How to Take Initiative

Taking initiative is a crucial skill for any employee who wants to succeed in the workplace. As a temporary employee, taking initiative could help land you a permanent job offer, and as a permanent employee, it could lead to a raise or a promotion. Learn how to find opportunities to take initiative in our advice below.

  1. Offer Assistance:
    1. When you have downtime in between projects, you should seek extra opportunities to help out around the office.
    2. Offer to assist your supervisor or coworkers if you see them struggling to meet a deadline or finish a project.
    3. When it comes time to hand out bonuses or offer promotions, your boss will remember the times where you stepped up to the plate to offer assistance.
  2. Seek Improvement:
    1. A proactive employee constantly seeks ways to improve processes around the office.
    2. Always keep your eyes peeled for ways to make office procedures more efficient and effective, and then share your suggestions with your supervisor.
    3. For example, if you think you have a great way to boost your company’s online presence, come up with a pitch for your boss and present it to them.
  3. Solve Problems:
    1. Take the initiative to solve problems when they arise whenever possible. A quick problem solver is a great asset for any manager.
    2. Being a great problem solver will take stress off of your boss and they will surely appreciate you for that.
    3. Although, if there is ever a problem that you believe you are unauthorized to take care of, you should definitely seek assistance before trying to solve things yourself and stepping on any toes.
  4. Ask for More Responsibilities:
    1. If you feel you have mastered your current responsibilities and have extra time to take on more work each day, you should let your boss know.
    2. Rather than sitting around waiting for your boss to give you more work, you should go to them and let them know you can handle more.
    3. Ask your boss if there are any tasks that you could take off their hands and manage yourself. Seeking additional responsibilities will show that you are ready for a promotion, and also possibly deserve a raise.
  5. Work Hard:
    1. Taking initiative doesn’t just mean seeking extra work outside of your set responsibilities. It also applies to exceeding expectations for those responsibilities.
    2. Try to plan ahead in order to turn in your work ahead of deadlines or prepare in advance for projects that haven’t started yet.
    3. Taking initiative is not just turning your work in on time, but turning it in early. Similarly, taking initiative is not just getting the job done, but doing it well.

You should aim to exceed all of your supervisor’s expectations for your work, and go above and beyond the call of duty whenever possible. Frequently taking initiative is the surest way to succeed and grow as a professional.

What to Do if You Didn’t Land that Summer Internship

In your younger years, summer vacation was just that – a vacation. But now, as young adults, high school and college students alike use their summers to gain valuable work experience in the real world through internships. As summer quickly approaches, your chances of landing that summer internship grow smaller and smaller. If you have lost hope of finding one this year, don’t worry, there are other ways for you to gain that valuable work experience over your summer break.

One great way to earn some money while also gaining professional experience is to register with staffing agencies to find some temporary work for the summer. Temp jobs allow you to work for competitive hourly wages in professional office environments. Staffing agencies hire college students who have not completed their degrees and place them in administrative, clerical, and junior-level temp opportunities, even if they do not have much office experience.

Another option you have to gain valuable work experience is to volunteer with an organization in your field. While they may not be able to hire you on as a paid intern, plenty of companies will gladly welcome the free help in exchange for helping you gain more work experience. This is not a good option for students looking to gain some money over the summer, but if you’re financially stable and not strapped for cash, this could be the right choice for you.

Lastly, consider signing up for some summer courses at your school or a local university close to home (if that’s were you’ll be). The additional credits could go towards advancing your degree, helping you graduate early, or even lead to you picking up a minor degree or certification relevant to your desired field.

If you weren’t able to land a summer internship this year, don’t worry! There are plenty of other ways to spend your free time that could help you gain valuable knowledge and experience, which will surely benefit you post-graduation!

How to Land a Job with Little (or No) Experience

College graduates and entry-level workers continually face this age old dilemma: you can’t get a job without experience, but you can’t get experience without a job. Don’t worry; we are here to tell you how you can spin your lack of professional experience in a positive way in order to help you land your first job.

First off, networking is currently a very popular way to get your foot in the door with a company in your desired field. While your resume might not have much to show in terms of experience, a networking contact who knows you well can vouch for you to a hiring manager. Rather than send your resume blindly to job postings, build your professional network and see if there is anyone you know who is hiring, or knows someone who is! A lot of times, a good personality fit is just as important as relevant experience, so you should try to make friends in the right places!

Next, it’s important to highlight the skills you’ve gained outside of a professional work environment. This includes skills you’ve picked up from group projects at schools, part-time jobs, etc. Think of situational examples you can share with a hiring manager in which you used valuable skills such as team work, problem solving, or organization.

Another great way to boost your resume before applying to permanent jobs is to try temping. Temp agencies frequently hire recent college grads with little experience, and temp jobs provide job seekers with the opportunity to work in a professional setting and gain much-needed experience. Temping is also a great option for recent grads that are not sure what field they want to jump into. You can temp around at different offices in different industries to figure out what you like best before committing to a permanent job.

 

What do Employers Expect from Recent Graduates?

When an employer is looking to hire a recent graduate to fill an open position, certain qualities can outweigh others. Typically, the most important thing a recent graduate can offer an employer is relevant experience, but there are other qualities that come into consideration.

First off, relevant experience typically outweighs relevant knowledge. For example, having three marketing internships under your belt and an English degree can be more beneficial than having a marketing degree and no relevant work experience.

Next, having a relevant degree can outweigh your place of education. For example, having a marketing degree from a state school would make you more qualified for a marketing position than a Political Science degree from an Ivy League school.

Another factor that a potential employer will consider is whether or not a recent graduate would be a cultural fit with their organization. Some companies seek job seekers who have a lot of independence and are able to work autonomously, while others want team players who are able to work collaboratively and share the credit of a job well done.

Lastly, an employer will want to see that a recent graduate has demonstrated growth and the ability to learn throughout their academic and professional careers. For example, they want to see that you were promoted in your job at the library from Front Desk Clerk to Catalogue Manager. Or that your internship in freshman year asked you back to work for consecutive summers.

Keep these factors in mind as you start to apply for jobs post-graduation, and make sure potential employers are aware of all your best qualities and experiences.

Job Search Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

Unfortunately, there are plenty of myths and antiquated ideas about job searching that job seekers acknowledge as hard fast rules. We have chosen to highlight a few of these myths that we find particularly irksome below:

  1. Your resume should only be one page.
    • The one-page resume rule seems to have been around forever, but reducing your work history to one page can be a critical mistake for job seekers.
    • Hiring managers would much rather see your entire work history laid out on three pages worth of resume than have you exclude relevant work experience in order to fit everything on one page.
  2. Your college major will determine your entire career.
    • While there are certain career paths that require particular majors, such as engineering or mathematics, your college major does not have to dictate your entire career.
    • When choosing the perfect applicant for a job, hiring managers consider a whole lot more than what your major was in college. Relevant experience, applicable skills, and personality are all additional factors in a hiring manager’s decision.
  3. You should apply for every single job posting that you are interested in.
    •  If you are not fully qualified for a job posting you see, don’t waste your time applying for it. Job postings typically list qualities or experiences that applicants must have, but a lot of job seekers seem to ignore them. Being interested in a job and believing you can do it does not make you a qualified applicant.
    • Wasting your time applying for jobs you will never get is a big mistake for job seekers. Focus your attention and effort on jobs that you feel you are honestly qualified for and believe you can get. This will eventually lead to a much more successful job search in the end.
  4. You need to have an objective or mission statement on your resume.
    • Listing a specific objective statement on your resume can lead hiring managers to believe you are only looking for one particular kind of job and won’t consider you for other opportunities.
    • On the other hand, having a broad, generic objective statement on your resume is basically useless. Objective statements serve no real purpose and are therefore unnecessary to include on your resume.
    • Instead of an objective statement, use your cover letter to let hiring managers know what you are looking for and why you feel qualified.
  5. Companies and hiring managers will never be able to see my social media profiles.
    • Many professionals believe that their social media pages are hidden from the eyes of hiring managers. They change their names on Facebook or change their privacy settings assuming that no potential employer will ever be able to see their pictures and posts.
    • The truth is, it’s not that hard for a potential employer to see some, if not all, of your pictures and posts on social media.
    • Changing your name on Facebook to a combination of your first and middle name or even replacing it with a completely made-up name will not deter an employer who wants to find your profile. If the email address that you use to sign onto Facebook is the same email that you put on your resume, all employers have to do is search that email address on Facebook instead of your name. The profile linked with your email address will come up no matter what you’ve changed the name on your profile to.
    • Also, with constantly changing privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it’s easy for old photos or posts to suddenly become visible again if you haven’t taken the time to update all of your privacy settings.

 

5 Common Resume Mistakes

Having a great resume is key to being successful in your job search. Your resume is typically the first impression an employer has of you, so it’s important that it properly represents you. To help, we’ve listed five of the most common mistakes job hunters make on their resumes.

  1. Too much personal information:
    1. Employers are going to hire you based on your work experience, not on your favorite hobbies. Your resume should not have a “Personal Interests” category. In a job interview, if your interviewer mentions his love of volleyball, then that would be an appropriate time to mention you share the same interest.
    2. It’s not necessary to mention your marital status or children on your resume. Again, a potential employer is only interested in your professional background.
  2. Spelling and grammar mistakes:
    1. The easiest way to get your resume rejected is to submit it with uncorrected spelling and grammatical errors. A potential employer will see a resume with a lot of mistakes and assume you are careless or sloppy in your work.
    2. Make sure to edit your resume several times before submitting it to a company. It also helps to have someone else read it over, a new set of eyes are more likely to pick up on any small mistakes.
  3. Length:
    1. While it’s important that your resume is not excessively long, you should not exclude relevant work experience just to fit everything on one page. You don’t want a potential employer to discount you because you left off relevant experience.
    2. At the same time, you don’t need to include every position you’ve had since the beginning of your career. Some of your past jobs might not be relevant to the current position you are applying for. Feel free to leave off the coffee bar you worked at through grad school if you have more relevant experience to include.
    3. You also want to avoid having too short of a resume. If you are a recent college grad and have only worked at one or two positions, try to expand upon your responsibilities to lengthen your work history. Also, you can include extracurricular activities you participated in if the experience you gained from them seems relevant to your career.
  4. Too busy:
    1. Don’t use a ton of fonts and creative detail on your resume. Keep it simple, so that an employer’s eye can easily follow your work history down the page. There is no need to go crazy with bold and italicized fonts in different colors.
    2. Avoid using borders and underlines to separate sections on your resume. As long as you have everything labeled appropriately, an employer will be able to understand it.
  5. Missing critical information:
    1. Make sure the header of your resume includes your full name, address, phone number and email address. If an employer doesn’t have your full contact information, they won’t be able to reach you to set up an interview or offer you a job.
    2. List the month and year you started and finished each position on your resume. Job seekers avoid adding dates to their work history for various reasons, but this is a huge mistake! It makes employers feel that you are hiding something.
    3. List the appropriate job title for each of your positions. New employers will most likely get employment verifications on your work history, so it’s important you have all the correct information. If there is a discrepancy with your job title or dates of employment, your new employer will be suspicious.

Keep these five easily avoidable mistakes on hand next time you update your resume and you’ll be sure to land a great job in no time!

Creating the Perfect Cover Letter

Cover letters serve as an introduction to your resume. While a great cover letter can help you make a good first impression on an employer, a bad cover letter could result in an employer discarding your resume without reading further. Follow the tips below while writing your cover letters and you will be sure to impress every hiring manager you send them to.

  • Be creative:
    • Recruiters and hiring managers spend all day going over cover letters, so it’s incredibly important that yours stands out. Most job seekers follow the same basic cover letter format, so anything you do differently will make yours unique.
    • Try to grab your reader’s attention in the first few sentences of your cover letter. Avoid using the basic introduction stating how perfect you are for a particular position. If you can’t grab the reader’s attention immediately, they probably will not continue reading the cover letter.
  • Be brief:
    • Job seekers commonly mistake cover letters as opportunities to present their entire professional background. While you want to mention the highlights of your career and skills, you do not need to mention every position you have had in the past ten years.
    • It’s also important to use your cover letter as an opportunity to mention any skills or past responsibilities you have had that qualify you for the position you are applying for. If a hiring manager sees specific skills they are looking for mentioned in your cover letter, they will be more inclined to view your resume.
  • Be personal:
    • While you want to keep your cover letter professional, it is also important to give it a personal tone. Speak conversationally without being too informal, and avoid being overly formal.
    • Mention something about yourself that makes you stand out as a stellar candidate. Cover letters provide an opportunity to mention any past experience or skill you have that may not fit on a resume, but helps qualify you for a particular position.

Cover letters not only give employers insight into your background, they also serve as a representation of your writing and communication skills. After completing your cover letter, be sure to edit it for any grammatical or spelling mistakes. Also, we suggest you have someone else read through it to check for readability and any mistakes you may have missed. Simply follow this advice and your cover letter will be sure to impress any hiring manager!

Transitioning Your Work Wardrobe for Spring

As the weather gets warmer, professionals are ditching their winter wardrobes in favor of cooler clothing. While it’s important to dress appropriately for the season, you also need to adhere to your workplace’s dress code. If your office adheres to a business casual dress code, we have made lists of what is and is not appropriate to wear to help you prepare your spring wardrobe:

What is appropriate?

  • Dress pants
  • Blouses
  • Skirts or dresses that reach the knee
  • Polo shirts
  • Button down shirts
  • Closed toe shoes
  • Khakis or slacks
  • Sweaters

What is not appropriate?

  • Jeans
  • Sneakers
  • Hats of any kind
  • Open toe shoes or sandals/flip flops
  • T-shirts
  • Shorts
  • Cargo pants
  • Athletic wear
  • Sweatpants and sweatshirts
  • Tank tops or sleeveless shirts
  • Revealing clothing
  • Tights/leggings

How to Succeed as a Temp

As we have previously mentioned, temporary work is a great way to get your foot in the door with an organization and potentially find a permanent job with them. For that reason, you should treat each and every temporary assignment as part of a long interview process. Everything you do and say (and even the things you don’t do or say) will make a positive or negative impression on your temporary supervisor. Going into a temp assignment with a great attitude and the desire to succeed will result in you making a great impression on the company you are temping for, and could possibly lead to a full-time job offer. Follow our tips below and you will be sure to succeed as a temporary employee:

 

  • Always act professionally
  • Take initiative whenever it seems appropriate
  • Express interest in the organization and what you are doing
  • Don’t use the computers or office machinery for personal use
  • Don’t text or make calls while on the clock
  • Avoid being late or missing work
  • Offer to take on additional responsibilities
  • Ask thoughtful and insightful questions
  • Make suggestions for improvement if appropriate
  • Build professional connections with your colleagues
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for additional clarification whenever necessary
  • Make sure your work is properly prioritized
  • Keep your workspace tidy and organized
  • Use a professional vocabulary and avoid any slang usage

How Recruiters Read Your Resume

Many employers enlist the help of staffing agencies to help them fill open positions, both permanent and temporary, which means your resume needs to get through a recruiter before it is ever seen by the hiring manager. So in order to optimize your resume for review by a recruiter, you need to know what goes through a recruiter’s head as they read it.

First, before a recruiter even opens your resume, you have to give them a reason to do so.  Recruiters are inundated with dozens, if not hundreds, of resumes per day. This means your cover letter needs to draw a recruiter in and make them want to take the next step, which is reviewing your resume. Your cover letter should be brief and to the point, quickly listing why you are a qualified candidate. The brevity is important because recruiters receive so many applications per day – they are not going to spend too much time reading a full-page essay about your entire work history.

So you’ve gotten a recruiter to open your resume, now what? Again, recruiters are extremely busy professionals who are often working to fill multiple job openings at once. They quickly scan through a resume looking for certain key words and experience before moving on to the next one. This is why it’s important for you to closely review the job description and/or posting before applying, and then update your resume appropriately. If the job posting says they are looking for candidates with sales, PowerPoint, and nonprofit experience then make sure all three of those words are easily found within your resume – ideally more than once!

It’s also important to note that recruiters spend the majority of their days looking at resumes, so they’ve learned to spot inconsistencies. This is why it’s important for you to always be 100% truthful with the information on your resume. By sending your resume to a client, a recruiter is putting their relationship with that client, as well as their own professional reputation on the line. They will not send a resume if they believe a candidate might have fibbed about their dates of employment, title, or work experience. You should also know that if a recruiter thinks there might be an inconsistency on your resume, they will not hesitate to investigate it, so always be upfront and truthful both on your resume and in your correspondence with a recruiter.

A recruiter will also hesitate to send any resume that is poorly written or contains multiple spelling and grammar mistakes. Again, their reputation is at stake when sending a bad resume. They do not want to tarnish their relationship with their client by sending a resume filled with grammatical errors, especially when there are tons of other resumes in their inbox that might be well-written. For this reason, you need to double- and triple-check your resume for any inconsistencies, or grammatical or formatting errors. At the end of the day, both your potential job and their job/reputation as a recruiter are on the line.

By understanding a recruiter’s mindset when reviewing your resume, you can get a leg-up on your competition and ensure your resume will catch the eye of the next recruiter who sees it.