the key words?  Hiring manager or the tool or HR Manager?

For the purposes of scoring your resume, the ATS itself determines the key words based on the frequency and ranking with which they appear in a job description (example:  words that appear under “Requirements” or “Duties” would be prioritized, and have more weight when your resume is scored by the system).

When recruiters, HR personnel, and hiring managers are using key word searches to sort through resumes, the key words are determined by the individual performing the search.  This is why it is important to state the title of the position on your resume, and to incorporate as many key words that you can identify as possible.

Are candidates ever hired based only on AI with no personnel interactions?

Yes!  Some companies have transitioned to automating the entire hiring process, only getting human personnel involved when it is time to make an offer to a candidate and discuss start dates, salary, etc.

However, keep in mind that this method is typically used for positions that are highly repetitive and require little to no technical skills.  For more specialized positions, it is much more common to see human personnel introduced early on in the hiring process.

Is there anything to do to avoid the spam-y type jobs that reach out when using sites like Indeed or Zip Recruiter? Is there any advice or recommendations you may have for those sites?

For each of those websites, you have the opportunity to adjust your communication settings so that you are not receiving tons of emails about jobs that you may not be interested in.  To adjust those settings, select your account and navigate to email subscriptions.  The default for these sites is typically to send you emails daily – change that to whatever fits you best (or tell them not to email you at all).

This way, you are still matched with jobs that are determined to be a potential fit for you, but not inundated with emails – especially with irrelevant notifications.

How prevalent are ATS systems in hiring faculty and administrators in higher education institutions?
Many institutions of higher education are using ATS to source candidates, especially as automation continues to streamline the hiring processes.  Remember that an ATS is more than a resume collector – these systems allow institutions of higher education to keep notes about conversations with candidates through the interview process, simplify tracking and reporting of candidates in the event of an audit, eliminate many of the concerns that someone may be discriminated against and bolster efforts toward equal opportunity and affirmative action reporting.

I am a healthcare provider and have a CV, should I apply for jobs with it, or use a shorter resume?

Typically speaking, a resume scores better in an ATS when it is 1,000 words or less in length.  Since most CVs are significantly longer than a resume (and usually more than 1,000 words), a shorter resume has a higher chance of getting passed on to a human recruiter for further review.

What if you are qualified for various jobs in a particular company? What is the risk in applying for too many positions within same category?

If you are well-qualified for several jobs at a company, prioritize which position(s) you would most like to be interviewed for, and apply for those.  I would not recommend applying for more than 3-5 jobs at a company within a short period of time (30-60 days).  If you would like to be considered for several different positions and feel that you are truly flexible, I would instead recommend doing some networking with personnel who work at that company and getting recommendations that way.

Regarding resume format: What font style(s) and size(s) do you recommend?

For an ATS-friendly resume, you should use 1 inch margins and 10 – 12 point font formatting.  You should also use a font that is clean and easy to read (examples:  Helvetica, Arial, Tahoma, Verdana), but stay away from Times New Roman.  Avoid using tables or graphics, as those don’t necessarily parse correctly, and be sure to save your resume as a .doc or .docx document.  Other formats likely will not parse well, either.

For more individualized advice on your resume and other topics related to your career development, feel free to make an appointment with a career consultant in our office by calling customer engagement at 1.800.635.8944.

Alumni Spotlight – Mindy Derr

Hello there Buckeyes!  It’s time to feature another wonderful alumnus from your ranks for this quarter’s Alumni Spotlight!

This time our spotlight is Mindy Derr, an avid philanthropist who founded and now serves as advisor for OhioHealth Fore Hope.  Fore Hope is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that uses golf as an instrument for therapy designed to improve the lives of persons living with neurological and cognitive disorders.  Through this organization, which Mindy founded in 1989, countless numbers of patrons have reaped the therapeutic benefits of golf and had their lives forever changed by Mindy’s vision.

Mindy Derr – Community Advocate and Founder/Consultant, Fore Hope (OhioHealth Fore Hope) (1981 – BA, Communications)

 

My advice for anyone, regardless of their career path, would be to follow their dreams and their mission. Go for it, give it all you’ve got, and don’t refuse the calling on your life. Don’t stomp on anyone else’s dreams along the way, either. Be wise about everything. Specifically, if you would like to begin a career in the world of community advocacy and nonprofit, make sure that you surround yourself with people who can support your mission. Be sure that you have a circle that include people who know about taxes and accounting, that you’re building a succession plan, and more. Begin with the end in mind, and be smart enough to know that you cannot possibly know everything.

 

Why You Should Attend A Career Fair (Even if You’re Already Employed)

Hey there, Buckeyes!

It’s June, and that means that it is once again time for the HireOhio Alumni Career Fair here at The Ohio State University.  This event is one of our biggest and most successful programs here in the Office of Alumni Career Management, and with good reason.  In the 7 years since the program’s inception, HireOhio has facilitated the career growth of thousands of Buckeye alums of all backgrounds – and it can help yours as well.

Of course, if you are an unemployed, or employed but searching alum, the justification for attending HireOhio are obvious.  However, even if you are not someone who is currently in the search, attending a career fair (HireOhio or otherwise) can be really helpful to you in your current and future positions.  Here are three reasons why you should attend a career fair – even if you’re not looking for your next position.

  1. – Practice networking and using your “elevator pitch”

    Regardless of where you are in your career, there are some skills that you should be regularly honing – networking is one of those skills.  Rather than waiting until you are ready to re-enter the job search, you should be meeting new people and growing your network organically on a regular, on-going basis.  Understandably though, this can be difficult sometimes.  Career fairs offer an excellent opportunity to meet with people who are in a position to hire candidates and seek their feedback on the way that you present yourself.  You can practice your elevator pitch (or, 30-second commercial) and ask for honest feedback with out the pressure of having your actual livelihood on the line.  Take notes on any critique that you receive, so that you can make the necessary adjustments well in advance of your next search.

  2. Gauge the current market for professionals in your field

    Another great benefit of attending a career fair is that you can get information about what the market is like in your field or industry.  You can talk to recruiters or hiring managers, as well as other seekers, about salaries, upward mobility, and the growth of your field in general.  It is very easy to become out of touch with what is going on in the industry around you when you are satisfied with your current position, but it is important to remember that you will not be in your current position forever.  Even if you plan to continue with your current company, you will need to do salary negotiation and more when you are ready to move into your next role.  Any additional information that you can glean that will help you have an idea of what this market looks like will be beneficial to you in the long run.

  3. Get feedback on your resume from hiring managers and recruiters

    One of the biggest mistakes that jobseekers make is waiting until they are ready to begin the search to worry about their resume.  Doing this puts you at a disadvantage because it requires you to “think back” to achievements or duties, meaning that you may not remember some of the key things that you have accomplished that would be beneficial to you moving forward.  Additionally, depending on how long it has been since you last sought a new position, there is a risk of appearing dated and out of touch to hiring professionals if your resume has not been updated and reformatted in some time.  However, by attending a career fair, you can get feedback on your resume from one (or several) HR perspectives, which you can then apply to your document, ensuring that it is ready when the time comes and you are ready to take on your next role.

If you are interested in attending the HireOhio Alumni Career Fair, there is still time to register.  You may do so by visiting us here.

Hope to see you there – Go Bucks!

 

Pushing Past Fear – Finding Your Voice at Work

Hey there Buckeyes!

Last week, we had a great webinar hosted by the Alumni Career Management staff on “finding your voice” in the workplace.  So many times at work, we find ourselves feeling stifled, unable to bridge the gap between our “professional” selves and our actual selves.  We code-switch, adopting a completely different vocabulary and way of speaking to seem softer and more “mainstream”.  We dress outside of our cultural norms or comfort so that we can appear more “professional”.  We fail to speak up when we need to, or when we should, so that we don’t rock the boat and bring unnecessary attention to ourselves.  We do all of these things to better blend in and go with the flow of our workplace – often to our own detriment.

What I’ve learned about these behaviors is that we often adopt them out of FEAR.  Whether it is because we are afraid of rejection, because we feel intimidated by others around us, we don’t want confrontation, or we just want to blend in – all of those things boils down to one major idea:  we fear what will happen if we open up and let our voice be heard at work.

The thing about fear, though, is that it isn’t real.  Fear is something that we make up in our minds, and unfortunately, it becomes big enough to control us.  But often – actually, almost always – the fear in our head doesn’t match the kinds of things that may actually happen if we simply move past it and let our voices be heard.  So, what can you do to help yourself move past those feelings of fear and apprehension and actively speak up in the workplace?

  1. – Be prepared

Are you afraid to give your ideas in meetings or in one on ones with people on your team?  It may help you to get over that if you do a little prep work prior to the occasion.  Taking about 15-20 minutes to think your ideas out clearly and write them down, before organizing them into a clear and coherent message will do wonders for your confidence.  You could even take your notes with you to the meeting, so that you can refer to them along the way.  Not only does this help you feel more secure when you’re speaking, it demonstrates to those around you that you are invested in what you’re saying and serious about having your input counted.

  1. – Remember that you’re being paid for your opinions and ideas

You were hired to be a sound contributor to your team – to give input and advice from your unique standpoint.  Now, that may not always mean that every idea you give will be received as gold, but it should give you some confidence when attempting to vocalize your thoughts.  Remember that, by virtue of being hired for your position, your supervisors find value in you – leverage that with the potential value your contributions can bring to your team, and speak up to have them heard.

  1. – Volunteer to be involved in changes

If there is something new coming down the pipeline that you have thoughts and ideas about, or if you yourself are suggesting change, then your input will be received much more positively if you demonstrate that you are willing to be part of the work as well.  This is a “put your money where your mouth is” move that is more likely to get people on your side, believing in what you have to say, when you clearly demonstrate that you believe in yourself.

If you want more information about “Finding Your Voice”, check out the replay of the entire presentation here.

Make it a great day!

Bias in the Job Search – Avoiding Triggers in Your Resume

Last week, we had an awesome webinar on the topic of bias in the job search, focusing on things that you as a jobseeker can do in order to avoid falling victim to the biases (conscious and unconscious) of a hiring manager, recruiter, or HR person.  Thank you everyone for the great feedback – we are so glad that you enjoyed it.  For those of you who weren’t able to attend, the recording is available in our webinar archive – but, here are some quick tips to help you fortify your resume so that you can get to more interviews!

  1. – Cut down on the amount of personal information you’re giving away

I know, I know – your resume is your marketing piece.  It’s where you put your best foot forward and give your potential employer the opportunity to get to know the *real* you, right?  Well, sort of.  Your resume is absolutely your strongest marketing piece for your job search – however, it is also rife with opportunities to count you out of a job based on triggers.  Avoid putting too much personal information in the resume.  Certain things are just not necessary in order to have a strong document, and they can hurt you more than they help you.  Some things to avoid including are:  your address, graduation dates, photos, and specific years of experience (if you have more than 10-15 years, that is).  You want an employer to look at your whole document, and not get hung up on one little thing – so the best thing to do is simply eliminate those things when and where you can.

  1. – Always have a clear, specific headline

Back in the old days (meaning, 10 years ago or so), we used to use an objective statement for every resume.  This was an easy way to customize your resume for specific employers, and a clear way to communicate what your professional goal was.  Unfortunately, including an objective statement on your resume today is a sure fire way to get passed over, because it immediately ages you (even if you’re a 20-something or 30-something) and makes you seem out of touch.  Instead, we opt for Professional Summaries that give the reader an idea of who we are and what we are about, rather than simply what we want.

The problem, though, is that sometimes we become a bit too lofty with our professional summaries, and not everyone has the time to read them.  One of the best things that you can do on your resume is create a “headline” (think, LinkedIn) immediately below your name (you know, where that address used to be), so that the reader knows who you are and what you do right off the bat.  Remember that the average recruiter spends less than 20 seconds reading through a resume before making a decision on whether or not to recommend you for next steps – it is your job to connect the dots and make it as easy as possible for them to see who you are and what you offer, so that they feel comfortable going forward with you as a candidate.

  1. – Master the AI aspect

Artificial intelligence, including those awful applicant tracking systems (aka, the resume robots) are here to stay.  Instead of railing against them and bemoaning their use, learn to make them work for you.  With regard to your resume, ATS are trained to do one thing:  use your skills and keywords to match the best candidate with the requisition from the company.  In order to be chosen as the best candidate, you need to speak the ATS’ language.  Use a wordcloud generator, or a tool like Jobscan.co to figure out how the ATS is reading your resume, and adjust it so that you are highlighting the same keywords, skills, and attributes that the computer is designed to look for.  This will help you get an interview, and from there, you can land the job.

Bonus:  Understanding the technology of today’s job search demonstrates awareness and ability to learn new things, which is always a plus for mature jobseekers, or those who have been out of the market for a while.

We hope that these tips will help you as you begin crafting your bias-proof resume.  As always, if you would like some one on one advice from one of our career consultants in the Office of Alumni Career Management, we are more than happy to assist you, either in person or virtually.

Have a great day, and Go Bucks!

The Best Jobs in America for 2019

Greetings everyone!

As we work our way through the first month of 2019, many of you are on the #newyearnewcareer train!  January is always a great time to start fresh in your career, whether that means transitioning to a different industry or position, or simply better positioning yourself for professional growth while remaining consistent with where you are for the moment.

With that in mind, Glassdoor has released its annual “Best Jobs in America” report, complete with a compilation of the top 50 jobs for professionals in 2019.  This report is, as always, chock full of excellent information for job seekers who are interested in knowing where industries and job types are projected to go throughout the next year.  Just to give a sample, here are the top five “Best Jobs” according to the report:

  1. Data Scientist – Average salary:  $108k/year – 6,510 projected openings
  2. Nursing Manager – Average salary:  $83k/year – 13,931 projected openings
  3.  – Marketing Manager – Average salary:  $82k/year – 7,395 projected openings
  4. Occupational Therapist – Average salary:  $74k/year – 17,701 projected openings
  5. Product manager – Average salary:  $115k/year – 11,884 projected openings

Additionally, the report forcasts a spike in demand for highly-skilled workers, and sees the healthy job market we are currently enjoying as one that is particularly favorable to job seekers.  Unsurprisingly, healthcare jobs continue to gain ground, taking up 8 of the top 50 spots, but this list is well-rounded, showing progress and opportunities for people across a variety of industries. All in all, it looks like this is a good time to change positions!

For the full report, check out Glassdoor here:  https://www.glassdoor.com/List/Best-Jobs-in-America-LST_KQ0,20.htm