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Judging A Book By Its Cover

 

Tips for Selling Your Own Story

No matter how many times your mom told you not to judge a book by its cover, it’s still one of life’s inevitable occurrences. Luckily, by thinking of a hiring manager as someone browsing a bookstore, you can make a great impression with three easy strategies. 

 

Grab their attention.

Once a hiring manager has found the right “genre,” in this case a pool of qualified applicants, they’ll start perusing the shelves for something that looks interesting. Think of your resume as your professional dust jacket. It doesn’t matter how great your story is if no one ever picks it up. In a sea of Times New Roman and Helvetica, a well-designed resume is an easy way to set yourself apart and make recruiters want to pull your book off the shelf. Plus, an excellent design can speak volumes about your personality, organization skills and taste before a recruiter ever reads a word.

 

Get to the point.

The text of your resume functions as the blurb, and nothing is more frustrating than flipping a book over only to find that you still have no idea what the story is about. Be sure to include as much detailed information about yourself as concisely as possible. Talk about your experiences and the direct results of your actions. Being able to quantify your skills will help hiring mangers determine if your return on investment is more valuable than that of the next person.

 

Give them a reason to believe.

Finally, include an “about the author” section — or in this case, a cover letter. Just as every book has an author bio, so should every job application include a cover letter. This is your chance to tell employers why you would be a good fit and to frame your experience within the context of their company. And don’t be too humble to include a “praise for” section, either. Just as you’re more likely to pick up a book with a quote from the New York Times, recruiters are much more likely to respond to someone who mentions that they have been referred by an employee or an acquaintance than to take a chance on a complete stranger.

 

Don’t be daunted by the thought of limiting your story to one or two pages. With a little bit of creativity, you can take that simple piece of paper and turn it into a ticket for an interview. X
  • Author Dat Le
  • Category Career AdviceFirst ImpressionGet The JobInterview TipsJob AdviceLife LessonResume AdviceResume ContentResume Tips
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How to Make Friends at a New Job


Congratulations! You’ve done it. You’ve landed a new job! (Maybe you even used a Loft Resume, which got your foot in the door?) There are many joys that come with a new job especially if you’ve experienced a time of unemployment. A new job could feel like your saving grace. Hey, maybe it IS your saving grace? Although there’s much that could be discussed in regards to starting a new position, one topic that shouldn’t be over looked is making friends in your new work place. Perhaps making friends comes naturally to you and you’re used to being the most liked person in the office. Even so, it’s never a bad idea to be reminded of a couple of good habits and best practices for your first day in a new environment. 

Before your first day, be prepared to answer the same few questions over and over again. For example: Where did you work before? How did you come about getting hired here? What’s your background in? Do you like it here so far? More specifically, be prepared to answer every inquiry with a smile and a question in return. Even if someone brings up a sensitive subject, keep the conversation light and remember that everyone’s favorite subject is really him or herself. If there’s something you don’t want to talk about, simply turn the conversation around. This will help you avoid an awkward situation and will easily help you win some new office buddies. Some people may jump right in and ask if you’re on Facebook so they can befriend you. If you don’t like befriending workmates in this way, then we suggest having a graceful answer or alternative. Linked In or Google Plus accounts can come in handy for these types of situations and are also great ways of networking. 

If you receive invitations to join a group for lunch then be sure to go along. Even if you’ve already packed a brown bag full of your favorite left overs, it’s a good idea to accept these invitations regardless. Don’t worry, that spaghetti pie will only get better. Unfortunately lunches can also be a time of gossip and business bashing. Take our advice from the previous paragraph and master the skill of changing the subject. There’s no worse way to start a job with a new company than to learn why the current employees are not happy with said company. This is a fresh start for you and could be the same for them. Use lunches and break times to learn the names and interests of your fellow coworkers and develop a sincere interest in other people. Remember, when it comes to making new friends, it’s important to be a better listener than talker. 

So, there’s a few insightful ways to help get you through your first days at a new job. If you’d really like to master the art of interpersonal skills just look to Dale Carnegie. His book, How to Win Friends & Influence People is full of priceless knowledge. This book holds many nuggets of wisdom and advice, but here are some of the best tips summarized for your convenience: Become genuinely interested in other people. Smile. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest. Make the other person feel important and do this sincerely. 

Follow these basic guidelines and your first days are sure to be a social success!

  • Author Emory Cash
  • Category Career AdviceFirst ImpressionFirst JobLife Lesson
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An Offer is Just a Starting Point: Tips for Negotiating a Higher Salary


For many job-seekers, the excitement that comes with receiving a job offer is tempered by the anxiety-inducing salary negotiations that go along with it. In today’s economic climate, so many of us have heard, “You’re just lucky to have a job!” so much, we’re nervous about pushing our luck when it comes to money. The negotiation process can be particularly nerve-wracking for people just beginning their careers, but even the more experienced among us get weak in the knees just thinking about haggling over compensation with their future boss. 

The thing is, most employers expect you to respond to their initial offer with a counter-offer. Think about it. Who would you rather have work for you—someone who meekly accepts every proposition, no matter what, or someone who has the knowledge and confidence to negotiate the best possible outcome? Besides, if a company wants you to work for them badly enough to make you an offer, they’re not going to yank it off the table just because you asked them to reconsider terms. So take a deep breath, arm yourself with knowledge, and let’s make a deal.

Be informed. Get educated about the salary you can expect for your level of experience and education in your field in your region. There are lots of online salary calculators out there (salary.com is one that comes up a lot) to help you with your research. You can also ask trusted contacts within your field for a reasonable range, which may give you a more accurate picture, especially if you’re asking people within your search area. Know what you’re willing to accept going in, and have a number in your head you absolutely won’t go below. Be realistic, but don’t low-ball yourself. It’s a delicate balance, and the reality is that the end result will probably fall somewhere between the number you ask for and your floor.

Get them to make the first move. You’re better off if they throw out the first number, because that gives you a sense of where their heads are, but this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. If they ask you for a range and you sidestep the question, you run the risk of seeming A) shady or B) uninformed. You can either ask them what they have in mind, or refer to the above and tell them your range.

Take a breather. When they make the offer, express how happy and excited you are about the position, then tell them you’d like consider the official offer and call back. Once you see something from HR, you can call and negotiate. Here’s where you want to make your polite, professional case for the salary you want, based on your research and the value you can bring to the company. Once you’ve done so, stop talking. The ball is in their court.

We know it’s scary, but you have nothing to lose and lots to gain. Go get ‘em, tiger.

  • Author Emory Cash
  • Category Career AdviceFirst ImpressionFirst JobLife LessonSalary
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Lessons from a Colorful Job-Seeking Email

So, this email from a job seeker has been making the rounds on the internet lately. (see the article here)


First of all, we’re not 100 percent sure this is real, but it is hilarious. Poor Matthew. So unfortunate. Let’s take a moment to see what his misstep can teach us.

Lesson 1: Like fire or a samurai sword, email is deadly when misused. 

One thing about email that is both awesome and terrible is its instantaneous nature. It allows you to fire off a reply so quickly, you don’t take the time to carefully think about your response. If Matthew had taken the time to mull over Carl’s question, he might not have made his response quite so—magically delicious. No matter how eager you are to get the job, it’s better to write your reply, then take a little while to think it over and make sure you’ve got it right. A thoughtful response goes much further than a fast one.

Lesson 2: Be careful with your fonts.

Any design nerd (and we use the term affectionately, since we qualify) will tell you that Comic Sans is a no-no in a professional email. We think it’s a no-no in general, but we’re not going to judge you as harshly if you use it in a “please make more coffee if you drink it all” letter in the break room as we would if you use it in a professional context. Cutesy fonts just make you look goofy. Stick to something more serious, like Helvetica or Arial or even Times New Roman. Your potential employer may not care, but better safe than sorry.

Lesson 3: Proofread.

Then proofread again, and once you’re done, proofread one more time. Aside from looking like a bag of Skittles, this email is a grammatical mess. No matter how excited and eager you are to get your response back to a potential employer, it’s worth the extra time it takes to make sure you send a clean and correct reply. Even though email is a fast and informal means of communication, grammar is still important. Matthew says right there in his email that he pays attention to detail (you can’t miss it; it’s bright orange), but his sloppy grammar doesn’t do much to help his case. It matters.

Lesson 4: Asking a question is not unprofessional.

Clearly, Matthew didn’t understand what Carl was asking. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s fine that you don’t know everything. If you have access to a more established mentor, forward the email and see how they interpret it, or reply to the original sender and ask if they can explain their question more clearly. Sure, it might make you feel dumb and inexperienced, but you know what makes you actually look dumb and inexperienced? SENDING A FLIPPING RAINBOW EMAIL.

One thing that works in Matthew’s favor is that he’s clearly eager about his job search, and that’s a good thing. So thanks for being a cautionary tale, Matthew. Best of luck in your search!

  • Author Emory Cash
  • Category Career AdviceCover LettersLife LessonRainbow
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