Sparkle in the New Year with these 3 Career Goals

January 3rd, 2017 by

Many people use the new year to facilitate change in their lives. Whether you want to find a new position or move your way up the ladder, here are three goals you should be setting in 2017 to make those changes a reality.

happy-new-year-tumblrPrioritize networking. Now is the perfect time to connect with people in your professional network. Who you know is going to be important when trying to establish and build your career. Ask business acquaintances out to coffee (quick, before peppermint mochas go away!) or use sites like to look for local professional events you can attend.

Polish up your resume. Make sure your experiences and skills are up to date on your resume. Also make sure you revamp your LinkedIn profile as well. Keeping these polished will make you more marketable to outside opportunities. If you’re considering a career change this year, you may also want to brush up on your interview skills.

Learn something new. Use the new year to learn a new skill which you can add to your newly polished resume. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to build a website or you’ve had a lingering interest in photography. Whatever you’re interested in, find a class or a book that can help you accelerate your career.


4 Red Flags That Cause Employers To Reject You

December 6th, 2016 by

Have you ever applied for a job or completed an interview, only to never hear back? These scenarios can be frustrating, especially when you don’t hear back from a job you were really excited about. While there are many reasons this could happen, many of which you have no control over, there are a few common mistakes you may be making that cost you the job.

Submitting a generic resume. When making a resume, you want to show off your skills and achievements. However, you also want your potential employer to see why you are perfect for the job. Instead of having one, generic resume, you should have several that are tailored to specific positions. Take a look at the necessary skills listed in the job description, then add the skills that apply to you to your resume. Focus on being relevant for the job first, then you can focus on being impressive.

14110060693_e2e54aef56_bMaking mistakes on the application. This can be anything from a simple spelling mistake, to something bigger like placing the wrong email or answering the wrong question. If a potential employer sees mistakes on the application, then they’ll assume you’ll make mistakes on the job as well. Make sure you proofread your application, as well as your resume or cover letter several times before you submit. Better yet, have a friend or family member proofread it as well.

Seeming disinterested or lacking confidence. It’s okay to still be unsure about a job or nervous during the interview stage, but acting disinterested or lacking confidence during the interview can be a huge turn off to a potential employer. To combat this, make sure you have researched the company ahead of time and prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Knowledge can make you more confident, especially when asked an interview question such as “What do you know about us?” Having questions prepared will also show confidence and tells the interviewer that you are interested in the job. (Read last week’s blog to learn more about appearing confident)

Appearing to be a flight risk. Companies don’t want to hire people that might leave in only six months. If you’ve had a long list of jobs in a short amount of time, make sure you have good explanations for each. Also, make sure you aren’t only showing interest in the company, but the job itself. If you focus solely on the company, it will seem as if you’re only interested in the position to get your foot in the door. By also showing interest in the specific job, they’re less likely to get the impression that you’ll want to leave or transfer soon after being hired.


4 Signs It’s Time for a Career Change

November 2nd, 2016 by

For many reasons, the career you have now may not be the best place for you in the future. Facing a career change can be scary when you consider starting over, but they can be necessary for personal growth and fulfillment. If you’re still not sure whether or not you need to rethink the future, here are four signs that it’s time for a change.

You are often tired or bored. If you are constantly tired or bored at the office, it could mean the work is no longer challenging for you. What was hard and rewarding when you first began has become an easy and passive task. This is a pretty good indicator that it’s time to find your passion again and look for a new position, or seek out a similar position that allows for more growth and challenge.

The future doesn’t excite you. When you first started working in your current position, you were probably excited about the work you were doing and where it could take you. If your future at the company no longer excites you or you no longer see a future, finding a new career could be the right move. This may mean you just need to find a different employer, but this could also mean that you need to change industries. Figure out what excites you now and move in that direction.

Your health is suffering. A job that overworks you, is physically demanding or is especially stressful can wreak havoc on your body. Physical and mental stress can weaken your immune system and cause headaches, ulcers and prevent you from concentrating. If a job is putting a physical strain on your body, then it’s definitely time for a change.

You dread going to work. There’s a difference between enjoying your weekend and living for the weekend. There are many reasons you could be dreading work, like you may not like your coworkers or your boss, you dislike the work you do, you don’t agree with the company’s ethics or you may not like the workplace culture. If your work makes you miserable, regardless of the reason, it’s time to move on.

Considering a career change? Brush up your resume and sharpen your Interviewing Skills.


Preparing for a Skype Interview

September 19th, 2016 by

Remote interviews are becoming more common and acceptable. From a business perspective, it makes sense: an interview over Skype can save valuable time and money. There’s a good chance a Skype interview could be in your future, so it’s important to know how to prepare.11075028576_6b76d4878c_b

Set Up. Make sure you have Skype set up a few days ahead of time and that everything is working properly. Troubleshoot your camera and microphone to make sure the picture and sound is clear. Also be sure that you will be centered on the screen and not off to the side. Lastly, make sure wherever you plan to interview that you have a strong Wi-Fi connection or you can plug into the Ethernet to ensure a good connection throughout the whole interview.

Lighting. When setting up your camera, consider the time of day and the amount of light that will be available. If your interview is at a time with no natural light or if you’re in a room without windows, you may want to consider setting up a lamp so the image isn’t so dark. However, you also don’t want so much light that your face becomes washed out or uneven light where half your face is in shadow.

Background. Keep your surroundings and the background of what will be in view of the camera clear of clutter.  Sit in front of a plain wall and make sure your desk or table is clean. Remove posters and knick-knacks from view.

Attire. Even though you aren’t meeting in person for the interview, proper attire is still important. Read our blog about dressing for the interview for more tips on proper attire. It’s also important to note that even though the interviewer most likely won’t see your bottom half, doesn’t mean you can wear sweatpants. Putting on a complete and professional outfit will put you in the right mindset for the interview.

Body Language. It can be easy to lose focus when you aren’t being interviewed in-person, so be mindful of distractions. Keep pets locked up and ask roommates or family to stay quiet during the interview. The interviewer can only see you from the chest up, so sit up straight and be aware of tapping and fidgeting in your seat.

For more ways to prepare for your career, take one of the professional courses at


Dressing for the Interview

September 5th, 2016 by

You’re not supposed to judge a book by it’s cover. However, the second you walk into an interview, before you’ve said hello and shaken hands, you’ve already made an impression based on what you are wearing. Make sure that first impression is good one by dressing professionally and appropriately for the position you are applying for.

Interview_-_HSG_TALENTS_ConferenceKnow the dress code. If you are unsure what to wear to your interview, call ahead of time and ask about the company’s dress code. You can use this as a guideline for picking out your outfit for the interview. It’s best to dress above the position you are applying for. If the office dress code is casual where most people are in jeans and T-shirts, still step it up a notch to a blouse or button up shirt with nice jeans or slacks.

Hygiene and grooming. Make sure the clothes you choose are clean and free of wrinkles.  Wear deodorant, but avoid using an overpowering perfume or cologne — or better yet don’t use any at all. Just make sure you are clean and look tidy. Go light on the makeup, comb your hair and clean up facial hair.

Accessories. Don’t overdo it by wearing large pieces of jewelry or extremely bright ties. Accessories shouldn’t be distracting or look unprofessional. Tip: Choose accessories that can start a conversation. A piece of jewelry from a recent vacation, a small pin that represents your hometown or a tie that represents your interest in music is a great way to get a conversation going. Wear something that shows off your personality while still remaining professional.

Want more tips to help you get the job? Take our Interview Skills course!


How can you use social media to get a job?

August 25th, 2016 by

Social media has expanded beyond a fun way to communicate with friends — it is also an important tool for making connections and branding yourself. Social media can help you develop relationships and show off your skills to peers and potential employers. Today we are answering three standard questions regarding social media and what you share with professionals in your field.

What social media platforms should I be using?download (1)

If you don’t have a LinkedIn account yet, get one. LinkedIn is like your resume, but allows you to expand on your experience, showcase your talents and create a portfolio of your work. The point of LinkedIn is to make connections with people within your field, making it the perfect platform to find new opportunities, open yourself up to recruiters and develop your career.

Unlike LinkedIn, which is strictly business oriented, Facebook and Twitter can be used in both a personal and professional context. It all depends on who you choose to connect with. Depending on your field, you may want to separate your personal life and professional life into two accounts. Use a personal account to stay in touch with friends and a professional account to share professional development and advancement as well as interesting news in your industry.

Which pages should I include on a resume or business card?

The social media platforms you include depend on what you use the pages for. Just to reiterate, LinkedIn is a must! However, other social media should typically be left off your resume, unless it is a professional account relevant to the position you are applying for.

Examples of social media you can include are a professional blog you write or a company profile you shared content on. These examples highlight your ability to use social media in a professional setting and show off your knowledge about your field.

How should I present myself on social media?

Be consistent. Use the same username and the same picture and post similar content across all of your social media profiles.

Be active. Do not share social media you aren’t regularly posting to. Trying to connect using a profile you haven’t posted to in months will not give a good impression.

Be appropriate. This tip should go without saying, but don’t swear or discuss inappropriate subjects. If you wouldn’t talk that way in front of your boss, don’t say it on a professional account.



Five Tips to Nail Your Interview

June 27th, 2016 by

Interviews can be the most stressful part of getting a job, with your future employment dependent on the impression you leave with a total stranger. The key to having a great interview and landing the job is being proactive and confident.pexels-photo-70292

Here are five tips for having a successful interview:

Research. Read up on the company before the interview. Make sure you know exactly what position you are interviewing for and learn about the company’s history and values. This will help you stand out from the beginning of the interview. Bonus points if you learn the names of your interviewer and the higher-ups in the company.

Dress for success. Make sure the clothes you wear to the interview are clean, wrinkle-free and professional. Think you’re under-dressed? Call ahead of time and find out the company’s dress code and use that as a guideline for what to wear to the interview.

Arrive on time. Do not be late, but also don’t arrive too early. Aim to walk into the office five minutes before your interview. Not parking five minutes before, but in the office and ready to shine five minutes before your scheduled interview time.

Come prepared. Review common interview questions and have answers ready. Consider practicing a mock interview with a friend or family member. Bring multiple copies of your resume, a notebook and a pen. Also consider bringing a list of questions you have for the company. Employers tend to ask at the end of the interview if you have questions for them. Make sure you ask something thoughtful like where they see the company going in the next five years — but leave the conversation about salary for the follow-up!

Send a thank you. Follow up with the interviewer by sending a thank you note. An email is adequate, however a handwritten note adds a personal touch and will help you stand out. The best advice I ever received was to write the thank you note BEFORE the interview, and slip it in the company’s mailbox on your way out!


Want more tips for nailing your interview and getting your dream job? Take the Next Step Academy course “Interviewing Skills” to learn more.




How To: Mentally Prepare For An Interview

March 8th, 2016 by

junge frau im bewerbungsgesprchIf you’ve never been on an interview before, you might not know what to expect and that can be nerve racking. Then again, people who have been on several interviews may still find themselves jittery before hand. While it’s natural, and perhaps even good, to be a little nervous for your interview, you’ll still want to mentally prepare yourself and build your confidence before heading in.

Take a Drive                                                                                                                                            A day or two before your interview, drive there.

It might sound like a weird thing to do, but trust me, it will reduce your anxiety. There’s nothing worse than being stricken with panic on your way to an interview when you suddenly realize you have no idea where you’re going. By mapping your route before hand, you’ll be more familiar with traffic patterns, the parking situation and the amount of time it actually takes to get there. On the day of your interview, it will be one less stressor to deal with.

Mock Interview                                                                                                                                     Recruit a parent, sibling, school counselor or someone else you know has been on interviews.

Provide them with a list of questions to ask you, but also invite them to ask you additional questions off the cuff. Why? Well, an interview is a balancing act. You’ll have some answers prepared for the more traditional questions, but you’ll also need to be ready to answer curve ball questions. The interviewer will look for you’re ability to think on your feet and how you perform under pressure.

Go through this process a few times and with different people if you can. The more you practice, the better and more eloquently you’ll find your responses, even on the really tough questions. Practicing your interview skills will build your confidence and in turn, you’ll be much more composed for the real deal.

Practice Tranquility                                                                                                                                An up-coming interview can create a lot of stress—schedule down time for yourself.

The night before and the morning of, spend five to ten minutes sitting quietly or with soft music if you prefer, but no phone, tablet, or other distractions. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. Let your worries melt away, maybe even use a mantra— try a phrase to raise your self-esteem and confidence like, “I am who they want to hire.”

Get Organized                                                                                                                                    Get your materials together.

Getting organized will help your mind slow down. Have a crisp folder with at least three resumes and three copies of references inside. You may also want to bring a professional portfolio with relevant samples of work or writing examples. Just by walking in with a folder or binder,  you’ll walk taller and  feel a whole lot more confident.

These tips will help get you started to a successful interview. For additional interview information take Next Step Academy’s Interviewing Skills course which you can find right here!


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