Thursday, December 1, 2016

4 reasons you don't like networking (and 4 better options you will like!)

Article originally published on The Muse

If you’re a normal professional, you may just feel at least a smidge of apprehension or resentment when it comes time to drag yourself to (or get dragged to) a professional networking event. Sure, sure, the crab puffs might be killer, but there are so many things to not love about these shindigs that I’d be here for hours if I tried to highlight each one.
Because that doesn’t sound fun for either of us, let’s start with four common reasons why you don’t enjoy them—even when you know (or suspect) they’re important to attend. And then let’s find a better option for every stinking one of them.

1. They’re More Stressful Than Fun

Especially if you’re not a natural extrovert, or if you aren’t terribly practiced in the art of small talk, walking into a room of strangers can create all kinds of anxiety and tension. They often seem formulaic to the point of being comical, just without the funny ha-ha part. And this typically nets out to a fairly unenjoyable, stressful, and overtly corporate-feeling session.

A Better Option

Have you heard the news? Many, many professional groups (both the formal ones and informal ones) are realizing that we humans actually enjoy mixing business with pleasure when it comes to networking , especially when doing so lowers our stress levels, while still enabling us to meet influential people, gather information that may be beneficial to our careers, or grow professionally.
If you cringe at the thought of the “traditional networking mixer,” consider heading over to or LinkedIn Groups to see if you can find events in your area that pertain to your area of expertise or professional interest while combining a social or recreational element.
In the Portland market alone, you’ll find gatherings like these: Coffee & Copy (a gathering for writers), Wonder Women in Business, and a Tech + Pong hangout (for developers and other IT people). There are hundreds of these types of events, in pretty much every urban market. Go find a couple that suit you.

2. I’m Afraid to Approach People

Here’s the thing: We’re all afraid to approach people we don’t know, just at varying levels of terror. It’s human nature to fear rejection or looking awkward or stupid, it really is. And networking events are often just teeming with scary strangers that we dread approaching.
Given this, a lot of us tend to completely underperform in these environments. We go through the motions and survive, but we end the evening with very little to show for the agony we’ve just endured. And that’s not at all what our goal is here.

A Better Option

First, recognize that we’re all scared. All of us. That may ease your feelings of “I’m all alone in this.” Next, if the event has genuine potential (and, really, most of them do), try constructing a game plan in advance, which will make it less intimidating to walk in the doors and approach new people. Consider bringing someone who’s a natural connector, or who knows a lot of people in your industry. And ask that person to make introductions on your behalf.
(See? Less terrifying already.)
Or, you might create a game out the entire event. Challenge yourself to see how many people you can meet or what specific goals you can achieve before the end of the evening. And, if you can get your hands on an attendee list in advance, be sure and do so. This will make pre-planning much easier, as you will know who your “target connections” are beforehand.

3. The Events Feel So Forced and Fake

The events I most despise are the ones in which everyone just stands around shoving their cards at one another while trying to juggle appetizers, cocktails, and handshakes. I often feel like I’m in some bad 1991 movie scene, one that’s overtly making fun of how corny and fake so many of these professional mixers are.
Seriously, does anyone ever forge genuine, lasting connections in these awful environments? I probably can’t say, because I’ve admittedly exited stage left in the middle of many of these types of deals before even giving them a chance.

A Better Option

If the fakeness of “classic networking” really doesn’t work for you, choose non-networking networking opportunities. This isn’t an oxymoron at all. Sleuth out (and get your rear end over to) events that allow you to actually contribute, do, or achieve something while you meet like-minded people.
Raise your hand to volunteer at an event or for a cause tied to your area of expertise or interest. Organize a fitness group or book club specifically designed for people in your field. Join a committee within your own company, with the specific intent to get to know new people within the organization. You get the theme here.

4. I (Literally) Have No Time to Attend Networking Events

I’m absolutely not one of those people who says (in a judging tone), “It’s never that you have no time, it’s that you choose to not make the time.” Oh, God, spare us all. Hi, I’m a married business owner with multiple children—who are in multiple extracurricular activities. I actually “get” what it is to have almost no extra time to be flitting about town talking shop over mediocre wine.
However, I also actually “get” how important it is to forge and maintain strong professional relationships throughout one’s career. I have personally and professionally benefitted (over and over again) from having a supportive and influential network of people around me (and hope I’m helpful to them as well!)
So, what happens if you’re someone with so many demands on your time that physically attending networking events is nearly impossible?

A Better Option

I’ve got two words for you: social media. No matter how good (or not good) you are at it or how much you like (or dislike) it, you’ll need to harness the power of these platforms as a solid alternative to participating at live events. Your specific strategy should be customized to your own needs, personality, and comfort level with various platforms, but you absolutely must leverage networking tools like LinkedIn, Twitter chats, Facebook live events (to name a few) if you’re not able to attend face-to-face gatherings.
Blipping off the radar entirely may feel more safe and comfortable, but you’re shortchanging yourself (and may cause yourself a lot of unnecessary stress when you need support from others) in the long-run. Business is built around relationships. It is truly who you know in many, many instances.

So even if you abhor the idea of networking, try your darndest to find survivable (and maybe even enjoyable) ways to stay connected with influencers around you.
And for sure have a firm handshake.
Read the original article published on The Muse.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The follow-up email that works even better than “Just Checking In”

Article originally published on The Muse

Fact #1: After you’ve interviewed for a job, hiring managers don’t always get back to you in the time frame they told you they would.

Fact #2: You should absolutely follow up with a polite email if you’re expecting to hear back and you haven’t.

Fact #3: You can use this message not just to check in, but to give the decision-maker even more info that’ll show you’re the right person for the job.
That’s right. Take this traditional “just following up” email:
Hi Damon,
I hope you had a great week. You had mentioned that you’d be in touch with next steps on the hiring process by Wednesday, so I just wanted to check in. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help with your decision.
There’s nothing wrong with that note. It’s brief, it’s polite and it gets your name in front of the hiring manager.
That said, instead of asking if there’s anything you can do to, in essence, boost your candidacy, why not take that next step and provide something that does just that?

Let’s say you’re applying to a social media position with Dolby. You might say something like this instead:

Hi Damon,
I hope you had a great week. You had mentioned that you’d be in touch with next steps on the hiring process by Wednesday, so I just wanted to check in.
In the meantime, I wanted to share a social campaign that I launched this week. It’s already had more than 5,000 shares—the company’s second most successful program ever. I think something similar to this would be very impactful for Dolby, and I’d be excited to jump right in and get started.
In this message, you’ve shared another example of your work, you’ve highlighted a recent success and you’ve reiterated your enthusiasm for the position. And you’ve done so proactively, which is never a bad thing.
You can tailor this template pretty easily if your work is online or easily sharable, like writing, marketing or design.
Or, if your work or goals can be quantified—you’re in sales or account management, say—you might try something like this:
In the meantime, I wanted to share that I finished this month as the #1 sales rep in the New York market. It was a big honor, and also a reminder that I’m ready for my next challenge, hopefully as the Sales Manager at Dolby.
If your work is more behind-the-scenes, or you’re working on proprietary information that can’t necessarily be shared externally, you might consider describing a project you’re working on (one that could apply in some way to the job you’re applying for) in broader terms:
In the meantime, I wanted to share that I just put the finishing touches on a crisis communications plan for one of our technology clients—a three-month process that involved collaborating with everyone from the customer success team to the CEO. It was a great experience, and one that made me even more excited about the opportunity to work on the communications team at Dolby.
Still stumped? Here’s something anyone, in any field, can do:
In the meantime, I wanted to share an article that I published last week on LinkedIn, which was inspired by the conversation we had about [topic you discussed in interview]. It’ll give you a little more on how I think about [subject matter]. Thanks for the inspiration—I hope we have the opportunity to work together and have many more of these conversations.
Assuming you’re not the only candidate in the pipeline, your “just checking in” email will probably be one of many sitting in the hiring manager’s inbox. Use the opportunity not just to follow up, but to show once again why you’re the best candidate for the job.

Have questions about your job search or interviews? We want to hear them! Comment below or contact one of our expert recruiters today! Find the closes CFS location to you here

Read the original article published on The Muse.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

7 psychological tricks to help you nail your job interview

Article originally published on Business Insider

When it comes to job interviews, how you act can make as much of a difference as what you say.
While interviewers consciously take note of the answers you provide, your body language reveals subconscious clues to your personality and attitude.
So how do you ensure that your body language is giving off the right vibes? A Quora thread discussed just that, answering the question: "What are some great psychology tips, tricks, and techniques that I can use during a job interview that will increase my chances of getting any job?"
We rounded up the best responses to help you nail your next job interview. Here are seven psychological tricks to amp up your chances:

1. Warm up

"When you get there early, go to the bathroom and warm your hands, either under hot water or under a hand dryer," suggests Susan Bearry. "Dry, warm hands inspire confidence. Cold, clammy hands are a big unconscious turn-off." Putting yourself in the right mindset from the start will calm your nerves and help you focus.

2. Mirror their movements

Mirroring your interviewer's hand gestures and breathing subtly shows them you're on the same page, says Quora user Zambelli Sylar Federico. But remember, it's more understated than flat-out copying their every move, which would likely come across as creepy. "They scratch their nose with left hand, you touch your face with right hand. They cross their legs, you cross legs the opposite way," Federico explains.

3. Take your time

You might feel compelled to answer each question right away, but don't be afraid to take a few seconds to collect your thoughts. Not only will your answer sound more articulate, but you'll sound more confident to your interviewer. "It communicates to people that you know your own value. The vibe is that of someone who knows that what they have to say is worth the extra wait," Tim Chi says.

4. Watch your body language

A nervous habit, such as cracking your knuckles or playing with your pen, can give the wrong impression to your interviewer. For example, avoid crossing your arms. "This gives off the vibe that you're closing in on yourself and not willing to understand," warns Melinda Edwards. Similarly, don't fidget too much. "This makes the interviewer uncomfortable, because they see how restless you are," she adds.

5. Bond with your interviewer

Finding common ground with your interviewer creates a personal connection that makes you more memorable and likeable. "Subtly compliment your interviewer on the questions he or she asks, or on some aspect of their personality," Susan Bearry says. "Try to find something that will bond you, such as commenting on pictures of his or her family, or sports teams."

6. Visualize your ideal interview

John Sannicandro recommends picturing yourself nailing the interview starting a few days beforehand. "Rehearse how you want to feel emotionally during the interview and get into that resourceful state many times during the days before," he says. "You will be better able to tap into that state when it counts." For example, if your nerves cause you to blurt out the first answer you think of, visualize yourself giving calm, composed responses — it will help you get into that mindset on the big day.

7. Read facial cues

Your interviwer's body language can provide valuable feedback to how the interview is going if you learn to read it correctly. For example, if they lock eyes with you, they're probably expecting you to elaborate more, says Quora user Abhishek A. Singh. Picking up on these nuances will help you tailor your responses to keep the interview on track.

Have questions about your job search or interviews? We want to hear them! Comment below or contact one of our expert recruiters today! Find the closes CFS location to you here

Read the original article published on Business Insider.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

5 keys to composing an impactful resume

Article originally published on US News & World Report

Try this exercise with a friend or loved one:

Give the other person your resume, but limit their reading time to six seconds and instruct them to show you how much they were able to assimilate in that limited time.

Why six seconds? Because that's the amount of eyeball time your resume typically receives when it's being first reviewed by human resources staffers or hiring authorities. If you can't convey something that grabs their attention, chances are strong they won't hesitate to hit the "delete" button and end your chances of being considered, no matter how well-qualified you might be.

This fact should influence the decisions you make about the overall look and feel of your resume. How you organize your information, what you choose to include, your choice of words and graphic elements all should contribute to a clear and coherent message that can be grasped in six seconds. Even a simple line across the page can facilitate a reader's understanding or detract from it, depending on how it is used.

Here are some things you should strive for when creating your resume.

Make certain that even at a distance, your page looks inviting to read and that it is easy to follow the various sections, such as Skills, Professional Experience, Education, etc. Using color to highlight the section titles can make a difference in this regard.

Is there enough white space on the page to avoid looking like a solid blob of ink?

Have pity on people with poor eyesight by not going any lower than 10-point type. Use standard, easy-to-read fonts like Calibri or Optima, or others with similar weighting.

Audience accessibility
It is likely that within your target company, a variety of types of people with diverse backgrounds and roles will be reading your resume. For example, HR, financial and technical professionals all may weigh in on a resume's value. It is important that the document speak to each of them in ways that they can appreciate and value.

Especially if you are in a field with its own particular vocabulary that is unknown to non-specialists, make sure you do your best to explain things in a way that can be commonly understood. When you list obscure tools or techniques that you are accustomed to using, take pains to also convey what results or accomplishments you attained by using them.

Present your personal brand
It might be that your resume surfaces because it came up in a sourcer's search as possessing the right keywords. Congratulations! But now, as they begin to read it, a succinct and well-crafted branding statement at the top can truly set your document apart from others using the same keywords. In the top few lines, just under your name and contact information, it is essential that you give a "helicopter view" of yourself, conveying your essential qualities, areas of expertise and specific content that only you can offer the employer. Keep it to no more than four or five lines, tops!

Get rid of ambiguities
A resume recently reviewed by your author had this line: "Devised solutions that produced the desired results." Lines like this convey no real information and leave questions about the candidate's ability to communicate clearly.

When asked, "What were the problems requiring solutions? What kind of solutions did you develop? What were the desired results and how were they achieved?" the response was: "I'll get into that when I have an interview."

Sadly, ambiguous statements like these are counterproductive to getting the desired interview, and are likely to sink one's chances of getting to the point of explaining their exceptional skills and talents.

Avoid stock phrases and clichés
Expunge what you think a resume "has to have" if you believe stock phrases like "aggressive go-getter," "results driven," or "excellent communication skills" are necessary. You'll immediately generate a yawn or a grunt on the part of your resume reader.

They've seen all these and more countless times! Instead, utilize clearly thought out phrases and sentences that demonstrate the results your "go-getter" qualities generated, thereby communicating effectively.

Have questions about your job search? We want to hear them! Comment below or contact one of our expert recruiters today! Find the closes CFS location to you here

Read the original article published on US News & World Report. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The difference between hard and soft skills

Have questions about your job search or your resume? We want to hear them! Comment below or contact one of our expert recruiters today! Find the closes CFS location to you here

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

7 things to consider when deciding where to intern

Article originally published on Huffington Post

If you have multiple offers for an internship position, how do you decide which one to take? First of all, congratulations—this is what’s referred to as a “high class problem.” Second, by considering the following information, you’ll stand a great chance of making the right choice and fast-tracking your career.
1. Which company has the most name recognition?
Having an internship on an indie film that never sees the light of day may be terrific real world experience, but it’s not as good a resume builder as summer intern at Paramount, or office intern for the next JJ Abrams film. In the beginning, you want to have the most recognizable companies or projects on your resume. Even if it’s subconscious, a future employer will think, “Well, I’m sure a big studio like Paramount really vets their employees, so this candidate would be a good bet for us, too.” It gives you instant credibility and makes you stand out from a pack.
2. Is it paid?
Student loans are real. So, depending on your situation, you might need to take something for the money. I’d like to think we live in a world that values experience over a dollar, but we have to be realistic.
3. What’s the company’s success rate of interns becoming full-time employees?
Some internships are just places to learn. But one day, it could be a place for you to earn. So, ask the question—as one opportunity might have better long term potential than another.
4. How many days a week/hours in a week will you be working?
Every situation is different and you need to make sure that you can keep your grades up and also give the required time and effort to an internship. Be realistic with yourself about how much you can handle. A CAA internship is a regular 40 hour work week, while an entertainment finance company might have you come in once a week for an afternoon.
5. Will you have access to the executives?
Most internships are spent doing work that nobody else wants to do. A few years ago, I had an intern working on other side of my desk. Literally. I said, “If this is uncomfortable to be this close, I totally get it, but we don’t have the space for you, and I don’t mind at all.” He was doing data entry, had a great personality, and was easy to be around. He would engage me in conversation and was interested in the stories of where I worked and with whom. He was an excellent intern. When he completed his internship, I told him I’d be happy to be a reference for him anytime. Well, a few months later, he wanted a job at Ben Silverman’s company, Electus. Because of our conversations over the summer, he knew that I knew Ben. Without hesitation I emailed Ben, telling him about this fantastic intern. Ben responded, and my intern was hired by Electus! Take the internship that will give you the best access to some of the executives who could eventually help you.
6. Are you interested in what the company is known for?
If you love reality TV, working for Evolution Media, producers of The Real Housewives of OC and BH would be ideal for you. This is where you can really shine. If you’re asked to cover the phones when the receptionist has a doctor’s appointment, you’ll look like a star when all of those hours of TV watching actually help your career. A woman on the phone named Lisa calls for the Head of the Company, you intuitively know to ask, “Is this Ms. Vanderpump or Ms. Rinna?” It shows that you’re really invested in what the company does and that you’d make a great future employee. Let your natural interest be your guide.
7. Location
Will it be easy for you to get to and from the internship and still make your classes? Will it make sense for you to drive everyday from your apartment downtown LA to Canoga Park to work for 2 hours? The answer to that one is a definite no; it will be more hassle than it’s worth. If it were a full-time job, I’d feel differently. But if you’re deciding between two internships, then accounting for traffic and distance is essential.
Have questions about your job search? We want to hear them! Comment below or contact one of our expert recruiters today! Find the closes CFS location to you here

Read the original article published on Huffington Post. 

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