how to prepare your inbox for a job search

If you have had an email account for a while, it probably has a lot of stuff in it that you think will be opened someday. Most of us do this and realize one day we have thousands of unopened emails that might have something important to say. Yikes! How is this helping?

The quick answer is that it is not helping. Email is an important part of your professional life and the way you handle it directly affects your job search. Here are three quick ways to get your email inbox ready for action:

Have A Professional Email Account

If your current email address is pretty casual, that email address could be preventing you from getting a job. Start over with another professional email account that is only used for career purposes. In most cases, your first and middle initial with your last name @ gmail.com, or another e-mail provider, is good. If you have a common last name, you may want to use first name, initial, last name. Do a search on the variables and see what an employer will see when they search your name and choose your email address carefully.

This account is only for your job search and things related to that. This is your brand, the label of your digital presence. Don’t sign up for newsletters, use it for family or friends, or anything but business. If your email address is good and it’s just overwhelmed, put everything in a folder “to be sorted” and start over with the next step.

Set Your Inbox To Sort Automatically

Take the time to set up your professional inbox to sort into appropriate folders automatically and you can see at a glance what has come in. Every time you apply to a company, set up a folder with the rule that new mail from that company goes here. Keep an eye on your folders and know you will not miss anything important.

Whatever your account uses, rules and filters and labels can be set up to make your life efficient. Maximize all the tech you can and you will be ahead of the game, both in the job search and in any job you hold. It’s like having an electronic secretary.

Delete, Delete, Delete

I know a manager who deletes everything but never empties the trash folder so she can search for something “just in case.” This drives the tech support staff nuts, but she thinks she needs that security blanket. How about a folder that has the things you truly may need someday (contact information, for instance) and only keep that?

If you are not curating your inbox ruthlessly, there’s a good chance that you will miss an important email someday soon. Learn how to delete the extraneous stuff so you can focus on your future by having an efficient email inbox during your job search.

 

mona lisa selfie

Women, particularly young women, get a lot of conflicting advice about how to look and how to act. But that advice doesn’t come with validity, and the cost of following some advice is pretty high. A recent study in Psychology of Popular Media Culture looks at The Price of Sexy: Viewers’ Perceptions of a Sexualized Versus Nonsexualized Facebook Profile Photograph and it shows a small part of that cost.

In the study, only the views of adolescent and young adult women were assessed. The result shows that among her peers, a young woman in a sexualized picture is considered less attractive physically and socially. She also is considered less competent to complete tasks, and the only difference between the two profile pictures is the way the same woman presents herself. This is the price tag among her female peers right now, and it doesn’t go into why the other girls think the way they do or how it affects future careers.

Counting The Career Cost

If you want to prepare your teen for first job expectations, it might be a good idea to point out the increasing evidence that our online behavior has a price tag. Talk about the way our choices have consequences and let them experience some of those consequences in the safety of your home. Let them be late because they overslept, or wear wrinkles because they didn’t fold their laundry, and anything else that can be connected as a cost — a consequence because of a choice. Many times the real world cost helps a young person connect the way online behavior also has a cost.

Then look past the present choices at the career they are hoping to pursue and help them visualize how their choices today affect their future. Use the things they can see to help them understand the things they don’t see yet. Studies like “The Price of Sexy” can be helpful in discussions because you can talk about the study instead of the individual, and that makes things less confrontational.

Gregory Peck in

By now I’m sure you’ve seen the constant updates in your LinkedIn news/status feeds from your connections. Where are they coming from and why are they here all of a sudden?

LinkedIn has opened up its publishing platform –also called Long Form—so that you not only get regular content from the people you follow (i.e. Richard Branson, Martha Stewart), but also from your connections. They began with inviting 25,000 members and then slowly opened it up to everyone. If you are wondering how this might work for you and your job search, or how to get started, here are a few tips.

1.      Why should you publish on LinkedIn? It’s a way for you to build your executive brand, share insightful content, increase your visibility, and expand on your knowledge, thus making you more credible to your network as an industry thought leader. If you don’t already have a blog or another platform, this is a good place to gather interest.

2.      Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and current. If you haven’t added your most recent job, do so now. Clean up your profile. Do you have a recent photo? Do you have the professional affiliations, training, projects, etc. on it? Once you publish your first article, people will be looking at your profile, so make sure you look and sound your best.

3.      Beef up your contacts. If you haven’t been diligent about making new connections, or connecting with people who reach out to you, get started now. The more connections you have, the wider your reach. Keep in mind that when people “like” or “share” your content, your post will go out to other networks faster.

 4.      Determine what you want to talk about. What do you excel at? What is your expertise in? What message do you want to give? What do you think your readers would like to read about or know more of? Want to get a conversation started? Writing an engaging blog post is a great way to do that. Does this post solidify your personal brand? If you already have ideas or posts lined up, then you’re ready to go. If you go to the status bar on your home page, you will see a little pencil on the right (by the paperclip), this is what you will click to open up your publishing page.

5.      Your expertise won’t just show on LinkedIn but in other forms of social media. Remember that when you publish on LinkedIn, the more keywords, comments, “likes” and “shares” you have, the more traffic you will drive to your post through outside search engines and social media as well. Keep it professional and clear. Drive home your brand.

 

When a perspective employer is looking at your profile and determining if you are the right fit, displaying your professional expertise by having some thought-provoking posts might be what exactly what they are looking for.

habits that advance your career

When someone has been been promoted often enough, they know what it takes to advance a career. Marillyn Hewson, who is Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin shares from her experience in 5 Habits That Can Lead to a Promotion.

There are advantages to staying with a company and working your way up the ladder, but these habits will be good ones to develop no matter where you are working in the next decade or so. Here is what she looks for and encourages:

  1. Look for ways to solve problems on the job. Anticipating, identifying, and creatively addressing issues shows leadership potential. You can share your suggestions and let your boss decide what to do with them; even if your ideas go unused, your efforts will be noticed.
  2. Accept assignments that stretch you. Meeting those challenges gives you more opportunities.
  3. Keep track of your results. When there’s a hard number to point to, it should be on your resume. Recording the evidence of your efforts validates your work experience when applying for another position.
  4. Understand your company’s leadership values and look for ways to develop those qualities.
  5. Success is a team sport — every leader is part of a group that works together for a greater good. Work on making your workplace a better place to work and your efforts will be appreciated.

Marillyn Hewson speaks from her position as someone who has worked through many levels and positions at Lockheed Martin. She knows what your higher-ups are looking for. She says,

“Senior leaders spend a lot of their time focused on developing talent, building succession plans, and identifying who is ready to take on a leadership role. The success of an organization rides on doing this effectively. By practicing these five habits, you could be at top-of-mind when the next leadership position opens up.”

don't forget to shine your shoes

Did you know that the mistake made most often in getting ready for an interview is unkempt shoes? According to the Shoe Service Institute of America, 89% of business recruiters rate good grooming high on the requirement list for senior executive material, and the way you take care of your shoes is a big part of the image you present. Here’s another quote from this source:

“Shoes are a reflection of their owner’s personality. That’s what both personnel professionals — who have been known to observe people closely — and white collar workers (the people they usually observe) said. Well kept shoes stand for professionalism, attention to detail, ambition, efficiency, conscientiousness, organization, confidence and even friendliness.”

Now most of us really don’t go around looking at everybody else’s shoes all the time, it’s true. But there is one time that your appearance is critically evaluated from the top of your head to the soles of your shoes, and that’s during an interview. The way you have groomed your clothing and shoes shows how much you care about detail and the work it takes to keep things in good repair.

If you don’t bother to shine your shoes or repair that ripped seam for an important interview, what else will you ignore once you are on the job? If you aren’t interested in ironing a wrinkly shirt, will you be the best candidate for a position that represents the company? These issues might seem a bit nit-picky but what sloppiness reveals is character, and all the interviewer can go on to determine what you will be like is the references in your resume and the evidence in your appearance.

It doesn’t take much research to figure out how to dress for that job interview, and it doesn’t take much work to get that outfit in good condition. But don’t forget to shine your shoes.

 

 

decode summertime casual fridays

Do you ever feel like “Casual Friday” in the summer months is like looking at an artistic photo that’s supposed to mean something? The problem is, everyone interprets that meaning in a slightly different way. Business Casual is tricky anyway (the link is to all the blogs on this site that address the subject), but summer heat and vacation mode seem to make “casual” more important than “business” for a lot of us. The problem is that the wrong kind of casual keeps you from being taken seriously.

Break The Code In Your Workplace

It doesn’t really matter what anybody else says about how to dress in the workplace. Really. What matters to you is the written and unwritten dress code that is being used right now where you actually work. So start with the written code — ask for a copy of the official “how to dress for this workplace” dress code that Human Resources should have on paper.

Now take that paper home and pull out everything in your wardrobe that works within the guidelines. Some people even keep their work wardrobe separate from their non-work wardrobe so that mornings are easier on business days. Figure out a basic “work uniform” that will be the foundation of what you wear all the time. Many suggest switching out only one thing on casual days to lighten up the look but stay professional.

Having the written code down lets you evaluate the unwritten code you see around you at work.  Notice who is showing a lot of skin, and who is wearing flip flops — what positions do these people hold? Unless you work at a scuba diving shop on the beach, it’s probably not your boss. Every company has a culture, and the clothes we wear reflect the culture. But every company also has a hierarchy and the clothes we wear send signals about where we see ourselves in that hierarchy.

If you want to break the code for your workplace, pay attention to what your supervisors and the higher-ups are wearing. You’ll start to see that those who are taken seriously at their job take their wardrobe — even summertime casual Fridays — seriously, too.

 

a visual view of resume keywords

Have you ever made a word cloud? The most popular version of a word (or tag) cloud generator is Wordle, but there are many other options out there. Teachers love creating word clouds for visual learners because it helps the student see the most frequently used vocabulary in a text.  But you can use your favorite word cloud generator to compare the frequency of words in a job opening and your resume.

Here’s why I think this is a good idea: you’ll quickly see if any words in your resume match the words in the ad.

What you are seeing in that word cloud is the key vocabulary in the text — keywords. Resume keywords play an important role in getting your resume into the “call for interview” pile on an important desk. You’ll also get an idea of how often you use certain words to describe yourself. Does your resume word cloud show an active, effective candidate? Does anything match the word cloud of the position you are applying for? If it doesn’t, then you have some work to do on your resume.

The closer your language matches the language in the ad, the more apt you are to be seen as a “match” for the position. It should go without saying that I’m not telling you to make stuff up, because lying on a resume is a bad idea. But highlighting the similarities between your qualifications and the qualifications of the candidate they are seeking is a good idea.

If you are a visual learner, using a word cloud generator to evaluate your resume and the job opening is an easy way to see which words are being used most often and decide what to do with the way your resume is written.

how to decide where to start

If you are just beginning to realize that you need expert help to find a job or further your career, it can feel pretty overwhelming. Do you start writing a resume? Maybe you should look at the want ads or get one of those professional packages, but which one? When you look at the A La Carte Services, they seem like a cheaper way to get something, but the packages have more stuff. Right?

Or maybe a completely do-it-yourself method would be cheaper. Just do the research and get it done because you have the time, but not the money to pay for it. No, wait! That’s where we started this, at the realization that expert help is what is needed. Where should you start?

Start With Expert Advice

When you look at any page on the Professional Resume Services website, a little contact popup opens up with an opportunity to set up a time to talk. You can look at the calendar and designate a day and time, call the phone number, or leave details and we will get back to you. That opportunity to talk to a person who is completely familiar with the services we provide doesn’t obligate you to buying something, but it gives you all the benefit of a short personal consultation to see what might work.

There’s also a lot of information on this blog to give you a bigger perspective on things. The more you are familiar with different aspects of what affects your career, the easier it is to see how every aspect fits together and creates the whole picture.

are you making these linkedin mistakes?

It’s easy to approach LinkedIn like it’s a professional version of Facebook, but that is not a good idea. Many professionals very carefully do not have any overlap at all between their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles but realize that somehow, somebody will figure out the connections so they are still careful online. In fact, that’s the first mistake you can make:

Common Mistakes Seen On LinkedIn

  1. Not monitoring the way your name and identity (brand) show up online keeps you from seeing when there’s a problem that needs to be addressed. Set up a Google Alert on all variations of your name and use a few search engines to see how you look to a potential employer who is researching your suitability for an opening.
  2. No profile picture, or an unprofessional profile picture make an impression all right, an impression that you don’t care about your career enough to use a suitable photograph.
  3. An incomplete profile reveals your failure in completing a task and triggers questions about how you’ll complete tasks on the job. It also shows you haven’t taken the time to learn how to effectively use the tools at your disposal.
  4. Not updating your status with recent accomplishments or authoritative content makes you look like nothing is happening.
  5. Thinking LinkedIn is only for job seekers and ignoring the network until you need a job keeps you from the real benefits of professional networking.

If you are at all serious about your career, you should be regularly paying attention to how to improve your LinkedIn capabilities. There’s been plenty of tips on this blog, and we even offer professional LinkedIn Profile Development if you decide you need that service. The professional networking you have on LinkedIn isn’t like any other type of social media, and it’s worth your time and effort to learn how to avoid making mistakes.

 

how is your summer strategy working?

By now you have had the first part of the season to evaluate your summer strategies for whatever is going on at home while you are at work. Households with children face some real challenges when school is out (I know ours does), and I’m pretty sure you have done your best to make a plan, but is it working?

Now is a good time to ask your kids how they feel about the summer so far and get suggestions for solving some of the problems that have come up. Talk to your caregiver and emergency backup and let them know you appreciate all they do.  That stay-at-home neighbor needs to be thanked for being on call, even if you haven’t had to make the call. And don’t forget to thank your kids for acting responsibly even though they should be doing it anyway.

Have a family treat night and brainstorm how to deal with little things before they turn into door-slamming fights. Do you have a system in place for conflict resolution at home? Do you need to create a sign that lists expectations and rules while you are at work? Is the person in charge while you are gone abusing their authority? Are consequences clear and consistent?

Many kids (and adults) find it easier to discuss problems when there’s something to do while you talk. I’m thinking ice cream with all the toppings here, but do what works for your family. There’s something about a regular family time that you know will be happening that makes communication develop.

It’s easy to forget that family life does develop the skills you bring into your career. There are surprising ways family and career overlap and most of it has to do with the strengths we developed at home.

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