Top Post #1: Fashion for Spring 2011

Well folks, it’s the last night of 2011!  Can you stand it?  What are you doing?  Where are you going?  What are your plans for a bigger and better 2012?

All things aside, I would love to take this moment to thank all of my readers once again. Thank you for reading, visiting and commenting.  Here is to many more blog posts and a stellar 2012!

So without further ado, here is the last “Top” post of 2011.  Spring fashion!  And how fitting, this was actually my first post of 2011!

I started my new year with a walk to the beach.  We have done this two years in a row now and I can’t think of a better activity to do on the 1st day of the new year.

I wanted to start the new year with a fun post about some spring fashions.  I read recently that pink is the new color for 2011.  Although it’s a hard color to match with I wanted to share some inspirations with you all.  I also picked a more neutral color, gray, that you can use as a neutral with your pink cardigan.

Enjoy and please share your new years resolutions with me!

What did you do today?

Top Post #2: Why You Didn’t Get the Job

For all of my job searching friends, here is to sooo much more luck in 2012 and don’t forget, sometimes not getting a job may be a blessing in disguise.  You will find something bigger and better.

However, you should always take something away from your possible mistakes.  So here we go, some reasons why you may not have gotten then job and at the end, you can check out an article about why even a god job interview may not turn into a job.  These points are completely my own but they were some things I took away form some of my interview flops.

I’ve been asked a lot, as of late, to evaluate people’s job descriptions, resumes, cover letters etc.  This led me to think that I need to bring this blog back to what it was, a place that gave everyone tips and tricks on how to land a job.  And, I’ve decided to start backwards.  So over the next three weeks we will work our way through the interview process, writing resumes and cover letters and how you should begin your job search.

A lot of times you wonder, “Why didn’t I get the job?  I’m qualified, I showed interest, I came prepared…what gives?”  Well, what gives is a number of things.  Either your personality didn’t mesh well with the hiring manager, your skills, in their minds, didn’t quite fit in to a perfect mold, OR more often than not, someone internally got placed into the position.

There really isn’t anything that can be done about the above points.  Companies are pretty much expected to put a job out on to the public search engines so they can say, “See? We tried, but our own people are the best,” even if you are better.  You’ve really done everything you can at this point and it’s time to put this experience behind you and put your effort into the next job you are asked to interview for.

However, you may not realize it but perhaps you didn’t come fully prepared and hence why you weren’t called back.  For example, I had an interview at a bike company and was asked to name as many bike parts as I could, right there on the spot.  Leading up to this point, I already felt that the interview wasn’t exactly going as well as I had hoped.  I felt prepared when I walked in and I knew I could attack the job and do it well but I really did not feel comfortable with the people I had met so far.  After naming parts like, seat and pedal, I knew that I had just spent an hour of my time making mental notes of what not to do next time.  Among other things, next time I wasn’t going to NOT learn more about the product.

Another time I had come in to interview and the hiring manager wasn’t notified that she had to interview me instead of the HR person.  What ended up happening was we only had 20 minutes to chat and all I had time for was to talk about my experience and not really ask any questions about the position or the perfect person they would like to hire.

Perhaps, the employer can sense that you’re not that interested in the position and that you’re just here because you want a job, any job.  No one can fault you for it, but an employer can question whether you’d be motivated to do the job and not complain or just flat out leave when you find something better.  You may also not know it at the time, but perhaps you dodged a bullet.  Perhaps this job really wasn’t for you and the next one you interview for will be.

In summary, don’t let a rejection stop you, you have to take the experience and see what else you can do next time to show that YOU are it for the job.

What did you do today?

P.S. Check out this great article from Doostang which was my inspiration for this blog post, Why a Great Interview Might Not Turn Into a Job.

Top Post #3: About Me

The 3rd most visited page on this blog has been my “About Me” page.  Instead of just telling you to go there I thought I’d give you a little more background about myself.

I was born in Latvia.  I lived there until 1993, yes, during the communist times which I have to tell you were not that bad.  When I was 10, my family and I moved to Seattle so my dad could work at the University of Washington.  During the time that I attended school in Latvia I actually studied German as we had no intention of ever coming to America.  So here we were, my parents had luckily studied English during their school and college years but, my brother and I didn’t know the first thing about this brave new world.

Upon enrolling in a bilingual school in the outskirts of Seattle our English proficiency was marked at a cool zero.  This was determined by the fact that when we were asked our names both my brother and I stared the woman blankly in the face.  In the next several months we would attend classes with a number of other non-English speaking children.  Most of them spoke Spanish and that is how I became attracted to the language.  We would come home with such assignments as writing words and outlining snowmen.  We learned about Thanksgiving and other American holidays.

After three months at the bilingual school, both my brother and I were transferred to Olympic View Elementary where he continued to draw his way through second grade and I read children’s books while my classmates read at a 5th grade level.  After two years in Seattle, we mozied our way to the other coast, Maryland to be specific.  I enrolled in the local middle school and my brother in elementary.  Luckily the apartment complex we lived in had a pool and a number of foreigners.  We spent our summer days swimming and playing games with kids from France, Spain and Argentina.

After two years in Maryland we once again made the treck to the other coast, this time to California.  I loved it…I think.  I entered high school and made new friends who I sat in the hallway with during free periods, went to dances with and walked a mile with during P.E., it’s not easy coming in at 20minutes and 20seconds alone.  This is where I had my first true boyfriend and where I wore tube socks with Mary Jane’s to a Y2K dance.  But, unfortunately it was time to move again.  No my parents are not in the military, they are actually both scientists and when funding doesn’t work out in one place it’s time to look for another.  So we went on.  Half way through my sophomore year in high school we moved to a place called Boston.  Upon flying into Logan, on a cool January day I recall calling this place a hell hole.  You have to understand that flying to Boston, a place you’ve never been, from sunny California for the first time is a bit of a culture shock.

We first lived in Harvard square until we found our apartment and then began attending school in Belmont.  My brother barely made his way into middle school not because he was a bad student but because the school didn’t believe we lived in Belmont, although we had a lease…but no bills yet.  Meanwhile I got in and was quickly made fun of for wearing dresses over jeans, which was the cool thing to do back in Cali, and saying words like “hella.”  I eventually made friends and by the time I blinked high school was over.  I vowed to return back to California but my parents wouldn’t have it so I went on to Northeastern University where I studied International Business and Marketing.  I chose the Spanish track and was lucky enough to spend a year in Spain, completely immersed in the language and the culture.  Finally, my love for all things Spanish had come full circle.  After graduation I worked in a couple of places and eventually went for my MBA during which I got to spend 10 days in Brazil.

So here I am today.  Working as a Marketing Coordinator and feeling like things are going quite well.  I am engaged and soon to be married, I get to visit my family, who at this point are back on the other coast again, I love Boston and have a hard time understanding when others think it is a hell hole and  I am still visiting my grandparents back in the home land.  By this point, people can’t even tell that at one point in my life I spoke no English, and are sometimes confused by my lack of knowledge about some basic things…which we were not exposed to while living in Latvia.

I hope this synopsis of my life so far has been interesting.  I know I definitely enjoyed telling you a little more about myself.  And NOW you can go to my About Me section and learn more about my professional background. 🙂

   

Top Post #4: Writing Your Manager a LinkedIn Recommendation

This is a topic many of you maybe have thought about.  Writing a LinkedIn recommendation for your boss.

Well, recently a friend of mine asked if I had written any posts about writing LinkedIn recommendations, and at the time I didn’t think that I had.  I especially haven’t given any advice about writing your manager a recommendation.  His worry was that he’d come off as though he was kissing you know what.  I pretty much told him, who cares.  If someone, especially your manager, has helped you do better in your job then why not write them a recommendation.  This is the world of networking.

I say, write a good recommendation to whomever has helped you along the way.

What did you do today?

Top Post #5: Why Keywords Rule LinkedIn

This post rounds out the week and covers a topic that has been talked about a lot lately.  The power of LinkedIn and how you should be using to your, and your company’s advantage.  Do you also think that keywords rule LinkedIn?  Well, here are some tips and tricks I learned from an online webinar led by Lewis Howes.

I knew keywords were important on LinkedIn but I had no idea how much.  You’ll thank me later for pushing you all to optimize your profiles.  Here goes, here are the top lessons I learned from Lewis’ webinar titled, How to Get Results Using LinkedIn.

According to Lewis there are five places that you want to ensure you have your keywords listed.  Ideally these are the same keywords so when someone searches for, let’s say “marketing professional,” you will come up at the top of their search list.  I have yet to accomplish this but these new tips are making me obsess over the powers of LinkedIn and networking.

So here goes, make sure your keywords are listed in the following five places:

1. Headline
2. Current job title/description
3. Past job title/description
4. Summary description
5. Specialties section

I’d love to hear if going through these steps help you get noticed more.

The other idea I got was to start a Career Advice 101 group on LinkedIn.  There are so many articles and ideas I get daily that I simply don’t have the time to write about.  I think the group will allow not only me to share advice but it will give a place for all of you to interact.  I will let you all know once I get the group up…and I hope you’ll join :)

What did you do today?

(My Two Cents) Top Post #6: The Trader Joe’s Philosophy

Earlier this year I wrote about the Trader Joe’s philosophy and how we should choose quality over quantity all the time.  What do you think?

I was shopping at Trader Joe’s recently and as I was leaving the store I thought about the strategy behind the company.  It truly is quality over quantity.  They buy the best and most unique items versus a lot of everything.  I’m thinking that with the new year still fresh in my mind, I should implement this strategy in my life.  I should stop buy a little bit of everything and only get things that will last me years.

How you can implement this in your job search is instead of applying to every job under the sun, which I am the first to know is what happens after some time, and instead apply to jobs that are within your skill set.  Also, always make sure to put your best, and not mediocre, foot forward.  So every time you find a new opportunity and are about to apply, think about the Trader Joe’s philosophy and whether you are living it.

What did you do today?

Top Post #7: My Top 10 Resume Tips

These 10 tips are quite a mix and span from words not to use in a resume to accomplishments you should highlight, and how.  I hope these help you with your editing!

For this posting I decided to go back and look at all of my previous resume related posting and pull out what I consider my favorite and best tips.

1. You need to spend intense time researching and understanding job listings and making sure to tune yourself as a strong skills fit. You’re much better off spending your time on the few jobs where you are a great fit, than wasting your time spreading yourself far and wide.

2. Keep your resume focused on what your target employers want to know and be ruthless about eliminating information that doesn’t serve that purpose.  I other words…
Trim: Remove all extraneous words until you get down to only the essential facts that will sell you.

3. If you are able to connect the dots for the employer by presenting a common thread that includes your passion for excellence, curiosity, and drive to make things happen, you can immediately move to the top of that pile of resumes on the hiring manager’s desk.

4. At the top of your resume, under your name, address and phone number you should have a title.  This title should reflect the title you hope to have.  I would advise that you change this up depending on the job you are applying for as Brand Marketing Manager may not apply to a Marketing Communications opening.

5. The next part should be a paragraph about your accomplishments and how you will help a company if they hire you.  However…Make sure your objective has an outward focus: If you choose to include an objective on your résumé, make sure it addresses the employer’s needs.

6. Following this paragraph you should have a little area with a list of keywords.  I have talked about the importance of key words in a resume but have never seen a resume with a specific section for them.  If you’re not entirely sure where to start then look at LinkedIn which generates some key words for you in their “specialties” section.  In other words…
Make sure your resume is search-engine optimized: If your résumé doesn’t include…keywords, there’s little chance that your application will ever reach the desk of a hiring manager.

7. Here are some phrases NOT to use in your resume:
Results-Oriented Professional
Excellent Team Player
Bottom Line Orientation
Superior Communications Skills
Possess Organizational Skills
Savvy Business Professional
Strong Work Ethic
Meets or Exceeds Expectations
Strong Presentation Skills
Seeking a Challenging Opportunity

8. Don’t list out-of-date or irrelevant skills: Although entry-level job seekers sometimes include a section of “interests” on their résumé, the space-filler has no place on the résumé of older workers.

9. Recount Accomplishments. No matter what your title was, reach back into your memory and pull out at least three of your most valuable achievements for each role.

10. Highlight Newly Acquired Skills. The next step in your career journey will build upon the skills and knowledge you possess today. With this in mind, think about how each past position expanded upon your abilities.

Good luck with reworking your resume and what did you do today?

Here are my resources:
10 Phrases That Can Sink Your Resume
cnn.com
GetInterviews.com
Six ways to push your resume into the “green pile.”

Top Post #8: The Top Interview Questions

Today we will round out the interview question posts.  It seems like this is a topic I should revisit in the new year.  So here we go, after going through several websites, here are my top picks of the top 10 interview questions you should be prepared to answer:

1. What were your starting and ending compensation levels? I HATE talking about salaries because they vary greatly.  I would try to dodge this one with general numbers and statements. I have previously preceded my answer with the following true statement, “I was previously hired into a higher salary because my manager knew that the economy would tank and I wouldn’t be getting a bonus.  Hence why I was hired at $x.”

2. What did you like or dislike about your previous job? This question isn’t as tough as it may seem. You should always start with a positive, talk a little about the negative but leave on a positive.  That way the negative is sandwiched in between two great things about the last job and you’re saying more good than bad things about your previous employers, which is always a plus.

3. What was the biggest accomplishment/failure in your previous position? Again, I would absolutely use the sandwich approach.

4. Why are you leaving your job? This is the time when you can talk about your desire to grow and learn more.  You can say that as much as you enjoy your current position it is clear that you won’t have an opportunity to expand your skills which is an important thing to do.  No one wants to be a one trick pony, your current employer shouldn’t want that for you either.

5. What are your short and long term goals? You should want to aspire to meet your mangers expectations and say that you are very flexible with changing with the position, in the long term.  In the short term, and here is where the 30-60-90 plan I have previously talked about comes in. You need to learn about the position, company and how things work.  You can’t be successful at what you do if you don’t know how the business is run.

6. What was a major obstacle you were able to overcome? This is a great opportunity to highlight the skills you have acquired recently.  Perhaps your biggest obstacle was getting laid off. That’s ok, since that happened you finally had the time to learn this, get certified in that and volunteer for the following companies or events.  If you are still working, talk about an obstacle that does not evoke major emotion in you. You don’t want the interviewer to sense that you can’t deal with confrontation or bad situations.  This is your moment to shine and really talk about what you can bring to the table!

7. What is your greatest weakness? Again, this is a great time to use the sandwich approach from above.

8. What qualities should a successful manager have? You don’t want to talk about the qualities they shouldn’t have, like micro management, because for all you know that may be exactly how they operate.  Talk about your ideal environment, i.e. being trusted to do your job, make decisions and drive a process from start to completion.

9. What kinds of people have difficulty working with you? Don’t begin to alienate people before you even get the job.  Ask if you can talk instead about the types of people that you enjoy working with and who enjoy working with you.  At the end you can mention that perhaps someone who might not enjoy your persistent personality is someone who may have a tough time getting used to you but you’ve overcome that kind of situation  previously and don’t see it being a problem going forward.

10. Why do you want this job? Let things flow!  Talk about what you know about the company and its accomplishments.  Talk about your career progression and how you can accomplish your goals here!

What did you do today?

Find more questions and answers here:
Job Interview Questions and Answers
Top Interview Questions
Ten Tough Interview Questions and Ten Great Answers
10 Killer Job Interview Questions and Answers

Top Post #9: Don’t Ask the Interviewer the Following Questions

I had posted a blog post about Tough Interview Questions prior to writing the post I am about to highlight now.  I still think that the tough interview questions mentioned in the blog above still are he toughies but do you know what NOT to ask the interviewer?  Read on and Happy Monday!

“To follow up on the interview questions topic I wanted to share with you some questions that Alesia Benedict of GetInterviews.com advises interviewees NOT to ask.

Here goes, the 7 questions NOT to ask in a job interview, according to Alesia:

1. Don’t ask about salary: This question shifts the focus to what you want for yourself as opposed to the value you will provide to the company.

2. (Interesting, I’ve never heard this take on the question) Don’t ask about the timeframe for hiring decisions: Every candidate wants to know the answer to this question but asking it can make you seem desperate or anxious for results. Most companies look for candidates able to separate personal from professional demands.

3. Don’t ask what the company does: Conducting research on corporate initiatives is easily accomplished online. Do your homework to impress hiring managers.

4. Don’t ask about typical promotion policies: Rushing ahead to promotions may make the interviewer question your judgment and understanding of appropriate business interactions.

5. Don’t ask about on-the-job training for basic skills: Emphasize the skills you bring, not the deficits about which you are concerned.

6. Don’t speak ill of former employers: Talking about how much you hated your former workplace or employer is a top interview “don’t!”

7. Don’t forget basic manners: Offer a handshake to “seal the deal” when you leave. Thank the interviewer for their time and express your pleasure in meeting him or her.”

What did you do today?

P.S. If you are wondering what questions you SHOULD ask, read my post titled. Knowing the Right Questions to Ask During an Interview.

P.P.S. One more interview related post coming up tomorrow and we will be moving on to some resume tips.

Top Post #10: LinkedIn Privacy Issues, Are You Worried?

After one of my first LinkedIn posts, The Power of LinkedIn, I was faced with a question from a reader, “Just as there may be good reasons to join LinkedIn, there are just as many good reasons NOT to consider it. Most notably…..identity theft. Yes, it happens. In the digital age, it’s too easy for a gifted hacker/scammer/spammer to grab various pieces of your information (even your photo) and have a field day. Secondly, LinkedIn equates to Spamcruiter Heaven, where there are plenty of spamcruiters looking to contact vulnerable job seekers just to sell their products and services with the good ‘ol bait and switch tactic.

Where there are good points, there are also bad points. I will not so willingly volunteer my information for all to see and risk being a victim of ANY kind. One “job expert” said it best: ‘Step away from the computer.’ In other words….face to face networking still reigns supreme in the job search.”

What are YOUR thoughts on this topic?  Are you worried about identity theft?  My take is that with the digital age here to stay you have to embrace it.  However, you also need to know how to protect yourself.  I truly feel that sites such as LinkedIn do more good than bad.  You can connect with people who you may otherwise not be able to connect with through traditional networking.  Also, if you are worried about people using your resume information, then I would be more worried about sites such as Career Builder or Monster.

How do you feel about sharing your personal information on LinkedIn, or any social site.  I do have to say that LinkedIn is not a site that has received any flack about privacy issues, but what about Facebook?  How do you feel about them having been investigated by the FTC?

What did you do today?