Archive for November, 2014

The Only Article You’ll Need for Quick Interview Prep

By Katie O’Drobinak

As the semester winds down, students are worrying about nabbing jobs and internships for next summer. Many of you are ready to revisit your resumes and rock your job interviews! Interviewing is probably the most high stress part of landing a new job.

Google searching “job interview tips” yields more than nine million hits.hire The amount of research out there is enough to make your head spin. I’ve been doing my own research and battling my way through the thousands of interview posts online. I’ve condensed my own research down to a few key points. Hopefully, my quick guide can take your search down to just one post.

Subscribe to receive Google Alerts about the company you’re interested in.

I got this genius idea from Jon Youshaei’s “12 Surprising Job Interview Tips.” Google Alert is a way for you to request an email any time a specific topic is mentioned online. If you want to know whenever your potential employer is mentioned in an article, simply request emails from Google Alert. This way, you can have an educated conversation about what is happening in the company right now that goes much deeper than other applicants’.

Get your social media pages interview-ready with Social Sweepster.

According to Youshaei, 91% of employers look through applicants’ social media pages for anything that would indicate that an applicant is not suitable. Social Sweepster can sift through your pages, find profanity, and even detect pictures with “suspicious” objects. With this tool, you can make sure your social media pages are clear from anything less than squeaky clean.

Do some research on what to wear!

Looking professional is great when you are interacting with a potential employer. However, wearing a suit is not always required! I recently interviewed with a company where no one wears suits to work. Luckily, my friend who works for that company let me know that in order to fit in, I needed to wear jeans. I am so glad I asked her; I would have been over dressed had I not! Suits are usually the safest option, but you should do some research on the company norms — just in case.

Follow up!

Never forget to follow up with your interviewer. Not only is sending a follow-up email polite, it also shows your interest in the job. You should include a specific conversation detail that you went over in your interview to make it apparent that you were really engaged in the conversation.

Get ready for some off-the-wall questions!

Answering practice interview questions is a great way to prepare.  However, you sometimes have to be prepared to be unprepared for a few questions. An interesting question I recently heard in a group interview setting was “Who in this room, besides yourself, would you hire?”  The best way to answer difficult questions like this one is just to stay calm and be yourself! Don’t let difficult questions rattle you.

I hope that this five-step guide helps you get your dream job! Good luck on your upcoming interviews. Remember to apply these unique tips so that you can really stand out.

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November 30, 2014 at 7:31 am 9 comments

One Shot. One Opportunity. Getting Through Interview Season With One Great Résumé

By Satya Polisetti

You’ve sent your résumé out to over 20 employers and haven’t received a single interview. Meanwhile, your peers in your class are suiting up everyday to interview with companies you’re dying to work for. You search for answers but fail to realize that your résumé is flawed. Employers receive thousands of résumés, and a flawed résumé can quickly send your application into the trash bin. Avoid these common résumé blunders, and you’ll be on your way to having your résumé placed into the “yes” pile.

Blunder One: Typos 

Spellcheck is a great tool, but it can be your worst nightmare if you rely on it as your only resource to check for typos.resume Accountemps, a staffing service firm specializing in accounting and finance, conducted a survey of over 150 executives and found out that 40% of executives said that it would only take one typo to rule a candidate out.

You can easily fix typos by reading your résumé out loud line by line. Reading out loud will help you focus on each line and increase your chances of catching typos. In addition, giving your résumé to a friend to proofread helps bring a fresh pair of eyes and alleviates any chance of tunnel vision.

Blunder Two: Formatting 

Once your résumé is free of typos, the next biggest flaw in résumés is formatting. Many prospective candidates have major formatting errors such as: margin, font size, and spacing inconsistencies. To avoid margin inconsistencies, choose a conservative size such as half-inch margins. When it comes to font sizes, make sure your font is not microscopic, requiring the employer to pull out a magnifying glass in order to read your résumé. Employers prefer at least a ten-point font. Do not exceed twelve-point size font and stick to a conservative font type like Times New Roman. Lastly, spacing is a huge factor because résumés are typically one page long. With a page limit, inconsistent spacing can either leave you with significant white space or run you over the limit. Once again, have a friend look over your résumé to point out these common but fatal mistakes.

Blunder Three: No Connection To The Employer’s Need 

Many people send the same résumé to every position they are interested in. However, many positions require different skillsets and experiences. For example, applying for a sales position at a large company requires a sales representative to be an extravert and have relatable skills. On the contrary, if you are applying for an investment banking analyst role, you should showcase your knowledge of finance and modeling concepts. Connecting with the employer is very important and understanding each industry’s uniqueness will take you a long way. One great way to ensure you are on the right track is to have someone who is already in the industry you are applying to review your résumé.

In conclusion, a well-formatted, error-free résumé will improve your chances of landing your dream position. Keep your résumé free of typos, formatting inconsistencies, and irrelevant connections. Employers value attention to detail. If you have errors in your résumé, how can an employer trust you to send something important to a client? Remember, you only get one shot, one opportunity to impress an employer.

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November 29, 2014 at 11:00 am 6 comments

It’s A Bird… It’s A Plane… It’s An… Impromptu?

By Lulu Zhong

Like all superheroes who struggle with their own form of kryptonite, most people have their own weaknesses when it comes to business communication. If you’re anything like me when it comes to public speaking, the stress and anxiety that comes with delivering presentations and speeches can feel pretty overwhelming. Having delivered four impromptu speeches in my management communication course, I’ve discovered that mastering skills of talking on your feet can ultimately boost confidence and help tremendously in improving communication in and outside of a professional setting.superhero

My first impromptu speech experience at school went a little something like this: my hands were stiff next to my body, I spoke too fast, and I began to ramble and repeat myself because I blanked. While in reality the speech lasted a total of less than a minute, it felt like an eternity standing in front of others talking about something I had zero time to prep for.

Speaking on the spot in front of a group of people is not an easy task, and often times can feel like a fighting a losing battle, but the experience of giving impromptu speeches is valuable practice that every individual can gain from. Although impromptu speaking may appear to be an arch nemesis for some, with these few tips, the process will hopefully seem a little less daunting.

Prep with a power stance. All superheroes have a signature pose, so why not make one too? It may sound weird, but it really does help. As social psychologist Amy Cuddy discusses in her Ted Talk, your body language can truly shape who you are. Nonverbal gestures have just as much impact as speaking when giving any kind of presentation. Steady eye contact, balanced hand movement, and limited fidgeting are all cues that can help keep an audience engaged. Simply changing your body to be more open and holding this position for two minutes can increase self-confidence and help overcome some last-minute nerves.

Use your powers to generate sticky ideas. Although you may not have superhuman strength, the ability to fly, or lightning-bolt speed, you do possess a set of your own superpowers and abilities you can use when presenting. In Chip and Dan Heath’s book Made To Stick, they cover six steps for creating SUCCESsful, memorable ideas:

  • Simple. One-sentence statements can often be the most profound. Keep your ideas succinct so that your audience can understand what you’re talking about.
  • Unexpected. Grab people’s attention through surprise. This element is what will help violate people’s expectations and leave them wanting to know more.
  • Concrete. Clarity is key when speaking to anyone, whether if is your classmates, your boss, or even a recruiter. Explain your ideas and answer questions with concrete examples and clear images for people to relate to.
  • Credible. What are the sources you are citing from? Don’t make assumptions without backing them up with something. The audience needs to know reasoning behind your presentation.
  • Emotional. Appeal to the pathos. Think about it – when giving a toast at your best friend’s wedding, are you going to give a list of reasons why you love him or her, or make your friend laugh and cry from funny memories you’ve shared? People can relate better to ideas when they feel something.
  • Stories. Storytelling is a great way to convey your ideas and get reactions from an audience, especially in interview settings. Answering questions with stories can appeal to emotion — making your interview memorable. 

Seize the opportunities to practice. Superheroes are not those to sit back and watch. They take action – and so should you. Apply this proactive approach to many impromptu-speaking scenarios. The more opportunities that you take to work on delivering impromptu and the more steps you take to improve speaking on the spot in public settings, the easier it will be to communicate effectively and increase confidence. The next time your boss asks you to deliver a presentation or you receive an e-mail to sign up for a mock interview, seize the chance to work these skills.

Ultimately, impromptu speaking is an integral part of everyday life in business communication. Interviewers will ask you tough questions you haven’t prepped for, bosses will ask you to present your work to clients on the spot, and your teachers may even ask you to discuss certain topics front of your peers. Instead of turning to fear, focus and think about your ideas. While the impromptu speech may seem scary at first, by following some of these mechanics, soon you’ll gain more confidence and realize the true superhero within.

November 28, 2014 at 8:15 am 9 comments

7 Ways to Get Your Way

By Sam Henderson

Picture this:sam you’re sitting on top of a mountain next to a creek after a long hike with your best friends during Fall Break. The sun is shining, but the crisp fall air means you don’t feel warm. You can’t be happier with how the day is turning out; however, your feelings change once you realize your friends are plotting to push you in the freezing cold creek for a decent chuckle. They have you trapped. You can’t run away, but you need a way out. What to do? You need to persuade your friends that this prank is not a good idea.

So you may not actually be on a mountain about to experience a numbing bath, but you may be in a position to use persuasive techniques. These opportunities include convincing your boss to implement your recommendations or showing why a company should hire you. Business provides countless opportunities for persuasion, and these seven techniques provided by the Kenan-Flagler Business Communication Center will help you capitalize on these opportunities and become more influential.

A Number is Worth 1000 Words

People in business love numbers, so put information in a form your audience enjoys. Statistics enable you to make your point simple and clear, and you can easily convey statistics in visual graphs and charts. Visuals account for 90 percent of total processed information. Just make sure to include where you got the statistic from, for statistics can be easily manipulated and citing your sources provides credibility.

In the boardroom: My proposal for more TV ads and less personal selling could decrease costs by 15 percent.

On the mountain: I read in the mountain’s hiking guide that dangerous rocks surround 70 percent of this creek. Seems like a pretty decent chance of getting injured.

The Rest is History

Studying the past can help solve problems of the present and future. You can use an example from history to argue the effects–whether good or bad–will be the same for your proposal. Historical examples provide hard evidence, which people cannot deny; the key factor is your ability to convince your audience that similar rewards or consequences will occur this time around.

In the boardroom: Urban Outfitters played dumb and denied its Kent State sweatshirt was designed to be offensive, which caused a lot of negative publicity. We should not lie to our customers and make the same mistake.

On the mountain: A couple of years ago, someone I know jumped into this creek and busted his head on a rock.

Bright As Day

An analogy is like introducing your friend to your parents by comparing him or her to another friend your parents already know. Analogies help your audience connect your point with another familiar idea through comparison. An analogy uses information already familiar to your audience so you don’t need to spend as much time introducing your point.

In the boardroom: Our company’s target market of women needs to be more specific since not all women need our products. When looking for someone to date, is gender the only thing that matters to you?

On the mountain: You guys are making me feel like a cat on hot bricks.

Show and Tell

Examples provide details that make your idea appear tangible and plausible. In this post, I’ve provided examples that expand my main point and persuade you to apply these techniques.

In the boardroom: We all agree our office needs to be more sustainable. Let me show you examples of other companies that have improved sustainability, and let’s brainstorm how we can apply these practices to our own building.

On the mountain: Let me show you guys this YouTube video of a guy getting pushed and breaking his leg on a rock.

Apples to Apples

Comparing and contrasting are effective when trying to persuade someone to choose your idea over another. They give you an opportunity to go head-to-head with competing ideas, and your job is to ensure your idea appears better than the others. Make sure the items you are comparing are similar in some way; comparing or contrasting two completely different ideas (apples to oranges) does not work. Comparing and contrasting also provide a great opportunity to use visuals. Venn diagrams and other graphic organizers are attractive and simple for the audience to view, which helps them understand your claim and hopefully agree in the end.

In the boardroom: Project A is a better project to pursue than Project B, for both projects require the same amount of initial costs; however, Project A will provide 40 percent more profit and will last twice as long.

On the mountain: You can push me into this creek and injure me, or you can dump a water bottle full of cold water on me. If you use a water bottle, I still get soaking wet, but I won’t get hurt.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Consequences enable the audience to see the results of not following your advice. Consequences typically create a feeling of fear or dislike for what may happen. You want to affect your audience’s emotions, for emotions often drive decisions and fear is a hard emotion to ignore.

In the boardroom: If we do not update our server to the most advanced version, our competitors that have updated will serve their customers faster and then steal a portion of our customers.

On the mountain: If you push me in this creek, I will probably break something on a rock. If I break something on a rock, you will have to carry me down this mountain and take me to the hospital. You don’t want to take me to the hospital.

Two Heads are Better than One

Especially when the second head is an expert in a specific field. Experts know more about their specific field, which makes their claims difficult to oppose. If an authority supports your idea, utilizing that information strengthens your argument.

In the boardroom: We should invest in Project A since it will increase our profit and now is a great time to invest, for the Wall Street Journal stated in an article yesterday that the cost of capital is at the lowest point this year.

On the mountain: The park ranger told me that we should not jump into this creek because we may get injured.

Whether you’re in the boardroom presenting to your boss or on a mountain persuading your friends to spare you from the cold water, use these seven tools to get your way. Develop your idea and then find areas where you can use persuasive techniques. Doing so will keep you above the competition and out of the creek.

November 26, 2014 at 9:23 am 6 comments

Magic Messages: Be an Email Wizard at Your Summer Internship

By Meredith Richard

Congrats! You’ve landed a sweet gig interning for the summer and are excited to enter the world of cubicles, coffee runs, and copy machines.wizard You’re ready to tackle another glorious day in the life of an intern and then you see it…43 unread emails and counting! You think to yourself, “How am I going to get through this onslaught of emails…magic?!” Most workers plow through 81 emails per day. That is a lot of information to sort through. How do you make your emails break through the mass so that people read them? Use these magic tips to become an email wizard.

Harness the wondrous sorting power of Cc: and Bcc:

“Cc:” is an abbreviation for the old school term “Carbon Copy.” Recipients of both “To:” and  “Cc:” can view and respond to an email. Key difference: You’ll place recipients in the “Cc:” box when the email is not directly for them, but when they might be interested in the information exchange. Use the “Cc:” function to keep everyone in the loop.

example again

“Bcc:” stands for “Blind Carbon Copy.” Email addresses typed into the “Bcc:” box will not be visible to recipients (nor will the “Bcc:” field). Use this function to:

  • Keep recipients anonymous if content is of a sensitive nature
  • Send a mass email when recipients don’t need to see other recipients’ names

More tips on using “Cc:” and “Bcc:” here

Be careful not to spam the masses by hitting “Reply All”

Avoid spamming listservs. You do not want to be “that intern” who meant to respond to the sole sender of the email but wound up responding to all 90 recipients. Your fellow interns and employees get enough emails as is and will not appreciate the extra email clogging up their inbox. In many cases, you only want to reply those in the “To:” box.

Include the bottom line in your subject line

Make your subject lines catchy to compel the recipient to read your email. Effective subject lines include the following elements:

  • Call to action – “Edits Needed for Social Media Guidelines”
  • Key information – “Room Changed to 2045 for Event Planning Session Today”
  • Important deadlines – “June Inventory Analytics due by 7/12”

Your subject lines can be incomplete sentences – keep them short so that your reader sees the whole message.

Don’t go on a “tagging” spree

Use “High Importance” sparingly. Fail to follow this rule, and you’ll wind up like the boy who cried “wolf.” If you mark every email with “High Importance,” after a while it loses its meaning, and people stop believing you.

Be concise

Less is more. The longer the email, the more scrolling the readers have to do, the less likely they are to make it all the way to the bottom. If your email is nearing novel length, consider discussing the information via phone call or an in-person conversation if possible.

Make your emails easy on the eyes

Emails are not essays. Help readers grasp your message with ease by using these formatting tips:

  • Headings will help readers identify the key takeaways from your email.
  • Bullets will help you keep your points concise (no full sentences required).
  • Bold “call to action” will emphasize the action the reader needs to take.

Dress up your emails from head to toe.

After using the tips above, you’ve got to finish strong with a professional looking signature at the bottom of your emails. Whether you are communicating with people inside or outside the company, include a professional signature so that recipients have all of the necessary information to contact you. Including your position and company name will add to your credibility.

Example:

Meredith Richard | Company X | Marketing Intern
Address | XXX-XXX-XXXX | myemail@domain.com

Note: When you find yourself, emailing back and forth, you can dispense with the whole signature; however, make sure your phone number still appears next to your name so that the reader can easily contact you.

cakeDon’t forget the icing on the cake!

No matter how well you follow all of the aforementioned rules, a seemingly good email can be undone by poor writing and grammar and a few misspelled words. TIP: Most email services include a spell-check function (no excuses!).

 

End the vicious cycle.

When you find yourself in an endless email communication loop, consider picking up the phone. Sometimes a quick phone conversation is more efficient.

Top-notch email skills can help set you apart from your fellow interns. Follow these rules, and your emails will start to be noticed…just like magic!

November 25, 2014 at 11:49 am 11 comments

Smart Social Media Use Could Save Your Internship

By Paige Schafer

When it comes to social media use, we’ve all heard it before: “Make sure that you’re not wasting time on it in the workplace” and “Don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t like your employer to see.” It’s easy to brush these suggestions off. After all, would your boss or employer really take time out of his or her busy day to creep on your Facebook page and walk by to make sure you’re doing your work? From personal experience, I know that the answer is “yes.”401 Blog Image

Eliminate Social Media Slacking at Work

My internship at a small marketing agency has shown me the importance of designating ONLY work to your job schedule. In order to understand my story, let me give you a visual of the office layout. The second floor where I work is a large room with desks for full-time employees on either side. In the middle, about 10 interns sit at a large table. The kitchen and bathrooms are off the side of the main room, so people are constantly walking past the intern table.

At first, I thought our supervisors and other full-time employees didn’t pay attention to what the interns were doing. It crossed my mind of course, but the other employees seemed to be focusing on their own goals and walking by too fast to study our computer screens. 

My perspective changed after an intern wasn’t pulling his weight. Another intern and I noticed what was going on and voiced our concerns to our supervisors. To my surprise, one of them said, “Yeah, I saw him Facebook chatting with three other people yesterday. It made me mad.”

Although I don’t worry about getting caught because I don’t slack off at work, this incident was definitely a wake-up call for me. It made me realize that even if it may not seem like it, your employers monitor your actions at work more than you think. Anyone could be watching you. 

Be Wary of Your Online Reputation 

My internship has also proven that your employer searches your social media accounts. One day, we heard some stir in the office about getting a new employee. It only took a few seconds into the conversation before someone asked, “What’s his name, I want to look him up on Facebook!” After some of the other interns and I laughed at this request, our supervisor said, “Oh, that always happens. We do it all the time.”

I glanced at some of the other interns, and their facial expressions mirrored mine. We were all thinking: Did they look at our Facebook accounts before hiring us too? I’ll never know the answer to this question for sure, but it’s safe to say they did.

The Moral of the Story

In just a few months, I’ve learned the importance of not slacking off on social media at work and maintaining clean social media accounts. Although you might not believe that employers check in on your work status and search your social media accounts to determine if you’re qualified, think again. You never know how many eyes are peering over your shoulder, whether it’s virtually or in-person at the office.

November 24, 2014 at 9:19 am 6 comments

Level Up! What Mobile Games Secretly Teach Us About Achieving Goals

By Carson Smith

You’re lying in your bed playing Candy Crush when you check the time to see that it is 2:00 a.m.gaming You have been playing this game for two and a half hours. Yet, even though you know you have to get up for an 8:00 a.m. class, you just can’t make yourself go to sleep until you beat the next level. And the next. And the next. Sound familiar?

Millions of people around the world spend countless hours with their eyes and thumbs glued to their smartphones. These people are addicted to the sense of pride and accomplishment they get every time they see the animated girl move down the path on the chocolate river. Leveling up is a drug, but it may not be as unhealthy as it sounds. When you think about it, these games are based on a goal achievement system that motivates players to stick with a task until it is complete. It may sound silly, but we could learn a lot about setting goals from smashing hard candies.

The goal system in these games consists of three main components: achievements, teamwork, and rewards. Together these three factors create an unstoppable force of motivation that keeps us hooked until we win. Taking these components and integrating them into a real-world scenario could have the same impact. So, while you are working towards your new resolutions, think about leveling up.

Track Your Progress with Achievements. Once you have a goal in mind, you can’t stop there — just knowing what you want won’t help you accomplish that goal. Sure you have a great idea for your upcoming project, but how are you going to make it happen? That’s where structure kicks in. Achievements in mobile games are mini-goals. One of the ways Candy Crush keeps us motivated is by breaking up the ultimate goal of beating the game into smaller, more manageable tasks. These achievements start out easy but get progressively harder as the game goes on. We gain confidence at the beginning, and as the system pushes us to move step by step, we start to feel like we cannot rest until we have achieved mastery.

Taking the gaming method into account, try to map and write out the overall steps to reach your goal—make checkpoints of increasing difficulty to give you that extra push towards success. Let your creativity run wild with these achievements–think of what will motivate you to level up as much as you can as you map your goals. By the way, Dr. Gail Matthews concluded in her research that people who write down their goals and share their progress weekly are 33% more likely to accomplish these goals.

Team Up. So according to Matthews, sharing your progress with goals and working with a friend could help you tackle tough obstacles as you progress through your goal. Some games, such as Clash of Clans, challenge you with strong army hordes that you must defeat. teamwork (1)Challenges like these are almost impossible to overcome without the help of a friend, so these games highly stress cooperation via social media. With the help of a friend’s clan, your army multiplies in size and can take on harder challenges that you could not have achieved alone. Just like in games, you can use social media to ask for help in reaching your own goals. Message your friends for help or support – this simple and easy process could save you time and stress.

Reward Success. After setting up a clear structure and finding some teammates, we can finally earn those much coveted rewards for leveling up. In games, players stay interested when they earn exclusive items and higher independence within the game. All of the hard work becomes worth it with a good reward system. Games also push for continued leveling up by hinting certain rewards in store for the next level. This repetitive process of earning rewards as we get closer to winning the game makes us thirst for more.

Try to find rewards for your efforts that will inspire you to stick with your goals. In some instances, your work alone will produce the reward, but you can also reward yourself. Indulge in a candy bar or a trip to the movies after reaching a certain level. Don’t forget to keep the rewards coming so that you can truly complete your goal!

Goal-setting will help you overcome many future obstacles in both your career and your personal life. Ironically, we can look at mobile games, which can aid in procrastination in our lives, to find the solution to achieving goals. Turning a goal into game can make goals easier and more enjoyable to achieve. By implementing a fun structure, team-oriented support, and gratifying rewards for progress, you can level up!

November 23, 2014 at 6:39 pm 10 comments

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