How To Prepare For A New Job Orientation

How To Prepare For A New Job Orientation

So you landed the job – now what? Many employers require that new employees go through an orientation process to assimilate into the workplace and become familiar with what’s expected of them, now that they’re hired. Here’s more on what you need to know about new job orientations, as well as how to prepare.

Think of your job orientation as part-introduction, part-training session, and part-tour. Your supervisor will familiarize you with the workplace, the company culture, and even your co-workers. Your job orientation is also an opportunity for you to ask questions, and to learn as much as you can about what’s expected of you at your new job.

What to Expect at a Job Orientation

When you attend an orientation for a new job, expect to meet a lot of people and be ready to absorb a lot of information. Your employer will likely brief you on the day-to-day procedures – such as clocking in and clocking out, where to put your belongings, what to wear – as well as explain your responsibilities and tasks, and introduce you to people who you’ll be working with. You’ll also be informed about your salary, benefits, and expected hours.

Depending on the size of the company and the number of new hires, you may be part of a group orientation or it may be just you. The orientation may be formal with scheduled sessions held on one or several days, or it could be more casual without a preset agenda.
Inevitably, a lot of questions will come up as you are presented with so much new information. While it’s important to be an active listener, don’t be afraid to bring up any questions or concerns – but do so tactfully, without interrupting the entire orientation process.

How to Prepare for a New Job Orientation

Although you shouldn’t stress too much over a new job orientation – after all, your employer is well aware that it’s your very first day – there are steps you can take to ensure the process goes smoothly. Here are tips for attending a new job orientation:

1. Call Ahead

It doesn’t hurt to give your employer a ring a few days before the orientation and ask if there’s anything specific you need to bring or anything you need to know in advance. For example, some companies request that you review the employee handbook prior to your orientation – and if you’re given any materials in advance, be sure to take them seriously. That way, there won’t be any surprises on orientation day.

2. Dress Appropriately

Unless you were given detailed dressing instructions, look professional and polished, and dress at the same level of formality that you did at your interview. If you expect to be on your feet the entire day, make it a priority to wear comfortable shoes. If you’re not sure what to wear, ask the person who scheduled your orientation for advice.

3. Arrive Early

Remember you need to account for time to find the location, park, and check in with your supervisor. The last thing you want to be is late on the first day!

4. Bring a Notebook and a Pen

There’s no way you can remember everything you’ve learned on the first day, and although you might not have the opportunity to jot notes down, it’s nice to have the resources on hand in case there’s anything crucial you need to remember. It can also be useful to write down questions to ask at the end of the orientation, instead of interrupting in the middle of the process.

5. Have Your Personal Information on Hand

You may be required to fill out a W4 tax form, in which case you’ll need to know your Social Security number as well as your relevant tax details. Make sure you bring a copy of this information if you don’t know it off the top of your head. It can also be useful to bring your banking information (bank account and routing numbers) in so you can set up direct deposit for your paycheck if you desire.

6. Bring a Snack

You might have a long day ahead of you, and there’s no guarantee that food and water will be provided. To avoid feeling burnt out by mid-day, bring something to snack on, as well as a drink to keep you hydrated. That way, you’ll avoid the crankiness that comes along with hunger pains, and you’ll fly through your orientation and be ready for the first day on your new job!

7. Inquire About What’s Next

Impress your employer by taking the initiative and asking what’s next. For example, will you have a formal job training? Will there be further orientation sessions? Or, will you start off the next time you come in as a regular employee? By having that information, you’ll be able to proceed with confidence as you assimilate into the workplace and become used to your new job.

 

 

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20 Tips For Successfully Starting A New Job

20 Tips For Successfully Starting A New Job

 

After landing that prized new job, take a moment to congratulate yourself on a successful job search! However, it’s now time to start formulating a plan to ensure you make a great first impression on your employer. After all, just as important as scoring a new position is succeeding in it. One way to help ensure success is to set aside some time to prepare and take care of any personal appointments and arrangements you need to make, so you’re ready to focus on work when you start your new job.

Your early days at a new job are very important because your employer is going to look for confirmation that you are a good fit for the position and for the organization. After all, the decision to hire a new employee is based on relatively limited information: how you performed in the interview, and in some cases, what your references said about you. Your employer is going to be watching to ensure that you can walk the walk, not just talk the talk

Accordingly, you need to be deliberate about creating the optimal image right from the beginning of your tenure. Take care to gain the trust of your supervisor and your colleagues, establish positive relationships within your own department and outside of it, and ensure you are in a position to do your best work. This will create a very healthy foundation for your future with the company.

Top 20 Tips for Starting a New Job

 Here are practical tips and strategies for success in your new job:

1. Associate with positive people.

Associate with positive people and avoid complainers and slackers at all costs. Avoid griping to fellow employees since you never know who will quote you or cast you in a negative light. If someone starts complaining or gossiping directly to you, try to stay “neutral” if at all possible. If you can’t deflect or switch topics, then ask constructive questions instead.

2. Identify star performers.

Identify star performer at your level and analyze what has made them successful in their roles. This can give you an idea of what skills, abilities or accomplishments are valued at the organization.

3. Assess the preferences and expectations.

Assess the preferences and expectations of your immediate supervisor. Listen carefully to the directions that he/she offers, and also ask other trusted colleagues for suggestions on ways to measure up to your supervisor’s expectations.

4. Keep your supervisor apprised of the status of your projects. 

Keep your supervisor apprised of the status of your projects so he or she is aware of the value that you’re adding to your department.

5. Seek input and assistance.

Seek input and assistance when you are stumped, but try to avoid coming across as needy by asking numerous questions. Try to solve as many problems as possible on your own or with input from colleagues at your own level. If you do need to ask a question, preface it with the steps you’ve already taken to solve it on your own.

6. Engage strategically in meetings and conversations. 

It’s understandable that you’ll have a lot to catch up on in a new job and may not have insights and opinions to share right out of the gate. However, sitting silently in meeting after meeting won’t make a great impression, either. Instead, aim to strike a balance between listening carefully (which will be extremely important in getting oriented) and speaking up or asking smart questions.

7. Establish open communication channels with your supervisor and key team members.

Establish open communication channels with your supervisor and key team members, whether this takes the form of weekly meetings or recurring email or messenger updates. Not only will this give you the opportunity to keep your supervisor up-to-date with your accomplishments, but you’ll be able to group questions together so you can ask them at one rather than sporadically throughout the day or week.

8. Endeavor to arrive earlier and/or stay later.

Endeavor to arrive earlier and/or stay later than your supervisor to prove you are ready to work hard.

9. Develop positive working relationships.

Develop positive working relationships with staff at all levels of the organization, with particular emphasis on the people with whom you’ll be working regularly. Not only will strong relationships enhance your overall work experience, but most organizations perform 360-degree evaluations of staff, so it is important to be on good terms with colleagues who may be evaluating you.

10. Solicit feedback periodically.

Solicit feedback periodically and respond positively to constructive criticism. Make it clear to your supervisor and other staff that you are all about self-improvement.

11. Create a professional development plan

Create a professional development plan with clear goals and objectives outlining what you will learn and the skills you will acquire. Consult managers, the Human Resources department, or professionals in your field and find out what certifications, coursework and/or degrees would be impactful in advancing your career.

12. Be mindful of how much time you take off during your first year. 

Since the first few months at a new job are crucial to getting you up to speed in a new position, you should avoid taking extended time off if at all possible, with the exception being a previously planned vacation that you disclosed during the interview process.If you do have to take time off for any reason, do everything that you can to ensure it does not negatively affect your output.

13. Participate in office activities. 

Do your best to ingratiate yourself into the organization’s social happenings so you can get to know your colleagues on a personal level. That being said, starting a new job can be exhausting, and if attending numerous group activities simply feels like too much, focus on the most important and/or required events. If you find you connect better in one-on-one situations, ask a colleague to grab coffee or lunch instead.

14. Join national and regional professional groups

Join national and regional professional groups for your field and attend meetings and training sessions. Taking on leadership positions and volunteering for committees is a great way to make contacts and raise your visibility professionally.

15. Review your social media accounts

Review your social media accounts and make sure any personal information visible to the public reflects a professional image.

16. Update your LinkedIn profile

Update your LinkedIn profile to include your current position or establish a profile if you don’t already have one. Keep your profile up-to-date and cultivate it by connecting with new colleagues, joining relevant professional groups, and asking for recommendations from colleagues, clients, and other professional contacts over time.

17. Identify potential mentors within your organization and get to know them. 

Consider senior staff as well as strong performers in positions at your level and/or one level above you. While you should recognize that these people are likely quite busy, asking to grab a coffee or simply taking a walk together can be a great start.

18. Mentor former colleagues

Mentor former colleagues who are unemployed or underemployed, or offer to mentor junior staff in your organization. You never know when they may pay you back.

19. Express your gratitude and maintain contact with any people, such as your references, who helped pave your way to this new job.

These people will feel more invested in you the next time that you need their help if they can follow along as your career develops.

20. Take care of yourself! 

Starting a new job can be mentally and physically taxing. However, you don’t want to burn yourself out in your early days. Be sure to take care of your health and spend some time doing activities that invigorate you. While you may feel like you have to dedicate every waking hour to this new position, doing so can quickly degrade your health and have a negative impact on your performance. Strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance right out of the gate.

Lastly, in addition to the tips above, it can be a great idea to casually ask colleagues if they have any tips for getting up to speed, or what they wish they knew when they were starting out. Thinking strategically at the beginning of your new job is one way to ensure you are well received and successful in your position.
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How To Get The Most Out Of Your Internship

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Internship

 

For many college students and recent graduates, an internship is a near-requirement for future full-time employment. Without an internship, even entry-level positions are out of reach. So it can be easy to fall into the mentality that an internship is merely a stepping-stone on the path to a “real” job—something to endure, not enjoy.

But internships can offers all sorts of benefits beyond post-college employment. Sometimes, an internship can expose that a planned career path or industry is not, in fact, the best one for you. Internships can help you build a network of colleagues—and friends—who may last a lifetime, offering countless opportunities (both career-focused and personal). And, internships can help make you comfortable and confident in the office environment. You won’t get all those benefits if you’re just showing up and counting down the days until your internship is over, though!

Here’s how to maximize your internship experience, and keep the focus on your whole career—and not just an initial job placement.

Seek Opportunities to Gain Company and Industry Knowledge

During your internship, try to learn about a range of things. If you’re interning with the marketing department, seek out employees on the editorial team, or the programming department, and try to learn how their work differs from your own.

Aim to learn about the company as a whole—How is it organized? What’s the company culture? Which employees are considered stars? What makes a good worker?—as well as the overall industry. Keep your future in mind: Would you want to work at a company like the one you’re interning, or would you prefer a different management or organizational structure? During interviews, you’ll get questions about how you like to work, and what environments suit you. The knowledge gained during your internship helps inform your response.
You may discover during your internship that the company or industry is not for you. Don’t look at the internship as wasted time if that’s the case—it’s far preferable to discover which paths aren’t for you early on in your career. 

Become Confident in Workplace Practices

If you’ve always been in school and worked part-time jobs in retail or food services, an internship may be your first exposure to office culture. It’s… different. The more you’re exposed to how offices function, from the pre-meeting small talk to knowing who to CC on emails (and when), the more comfortable it will feel once your training wheels are off, and you have a staff position.

And, keep in mind that knowing industry-focused jargon is hugely helpful when it comes to decoding job postings, writing effective cover letters, and sounding like a knowledgeable pro during interviews. (Here’s what all those buzzwords using in job postings actually mean.) So keep track of the tools used in the office and the buzzwords that come up during meetings.

Broaden Your Skills and Track What You Do

During your internship, maybe you’ll write your first newsletter or computer program, create a schedule, or run a project (if you’re lucky!). But some internship programs reserve tedious grunt work for interns. Rest assured, no matter what work you do, you are gaining knowledge and skills that are different than the ones learned in the classroom.

Even simple tasks—reaching out to staffers for the information to include in a daily email, say—can still look powerful on your resume. To that end, keep track of everything you learn and do during your internship. It may be helpful to keep a journal. Or, just have a draft email, and note in it every time you do a new task with the date. For instance, “11/9, learned new Excel formula;” “11/22: attended conference and presented key points in staff-wide meeting.” Later, when you’re writing up a description for your resume, these notes will be invaluable.
Finally, remember that the purpose of the internship isn’t just for you to do work to help the company—it’s for you to learn. To that end, take notes during meetings, and if something is unclear, ask questions to clarify later. If colleagues mention interesting, relevant news stories, resources, or tips, follow up and learn more. All of this research and follow-through will make you a better, more informed candidate during interviews.

Ask for Feedback

As an intern, you’ve practically got “newbie” in your title. That may be frustrating, and sometimes limit you from more exciting projects, but it also means that you’re expected to not know everything. So feel free to ask questions, always.

You can also ask for feedback from managers and colleagues. Find out what you can be doing better. While it’s hard to hear negative feedback, knowing your weak points can help you improve. Better to find out now, then during a full-time job where poor performance may mean you’d lose the job. (Plus, you’ll have something to say when interviewers ask, “What’s your biggest weakness?”)
Finally, know that if there’s any time in your career that a mistake isn’t a huge problem, it’s now. Ideally, of course, you won’t make mistakes, but if you do, just acknowledge the error in a forthright way, and ask your manager what you can do to fix the situation.

Give It Your All

The best internships offer challenging, interesting work. But sadly, that’s not always the case. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re struggling to stay engaged:

1. You can ask for more:

Volunteer for additional work and projects if you’ve completed your assigned tasks. Or, better still, generate a list of helpful projects or tasks, and ask your manager if it’s OK to move forward with them.

2. Be assertive:

Meet with your manager early on, if possible, to try to get a sense of expectations. Remember, this internship is a two-way street: If you know you’re interested in meeting with certain people or achieving certain resume-worthy tasks, mention it your manager—part of a manager’s job is to ensure you have a meaningful experience. (Do be aware, however, that people in the office are generally over-worked, not under. So be respectful about how much time you take up.)

3. Don’t look bored:

 Depending on your responsibilities, this may be a challenge. No matter how tedious the work may be, don’t let that show on your face or in your attitude. Don’t check your phone during meetings (unless that’s part of your job responsibilities) or social media at your desk.

Form Connections—And Maybe Even Find a Mentor

If you’re part of a group of interns, know that you might form relationships that will last a lifetime. So do socialize with your peers (but not at the cost of your work—use lunch time and coffee breaks for conversations, not cubicle-time).

Go beyond the interns for your social circle, too. Ask co-workers to coffee, or try to sit with co-workers at lunch. Attend work-wide social events, and mingle. (Warning: If there’s booze served, even if you are of age, partake sparingly. Being the intoxicated intern at a work event is not a good look.)
Finally, be on the lookout for mentors, who can give you advice, write recommendations, and help you make important connections. (Here are some ideas for how to find career mentors.) If you have a co-worker who is helpful answering questions about on-the-job tasks or works with your regularly, ask how they got to where they are, what advice they’d give you, and so on. Having these kinds of conversations is the start to a mentor-type relationship, which can be a powerful force throughout your career.
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Tips For Getting Good References For A Job

Tips For Getting Good References For A Job

At some point during your job search, a potential employer will request references. Typically, it will be when the company is seriously interested in you as a potential hire.

It’s important to be prepared to provide a list of employment references who can attest to the skills and qualifications that you have for the job you are applying for. You might even want to have a few letters of reference on hand as well.

It’s a good idea to plan ahead and get your references in order before you need them. It will save time scrambling to put together a list at the last minute.

Keep in mind that a positive endorsement can help you clinch a job offer, and a negative reference can really hurt your chances. Therefore, be sure to have a strong list of references who know all about your strengths, and about the jobs you are applying for.

Tips for Getting the Best References:

It takes a bit of time and preparation to gather a list of strong references. Here are some steps you can take to make sure you select references who will give you glowing reviews:

1. Ask the right people.

Former bosses, co-workers, customers, vendors, and colleagues all make good professional references. So do college professors. If you are just starting out in the workforce or if you haven’t worked in a while, you can use character or personal references from people who know your skills and attributes.

These might include friends, neighbors, people you’ve volunteered with, and more.

Most importantly, only ask people who you know will give you a positive reference. Also try to ask people who are reliable – you want to know your references will respond to employers in a timely manner.

2. Be aware of company referral policies.

Some employers will not provide references.

Due to concerns about litigation, they might only provide your job title, dates of employment, and salary history. If that’s the case, be creative and try to find alternative reference writers who are willing to speak to your qualifications.

3. Ask ahead of time.

It’s important to ask someone ahead of time if they are willing to be a reference. Try to ask as soon as you begin your job search (if not earlier). This way, you can have a list of references ready for an employer. If you need a letter of reference, ask the person as soon as possible, so he or she does not feel rushed.

The best way to ask for a reference is to say, “Do you feel you know my work well enough to serve as a reference?” or “Do you feel comfortable providing me with a good reference?” This will ensure that the only people who say “yes” to you will be those who will write you a positive reference.

4. Provide the necessary information. 

When someone agrees to be a reference, give him or her all the information they might need to give you a positive reference. Provide them with an updated resume. Tell them what kinds of jobs you are looking at, so they know what skills and experiences of yours they should highlight. If you know a particular employer is going to contact your references, provide your references with information about the job and the employer.

5. Make your reference list. 

Once you have your references, create a document listing those references. The list of references should not be included in your resume. Rather, create a separate reference list. Have it ready to give to employers when you interview. Include three or four references, along with their job titles, employers, and contact information.

Once you’ve made your reference list, check it twice. I know someone who had a typo in the phone number of the top reference on her list. Needless to say, the employer couldn’t reach the contact.

6. Have some recommendation letters available.

Many employers won’t be interested in written reference letters.

They will either want to speak to your references on the phone or via email. However, it is still a good idea to have some letters of reference available for the employers that do want them. If you are graduating from school or leaving a job (as long as you are leaving on a positive note), you can ask your employer for a letter of reference. This way, he or she can write the letter while your work is still fresh in his or her mind.

7. Request a reference when you change jobs

Even if you don’t ask for a written letter, you should ask for a reference every time you change employment. Before you leave, ask your supervisor (and perhaps one or two coworkers) if he or she will serve as a reference for you in the future. That way, you can create a list of references from people you may not necessarily be able to track down years later.

8. Maintain your reference network.

Maintain your reference network with periodic phone calls, emails, or notes to get and give updates. This is an important way to keep them updated on your life (and your job search). If you are fresh in their minds, they will be more likely to give you more specific, and more positive, recommendations.

9. It’s okay to say no.

A prospective employer should ask your permission before contacting your references, although not all do. It’s perfectly acceptable to say that you are not comfortable with your current employer being contacted at the present time. This is especially important when you are currently employed – you don’t want to surprise your employer with a phone call checking your references. However, do have a list of alternative references available.

10. Keep your references up to date (and thank them).

Let your references know where your job search stands. Tell them who might be calling them for a reference. When you get a new job, don’t forget to send a thank you note to those who provided you with a reference. Even if you don’t get hired right away, take the time to follow up with your references. They’ll appreciate being informed of your status.

 

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Resume Writing Tips for Changing Careers

Resume Writing Tips for Changing Careers

 

Are you changing careers? There’s no question that you’ll need a fresh, revamped resume to accompany your job search in a new field. And while creating a resume isn’t the easiest task, take heart in knowing that much of your experience — even if it’s in a completely different industry — will still be relevant.

That’s because so many skills — especially soft ones — are transferable. If you’re shifting from a production manager role at a publishing company to event planning in the wedding industry, for instance, your organizational skills, leadership abilities, and strong Excel and budgeting background are all going to be applicable.

In your career change resume, you have to tell the story of your transferable skills to hiring managers, explaining how qualifications from your previous career are still applicable and relevant.Whether it’s because of a shift in the industry or a shift in your interests, there are lots of reasons to make a mid-career transition. Here’s how to get started developing your new resume.

1. Identify Your Transferable Skills

Get to know your new industry! Read job descriptions and industry news to gain a sense of the skills that employers require. Print out your current resume with your job history to date, and write a list of all the skills you’ve gained and used throughout your career. Some of these may be listed on your resume directly, but others may not. Then, list out the skills commonly required in your new industry and look for matches.

Think creatively: Say you’re moving from sales to teaching. What are things these roles have in common? Well, both jobs require the ability to hold the attention of the room, give a strong presentation, and convey potentially complex knowledge in easy to understand and remember language.
And don’t forget that you can include non-professional experience on your resume, too. Are you on your condo’s board? Do you organize bake sales for the PTA? Volunteer work, and potentially even hobbies (your Etsy store, your weekly style post on Instagram), can all be mined for evidence of your skills and experience.
Just be careful not to overreach: A following of 300 people on Twitter does not make you a social media expert. But, it is reasonable to say that you have social media knowledge, have built a Twitter following, and engaged with industry thought leaders.

2. Write a Resume Objective

Use your resume objective, which appears on the top of your resume, to highlight what type of job you’re seeking. The objective — just like the rest of your resume — is all about you. But the true purpose of the objective is to sell hiring managers on your candidacy. (That’s also true for the whole document!)

In your objective, connect the dots for hiring managers — you can use this space to make it clear how your former career has provided you with the skills you need in your new field, and for this job in particular.

3. Determine Which Resume Format Works Best for You

A chronological resume — which lists experience from most recent to eldest — may be the most commonly used resume format, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only option out there. A functional resume is often the best choice for someone switching careers since it puts the focus squarely on your skills and experience (rather than where you worked, and when). This type of resume helps highlights the most relevant parts of your work.

If you are transitioning from sales to teaching, to continue our example from above, a functional resume allows you to showcase your relevant presentation abilities, instead of listing out sales jobs, which wouldn’t feel meaningful to a school district. A combination resume — which mixes the functional format with the chronological one — is also a good option if you’re shifting careers.

4. Add a Skills Section

When hiring managers scan through your resume, they might not see familiar job titles or responsibilities from their industry. So whichever resume format you choose, use the skills section to highlight that you have the soft and hard skills required for this job — here’s more information to help you know what to include in your resume skills section.

5. Leave Off Unnecessary Information

Your resume does not have to exhaustively list every position held, a task completed, and programs used. Think of your resume as a greatest hits album: Include only the highlights that will help your resume seem relevant to hiring managers in your new field. This can be particularly important if you’re switching job levels, as well as shifting careers.

6. Watch for Jargon

New career industry, new jargon! When you work in a field for a while, jargon becomes second nature. If you’re in publishing, the CMS is the Chicago Manual of Style, if you work online, it’s your Content Management System, and if you’re in healthcare, it’s the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

The point is, while jargon can help you seem like an insider in your original field, it can confuse and alienate hiring manager in your new field. Explain job titles, programs, and job-related tasks and achievements in clear language that anyone can understand. Better yet, translate those skills and responsibilities into your new field’s insider-language and shorthand.

 

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How To Turn Your Hobby Into A Career

How To Turn Your Hobby Into A Career

Do what you love, the saying goes, and you’ll never work a day in your life. Of course, once you’ve been out in the working world for a few years, you know that doing what you love – and making a living at it – is more complicated than just following your heart. If you want to swap your current 9-to-5 for a business based on your favorite hobby, the best thing to do is to think carefully about the particulars and make a plan, long before you start drafting that resignation letter.

Tips for Turning Your Hobby into a Career

1. Start small

There are plenty of reasons to begin earning money with your hobby before you try to make it into a career, but let’s start with the most obvious: money. In order to get started, you’ll need at least a few months of expenses saved up, independent of the startup costs associated with your business, to make sure that you’ll have something to live on while you’re getting things rolling.

Beginning your business while you’re still working at your old job will also give you a better idea of whether there’s an actual need for your product or service, and how much work goes into producing it, which will give you the information you need to work out the particulars of your finances down the road.

Finally, although working two jobs can be exhausting and a juggling act, it’s a good way to make sure that you’ll still love your new career when you’re doing your hobby for money, not love alone.

2. Make connections

Social media has made it easier than ever to make connections with like-minded people, which is an incredible boon to a small businessperson. LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc., can help you virtually meet other people in your industry.

Just remember to proceed with caution: some people will be less than willing to offer business advice to a potential competitor. The best approach is to forge connections before you start asking specific questions. Now is not the time for a blanker form letter, asking strangers if you can pick their brains. The goal is to become part of a community, not strip-mine the competition for ideas and run.

3. Find out what the market will bear

Via your newfound online communities and real-life connections, get a rough idea of how much other businesses charge for the product or services you offer. Sometimes, this is as easy as looking at online marketplaces and seeing what people charge.

Get a sense of what the landscape is like, and how your business will fit into it. What do your competitors offer? What needs does your business fulfill that theirs doesn’t? How do you differentiate yourself from your competition?

4. Make a plan

A business plan is the least glamorous part of starting a new venture, but it can be essential, especially if you’re thinking about looking for funding from outside sources. Even if you plan to run your business on your own savings, a business plan can help organize your thinking about your new adventure and expose any so-far unforeseen problems.

5. Plan your finances

As part of your business plan, calculate your monthly expenses, projected income, and total startup costs, including any new equipment you might need, and professional costs like membership fees for professional associations, online marketplaces, or accountants or tax prepares.

You’ll also need to plan on paying quarterly estimated taxes, and self-employment tax.

Eventually, you’ll have to decide whether to remain a sole proprietor or to choose some other form of business organization, including limited liability company, S-corporation, and so on.

6. Get the word out

The internet makes it easier than ever to let people know that you’re hanging out your shingle. In the olden days, you might have had to allocate a significant part of your budget to advertising and lead generation, but now you can get started simply by posting on your favorite networks and letting people know you’re open for business.

Just remember that if you’re still working at your day job, you might need to be discrete. Make sure your company doesn’t have a policy against freelancing or working part-time, and that your business doesn’t rely on any trade secrets you’ve picked up from your job. If all those conditions are satisfied, think of a one-line description for what your business does, and share it with the world.

7. Work Hard

Working for yourself is hard, but if you do your research, plan ahead, and think critically about the potential pitfalls, you’ll have a much better chance of doing what you love and loving what you do.

At the very least, you’re bound to love the boss.

 

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Robot Takeover: Is Your Job at Risk of Automation?

Robot Takeover: Is Your Job at Risk of Automation?

 

Are you in danger of losing your job to automation? According to a study by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, nearly one in three U.S. workers will see some of their tasks or entire jobs taken over by robots and other artificial intelligence by 2030.

Employers are expected to rely increasingly on computers to do jobs that humans currently do. This is because computers are generally less expensive than human employees. They can also help reduce human error, and even perform work beyond human abilities.

What does this mean for you and the future of your job? How can you prepare for the rise of robots in the workplace? Make sure you know what jobs and skills are likely to be taken over by automated workers, and expand your skill set so you can perform tasks that robots cannot.

Which Jobs Will Robots Take Over?

Rest assured that many jobs will continue to exist even as tasks become more automated. In fact, McKinsey finds that less than 5 percent of jobs are likely to be entirely taken over by robotics and other computers.

Instead, computers will take over particular tasks that are easier (or more cost-effective) for them to complete rather than humans. These include predictable or repetitive work, physical tasks, machine operation, and data processing and collecting.
People across all levels of education and at all levels of their careers will see some of their tasks taken over by computers. However, certain industries will see more tasks and jobs eliminated than others. Some sectors that are most likely to see a steep rise in automated workers include:

1. Construction

The good news is that construction jobs are growing due to today’s increased demand for new buildings, improved roadways, and other infrastructure development. However, some construction tasks are ideal for robots to take over. These include any predictable physical labor, such as construction equipment operation and basic installation and repair of materials.

Jobs and tasks that require more expertise, including complex installations and repairs, and construction site management, will likely not be replaced by robots any time soon.

2. Food Service

The food service industry is already seeing a rise in automation. This is particularly the case in fast-food restaurants, which typically focus on speed and efficiency. Computers can help customers place orders and make payments. They can also perform basic repetitive tasks in the back of the house, including dish washing and even some food prep.
However, people will continue to fill food service jobs that involve creativity and skill (like chefs and cooks, particularly at fine dining restaurants), and human interaction (like waiters at restaurants that emphasize customer service). And jobs in management, such as restaurant manager, will need to be filled by people with strong supervisory skills.

3. Manufacturing

Many jobs in manufacturing (including assembler, fabricator, machinist, and more) involve completing repetitive, predictable tasks. Many of these jobs are already being replaced by machines, or are at least seeing some tasks being handed over to computers.

4. Office Administration

People who work in administrative and office support perform a number of duties that could be taken over by computers and in some cases, they already are. Tasks like booking appointments, answering straightforward phone calls, entering data, and more are the types of predictable tasks computers can do, or might soon be able to do. Administrative jobs range from secretaries to paralegals to office managers.

5. Retail

Many big-box retail chains have already automated a number of tasks. For example, many stores now have automated checkout services for customers, eliminating the need to have humans check out customers and bag their items.
Robots and other computers could also soon be used for basic tasks like stocking shelves and checking inventory. Of course, stores that emphasize customer service will still hire human salespeople to interact with clients.
Beyond these industries, there are a number of other jobs that are likely to be increasingly replaced by computers, including card dealers, toll booth operators, radiologists, movers, and more.

Which Jobs Are Safe?

There are certain tasks that cannot yet be replicated particularly well by a computer. For example, computers cannot express empathy or interact with people in the way humans can. Therefore, jobs that involve caring for others (including nurses, psychologists, teachers, social workers, and more) are generally safe from automation.

Any position that requires directly managing other people will likely also avoid automation. That is because robots and computers don’t have the emotional intelligence and skills to supervise humans (at least for now). Jobs that involve creativity are also less likely to become automated. Creative jobs can range from writer to graphic designer to songwriter.
While many jobs that involve predictable, repetitive work will become automated, this is not the case for work in unpredictable environments. For example, jobs that take place outdoors (such as gardening) or jobs working with unpredictable populations (like young children) will be harder to automate.
Any job that requires extensive education and/or expertise is also less likely to be taken over by robotics. However, keep in mind that certain tasks within each of these jobs could still be taken over by robotics. For example, while nurses and doctors are not likely to lose their jobs, computers may increasingly be used to read X-rays and diagnose patients.

How to Prepare for Automation

Don’t let this information scare you or cause you to immediately quit your job. There are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that you have a job in the world of automation.

1. Pick up new skills.

Take the time to develop skills that robots cannot perform. Develop your problem-solving ability, your management skills, your creativity, and your emotional intelligence. If you can highlight these skills, you will make yourself an invaluable member of any team (and an employee that cannot easily be replaced by a computer).

2. Go back to school. 

Jobs that require more education are less likely to be replaced by robots, in part because it would take too much time and energy to teach all of that information to a computer. Going back to school to specialize in a particular topic related to your job is a great way to make yourself an indispensable employee. Consider how to make a career change without having to go back to school or a short-term training program to revamp your skill set.

3. Practice your adaptability.

Keep in mind that, while you likely will not lose your job to a robot, you might see a change in your day-to-day duties. Make sure to convey to your employer that you are flexible and are willing to change and take on new tasks over the coming years.

Also prepare to eventually have to work alongside more computers and robots than you do now. Employers will be impressed if you can adapt to this changing workforce with ease and with an open mind.

4. Join the robots.

Keep in mind that with the rise in automation will also come a number of new job opportunities. For example, people will have to develop, build, troubleshoot, and oversee any computers in the workplace. If you are interested in computers and robotics, consider a career in which you would work alongside robots.

5. Don’t worry.

Keep in mind that the McKinsey report stated that most jobs will not be lost to robots – instead, your day-to-day tasks might change. Therefore, do not panic. There is no need to leave your current job out of fear that one day you will be replaced by a machine. Instead, focus on doing your best work, practice being adaptable and open-minded, and pay attention to the here and now.

 

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How To Set Short And Long Term Goals For Your Career

How To Set Short And Long Term Goals For Your Career

If you live by the old proverb that states “Man plans, God laughs,” you may decide that it is a waste of time to set long-term and short-term goals for your career. Don’t make that mistake. An unplanned future will be chaotic. Setting goals will help you have a satisfying career, but that old proverb isn’t entirely wrong. Plans don’t always work out, which is why you must be flexible enough to change them when the need arises.

Goal setting is a major component of the career planning process. Your goals, and the steps you take to achieve them, will make up your career action plan. This is the road map that will take you from choosing a career to working and succeeding in it. In this context, your goals will be your career objectives, for example, a particular occupation, a rung on the career ladder, or an earnings level.

The Difference Between Short and Long Term Goals

Goals can be broadly classified into two categories: short-term goals and long-term goals. You will be able to accomplish a short-term goal in approximately six months to three years, while it will usually take three to five years to reach a long-term one. Sometimes you can reach a short-term goal in fewer than three months and a long-term one may take more time.

For each long-term goal, you must accomplish a series of short-term goals. For example let’s say you aspire to become a doctor. That is a long-term goal. You must first graduate from college and medical school, and then complete a medical residency. Those are also long-term goals. There are several short-term goals you have to reach before you can start working on them. To get into college and medical school, you will have to excel on entrance exams and complete applications. You can even break your short-term goals down even further.
For example you can set a goal to earn certain grades each semester, or even in each of your classes.

7 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Reaching Your Goals

It is much easier to define a goal than it is to achieve it. Your hard work toward achieving it plays the biggest role in your success, but if you don’t formulate your goals properly, it will be much more difficult to reach them. Make sure they meet these criteria:

1. Your goals must be specific.

You might say, “I want to be successful.” Well, who doesn’t? But can you define what success means to you? Success to one person may mean becoming CEO of a company while to another person it may mean getting home from work by 6 o’clock every night.

2. You must be able to measure the outcome of your goals.

When you set a goal, include a time frame for achieving it.

3. Don’t be negative.

Make sure your goal is something you want rather than something you want to avoid. For instance instead of saying “I don’t want to be stuck in this job for another four years,” say “I want to improve my skills over the next four years so that I qualify for a better job.

4. Keep your goals realistic.

Make sure your long-term goals are compatible with your abilities and skills. Your goal shouldn’t be “I want to win a Grammy Award next year” if you can’t sing or play an instrument.

5. Is your goal reachable within your time frame?

Don’t set yourself up to fail. If you have one big goal, break it down into several short-term goals. Remember, you will do better if you take baby steps than one big giant leap.

6. Tie an action to each goal.

For instance, if your goal is to become a writer, sign up for a writing class.

7. Be flexible about your goals.

If you encounter barriers that threaten to impede your progress, don’t give up. Instead, modify your goals accordingly. Let’s say your need to continue working will keep you from going to college full-time. You won’t be able to finish your bachelor’s degree in four years but you can enroll in school part-time and take a little longer to finish. Consider letting go of objective that become unimportant to you. Instead put your energy into pursuing other objectives.

 

 

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How to Ask for an Informational Interview (and Get a “Yes”)

How to Ask for an Informational Interview (and Get a “Yes”)

The informational interview is the secret tool everyone should have in their back pocket. A hybrid of an amazing networking opportunity, an info-session, and a job interview, it can give anyone looking for a job or pondering a career change insider scoop (not to mention a much-needed morale boost).

The problem is that these opportunities aren’t advertised anywhere, typically require a lot of work on your end to make happen, and, in most cases, mean you have to convince strangers why they should take time out of their day to help you.

But with the right approach, you can land these interviews (and maybe even a job). Here’s an advice for finding and approaching potential contacts and getting them to say yes—every time.

Find the Right People

This may seem obvious, but choosing who you approach can make all the difference in hearing back.

Start by making a list of companies you’d love to work at and of job titles or positions you’d be interested in. While people who fit on either list are good, someone who works for your dream company and has your dream role is where you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

That said, it’s important to consider what the person does at the company and the size of the company—you want to target people who are in an aspirational role, but who aren’t so high up that they won’t have time to meet with you. I may want to talk to the CMO of a major company, but I can probably learn more talking to the marketing director of a smaller company. Also, look for people you have some sort of connection with—if someone went to your college or has a shared connection, he or she will be more likely to want to meet with you.

I prefer using LinkedIn to find people, but then reaching out over email—it’s easier for people to respond to, and you won’t look like LinkedIn spam.

Perfect the Art of the Ask

Any good cold email has two things: a clear message (why you’re reaching out), and an easy-to-understand ask (the action you want the recipient to take). Here’s a simple formula that checks both boxes and that will work most of the time:

1. Start by Asking for Help

This sounds obvious (and, OK, a little weird), but it’s a proven fact that people love to feel like they are helping others. So, if you literally start by saying, “I’d love your help,” or “I hope you’ll be able to help me out…” your chances of getting a positive response go up significantly.

2. Be Clear

Ask for something very specific, and make it as easy as possible for the person to say yes. Saying, “I’d love to know more about what you do and how you got your start” is okay, but doesn’t tell someone how much of his or her time you’re after or what you’re really suggesting. Instead, try something like, “I’d love to take you to a quick coffee so I can hear your perspective on this industry and what it’s like to work at your company. I’ll actually be in your area next week and would be happy to meet you wherever is convenient for you.”

3. Have a Hook

A great way to increase your chance of landing the interview is to demonstrate why you really want to meet with this person. Do you admire her career path? Do you think the work he’s currently doing at company X stands out as the best? Maybe you have a shared connection and think she would be a great voice of wisdom. Don’t be afraid to share why you are specifically reaching out to this person. The more personalized your ask feels, the greater chance of success you’ll have.

4. Be Very Considerate

Remember that, in asking for an informational interview, you’re literally asking someone to put his or her work on hold to help you. Show your contact you understand this by saying, “I can only imagine how busy you must get, so even 15-20 minutes would be so appreciated.”

5. Make Sure You Don’t Seem Like You’re Looking for a Job (Even if You Are)

If you sound like you’re really just looking for a job, there’s a good chance this person will push you to HR or the company’s career page. So be sure to make it clear that you really want to talk to this person to learn about his or her career history and perspective on the job or industry. After you meet and make a great impression is when you can mention the job hunt.

Follow Up, and Be Pleasantly Persistent

If you don’t hear back right away, don’t worry. People are busy, and sometimes these things slip to the bottom of a person’s to-do list. The key is to not just give up. If you haven’t heard back in a week, reply to your first email and politely ask if your contact has had a chance to read your previous email. Also, use this opportunity to reiterate how much it would mean to you to have 15 minutes to learn from him or her.

I personally believe that it’s your responsibility to continue to follow up (as nicely as possible) every couple of weeks until you’ve heard an answer one way or the other. Some would say that after one or two tries, you may run the risk of upsetting the person—but I say that sometimes, persistence pays off. At the end of the day, it’s really up to you and your personal comfort level.

That said, once you shoot off a few emails, you’ll see that most people are happy to help (hey, people love talking about themselves). The next step? Getting ready for the meeting.

 

 

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How to Continue Impressing the Company Throughout Every Single Interview Round

How to Continue Impressing the Company Throughout Every Single Interview Round

You nailed your interview. You answered “tell me about yourself” perfectly, discussed your relevant experience with ease, and established a great rapport with the hiring manager.

And you know you read it right when you hear you made it to the next round of the process. But after all of the excitement, you start to wonder what on earth you have left to talk about. Should you just repeat what you’ve already said? Or, is the hiring manager looking for something new?

Well, as the rounds of interviews continue (think: second, third, and maybe even fourth), you’ll do some repackaging of old stories and introduce some new information. But the secret is not to go overboard either way. Here’s how to channel your inner Goldilocks and find the balance that’s just right.

Don’t Give All New Information

You might be thinking that the interviewer has already heard everything you said once, so none of it’s worth repeating and you should come with all new information. That’s not really the case.

More often than not, you’ll be meeting with new or additional team members who weren’t present in the first round. They’ve never heard your pitch, and while they may have seen your resume or heard a quick overview from the interviewer, the best person to sell you is, well, you.

Not only that, but odds are the person you spoke with only remembers highlights of your talk. She might have had back-to-back meetings or only taken notes on one part of the discussion. So, if you don’t repeat anything—you know, in an effort to keep it interesting—she may not remember the really relevant skills you shared in your last meeting.

But rather than quoting yourself exactly, make sure to connect any new information back to what you said last time. That way you’ll know you’re not skipping over any of the big selling points of your candidacy. If you’re asked (again) to “Tell me why you’re drawn to this role?” you can say, “Last time, we discussed the strong management component, which is still something I’m very enthusiastic about. Additionally, the information you shared about the collaborate nature of the team is very appealing to me.”

This way you added something new, but you still led with your most relevant skill.

Don’t Share Too Much of the Same, Either

Of course, some people err to far to the other extreme and repeat verbatim what they said in the first interview figuring, hey, it worked last time. When the team huddles up later (or when the same interviewer compares notes across interviews), it’s nice for them to feel like you connected with each person and individualized your responses a bit.

Moreover, if someone asks you back it’s because he still wants to learn more. This is the time to dive deeper into your skills and experience.

So, if you catch your answers mirroring what you said before, try a transition like this: “As I shared previously with [name of first interviewer], my current role is very sales heavy. Another example of my work in client-facing roles would be my first job, where I learned…”

By peppering in some new and different stores, you’re reinforcing the idea that you’ll bring even more than what you shared on your resume.

 

 

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