Tips for Metro Riders

If you are one of those lucky Washingtonians who doesn’t have to battle through traffic on the Beltway every morning to commute to work, you most likely take the metro! Learn how to make your metro commute easier, safer, and all around more enjoyable by following the tips below:

  1. Buy a SmartTrip Card: Not only will these cards get you through the turnstiles a little more quickly; they also save you up to a dollar or more on every trip!
  2. Wear comfortable shoes: Commuting via metro typically means that you will have to do a bit of walking to get to and from the station, so wear comfortable shoes and bring your work shoes in a separate bag if necessary.
  3. Hold onto your bags at all times: Holding onto your bags will not only protect you from theft, but it’s also considerate for other passengers to keep your bags off the floor and seats.
  4. Keep your fare card handy: While you want to keep your fare or SmartTrip card somewhere safe, you also want to have it easily accessible so that you don’t have to hunt through your entire purse or wallet to find it when exiting the metro.
  5. Stand right, walk left: This rule of thumb applies to riding the escalators. If you are standing, stand to the right, this leaves the left side open for walking passengers to pass by you unobstructed.
  6. Report any suspicious behavior or unattended bags: Metro police request that passengers report any suspicious behavior or unattended bags they notice to a uniformed metro worker or police officer. This action will help keep you and other riders safe while on the metro.
  7. Plan your trips ahead of time: If you are a daily commuter, you probably know what time your train arrives every morning, but it’s always a good idea to check for any metro delays or alerts before you leave the house to avoid any interruptions to your routine.

Increase Your Chances of Being Hired in 5 Minutes or Less

As we have mentioned previously, searching for work can be a full-time job in itself. Although, there are also some easy changes you can make in less than five minutes that can greatly increase your chances of finding employment. We have shared a few examples below:

Update your email address: The email address listed on your resume should be professional, not personal. For example, john.doe@gmail.com is much more professional than johnnyd1422@gmail.com.

  1. Update your voicemail greeting: Again, you should aim to have a professional voicemail greeting attached to the number provided on your resume. Instead of, “Hey it’s me, leave me a message,” you should use, “You’ve reached the cell phone of John Doe, please leave me a message and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”
  2. Read your resume out loud: Reading your resume out loud can allow you to hear minor wording errors or notice spelling mistakes that you might have missed while reading it on your computer. The eye is apt to scan over any mistakes and correct them automatically in your head as you read, but your ear can’t be fooled as easily.
  3. Get a haircut: Looking professional and polished in an interview can be the key to receiving a job offer. Always be prepared for an interview and maintain a professional appearance by getting your hair cut regularly.
  4. Set your alarm: If you are a recent college graduate or a young professional looking for their first full-time job, you are probably not used to a regular nine to five schedule. If you keep your sleep schedule regulated while you are unemployed you will have a much easier time transitioning into full-time work. Also, that age-old saying about the early bird catching the worm applies to job searching, too!

Writing a Professional Email

Whether you are a job seeker applying for positions and corresponding with hiring managers, or a working professional writing to coworkers, superiors and clients, being able to write a professional email is a critical skill. Learn how to avoid making simple mistakes and seeming unprofessional by following our tips below:

  1. Attach your documents FIRST.
    • Before you do anything else, attach any documents you need to include. For example: your resume, a report, etc.
    • If you’ve ever sent an email and realized a second too late that you’ve forgotten to include the attachment, this tip will definitely benefit you!
  2. Fill in your contact’s email address LAST:
    • This way, if you accidentally hit send before your email is finished it will not go to your intended recipient.
  3. Set up an automatic signature with your phone number and email address:
    • Then you’ll never have to worry about including your contact information in your emails.
  4. Proofread out loud:
    • Always read your emails aloud before sending them. Your ear will pick up on any spelling, wording, or grammar mistakes that you might have missed otherwise.
  5. Choose your subject line AFTER writing the body of your email:
    • Your email subject should reflect what is written in your email, so it’s easier to choose a more relevant subject line once you know exactly what your email will say.

Transitioning into Fall

With the weather slowly getting colder and the days getting shorter, it can be difficult for professionals to transition from their fun summer schedules into the hectic end-of-year rush. We have provided some advice below that is sure to help any professional stay positive and upbeat during their transition into fall.

1. Soak up as much daylight as possible:

  • In the winter, working professionals can end up spending all of their daylight hours indoors, so take advantage of the sun whenever possible.
  • Take a walk outside during your lunch break or volunteer to run errands for the office in order to get some time with the sun.
  • There are also tons of fun outdoor activities that you can pursue over your fall weekends such as picking apples, visiting a pumpkin patch, or heading to a local winery.

2. Exercise regularly:

  • It’s easy to fall into an exercise-rut during the winter months, so try to get into a work out routine that you can maintain throughout the season.
  • Exercising boosts endorphins, which in turn boost your energy and happiness levels.

3. Take a new class:

  • The fall is widely recognized as back-to-school season and that doesn’t mean just for the kids!
  • Take advantage of the new school year and learn a new skill by taking a software course, certification class, or even a new fitness class.

4. Fall cleaning:

  • Everyone has heard of spring-cleaning, but fall is also a great time to get organized and tidy up after a busy summer.
  • Organize your desk and files to ensure you have your work in order before the big end-of-year rush kicks in.

5. Update your winter wardrobe:

  • With the summer coming to a close, it’s time to put away your short sleeves and take out your cold-weather clothing.
  • Take advantage of back-to-school clothing sales to fill your wardrobe with professional yet warm pieces that could easily transition from weekday to weekend.

Three Ways to Avoid Wasting Your Time

When you’re unemployed, job searching can take up the majority of your free time, so it’s important you use that time wisely. Below we have included a few tips on how to make sure every second you spend on the job hunt is time well spent.

  1. Devote a time and place to job search:
    • Rather than casually browsing job sites all day while you eat, watch television or listen to the radio, set aside a certain amount of time each day to devote to your job search. If you allot a certain time period to job searching and nothing else, you will be more focused and productive.
    • You should also assign a particular area of your house or even the local coffee shop as your devoted job search destination. Job-hunting from your couch in front of the television could be a distracting waste of your time.
  2. Apply for jobs you are qualified for:
    • The most common way job seekers waste their time is by applying for jobs they are over or under qualified for. While it doesn’t hurt you to apply for a job you aren’t qualified for, it’s definitely a waste of time.
    • Most job seekers believe they have to submit their resume to as many opportunities as possible in order to increase their chances of landing an interview, but in the end, you are wasting your time applying for any job you aren’t qualified for.
    • The same thing goes for jobs you are overqualified for. With the job market still doing poorly, most job seekers are willing to take pay and responsibility cuts in order to land a position. While you might think that companies would want to hire someone with even more experience than they are looking for, the opposite is usually true. An employer does not want to bring on an employee that would be taking a huge pay cut for the position, because there is nothing to stop them from leaving as soon as they find a better (higher-paying) opportunity. This situation would leave them back where they started, looking for a qualified candidate to fill the opening. In a sense, hiring an overqualified employee could be a waste of their time, as well as yours.
  3. Research the companies and positions you are applying for:
    • Even if you apply for a position you are qualified for, you should still make sure the company is a place you would be comfortable working at. Spending a little extra time researching the company could end up saving you from wasting a lot more time further down the line.
    • For example, say you apply for a position with a company you haven’t researched and they bring you in for an interview. During that interview you realize that the company is not a place you would want to work for due to a disagreement in values, money, policy, etc. You will have wasted your time prepping for and going to the interview, and you will also have wasted the company and hiring manager’s time.

Follow these simple tips and you will be sure to increase your productivity while on the job search!

Why it’s Important to Highlight Your Soft Skills in an Interview

According to an article in the latest edition of the American Staffing Association’s bi-monthly magazine, Staffing Success, most employers believe that a candidate’s soft skills are just as important as their hard skills. Soft skills are defined as “less tangible traits associated with one’s personality, such as a positive attitude,” and hard skills are “abilities that are learned to perform a specific job function and can be measured, such as operating a computer program.”

The article also cites a survey completed by CareerBuilder of more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resources professionals. The survey found the top ten most desirable soft skills that companies say they look for when hiring. We’ve included the list below:

  • Strong work ethic – 73%
  • Dependability – 73%
  • Positive attitude – 72%
  • Self-motivated – 66%
  • Team-oriented – 60%
  • Organization – 57%
  • Works well under pressure – 57%
  • Effective communicator – 56%
  • Flexibility – 51%
  • Confidence – 46%

What Traits are Hiring Managers Looking for?

When hiring managers search for the perfect candidate to fill a position, they look for a particular set of traits in their ideal candidate. These traits are what will set you apart from your competition and increase your chances of landing the job. Find out what they are in the list below:

  1. You met the minimum job criteria
  2. You have relevant experience
  3. You understand and support the mission of the organization
  4. You can site specific examples demonstrating your ability to do the job
  5. You demonstrate competent communication skills and are able to connect with your audience
  6. You interview well and confidently, and have strong responses to interview questions
  7. You build rapport in the interview including showing resourcefulness, intellect, and passion
  8. You ask questions to demonstrate interest in the organization (and to indicate that you did your homework on the company)
  9. You offer enthusiastic references
  10. You have potential for growth and development

At the end of the day, the real deciding factor boils down to one important quality: They like you. How you personally connect with the receptionist, hiring manager, and anyone else you meet during your interview is incredibly important. A less-qualified person might get the job over someone more qualified simply because they had better chemistry with the hiring manager. So it’s important to remember that being likeable is just one more trait hiring managers look for when interviewing candidates!

 

Source: http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2014/07/24/what-top-trait-beats-your-job-search-competition/

Interview Body Language

To prepare for a big job interview, most job seekers spend the majority of their time planning what they will say. While what you say is extremely important, you shouldn’t forget that how you look and present yourself in a job interview holds substantial weight in the eyes of hiring managers. Learn how to display proper body language in a job interview by reading our tips below:

  • Establish a comfortable distance between yourself and your interviewer. Invading a hiring manager’s personal space will make them feel uncomfortable and could distract them from what you are saying.
  • Sit up straight and lean in slightly towards your interviewer. This will show that you are attentive and engaged in the conversation.
  • Display enthusiasm by nodding occasionally and displaying other positive cues.
  • Maintain eye contact, but don’t be afraid to break it. Staring at your interviewer through the entirety of the interview could make them uncomfortable.
  • Smile often to show enthusiasm and interest in the position. Hiring managers will mistake a lack of expression as lack of interest in the position.
  • Sit still and avoid fidgeting. Touching your face, scratching your back, or playing with your hair will signal to your interviewer that you are uncomfortable or disinterested. Avoid shaking your leg, which will also display agitation and disinterest.
  • Give your interviewer a firm handshake at the beginning and end of your interview to display appreciation and confidence.

Three Ways to Avoid Wasting Your Time

When you’re unemployed, job searching can take up the majority of your free time, so it’s important you use that time wisely. Below we have included a few tips on how to make sure every second you spend on the job hunt is time well spent.

  1. Devote a time and place to job search:
    • Rather than casually browsing job sites all day while you eat, watch television or listen to the radio, set aside a certain amount of time each day to devote to your job search. If you allot a certain time period to job searching and nothing else, you will be more focused and productive.
    • You should also assign a particular area of your house or even the local coffee shop as your devoted job search destination. Job-hunting from your couch in front of the television could be a distracting waste of your time.
  2. Apply for jobs you are qualified for:
    • The most common way job seekers waste their time is by applying for jobs they are over or under qualified for. While it doesn’t hurt you to apply for a job you aren’t qualified for, it’s definitely a waste of time.
    • Most job seekers believe they have to submit their resume to as many opportunities as possible in order to increase their chances of landing an interview, but in the end, you are wasting your time applying for any job you aren’t qualified for.
    • The same thing goes for jobs you are overqualified for. With the job market still doing poorly, most job seekers are willing to take pay and responsibility cuts in order to land a position. While you might think that companies would want to hire someone with even more experience than they are looking for, the opposite is usually true. An employer does not want to bring on an employee that would be taking a huge pay cut for the position, because there is nothing to stop them from leaving as soon as they find a better (higher-paying) opportunity. This situation would leave them back where they started, looking for a qualified candidate to fill the opening. In a sense, hiring an overqualified employee could be a waste of their time, as well as yours.
  3. Research the companies and positions you are applying for:
    • Even if you apply for a position you are qualified for, you should still make sure the company is a place you would be comfortable working at. Spending a little extra time researching the company could end up saving you from wasting a lot more time further down the line.
    • For example, say you apply for a position with a company you haven’t researched and they bring you in for an interview. During that interview you realize that the company is not a place you would want to work for due to a disagreement in values, money, policy, etc. You will have wasted your time prepping for and going to the interview, and you will also have wasted the company and hiring manager’s time.

Follow these simple tips and you will be sure to increase your productivity while on the job search!

The Do’s & Don’ts of Requesting Time Off

DO:

  • Give your employer plenty of notice before taking time off.
  • Try to plan your vacations, trips, etc. around your supervisor’s and coworkers’ schedules to avoid taking time off at the same time as the rest of the office.
  • Put your time off request in writing – a verbal request could easily be forgotten.
  • Try to schedule any doctor’s appointments, etc. during your lunch break, so that you don’t need to miss work.
  • Save your sick days for when you are actually sick – you never know when/if you will need them.

DON’T:

  • Request a lot of time off after just starting a new position.
  • Request time off at the last minute – for example, you shouldn’t wait until Friday to ask for that Monday off.
  • Assume you are guaranteed time off around holidays – always be sure to ask your employer about the holiday schedule and request time off if needed.
  • Use all of your paid time off at once – try to avoid missing a large amount of work at one time by spreading out your time off throughout the year.