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  • Thinking About a Career in Accounting?

    For most, choosing a career is a momentous decision fraught with second-guessing and dread. I mean, you are basically picking what you’ll be doing for money for the rest of your life. For those curious about going into accounting, there’s a lot to consider. While not the flashiest of careers, it’s a stable, well-paying profession that can provide you with the stability you desire in life. 

    Whether you’re wrapping up high-school and thinking about college majors or looking back on 20 years of work and considering a career change, here are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about a career in accounting. 

    Jobs Aplenty

    Given the global economic uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, very few — if any — professions are exempt from layoffs are furloughs. 

    That said, the nature of business and organizations practically guarantees plenty of accounting jobs for the foreseeable future. Every organization – for-profit or non-profit — needs accountants. Businesses, charities, governments at every level . . . they all need accountants to track the day-to-day financial transactions, plan and forecast the financial future, and keep up with ever-changing regulations. They also need trained accountants to interpret and analyze the numbers so operational strategies make financial sense.  

    As the global economy becomes more integrated and business and tax regulations become more complex, the need for well-trained accountants only continues to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that accounting jobs will grow by 6% between 2018 and 2028. And that doesn’t just mean accounting jobs are fairly easy to find. It also creates leverage for you to create a really great career in a few different ways. 

    Solid Pay

    Remember the law of supply and demand? When something is in demand, we’re willing to pay for it, especially if it’s scarce. And while we wouldn’t say accountants are scarce, some research shows there’s actually a decrease in enrollment in accounting programs. Translation: Accounting jobs are increasing and accounting graduates may be decreasing. 

    A trend like that can do wonders for the average pay in an industry, which is already pretty solid. The mean annual wage for accountants and auditors in 2019 was just shy of $80,000. And remember, that’s just an average, and who wants to be average? As you move up in the organization or obtain more training and education, your pay will go much higher. There’s also plenty of room to take on new and exciting challenges. 

    You Do You

    One of the great things about a career in accounting is flexibility. 

    The numbers are what they are; they don’t flex. But your career sure can. The same training and education can set you up for a wide range of accounting roles. Over time, you can move into new positions as you gain experience. 

    Financial accounting, management accounting, taxation, audit, forensic accounting . . . these are just a few of the options. You can choose your path in the accounting industry and you’re never locked into one thing. Because the skills are so transferable, you can move into a new accounting role at any point in your career.    

    Contribute to the Organization

    One of the most rewarding aspects of a career in accounting is the chance to contribute. Accountants bring so much to the table and organizations just couldn’t run without them. And remember that plentiful job market we talked about earlier? That means you can contribute to an organization you’re truly passionate about and help it succeed. 

    If you have an image in your mind of an accountant hunched over a massive calculator — the kind with a paper printout — or the Dunder Mifflin accounting department hidden in the corner, you should know the industry is shifting. The accounting and finance departments are playing a bigger and bigger role in the strategic operation of companies. 

    The Industry is Evolving

    Once upon a time, accountants spent their days making manual entries in a paper journal. We still make journal entries, but it’s a bit different now. As technology makes it possible to automate many of the manual processes, accountants are freed to focus on strategy and what the numbers actually mean for their organizations. They’re using their unique skill set to analyze the financial data and turn it into wins for the companies they work for. 

    No longer is the CFO Robin to the CEO’s Batman. In fact, with their knowledge of accounting and finance, many CFOs are considered the most important executives in their organizations. They guide the strategy of the company and decide how to use financial resources to come out on top. 

    Conclusion

    If you’re thinking about a career in accounting, it’s well worth considering. Globalization and increasingly-complex tax and business regulations are upping the demand for good accountants. That demand creates a market that pays well and gives accountants several options for career paths and advancement. In fact, an accounting degree can take you all the way to the C-suite. 

    Accountants are employed by every business industry, non-profits, governments at every level, the IRS, and even the FBI. Not to mention public accounting firms and the many self-employment opportunities for entrepreneurially-minded accountants. While the current economic landscape is scary, the demand for qualified accountants means a level of job security that many other professions don’t have.

    So, if you’re a numbers person, ready for a rewarding and interesting challenge, there’s no better time to get started on a career in accounting.

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    How to Pass a Job Interview With No Experience

    If you are just out of college, you are likely looking for a job that will help you start a prosperous and successful career. However, searching for the desired position may be a bit embarrassing and intimidating if you do not have much experience in your desired field. Following the results of research, a considerable number of students and graduates do not even try to apply to a certain position because they lack qualifications and experience that may be needed. Nevertheless, it is not the right to get discouraged. Instead, you need to be creative and use it in practice. Remember school years and the way you searched the internet asking, “Who can I pay to do my homework?” Search for alternative ways to pass a job interview and get hired. Follow simple tips and be flexible as you get ready for the interview.

    Tell the Truth

    When you apply for an entry-level position, no one expects you to have 10 to 15 years of experience in the field. Therefore, you need to be honest and embrace your inexperience. Use it as leverage to inspire and motivate you to learn. Tell the interviewer about your school achievements, as well as personal qualities that helped you through college. However, don’t bring up funny stories that might put you in a bad light, like the times you asked everyone, “is speedypaper legit in the U.S.?” Skip embarrassing stories to avoid inconvenient questions.

    Mention Personal Achievements

    Recollect your experience volunteering for different organizations, studying abroad, and undertaking internships in the leading company.  These facts can prove that you have interpersonal skills. Additionally, personal experience may show that you are a potentially responsible and reliable worker.

    Watch your words even if the atmosphere during the interview is warm and friendly. Do you want to tell a personal anecdote? Well, choose the one that will show your best traits.

    Make the Interviewer Like You

    An ability to set connections and be likable is one of the essential features of any employee. Therefore, no matter if you are an inexperienced college graduate or a professional worker, you need to demonstrate your best interpersonal qualities, improving skills, and high competence in certain areas.  Numerous studies have shown that likeability is frequently even more important than proficiency. The reason is that professional skills can be rapidly taught and developed, while the personal ones are shaped since childhood. Try to connect with the interviewer, keep eye contact, show your appreciation, use body language, and other tricks to create a favorable atmosphere, no matter if you talk face-to-face or online.

    Show Your Passion for Learning

    Commitment and interest in the industry should be your primary values, as it is the only way for an inexperienced person to get a job. If you have been lazy through college and have never done anything yourself, you are likely to fail your interview. The only way to change the situation is to forget about your requests, like “who can write essays for me?”, and start working on your future career. Self-motivated, ambitious, and conscious graduates can get the best job even without a single day of working experience. Start thinking about your future career as you are in college. Get valuable knowledge you may need in the future, attend conferences, and join volunteering projects that will help you succeed during every single interview.

    Emphasize the Benefits the Company May Get

    No matter if you have years of experience, or you have just graduated from college, you need to show your importance to the firm. How can you advance their services? Specify your strong traits, undeniable motivation, and passion for the job that can substitute experience.

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    What You Need on Your Resume to Go Straight to the Top

    Whether you are working your way up in your industry or have just graduated, your ability to convey your personal brand to potential employers is incredibly reliant on your resume. Your resume is the first insight that future employers will have into what makes you tick and whether you would make a suitable employee. Here are some resume details that you should make sure become part of your personal brand:

    A Master’s Degree

    Now, more Americans have a bachelor’s degree than ever before, and this number is still increasing as people look for ways into the highly competitive job market. This means that if you want to go straight into the job market at an executive level, or become a CEO within the first few years of working, getting a bachelor’s degree is not enough. Instead, you should look for other qualifications that can build upon the experience you have already gained. One of the best options for recent graduates is to continue on their education journey by earning a master’s degree, such as through a nurse practitioner program if you’re in the healthcare field. This can help you to head straight to the top of your career by showing that you have additional skills and specialist knowledge that you would normally receive through many years of training. A master’s degree can also allow you to instantly stand out to potential employers, even when you are applying for a position with hundreds of other people. 

    Although a master’s degree is a daunting prospect and you may not believe that you can put your life on hold in order to be able to return to education, there are many options that will allow you to do this on your own terms. For instance, Spring Arbor University offers many different master’s degree programs that can be taken completely online, such as their nurse practitioner programs. Online courses will allow you to receive the qualifications and practical experience you need while not having to attend in-person classes. 

    Leadership Experience

    Although there are a variety of both hard and soft skills that may be applicable to different executive and managerial positions, the skill that all of these have in common is the ability to be a strong leader. In order to gain leadership experience, put yourself in leadership positions early on so that you can gain experience, such as volunteering for project management opportunities within your current role as student or employee. You can then use your experience in job interviews to showcase your abilities through specific and detailed anecdotes and situations.

    You should also consider the advantages of job shadowing, where you can spend a few days with a leader to see what their responsibilities are. Volunteering can also be a good option as this allows you to gain transferrable leadership experience. For instance, volunteering will enable you to learn how to delegate, problem-solve, make important decisions at a top level, communicate, and connect with your coworkers. 

    A Gripping Opening Paragraph

    The greatest opportunity that you have to showcase your personal brand on your resume is through your opening paragraph. This is the only chance you have to make sure that your individual voice shines through. This opening paragraph should be tailored specifically for the job that you have decided to apply for, so it should detail exactly why you would suit a managerial position. It should also mention some of the highlights of your resume, ensuring that the reader doesn’t have to dig through the resume to find what they’re looking for. 

    Links to Your Digital Presence

    Building a personal brand presence online is a great way to grab the attention of future employers and to build relationships with others in your industry. Those taking nurse practitioner programs may decide to create a blog to write about their experiences in healthcare, or those in photography may create an online portfolio website. Explore what makes sense for you and your goals. 

    Creating a LinkedIn account is a great place to start. Setting this up is easy and you can link any of your other projects here to store everything in one place for future employers. You can say more on your LinkedIn profile than you can on your paper resume, so take advantage of that by expanding on your skills and previous job experience.

    Job Keywords

    When drafting your resume, use industry keywords as a quick way to grab the potential employer’s attention as they are skimming through. These keywords are usually words that involve types of skills, experience, values, or specialist knowledge. Most of these will be stated on the job application. Keywords will also help HR softwares that filter through job applications to hold onto your resume. In these cases, it is even more important to get these keywords right since there are no humans behind the screen to make personal decisions. 

    Some of the best keywords include industry specifics, such as ‘healthcare’ or ‘nursing’ for those who want medical professions. They can also include specific skills, such as ‘design’, ‘research’, ‘analytics’, or ‘logistics’ for business or finance jobs. These keywords will help you to get to the next stage of the job application process, regardless of whether a human or a machine is checking your application form.

    Specialist Knowledge 

    It is reasonably easy to get a basic level of knowledge in a certain sector, even simply from reading online guides, books, and magazines, and by taking online courses. You can also attend conferences and workshops within your industry. However, specialist knowledge is often built up over time and is harder to find for employers looking to fill top positions. Some people choose to earn a degree; however, you should also consider taking on a role within the specialism that you are wanting to learn about. 

    Then, as part of your personal branding, you need to find ways to showcase the specialist knowledge and expertise that you have acquired. For instance, you could set up your own webinar series or run digital classes, as well as running talks or conferences where you can share your knowledge. As well as helping to build your personal brand by making you well-known in your industry, you can add all of these events to your resume as concrete evidence of your expert knowledge.

    Soft Skills

    Specific skills and knowledge are important to job roles, especially those in managerial positions because they can reduce the training that companies need to give you and can ensure that you are an employee who will hit the ground running. However, soft skills are just as important as hard skills because many of them will determine if you are suitable for an entry- or an executive-level position. Some of the most desirable soft skills employers look for on your resume, and which you should work on when you are developing your personal brand, are communication, willingness to learn, interpersonal skills, flexibility, reliability, and trustworthiness. 

    Your Impact on Previous Job Roles

    It is one thing to simply state what previous job roles you have had and what you got out of them, but your potential new employers are also interested in what you gave to your previous job positions. Employers are looking for managers and top level workers that can help them build and grow their companies. This means that they are looking for people that are able to make a positive impact on the companies that they are employed by. The most obvious impact is from a business or financial aspect. However, if you are looking to get a leadership position in another sector, you should consider the positive impact that you made on people’s lives. In short, you should look at anything that you changed for the better within the industry that you worked in. This will help potential employers to see what you could do for them in the future.

    Your Mission Statement

    Particularly when they are looking for candidates to fill top level positions, many employers look for those that have values and mission statements that are similar to the policies of the company. In order to show that you are the right match for the business in question, you should consider adding a cover letter to your resume that details your values and how they coincide with this company. This is also an important part of your personal branding as your mission statement can help to show your aims and beliefs and how this affects your work outcomes. 

    Quantified Achievements 

    Although it is easy to simply use vague and generic statements in order to show your suitability for a certain role, for executive positions it is important that you are able to take this a step further. Rather than use phrases such as ‘used communication skills’, you should expand upon these to highlight specific situations where you put these skills to use. This is in addition to certifications, awards, and  outcomes that prove your achievements are genuine. Not only will this help employers know that you are a reliable candidate, but this will also give you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd of people who have graduated from top courses  by showing your individual prowess in a certain area.

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    Five Rules Freelancers Should Follow When Writing Their Resumé

    Working from home has now become a necessity rather than a convenience and luxury for many. This change combined with a record number of unemployed workers has led many people to look into freelance work, and it’s a good market for them. Freelancers are in demand today more than ever, with more than 40% of hiring managers and recruiters opting to employ independent contractors over full-time staff. 

    Even before COVID-19, the number of freelance workers in the U.S. was already at 35% of total workers. It’s really no surprise that this has become a popular option for the workforce given that being a freelance worker offers fewer restrictions and more flexibility.

    However, an increased number of freelancers out there means that you have more competition when you’re vying for jobs. That’s way making your resume stand out among others is so important, and as a freelancer, there’s a specific way you should craft yours. 

    Here are five no-exemption rules freelancers should follow to increase the chances of getting that interview schedule:

    1. Choose the correct format

    If you are transitioning from a full-time job to a freelancing gig, you should use a functional format instead of the typical chronological format. Your functional resumé will allow you to highlight your skills and achievements rather than your work history and tenure with a company.

    Yes, your work history is still relevant, but you should avoid spending a lot of time filling up the content in this section. The company’s name, the position held, and the duration of employment should be enough for this specific format. Also keep in mind that in the freelance world experience and skills beat education.

    2. Include an objective statement

    This is usually found right below your professional headshot or after your contact details. Including an objective statement on your resume gives the recruiter a preview of the type of career you are aiming for and how this enables you to add value to the company. Ensure that your resumé’s objective is customized and tailored to the role you are applying for to be most effective.  

    3. Keep the content simple but relevant

    A freelance job means specialized roles, and your job’s scope is more or less singular one. Your resumé should reflect this by including relevant skills and experiences only. Avoid unrelated content and fillers to make your resumé appear longer in the belief that it will make you look more experienced. 

    Adjust the resume’s content or highlight areas that fit the job you are trying to land. If you are applying as a freelance copywriter and your specialization is in marketing and communications, you don’t need to include your corporate social responsibility experience. However, your role in writing press releases or captions for social media accounts is relevant, so you’ll want to emphasize that.           

    A portfolio is another great way to showcase your skills, especially for visual talents (graphic designers, web developers, transcribers, video editors). When possible, link to finished projects like published articles or podcasts. 

    Write about your skills, not your life story. The goal is to give the recruiter enough information about your qualification to land an interview, but not too long to stop reading overall. Make sure it’s easy to comprehend, understandable, easy to navigate, and straight to the point.

    4. Appraise your accomplishments

    Lists appraising your accomplishments and achievements are great! You are selling yourself to the recruiter, so take time to create value for yourself and don’t be modest.

    Other than skills and expertise, recruiters want to see your concrete contributions to previous employers. Skills describe what you can do; accomplishments reinforce your value. 

    Listing “created daily social media content for brand awareness” is pretty generic – all content creators or social media managers do that with their eyes closed. However, “curated relevant content with the purpose of lead generation, which resulted in an ROI of 38%” has more conviction than the former. 

    5. Always include a call-to-action

    One of the first things recruiters or hiring managers look for in a resumé is your contact details. It is very basic, but you’d be surprised by how applicants tend to omit information such as e-mail address or phone number. The last thing you want is missing an opportunity because you missed a letter or a number on your contact information, so review your contact details carefully.

    You might think this is trivial, but this is a deal-breaker for recruiters if they don’t see this on your resume. Why would they hire someone who makes it difficult to get a hold of? 

    Your freelance career is heavily dependent on your motivation, preferential work environment, and commitment to being your own supervisor, which are all things you can control. But it is also dependent on the specialization of your chosen career and if it will thrive in freelance mode. The world of freelancing is unpredictable; however, the freedom of time and flexibility to take on different projects, and getting more in terms of income is often worth it.

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    15 Online-Based Careers You Can Start Right Now

    The rise and integration of the internet into the modern world has opened up so many job opportunities that we are quickly saying goodbye to traditional ways of working. Nowadays, you can start a full-time career from your laptop in your local coffee shop. It’s amazing.

    But what kind of careers can you get into, and is there anything to suit you? Let’s find out as  we explore the top 15 online careers you can get started with right now.

    1.   Graphic Designer

    Demand is huge for web and graphic designers because there are so many people moving onto the internet for all sorts of reasons, whether they are starting their own ventures, or working for a business and need promotional content.

    2.   Virtual Assistant

    Virtual assistants have taken the world by storm. This role is basically the same as any other office assistant, but you do it from anywhere in the world. Common tasks include organising meetings, replying to emails, answering phone calls, and setting appointments. Start small with a single client and work your way up to more.

    3.    SEO Consulting

    SEO is a massive industry because every website and business wants to get to the top of the Google search engine results page in order to get what they’re offering in front of the eyes of their customers. If you know your way around SEO, businesses and websites will pay a lot of money to have you optimise their site and content to boost their rankings.

    4.    Start Your Own Blog

    Starting your own blog has become a very popular pastime, and while it can take a while to grow, persistence and consistent posting is the best way to grow an audience. Once you start reaching a nice volume of people, you can start making serious money through selling ad space and affiliate marketing.

    5.   Business Coaching

    If you have a specialist skill in a certain field of the world and have knowledge that other people want, you can coach them. Whether you are holding webinars, creating online courses, holding one-on-one sessions, or all of the above, online coaching has never been more popular than it is today.

    6.   Affiliate Marketing

    Affiliate marketing is big business. By building up a website publication, blog, or social media page, you can advertise products to your audience. Your audience makes a sale, and you get a commission. It’s as simple as that.

    7.   Social Media Marketing

    Hand in hand with the point above, growing a social media audience by creating content and growing over time will create sales opportunities that will allow you to market products to your audience and sell ad-space in your content. There is the potential here to earn thousands of dollars per post.

    8.   Content Creator

    If you have a knack for creating any kind of content, whether you’re writing articles and blog posts, taking photos, editing images and videos, or creating social media posts, creating and publishing content is big business, and there’s never been a better time to join the industry.

    9.   Create Online Courses

    Hand in hand with coaching, make your own online course about something you know. You can really get creative with online courses these days, so you can present it any way you want!

    10.  Managing Social Media

    Businesses pay big money to have their social media accounts managed by someone who knows what they’re doing, so if you know what you’re doing when it comes to managing a social page, or several pages at once, you can easily make a full-time career out of these skills.

    11.  Own an eCommerce Store

    With platforms like eBay and Shopify, starting your own online store is easy. All you need to do is find products to buy, whether you are buying them from wholesalers or other stores, or creating your own products, sell them to anyone across the world in as little time as a few clicks. Just find your own niche!

    12.  Start a Podcast

    Just like starting your own blog or website, you could start your own podcast. Find your niche and what subject you want to talk about, get some people together or get guests on to have a chat, be consistent, and watch your audience grow over time!

    13.  Online Tech Support

    There are countless small businesses who are outsourcing their tech support tasks because it’s too expensive to hire their own full-time staff. If you know your way around a computer and network and can help, there’s money to be made here.

    14.  Take Online Surveys

    Perhaps the most common and easiest pastime to get into is taking online surveys. You can earn a bit of money, but you’d have to do a lot to make a full-time career out of it. However, if you choose the right surveys, there’s definitely money to be made.

    15.  Test Websites

    We’ve spoken a lot about people starting websites and growing their businesses online, but these websites need to be tested before they go public to ensure there’s nothing wrong with them. If you have a critical and keen eye for detail, this job could be perfect for you.

     

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    Posted in Career Development, Personal Branding

    How to Build Stronger Relationships While Working Remotely

    More people are working from home than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have necessitated swift pivots to remote working globally. Even companies that were previously opposed to employees working from home have had to adapt. 

    Furthermore, it looks like remote working is here to stay. According to a recent Gartner study, around 74% of companies intend to keep at least some of their team members working from home when the pandemic is over: 

    There are many great things about working remotely. People who work from home enjoy a more flexible schedule, save time and money by avoiding the daily commute, and have more time to spend with their families. 

    However, there can also be downsides. One of the struggles reported by many remote workers is feeling a lack of connection to their colleagues and teammates. A report by Slack suggests that 45% of newly remote workers and 25% of experienced remote workers report a lowered sense of belonging when working from home:

    Since I run an ecommerce platform, my work is almost entirely online. As a result, I’ve worked with remote teams for many years and have learned some tricks and strategies to build relationships, improve team cohesion, and increase that sense of belonging for everyone.

    Use video conferencing

    It’s easier to feel connected to other people when you can see their faces and watch their body language. Therefore, avoid having all your communication take place via email. Using video conferencing software will allow everyone to feel more connected. A team meeting where everyone has their camera switched on is the best way to simulate all being in the same room together. 

    Not everyone feels comfortable being on camera, but it does get easier the more you do it! 

    Improve your written communication skills 

    It’s inevitable that remote teams will use a lot of written communication. Therefore, it’s essential that you work on your writing skills. Brush up on your spelling, grammar, and punctuation and use a grammar-checker if you need some extra pointers. Make sure that you write in full sentences, make your point clearly, and don’t waffle. Be direct, but not brusque or rude.

    Since there are no cues from tone of voice or body-language when you send an email or IM, be particularly mindful of how your words will be taken. Consider this email: 

    Joe – I need that report by 3 p.m. Tuesday. Thanks. 

    It gets the message across, but it’s likely to come across as impatient. Receiving this, “Joe” might even wonder if he has upset you in some way. Now consider this version:

    Hey Joe, hope you had a great weekend. Could I get the report by 3 p.m. Tuesday, please? Thanks for your help 🙂 

    For the sake of a few additional seconds to write a friendly greeting and sign-off (emoji optional), and to say please, the whole tone of the email has changed for the better. 

    Make time for non-work chat

    One of the joys of working in an office, and which many people miss when they first move to remote working, is “water cooler chat” – the casual conversations about non-work matters that happen throughout the day. There are a couple of different ways to build this in when you’re working from home:

    • Leave a few additional minutes at the beginning or end of each meeting. Even better, designate it as “general catch up” time in the agenda. 
    • Have an online “virtual water cooler.” This could take the form of a Slack channel, Microsoft Teams page, or WhatsApp group chat. Optionally, have a theme-of-the-week to get people talking (think pets, food, view from your window, the first place you want to go on vacation when travel bans are lifted, and so on.) 

    It might seem frivolous to spend time talking about the weather, vacations, or your dog when everyone is busy with work, but office small talk and water cooler chat really does make teams stronger and grow stronger working relationships. 

    Plan remote team-building activities 

    If the thought of yet another Zoom quiz has you rolling your eyes, there are many different options for remote team-building activities. Different options will work for different teams. Here are just a few for you to consider:

    • Skillshare. One member of the team leads a 30-minute introduction to something they’re an expert in. It doesn’t have to be work-related – I’ve seen tutorials on everything from yoga to crochet to how to make the perfect coffee shop latte at home. 
    • “How Well Do You Know Your Team?” activity. This could take the form of a true/false or “two truths and a lie” quiz. 
    • Virtual Book Club. Have everyone read the same book (or chapter, article, or short story!) and have a discussion about it. 

    Remember that team-building activities should be opt-in. Making them mandatory stresses everyone out and ruins the spirit of what is supposed to be a bit of fun. There are endless options and you know what will work for your team best, so be creative! 

    Buddy up with a coworker

    A buddy system, whether through official channels or informal, helps everyone on the team to feel like there’s at least one person they can talk to. If there is a buddying or mentoring program in place at your company, consider getting involved while you’re working remotely. If not, is there a teammate you’d like to create an informal buddy agreement with for as long as you’re working remotely? 

    It doesn’t have to be anything hugely time-consuming. Even agreeing to check in with each other once a week by phone or video call will make you both feel more connected. 

    Meet face-to-face when you can 

    Of course, meeting face-to-face is difficult if not impossible right now due to COVID-19, but it won’t be that way forever! People are going to want to see each other in person again when it’s safe to do so, so a team away day, lunch, or happy hour is likely to go down well. So if you manage a remote team, start working on planning something right now. 

    It might be difficult to meet in person if you and your teammates are on different continents, but if you’re not too geographically far-flung, or if one of you is traveling to the area where others live, make the time to get together in person. Don’t feel the need to manufacture a work reason if there isn’t one, either. Even sitting down and having a cup of coffee together for an hour has real value. 

    The importance of strong relationships 

    Working remotely doesn’t have to mean feeling lonely, isolated, or cut off from your team. Whether your team is 100% remote, or just temporarily separated by the pandemic, you should invest the time in getting to know your coworkers and building strong relationships across the distance. 

    When teammates see each other as fellow human beings first, everyone is happier at work and therefore more productive. It’s a win for employees, clients, and the company!

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    5 Tips for Figuring Out What Makes Your Personal Brand Unique

    Personal branding is hardly new. Rulers have controlled narratives surrounding their identities for millennia. After all, they were the ones everyone heard and cared about. But today, branding power has trickled down to “ordinary” people thanks to the Internet. Now, anyone can leverage their individual statement for power, purpose, and profit—if they strategize upfront.

    The problem isn’t whether or not you have a personal brand. Suffice it to say that Google has made it inevitable that you do. However, what a Google search reveals about you may be disappointingly unexciting, showing very little of what makes you a one-of-a-kind. That’s where you have to jump in and craft the image you want based on your strengths and experiences.

    We’re all unique on certain levels. Yet most of us don’t take the time to consider what makes us stand out. And that makes it tough to build our personal brand, because we’re simply allowing the chaotic, unorganized web to do it for us. 

    If you want to capitalize on your individuality and make a name for yourself that will appeal to future clients, business partners, fellow entrepreneurs, or investors, get ready for some deep thinking. Below are several ways to identify your “secret sauce” so you can share your brand with the world.

    1. Lay out your lesser-considered expertise.

    You have a resume. Great—that’s only the tip of the iceberg, though. Chances are it’s pretty linear and illustrates only a portion of your capabilities, interests, and background. Go a step further and brainstorm everything you’ve done in your life that might impress or surprise others. 

    Maybe you’re a hardcore recreational triathlete, or perhaps you devote hours to rehabilitating injured turtles. Write down all the skills and adventures you’ve had that you take for granted, including those that you once enjoyed but no longer have time to do. Then, construct links between all those skills and experiences. You’ll have a more comprehensive picture of who you are and what makes you tick.

    2. Pinpoint and celebrate your superpowers.

    What are you really, really good at? In other words, what are you an expert at, just based on the sheer time you’ve devoted to it over your lifetime? Or, ask yourself, what is your “superpower”? If you’re not sure, think about what everyone asks you for help doing. That’s one of your innate gifts and people know it. And you probably have a dozen others that you don’t realize.

    Don’t fret if your superpower seems ordinary, because it’s possible to reframe any superpower as extraordinary. Never assume that what seems unremarkable couldn’t be an amazing superpower on which to build your brand. As a special guest mentioned in a July 2020 Brand Builders Group’s podcast, his personal branding path was much easier to map out and follow after he claimed his superpower, vulnerability.

    3. Grab hold of your inner storyteller.

    Unless you’re actually setting out to write an autobiography, you don’t necessarily have to create a literal book about the differentiators that make you stand out. However, be open to the idea of creating stories about your life. 

    Allow yourself to spend 15 minutes daily writing or recording interesting, true anecdotes. Not all the anecdotes you remember or write down will have meaning toward your branding, but many will. In fact, you might be surprised at how interesting your life has been, as well as how much a bit of reflection can help you cement why no one could replace or imitate you.

    4. Work with a branding specialist to hone the art of the humble brag.

    Getting comfortable with the humble brag can be challenging, especially if you were always taught to downplay your achievements. Yet you’ll need to figure out how to sell yourself without overdoing it if you want your personal brand to resonate with audiences. 

    Developing a personal brand strategy is tough, but coaches like those at Brand Builders Group can assist you in figuring out what to say about yourself, when to say it, and how to say it in a manner that’s never a turnoff or seems arrogant. They can also work with you to generate messaging that impresses your target audiences, rather than makes you sound like you’re trying too hard.

    5. Ask people close to you to give you the 360-degree treatment.

    Most of us have friends, family members, and colleagues we trust to give honest feedback. Ask a few of the folks in your inner circle to evaluate you from a 360-degree perspective. Their answers should be frank and focused on your special talents. What can they see you doing with your life? How would they describe you to someone who didn’t know you? What do they think you should be doing that you’re not? 

    Their responses can fill in branding gaps, particularly if you’re having trouble naming the essence of your personal brand. Make sure to listen without judging their interpretations of you. Just because you don’t see yourself in a specific light doesn’t mean others won’t. Consequently, if your best friend since childhood raves about your ability to teach anything, resist the temptation to deny it. Instead, consider if teaching could be an innate proficiency that can add dimension and depth to your unique brand.

    After you’ve delved into the aforementioned techniques to better classify what makes you stand out, you can begin narrowing your branding focus. With all the information you’ve amassed, you should easily be able to start the journey of dreaming up your ultimate branding destination, and then creating a road map to get there. Remember: You needn’t be a star today to become a bright spot for others tomorrow.

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    6 Key Suggestions to Build a Successful Mentor Relationship

    If you’ve ever had a mentor in the workplace, you know that they can be an invaluable resource throughout your career. They can help you with a variety of situations like making difficult decisions in the workplace and providing long-term career advice. They are there to teach and guide you through your professional life. Anyone can benefit from having a mentor at any stage in their career. 

    What’s key to understand, though, is that maintaining a successful mentor relationship requires time, focus, and effort. Here are six helpful tips for mentees to help them build a mentor relationship that will flourish and bring them success.

    1. Define Your Goals

    As you look for a mentor, you may be surprised by how willing people are to be that person for you. However, you shouldn’t allow just anyone to be your mentor. You want to find someone who can help you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. Your mentor is only there to give you support and guide you toward your goals, so you need to know what your goals are before taking on a mentor. The right mentor for you should also have a compatible personality and similar style of communication, so don’t rush through finding a mentor. Take your time to find the right fit. 

    2. Understand Your Mentor

    Once you have chosen your mentor, take the time to get to know them as a person and a professional. The more you know and understand your mentor, the more you can figure out how they can help you. As you discover more about their professional background and the career paths they’ve taken, you’ll be able to ask them for more specific guidance on navigating certain career obstacles.

    3. Stay in Touch Regularly

    An effective mentorship will only grow through regular contact and effort on both your parts. Try to be consistent with your communications and follow through and schedule some regular meetings and check-ins (by phone and in person). A little message here and there can go a long way in terms of cementing a solid relationship.

    4. Prepare for Meetings

    People want to be mentors for people that are proactive, go-getters, and ambitious. It gives them an opportunity to add value and make a mark. Therefore, you should be prepared for every meeting and phone call. Before your meetings, give an outline of the topics you want to cover and be clear, so that you both know what to bring into the meeting to meet your targets. Show your eagerness to learn from them.

    5. Don’t Be Afraid to Change 

    Careers and objectives change over time, so one mentor relationship doesn’t have to follow you throughout your entire career, so there will become a time when it may be wise to change mentors. Express your gratefulness to your mentor for all they’ve contributed to your growth and leave in a way that leaves the door open for future contact. You never know how they might be able to help you in the future. 

    6. Thank Them

    A thank you means a lot for a mentor. Always be clear that you’re very appreciative of their time, advice, and support. Be clear and humble in expressing your gratitude. Take the extra time to write a handwritten note, which means a lot more to people than a quick email, and your mentor will really appreciate it. At the end of the day, they’re giving their time to your emails, calls, and meetings, and they don’t need to, so be sure to recognize that and share your appreciation.

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    Thinking of Leaving Your Company? 4 Reasons to Stay

    Even if you have a job that you are generally happy with, maintaining enthusiasm and motivation every day and in every single task is often not possible. Sometimes, you might be overwhelmed by the less pleasant parts of your work and wonder whether staying at your current job is worth that stress.

    However, before you decide to jump ship, take a step back to consider why you have stayed as long as you have, and why the grass may not be greener somewhere else.

    1. Your Work Has Purpose and Meaning

    A job can be just a job, especially as you figure out what actually makes you happy, but when you find that job that gives you purpose and meaning or helps you live out what you are meant to do, that’s something worth holding onto.

    Where do you find purpose and meaning in your job? It could be that you align strongly with the company’s core values. Or, it could be that you feel driven to help provide a positive experience for your customers and coworkers.

    Every employee has unique talents. If you know what your gifts and talents are, you can help create the best work environment and raise overall job satisfaction for yourself and your coworkers.

    2. Gifted and Talented Co-Workers

    “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” ~ Confucius.

    That quote couldn’t be more relevant in a working environment. The best employees often stay because they are surrounded by top talent, which, if combined, can lead to massive creativity.

    Talented employees challenge each other to be better and more innovative. Staying in the company long-term allows you to cultivate your work ethics and identity; you discover your abilities, strengths, and possible areas of improvement.

    As a result, you can become a strong and candid mentor, soundboard, and communicator for best practices and lessons learned. Besides, talented employees are pillars of patience in times of disruption or transition.

    Working with gifted co-workers also fosters creative partnerships and friendships, which can go a long way to make the company more competitive.

    Instead of having a toxic work environment rife with gossip, creative partnerships encourage healthy competition that inspires new employees to be better.

    Ultimately, if you have great colleagues that positively challenge and encourage you to grow, stay with them. The shared learning experiences and creative partnerships that surround them wouldn’t be easy to replicate somewhere else.

    3. Recognized and Respected

    As a great employee, you probably prove your worth daily by helping to set and maintain the company’s productive rhythm, mentoring other workers, and willingly stepping up when needed.

    When you make your unique expertise and talents obvious, your contribution to the company will earn you tremendous respect and recognition at all levels of the organization, and particularly leadership.

    Other than doing things that will earn you respect from management, you should also interact well with co-workers by being helpful, reliable, mentoring others, and supporting them where and when necessary.

    Good interaction with your peers will make them recognize and respect you. When you work hard to be valued at the organization, you won’t have a reason to leave.

    You have worked hard to earn the trust and respect you deserve. If you jump ship, you’ll have to start building your reputation all over again, so that’s something to keep in mind.

    4. The Opportunity to Advance Your Career

    According to LinkedIn’s research, 94% of employees say they would stay at an organization longer if there were additional learning opportunities. The interest in career advancement is especially prominent in younger workers.

    LinkedIn’s research also unveiled that approximately 25% of millennials and Gen Z cite learning as the primary reason to be happy at work. And 27% of Gen Z and millennials quit their jobs because the company didn’t give them learning and growth opportunities.

    Prestige is powerful. Even if you don’t work in a Fortune 1000 company, chances are you want to move up the ranks in your current organizations.

    Most employers know this, which is why they offer you opportunities to advance your career – impressive job titles, noteworthy duties, a bigger office, and more. But if your current company doesn’t offer opportunities to learn and grow, you can suggest it during one-on-one interactions with your manager. Showing employee initiative might be the impetus they need to start creating a workplace that’s conducive to growth.

    Bottom Line

    On days when you feel like you just want to quit, take a deep breath, and consider the positives of working for your current company.

    You should never sell yourself short and accept less-than-fair working conditions. However, considering the pros and cons of changing jobs will help you realize that things may not be as grim as they sometimes look.

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    Posted in Career Development, Workplace Success

    Before Applying for a Job, Audit Your Online Presence and Social Media Accounts

    When you last shared a post or story on Instagram, did you consider how it might be perceived by a potential employer? If you didn’t, you might want to start in the near future. According to research done by The Manifest in April 2020, 90% of employers now factor in a candidate’s social media accounts when considering their application. A whopping 79% of surveyed employers said they have rejected candidates based on their social media content.

    With this in mind, it’s time you evaluate your online presence. Before applying for that promotion or job with a new employer, audit your social media and digital footprint to ensure your online brand is on par with your personal and professional brand.

    How to Audit Your Online Presence

    Before making any changes, you need to know what information about you is publicly available online. This starts with an online search of yourself on as many search engines as possible. But be sure to use an incognito browser to prevent your cookies from affecting the results. You want to know what a stranger would find rather than what Google thinks is most relevant based on your recent activity online. 

    Check at least the first five pages of search results and look at the news, videos, ad images tabs. 

    As you complete this audit, note your social media sites and any other web pages containing information about you that pop up in your search, and each time you see something about yourself, be it an image or webpage such as a Facebook, click into it to see where that link leads. Ask yourself what information it shows about you, and then note any changes that need to be made such as images to be taken down or account settings needing to be changed.

    Start with a straight forward search for your name and then vary the searches to include key details about you. For example, search your name and city, then your name and employer, then your name and past employer, and so on. Consider also any names you may have been known under like a nickname or a maiden name. When the name searches are done, also do a search for your email address (and any used in the past) and your cell number. 

    Don’t Forget Social Media

    Next, audit the content on your social media accounts. Take a scroll through your images and take down any that could cause offense or could be misconstrued. Likewise with your posts, comments, and likes. Is there anything that could be taken out of context or misunderstood? 

    Una Carter, a branding writer at Draft Beyond and Last Minute Writing, says that social media blurs the line between professional and private lives. “Social media essentially exists for fun and connections but its public openness means that employers can peek into our homes and friendships, too,” says Carter. “Privacy settings will protect you, but sensible content will serve you better.” 

    Look also at your profile images, bio, and personal information. These basic sections should reflect what you want your employer to know about you and not just your witty online persona. You might consider taking down accounts all together if you are no longer active on them. 

    When it comes to your personal online brand, start thinking about if what you post and share on your social media channels is consistent with the brand you are building. It could be argued that social media is more about your social and non-work-related activities and opinions, but keep in mind that a strong personal brand works across all areas of your life.

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