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.

Maintaining Professional Social Media Pages

Social media can be a great resource for job seekers, but it can also be a large hindrance for those who don’t monitor their pages’ content. Make sure your social media pages present you as an employable, respectable professional before using them as a resource in your job hunt. Even if you don’t use Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to help you network and apply for jobs, some organizations go out of their way to check social media pages before presenting a candidate with a job offer. Read over our tips below to make sure your social media pages present you as a great candidate to any potential employer.

  1.  Use a professional, flattering photo as your profile picture or avatar. This means no pictures of you in your Halloween costume, making a funny face, or partying in college.
  2. Set your privacy settings accordingly. If there are any inappropriate or unprofessional pictures or posts on your social media page that you cannot delete, make sure they are not visible to anyone who visits your page.
  3. Delete anything you wouldn’t want a potential boss or coworker to see. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so even if you think your pictures are completely private, it might just be better to get rid of them.
  4. Link your social media pages to an email address you don’t list on your resume. Changing your name on Facebook or using a nickname on Twitter does not mean an employer can’t find your profile. If your profile is linked to the same email address you have on your resume, all an employer has to do is search for that email address to find your profile.

Keeping your social media pages looking professional and presentable will definitely help you in your job search. Don’t give potential employers any excuse to disregard you as an applicant by making sure your social media pages present you as a desirable, hirable professional.

 

How to Tell Your Boss You’re Leaving

Whether you are working in a permanent or temporary position, quitting your job is a complicated procedure. The key to a successful career is networking with peers and coworkers, so you don’t want to burn bridges when leaving a position.

Guidelines to follow:

  • Give Proper Notice
    • When telling your supervisor that you are quitting, you want to give them as much notice as possible in order to give them time to fill your position.
    • Announcing to your boss that you are quitting and today is going to be your last day leaves them with the same amount of work, but less people around to help.
    • Your employer was kind enough to give you a chance and a job in the first place, so the least you can do is give them a couple weeks to find your replacement.
    • Two weeks notice is the acceptable amount of time recommended to most professionals. If you are in a temporary position however, one week should be fine.
  • Quit in Person
    • You wouldn’t break up with a person through an email, and it is just as rude to quit your job through one.
    • Arrange a time to sit face-to-face with your boss to tell them you will be ending your position.
    • Your boss will be much more appreciative if you give them the respect of quitting in person, where you can look them in the eye and explain your situation thoroughly.
  • Don’t Burn Bridges
    • As we mentioned previously, you do not want to lose the connections you made at your position when you quit.
    • Be as respectful and appreciative as possible when quitting, because without your current employer and the experience you gained from them, you might not have been qualified for a new job in the first place.
    • Even if you didn’t use your current employer as a reference for your new position, you might need to use them in the future.
    • Make sure you leave your job on good terms, so you can use them as a reference if you ever need to. Also, you want to make sure that the reference they provide will be a good one!