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11 Ways To Enjoy Summer When You’re Working A Full-Time Job

There you are: sitting on the beach, covered in sunscreen, reading your favorite book, drinking your favorite drink under the cool shade of an umbrella. Life doesn't get any better than this. Suddenly, a door slams, a phone rings, a printer turns on. You jolt back into consciousness. You're at work, sitting in your cubicle, without even a hint of sunshine streaming in from outside.

When you're working a full-time job, finding time to enjoy the warm, bright summer weather can be a challenge. This is especially true for young professionals, as many of them are used to having summers off (or, at the very least, having a flexible summer schedule). But there's no need to feel trapped behind your cubicle walls. Go out and enjoy summer!

Here are a few tips for making the most of your summer while working full time.

1. Grab Some Foldable Chairs

Keep a couple of foldable camping chairs at the office so you and a co-worker can catch some rays during lunch—whether it's in the park or the parking lot.

2. Keep A Beach Bag In Your Car​

Keep a bag full of summer supplies for your favorite summer activities. Having a bag (or, in my case, a backseat) full of towels, sunscreen, and swimwear keeps you prepared for anything. Friends hitting up the pool after work? You're covered. Once the clock strikes five, you can head to your destination of choice immediately.

3. Plan An Office Outing

Plan an office field trip to the beach, the park, or the pool. Just do something fun so your brain can recharge and refresh!

4. Organize Group Walks

Get a bunch of co-workers together and go on regular walks around town during lunch. (Or you could suggest a quick jaunt over to the ice cream shop.) This is a great way to get some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.

5. Eat Lunch At The Park

When you find yourself eating out, hit up places with a deck, porch, or patio of some sort. Obviously, eating out every day isn't really a feasible option for most of us, so look into alternative ideas as well. Pack a lunch and hit the park for your own little picnic.

6. Organize Office Sports

Whether it's setting up an official office sports team or just hanging out with your colleagues a few times a week, playing sports is a great way to get out and enjoy the weather. Have a field nearby? Try setting up some slow-pitch softball games. Or see if you can get a basketball hoop for the office so you and a few co-workers can shoot some hoops at lunch.

7. Join A Professional Group

During the summer, professional networking groups often have fun events like harbor cruises, pub crawls, and outdoor mixers. Find a professional group in your area and make networking fun this summer.

8. Have An Office BBQ

Get your grill on! Talk to your boss about setting up an office BBQ. Ask everyone to contribute their favorite dish, side, or drink. Fire up the grill and relax! Hey, it's summer after all.

9. Wake Up Early

Yes, yes, I know...waking up early is an incredibly painful and unbearable experience for some of us, but waking up even an hour earlier has its benefits—especially in the summer. Go for a morning run, putter around in the garden, or watch the sunrise with a loved one. Talk about starting the day off right!

10. Strategically Use Your Time Off

Strategically use your vacation days around holidays. This way, you can make a potentially long weekend longer without having to use too much of your precious vacation time. Half days are also pretty awesome. It's amazing how much you can do with four extra hours! If you want an early weekend but don't want to burn up your vacation days too quickly, try taking a half day on a Friday instead of using a full day off.

11. Bike To Work

If you're one of the lucky few who live within walking or biking distance of work, take advantage of it! Not only will you get plenty of fresh air, but you'll also save money on gas, which is always a plus!

There are plenty of easy ways to enjoy summer when you work a full-time job. So this summer, try out a few of these ideas and make the most of the sunshine and warm weather—while they're still around!

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 1 day 8 hours ago

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How To Increase Your Chances Of Landing A Job Offer

As an experienced job seeker, you have to demonstrate how what you do contributes to the top/bottom line of the company—either directly or indirectly. If you want to land a job offer, there are specific things you should be doing in the interview process that will impress the hiring manager and make you stand out from the competition.

To increase your chances of landing the interview and then a job offer, make sure you can demonstrate how you've...

Made Or Saved Money

If you work in sales, tell them how you've increased revenue. Give them examples of deals you've closed or new customers you've acquired. If you've done something to increase margins, optimize resource utilization, or save costs, tell them about those accomplishments, too.

Important Note: With this point, and all the following points, make sure you quantify any work experience that demonstrates how you're the most qualified for the job, and proves your value as a potential employee. Do this on your resume and in the job interview by providing examples with numbers to back them up.

Streamlined/Improved Processes

Have you improved the forecasting process? Automated the process of signing up new clients? Made a boss or co-worker's job easier by streamlining one of their responsibilities?

If you've made your prior organizations more efficient and effective, make sure you have these examples ready before an interview.

Influenced Other People

Do people want to work with you/for you? If you're easy to work with, can work effectively with other departments, and people want to work for you, this will increase your chances of getting the job.

Make sure to use the "Experience + Learn = Grow" framework to give examples of how you've influenced others or managed successful teams when asked about this subject or when answering other behavioral interview questions.

Contributed To Culture

If you've come up with some new initiatives, created a mentoring program, and so on, prepare some examples.

Companies hire for three things: personality, aptitude, and experience. How you fit into the company culture is a huge factor in their decision whether to offer you the job or not. By explaining how you've contributed to the company culture at other organizations, an employer will have an easier time understanding the type of employee you are and how you might positively impact the culture at their company.

Mitigated Risk

Especially in more senior roles and other leadership roles, if you've had the foresight to prevent something bad from happening to the company, employers will be impressed with such ability.

Mitigating risk, in the eyes of the hiring manager, translates into saving time and money—two things every employer wants to see in their employees. It also shows the employer that you're someone who pays attention to details and can plan ahead. Who wouldn't want to hire someone like that?

To find job search success, make sure you quantify your work experience and have examples ready that demonstrate the skills above. Do this and your chances of getting a job offer will skyrocket!

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 2 days 7 hours ago

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5 Fun Work Activities To Bring The Office Together This Summer

When you work in an office, you're used to seeing your co-workers every day. But when was the last time you bonded with them? What team-building activities have there been to strengthen your connection and improve the workplace culture?

If your office hasn't made team-building activities a priority in the workplace, don't worry. With more sunshine and nicer weather, summer is a great time to bond with your co-workers.

Here are five fun summer work activities that will bring your office together.

1. Ice Cream Party

Everyone loves ice cream! While it may not be the most unique suggestion for a fun workplace activity, an ice cream party doesn't require a lot of planning (or funds) and it's always guaranteed to be a hit.

On a hot day, bring the office together with some sweet treats. Sit outside and soak up the rays while cooling off with a cone. To make sure no one feels left out, take note of any allergies or sensitivities your colleagues may have and offer enough safe options. Also, be mindful and take steps to prevent cross-contamination.

The great thing about this fun workplace activity is that it can easily be something you do regularly. Make it a monthly tradition to celebrate your co-workers and all of their hard work!

2. Office Bake-Off

One of the best things about summer is the fresh food! Have fun and bond with your co-workers with an office bake-off (or cook-off) using whatever is in season. Whether it's from a local farm stand or a personal garden, this activity will not only make you feel connected to your colleagues but to your whole community.

Want to make it more interesting? Make it a competition! Encourage everyone to bake or cook something, and then have people vote for their favorite dish or dessert. The winner could get a gift card, an extra vacation day, or just plain old bragging rights. You can even set some rules for everyone to follow—depending on how competitive your co-workers are.

Lots of fresh summer food and a fun competition to bring the office together? Sign us up!

3. BBQ And Lawn Activities

Keeping with the food trend, a classic BBQ is the perfect activity to get to know your co-workers better. You could either do this at work or at someone's house and have everyone bring a dish and their favorite lawn games.

If you decide a weekend day is the best time for a summer work party or BBQ, you can also invite family members to join in on the fun. While this type of activity requires more planning and resources than most other summer activities, it's also probably the best way to bond with your co-workers outside of the office.

Think you might want to host a work party this summer? Don't hesitate to send out your invites! Your co-workers won't want to miss out.

4. Photo Contest

Most people take a vacation during the summer months. So, why not use that as an opportunity to start a photo contest?

Whether it's pictures of animals, family, nature, beautiful cities and landscapes, or adventures, have your co-workers submit a photo or two from their vacations this summer for a chance to win the office photo contest. Winners could receive a monetary prize or (with their permission) have their photo posted somewhere in the office or on the company website.

A fun activity like this lets employees show off their creative side, and it might even compel them to travel more and use up those vacation days they've been hoarding all year.

5. Start A Company-Wide Team Sport

No other activity can help you bond with your co-workers quicker than playing a team sport together. If your company doesn't already have a few sports teams you could join, start one yourself!

Common team sports like softball/baseball, soccer, basketball, and even dodgeball are all great options. Not only will playing a team sport with your co-workers strengthen camaraderie, but physical activity will help everyone stay in shape, which might in turn help job performance and employee health. Depending on how big your company is, you could form different teams for each department and play against each other or battle it out against other teams in your community.

Sound like fun? Grab your sneakers and gym bag and get your team together today! You won't regret it.

Summer is the perfect time to bond with your co-workers over seasonal activities and fun competitions. If your office could use some fun team-building activities to boost morale, try one of the five summer activities above. Your teams will be stronger because of it!

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 3 days 7 hours ago

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How To Cure Job Search Anxiety & Depression

As a 20-year career coaching veteran, I work with job seekers every day who come to me when they're at their lowest, stuck in a state of depression or anxiety, or vacillating between both.

With depression, there's a sense of sadness and helplessness. It means you don't see any options. You feel very limited in how you can move forward. It's like being stuck in a set of golden handcuffs. You're trapped.

With anxiety, you're feeling overwhelmed by what you have to do. You feel like there are so many things you need to get done, and it physically stresses you out.

Or maybe you vacillate between the two. I've had clients come to me and say, "One day I feel sad and depressed like there are no options for me, J.T. The next day, I wake up and feel like there's so much I have to do as a job seeker. I've got anxiety." They go back and forth between feeling depressed and feeling anxious in their job search.

So, which are you feeling? Is it sadness and depression? Is it anxiety? Or is it both?

Now, this is how you can overcome those feelings...

Knowledge & Structure

When you feel sadness and depression in your job search from a lack of choice, the solution is knowledge. Knowledge is power. When we give you knowledge, we give you new ideas, we give you a fresh perspective, and it opens up doors where you can actually see a path forward.

If you have anxiety in your job search, that's you being overwhelmed by too many things to choose from and too many things to do. The solution here is to give you a single path, a step-by-step checklist so that you feel like you're accomplishing something every day and you don't feel like there's so much that you need to do. You know that you're moving forward in a structured manner.

So, in order to cure depression and anxiety in your job search, you are going to have to get some help. That's why I have built a whole bunch of free resources for you to start with. I know it's about baby steps. You are stressed out and overwhelmed and so, for me, it's always been about microlearning. These free resources are designed to help you feel less stressed so you can focus on the right job search strategy, which will help you get better results.

I personally suggest the "Break Through Your Job Search Burnout" workbook. But if you're ready to move forward and have a career coach help you through every step of this process, you also can come see what it's like to work with me and my team at Work It DAILY.

Sign up for Work It DAILY today and let's get rid of that sadness, depression, and anxiety. Good luck, and go get 'em!

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 4 days 4 hours ago

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4 Ways To Upskill At Work To Get That Promotion

Promotions are not guaranteed. In the past, employees used to progress along specific career paths, often within just one organization. However, with the impact of globalization and technology and flatter organizational structures, this has changed.

Today, we have to create and manage our own careers. Often the promotion isn't an upward path, either, and we may need to take a lateral move first to be able to position ourselves for an upward move later.

To get that promotion, it is important to boost your personal brand and get yourself noticed. Making yourself heard, developing mentoring relationships, practicing effective self-promotion, being a problem-solver, acting professionally at all times, being a team player, and developing your network are all effective strategies.

However, there are also ways you can upskill while in your current job.

1. Expand Your Knowledge And Skills

In order to get that promotion, you must expand your knowledge and skills in areas that are important to your organization. If you want to get ahead, it is important not only to keep up with current industry news but also to pay attention to trends outside of your area of specialization.

Staying informed is not difficult—simply subscribe to some of the leading sources online and devote even just 30 minutes each week to reading. Book this time in your calendar like you would any other appointment, otherwise it is not likely to happen if you're busy at work.

If you've read something you think will be of particular interest to your team, send them a link. Sharing what you learn will show that you're a team player.

2. Ask For More Responsibilities

To increase your value within an organization, you can ask for more responsibilities or even volunteer to help other departments.

When you ask for more work, it shows your interest and desire to help your department and organization succeed. It also puts a spotlight on how much value you bring to your company.

3. Create Your Own Opportunities

If you've been working at your company for a while, chances are you know one or two areas that have been neglected. If you do have key skills to help in that area, write a proposal for a new project, or even a new position for you. Even if the proposal doesn't get accepted on this occasion, you have shown your initiative and creativity. This can only help you next time you request a promotion.

In general—and this is the main benefit of nurturing your network—the more people who know you, know your abilities and value you bring, and know of your ambitions, the more likely it is that your name will be discussed when some opportunities arise.

4. Seek Professional Development

Continuing to develop your skills can help you expand your current role or put you on the fast track for that promotion. Research courses relevant to your role—or the role you want—and if you can demonstrate to your boss how it could be beneficial for you and the company, they might even cover the cost.

Professional development doesn't need to be restricted to your office hours. There are so many online or weekend courses available, and if there is something that you feel will help you with career progression, invest in it yourself. Then, make sure your manager is aware that you've taken the initiative to upskill.

Apart from upskilling at work, a really simple way to stand out is by documenting your success in your current role. Keep a record of everything you do that enhances the company's bottom line, puts the company or your department in a good light, receives good feedback, or is innovative. Finally, be genuine and likable. Always be yourself while boosting your personal brand to secure the next step in your professional journey.

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 1 week ago

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Boost E-Commerce Sales: 3 AI Strategies For Small Businesses

Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the e-commerce landscape, providing tools and solutions that enhance customer experiences, streamline operations, and drive sales. For small businesses, leveraging AI can be a game-changer, offering competitive advantages that were once only accessible to larger enterprises.

In this article, we will explore three effective ways AI can skyrocket your e-commerce sales: personalized product recommendations, smart chatbots for 24/7 customer support, and enhanced product descriptions.

Strategy #1: Personalized Product Recommendations

Personalized product recommendations are one of the game-changing ways AI is used in e-commerce. By looking at customer behavior and preferences, AI can suggest super-relevant products to each shopper, making it much more likely they'll buy something. This kind of personalization not only makes shopping more enjoyable but also boosts conversion rates and builds customer loyalty.

AI-powered recommendation engines look at data points like browsing behavior, purchase history, and demographics. They use this info to guess and suggest products a customer might like. For instance, if someone often checks out running shoes, the AI might suggest related items like running socks, a water bottle, or a matching top.

Think about a small business selling athletic wear. When a customer grabs a pair of running shoes, the AI system can suggest matching items based on their browsing history and past buys. These personalized tips not only make the shopping experience better but also bump up the average order value.

Tools for Product Recommendations

  • Nosto offers AI-powered personalization solutions that create dynamic on-site experiences. It excels in providing personalized product recommendations, triggered emails, and pop-ups.
  • Bloomreach provides comprehensive AI solutions for personalization and marketing automation, including product information management (PIM) and content management system (CMS) functionalities.
  • FreshRelevance focuses on AI-powered product discovery and personalized recommendations, offering features like A/B testing and real-time analytics.
Strategy #2: Smart Chatbots for 24/7 Customer Support

​AI-powered smart chatbots can really change the game for small business customer support. They can handle basic questions, solve common problems, and even guide customers through the buying process, offering instant help around the clock.

AI chatbots use natural language processing (NLP) to understand and reply to customer queries. They can answer FAQs, help find products, process orders, and even manage returns and refunds. By offering instant support, these chatbots boost customer satisfaction and let human agents focus on more complex issues.

Think about an online jewelry store using a chatbot to up its customer support game. The bot can answer typical questions about sizing, materials, and return policies. Plus, it can set up appointments with a live salesperson for more specific inquiries. This not only enhances the customer experience but also makes sure no sales opportunities are missed due to a lack of immediate support.

Tools for Chatbot Creation

  • ManyChat is a user-friendly platform for creating AI-powered chatbots, especially for Facebook Messenger. With a drag-and-drop interface and pre-built templates, it's super easy for small businesses to set up chatbots that can answer FAQs, collect customer info, and help with the checkout process.
  • LivePerson offers a comprehensive suite for conversational AI and customer engagement. Businesses can use their platform to build and deploy chatbots across various channels like websites, social media, and messaging apps. LivePerson's AI handles basic questions and can seamlessly connect customers with live agents for more complex issues.
  • Drift focuses on conversational marketing and lead generation with chatbots. Their bots can answer questions, qualify leads, and even schedule appointments or demos. Drift integrates with various CRM and marketing tools, helping businesses capture valuable customer data and automate follow-ups.
Strategy #3: Enhanced Product Descriptions with AI

Creating compelling and SEO-optimized product descriptions can be time-consuming for small businesses. AI can streamline this process by generating high-quality product descriptions that not only engage customers but also improve search engine visibility.

For instance, a business like Maria's Magic Mixes, which sells spice blends, can use AI-driven natural language processing (NLP) to generate detailed descriptions for each product. The AI can highlight unique flavors, origins, and culinary uses, making the descriptions more appealing to customers and boosting their search engine rankings.

Tools for Products Using AI

  • is a popular tool that uses AI to help with content creation, especially for marketing teams. It can write marketing copy, social media posts, blog posts, and even create SEO-optimized content. is great for small businesses wanting to boost their marketing with high quality, AI-generated content.
  • Writesonic is an AI-powered content generator that helps businesses create engaging product descriptions, blog posts, emails, and other marketing materials. It uses AI to understand what you need and generates human-like text that connects with your audience, making it essential for maintaining a consistent and engaging online presence.
  • Copysmith is designed to help e-commerce teams create compelling content more efficiently. It’s perfect for agencies and content marketing teams, excelling in producing large volumes of content like product descriptions and digital ads. This tool is invaluable for businesses looking to scale up their content creation without losing quality.

AI can really shake up the e-commerce game for small businesses. By using AI for personalized recommendations, smart chatbots, and better product descriptions, companies can boost customer experience, run more efficiently, and increase sales. Embracing these AI tools can help small businesses stay competitive in the digital age, leading to growth and success.

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 1 week 1 day ago

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5 Things You Shouldn't Say In An Interview

Interviewing can actually be pretty fun, especially when you're on the other side of the table! However, we know how stressful it can be when you're the one in the hot seat as an eager job candidate.

Emotions are high, nerves are in play, and there's so much information you need to remember. It can be tough!

And because we know how difficult it can be to be in that position, we want to share some major red flags we've encountered when interviewing candidates.

We know there's a lot to remember, but there are some things you should NEVER say during a job interview. If you've got an interview coming up, make sure you review these phrases before you hop on the phone or walk into the office.

"I Don't See Myself Working Here For More Than 2 Years."

Even if the job you're applying for isn't something you can really see yourself doing for the long term, don't volunteer that information to your interviewer. You might have big career aspirations, but it's important to focus on the job you're interviewing for now, even if it's just an entry-level job you don't plan on working for very long.

By telling your interviewer that you're essentially uncommitted to the job, you can sabotage your chances of landing the position. Think about it from the employer's perspective: Why would a company want to invest in, hire, and train someone who is already planning on leaving before they even get the job offer? Second, you might not realize how much growth potential this role has and whether or not it might transform into something that excites you. Every dream job starts somewhere. So, why kill the opportunity before you give it a chance?

"I Don't Have Any Questions."

Typically, at the end of interviews, we ask our job candidates if they have any questions for us. We EXPECT questions. The candidate should be looking to learn as much as they can about the role, company, and team. It's just as much for their benefit as it is for the employer.

Also, don't just wait until the end of the interview to ask questions. An interview should be a two-way conversation. So, ask questions throughout the interview to emphasize your interest, curiosity, and listening skills.

"So, What Does Your Company Actually Do Anyway?"

While it's very important to ask questions during a job interview, it's just as important to ask the RIGHT questions—questions that show you've done your homework but want to dig deeper. Asking questions you could (and frankly should) have the answers to beforehand (like what the company does, when it started, why it started, etc.) isn't going to make you look very good.

A huge part of interview prep is taking time to research the company you're applying to. You should be able to find basic information about the company by doing a simple Google search and checking out their website and social media profiles.

"What Else Can You Tell Me About The Salary And Benefits?"

Learning about what you'll be paid and what benefits you'll receive as an employee is something you'll want to understand down the line, but please don't bring this up during your first interview.

This information will be revealed and/or mapped out for you as you get closer to a job offer. If you ask questions like this one too soon, you risk looking like you're only in it for the money and kickbacks. Employers know these things are obviously important to job candidates, but if you start focusing on them too early in the process, it can be a huge turnoff.

Again, think about it from the employer's point of view: If you're taking this job solely for the money and/or benefits, who's to say you won't up and leave when a better offer comes along? What's keeping you at the company other than the extras?

Instead, focus on why you want this particular job at this specific company. The other stuff will come up later.

"What Kind Of Skills Are You Looking To Leverage In This Position?"

This is a similar question to, "So, what does your company actually do anyway?" If you feel like you need to ask what kinds of skill sets are required for this role, you didn't read the job description carefully enough. That information should be all over the job posting and you should be prepared to show examples of how your experience will be valuable.

However, if the job description is a little vague, ask more targeted questions about the role. For example, "What would a typical day look like for this employee?" or "What kinds of projects would I be working on specifically and how would they add value to the company?"

Questions like these will allow you to get more clues about the role and give you a deeper understanding of what you're expected to accomplish as an employee.

A job interview can be scary, but if you go in prepared, it's actually pretty exciting. Make sure to prioritize interview prep before your next job interview, and you'll likely avoid saying any of these five things to the hiring manager.

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 1 week 1 day ago

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How To Apply For A Job You're Not 100% Qualified For

One of the biggest job search struggles is figuring out which jobs you should apply for. You have to look at the job description, the skill requirements, and the overall qualifications for the job, and then determine whether it's a viable employment opportunity for you or not.

It's more difficult to discern which jobs you're qualified for (the ones you really have a shot at) than you think. How do you know if you're actually qualified for a job? Should you apply for jobs you're not 100% qualified for?

The short answer: Yes, you absolutely should.

Here's how to apply for a job when you're lacking some of the qualifications.

1. Use The 90% Rule

The first step to applying for a job you're not sure you are qualified for is determining whether you're qualified enough. This is where the 90% rule comes into play.

After studying the job description, the list of qualifications, and the skill requirements, you should have a good idea of what the employment opportunity entails. Now, after looking at your resume, do you think you're qualified? If you have 90% of the skill requirements, you are qualified for that job and should apply for it.

When you apply for a job, it's always important to include all relevant skill sets, experience, and keywords on your resume, so it gets past the applicant tracking system (ATS). This is especially true when you only have 90% of the qualifications since leaving out just one skill could prevent your resume from ever getting into the hands of the hiring manager.

Customize your resume for every job you apply for to avoid this mistake. This way, it'll make it easy for employers to see that you do have most of the qualifications and skill requirements for the position. Remember: 90% is the magic number. Any less, and you'd be wasting your time if you apply.

2. Close The Experience Gap

In order to close your experience gap, you need to offer the employer something else they won't find in most job candidates—and that's excitement for the job opportunity.

What you lack in experience you can make up for with enthusiasm and a common connection. Convey to the potential employer your enthusiasm and excitement for the company's products, services, or mission. Explain what you respect and admire about the company. Even if you don't have some of the experience and qualifications the employer is looking for, you have the internal motivation and desire to work for their company.

In addition, this connection shows that you would be a great cultural fit within the company. Whatever skills you don't have, they can probably teach you. But employers know you can't teach cultural fit. This is where you would stand out among other candidates for the position.

A great way to establish that connection with an employer is to write a disruptive cover letter. Tell your story, convey your excitement, and land that interview!

3. Network Your Way Into The Company

Here at Work It DAILY, we believe your network is your net worth. And the statistics agree. Over 80% of jobs are gotten via referral. So, receiving a job offer usually comes down to who you know.

If you're not 100% qualified for a job, your networking skills will play a big role in your ability to get an interview. Use your network to get introduced to someone who works at the company. Begin by reaching out to current employees of the company or friends who might happen to work there, and ask what it would take to stand out and get hired. Note: You're not asking for the job. You're just asking for more information.

This strategy is extremely effective at opening doors with potential employers and getting your resume into the right hands. When you have most of the qualifications and a great connection story explaining why you're passionate about a company, networking is the perfect final step.

Next time you're debating whether to apply for a job or not, remember the 90% rule. Employers know there's no such thing as the perfect job candidate. But with these steps, you can be a great one.

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 1 week 2 days ago

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Unleashing The Revolutionary Potential Of Super Tiny Language Models (STLMs) For Business Efficiency

The rise of large language models (LLMs) has revolutionized natural language processing (NLP) capabilities. However, their immense size and computational demands often limit their accessibility and sustainability. This landmark paper introduces a cutting-edge paradigm in language model design through Super Tiny Language Models (STLMs), offering a compelling solution by achieving competitive performance with significantly reduced parameter counts, effectively mitigating larger alternatives' computational and energy-intensive challenges. Here’s an in-depth exploration:


The advent of large language models (LLMs) like GPT-3 has markedly advanced natural language processing (NLP) capabilities, driving significant improvements in machine translation, customer service automation, content generation, and more. However, these advancements come with high computational and energy demands, making them less accessible and sustainable for widespread use, especially for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and organizations operating in regions with limited resources.

STLMs aim to sustain comparable performance levels while slashing parameter counts by up to 95%. This results in models that can deliver robust outcomes without the prohibitive costs and energy consumption associated with larger models.

Key Techniques

STLMs leverage several innovative techniques to achieve their remarkable efficiency. Weight tying, for instance, shares parameters across different parts of the model, reducing complexity while maintaining performance. Byte-level tokenization further minimizes vocabulary size, leading to leaner and faster models. Additionally, efficient training strategies like self-play and alternative objectives enable effective learning with fewer resources.


The reduced parameter counts of STLMs translate into numerous advantages. Lower computational and energy requirements make them environmentally friendly and cost-effective, opening up NLP capabilities to a wider audience. This increased accessibility allows researchers and industry practitioners to explore NLP applications with less overhead. Furthermore, the reduced complexity of STLMs facilitates faster experimentation and development cycles, accelerating innovation and deployment.


Despite their significant potential, STLMs face certain challenges. Ensuring that smaller models can compete with larger ones in terms of accuracy remains a crucial hurdle. High-quality training data is also essential for STLMs to perform well despite their reduced size, necessitating careful data selection and knowledge distillation techniques.

Case Studies

Real-world examples like TinyLlama, Phi-3-mini, and MobiLlama demonstrate that STLMs can achieve competitive performance with significantly fewer parameters. These successful applications showcase the viability of STLMs in various real-world NLP tasks, including:

  • Machine translation: STLMs can translate text between languages with high accuracy and efficiency, making communication and information sharing more accessible.
  • Text summarization: STLMs can condense large amounts of text into concise summaries, saving time and improving information comprehension.
  • Question answering: STLMs can answer questions based on factual knowledge, providing users with quick and accurate information.
  • Chatbots: STLMs can power chatbots to engage in natural and informative conversations with users, improving customer service and information delivery.
Technical Implementation

The success of STLMs hinges on several key technical aspects:

  • High-quality training data: Data selection and knowledge distillation techniques play crucial roles in ensuring model efficacy, even with smaller parameter sizes.
  • State-of-the-art transformer architecture: STLMs incorporate advanced transformer techniques to maximize performance while minimizing resource usage.
  • Rigorous evaluation methods: Standard NLP benchmarks are used to ensure that STLMs meet stringent quality and efficacy standards.

The paper underscores STLMs' enormous potential to create sustainable and efficient high-performance language models and expand their application across various domains. STLMs offer a promising path toward democratizing NLP by making high-performance language models more accessible, efficient, and sustainable. As research and development in this area continue to evolve, STLMs have the potential to transform the landscape of NLP, enabling a broader range of applications and fostering innovation across diverse domains.

Importance for Businesses

This research is beneficial and essential for businesses aiming to curtail operational costs and enhance efficiency through AI implementation. STLMs present a unique opportunity to achieve these goals, circumventing the considerable costs linked to larger models. Here’s the significance of STLM adoption for businesses:

Benefits for Businesses

Cost Efficiency:

  • Reduced Overhead: Diminished computational requirements translate to lower server, infrastructure, and energy expenses.
  • Scalability: Enables affordable scaling of AI capabilities without huge budget increments.


  • AI Adoption for SMEs: Facilitates the integration of advanced AI by small and medium-sized enterprises, overcoming previous cost barriers.
  • Remote and Underfunded Areas: Businesses in resource-limited or decentralized regions can leverage STLMs for enhanced operations.

Competitive Edge:

  • Innovation: Harnessing advanced AI technologies without substantial investments allows businesses to stay at the technological forefront.
  • Agility: Swift experimentation cycles enable rapid testing and implementation of AI-driven strategies, facilitating quick adaptation to market dynamics.


  • Environmentally Friendly: Lower energy consumption supports sustainability goals and corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives.
  • Resource Efficiency: Efficient computational resource utilization promotes more sustainable business models.

Enhanced Customer Experiences:

  • Personalization: Efficient customer data management by STLMs leads to personalized experiences, boosting customer satisfaction and retention.
  • 24/7 Support: Cost-effective AI solutions enable consistent customer service operations, improving reliability and customer trust.

Operational Efficiency:

  • Automated Processes: Streamlining and automating routine tasks minimizes errors and liberates human resources for strategic roles.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Access to sophisticated, cost-effective data analytics empowers informed decision-making.
Business Use Cases

Customer Service Automation:

  • Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: Utilizing STLMs to power chatbots can provide responsive and accurate customer support around the clock, reducing the burden on human support teams and improving customer satisfaction.
  • Email Response Automation: Automating email responses using STLMs can handle common customer inquiries efficiently, ensuring timely communication.

Content Creation:

  • Marketing and Copywriting: Businesses can leverage STLMs to generate high-quality marketing copy, social media posts, and content for websites, saving time and costs associated with content creation.
  • Product Descriptions and Recommendations: E-commerce platforms can use STLMs to generate compelling product descriptions and personalized recommendations, enhancing user experience and driving sales.

Data Analysis and Insights:

  • Sentiment Analysis: STLMs can be employed to analyze customer feedback and reviews, providing valuable insights into customer sentiment and areas for improvement.
  • Market Research: Businesses can use STLMs to process and analyze large volumes of market data, helping to identify trends and make informed strategic decisions.

Decision Support Systems:

  • Predictive Analytics: Integrating STLMs into decision support systems can enhance predictive analytics capabilities, aiding in demand forecasting, inventory management, and financial planning.
  • Risk Management: Businesses can use STLMs to analyze risk factors and develop mitigation strategies, enhancing overall risk management frameworks.

Human Resources:

  • Talent Acquisition: STLMs can streamline recruitment by automating initial candidate screening, parsing resumes, and suggesting the best candidates based on job requirements.
  • Employee Engagement: Analyzing employee feedback and sentiment using STLMs can help HR departments develop strategies to improve workplace engagement and productivity.


  • Clinical Documentation: STLMs can assist healthcare providers by automating the creation of clinical documentation, reducing administrative burden and allowing more time for patient care.
  • Telehealth Services: Enhancing telehealth services with STLM-powered assistants can improve patient interactions, provide timely health advice, and facilitate follow-up communications.

By adopting STLMs, businesses can unlock new efficiency, innovation, and competitiveness levels, positioning themselves as leaders in their respective markets. These models promise to democratize access to advanced AI, paving the way for a more diverse and inclusive technological landscape.


❖ Leon Guertler, Dylan Hillier, Palaash Agrawal, Chen Ruirui, Bobby Cheng, Cheston Tan

❖ Centre for Frontier AI Research (CFAR), Institute of High-Performance Computing (IHPC), ASTAR*

❖ Published in ArXiv, 2024

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3 Most Common Reasons You Got Fired

If you've ever been fired or laid off, you know it can be a traumatic experience, especially if you haven't been given a specific reason. Nobody really ever gets fired without a cause; there's always reason for letting an employee go.

There are multiple reasons why people are let go (reorganization, underperformance, being drunk at work, harassing co-workers, complaining about your boss on social media, breach of company's policies, etc.), but there are three that are most common in my experience and two of them are almost completely avoidable.


If you've been constantly making bad decisions or not reaching your performance objectives, then this is one of the reasons you might have been fired. Review your performance over the past year. If you've been consistently hitting your targets or even outperforming your colleagues, then performance might not be the actual issue here.

However, if you realize your performance has been unsatisfactory, try to analyze whether there was anything you could have done to improve it. Once you understand what those things are, hopefully, you won't repeat the same mistake in your next job.

Wrong Attitude

Company culture is very important to most organizations, and if you do not fit into that culture, then you might find it difficult to work there. For example, if every day you came into work with a negative attitude, then your boss and/or co-workers probably noticed, and this might have played a part in their decision to let you go.

Also, if you were missing too many days of work or arrived late to work all the time, that probably played a role as well. Was the company just a bad fit for you (in which case, now you have a chance to find something more suitable!), or are there any other issues you need to address to ensure this doesn't happen again?

It is important that you find a job with a company that has a culture and values you can relate to. Do this by conducting a strategic job search and creating an interview bucket list. This will ensure you only apply for jobs at companies that are a good cultural fit, for both you and the employer.

Budget Cuts / Company Restructuring

This unfortunately happens, but it is nevertheless painful if you lose your job because of restructuring or budget cuts. Even if you think you are an indispensable employee, you might still want to assess your attitude and performance. I remember a company used "restructure" as the reason of getting rid of a sales manager who wasn't the right fit.

Remember, just because you were fired or laid off doesn't mean it was your fault or that you won't find another great job in the future. It is always worth it to assess your performance and conduct because every career obstacle is a learning experience.

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Job Posting Scams: 6 Warning Signs A Job Is Fake

One of the saddest and most frustrating things about being a career coach in a really bad job market is that I have people coming to me on a daily basis who have been scammed out of a job. They go through a recruiting and hiring process only to have their bank account drained.

No matter if you're a seasoned professional desperate to find a new job or a recent college grad trying to land your first job out of college, job posting scams can be absolutely demoralizing.

Let's walk through the six warning signs that a job is fake so you can avoid falling for job posting scams in your job search.

1. You Can't Find The Recruiter

The first red flag is that you can't find that recruiter, or whoever's contacting you, anywhere publicly. They should have a fully fleshed-out LinkedIn profile. They should have an email address that's linked to a company that has a website so you can prove that it's legitimate. With job posting scams, many times you can't actually find the person anywhere. If you can't search the person's name and find them, something's wrong.

2. There's No Information On The Company

The second warning sign is that there's no information on the company. Make sure there's a legitimate company website. Go to Glassdoor and Indeed and look for company reviews. Search for company social media accounts and make sure that there's depth in their content. Go to the company's LinkedIn profile and see if there are actually people employed there. All of this research will help you confirm that they are who they say they are.

3. Grammatical Errors & Spelling Mistakes In Emails

The third thing you should watch out for in the job search process is grammatical errors and spelling mistakes when a company is interacting with you. If you are catching a lot of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in the emails or contracts that they're sending you, that is always a red flag because legitimate companies do a good job of proofreading all of their materials.

4. They Talk About Money Immediately

Another warning sign is money is involved immediately. They do one interview with you and say they want to hire you on the spot and pay for all of your computer equipment to work remotely. That is suspect. And that's probably the most common scam I've heard because there are so many people who want to work remotely these days and need a job and end up falling for it.

Also, please pay attention when you're doing those interviews. If they're saying they can't be on camera because they're busy and they're only working through audio with you, that is suspect. Why are they hiding their face?

5. Personal Information Is Required Immediately

The fifth warning sign is your personal information is required immediately—again, to send you that money. They might say things like, "We're going to need your social security number, your bank account, and your routing number, that way we can drop the cash in there today." This is such a classic example, and more and more people are hearing this after applying for a fake job. So, if the company says this to you, it's definitely a job posting scam.

6. If It Sounds Too Good To Be True

Lastly, and most importantly, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you were making a certain amount of money before and a company comes along and offers you double that to work remotely and set your own hours, it's too good to be true. In this competitive job market, I know you want to believe it, but you need to be cautious.

I want you to be successful in your job search. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there doing terrible things to prey on job seekers who are desperate for jobs. So, please be careful.

You can do this. Stay safe out there, folks. Good luck, and go get 'em!

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 1 week 4 days ago

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Good Icebreakers For A Networking Event

After months of saying that you're going to strengthen your professional network, you've finally decided that it's time for the rubber to meet the road and attend a networking event.

Getting up and going to a networking event is half the battle. But the hardest part is talking to people and building new connections. HiHello recently published a list of potential networking icebreakers that go beyond the "average icebreaker." Some of these icebreakers are solid, but first things first: establish a conversation and then try some of these icebreakers out.

Starting A Conversation At A Networking Event

Hopefully, you have done your research prior to the networking event and have a good idea of who you want to connect with and why you want to connect with them. Some job seekers are looking to make connections because they're interested in a particular person's industry or company. Others may just be looking to make a connection because they think it could come in handy for a future career change or professional collaboration. It's also possible that you admire someone and just want to meet them.

Whatever the reason, it's important to do a little research about them so you can introduce yourself by making a personal connection. That connection could be complimenting them about a previous accomplishment, the way they conduct themselves, or talking about how something they did really resonated with you.

Keep things within reason. You don't want to come across as gushing or stalker-like. You just want to show them that you know who they are and would like to establish a connection.

From there, you need to use your judgment and common sense to gauge how the conversation is going. If the person seems preoccupied, busy, rushed, or uninterested, you may not want to push your luck too far. But, if they seem legitimately interested in speaking with you, keep the conversation going.

In cases where you're unable to connect with who you are looking for, be bold and talk to other people. You never know who you'll meet at a networking event. Start with small talk and see where it goes from there.

6 Icebreakers To Further Your Networking Conversation

If your objective is to learn more about the industry or the company that your new connection works for, then you'll want to focus your questions in that direction. Keep it simple. You're there to make a connection and learn, not beg for a job.

If the conversation is going really well and you want to learn more about your new connection, you could try some of these icebreakers:

  1. What talent or potential do you have that is not fully realized at your current job?
  2. What single activity at work, if you could do it every day, would most increase your appreciation of and success at your current job?
  3. What's something you believed earlier in your career but think about differently now?
  4. Is there a certain person who inspired your work? If so, why?
  5. What's your proudest accomplishment?
  6. What's the most valuable piece of career advice you've been given?

These questions are all great ways to get a better sense of how your new connection thinks and operates as a professional. It's also very likely that you'll get some great career advice listening to their responses.

Keep in mind that if you're going to ask one of these questions, you should also know how you would respond to them because your new connection will probably turn around and ask you the same thing.

Networking conversations should be a two-way street. Hopefully, your new connection is just as interested in learning about you.

Be Sure To Follow Up With Your New Professional Connection

After putting all this time and effort into making new professional connections, you don't want it to go to waste. Make sure to get a business card or email from your new professional connection before leaving the networking event.

Send an email to your new connection within 48 hours to tell them that it was nice to meet them and thank them for the conversation. You should also connect with them on LinkedIn, and then nurture the professional connection by consistently providing value through sharing industry-related articles of interest, meeting up for coffee from time to time, and exploring ways to collaborate in the future.

The more you network, the easier it will be—and the better you'll get at it. These conversations will just come naturally and, while some of these icebreakers may still come in handy, chances are you'll develop your own questions along the way. Always do your research, take time to prepare, and remain confident.

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8 Tips For Conducting An Effective Job Search

If you're conducting an active job search, you've probably realized the traditional methods used to obtain employment are no longer effective. If you only apply for job opportunities using job boards and wait for calls to roll in, it won't get you very far these days. So, we've developed eight tips for conducting an effective job search that will make a noticeable difference.

Here are the basics...

​1. Get To Know Yourself

Before starting a job search, getting to know more about who you are and what you're looking for is critical. Write down what your hobbies and interest are, take a self-assessment, and be sure to utilize aids like these affordable career resources.

2. Ensure Your Job Application Is Professional & Highlights Your Skills

Your job application includes your resume, cover letter, portfolio (if applicable), and LinkedIn profile. All of these materials are very important to your job search.

Your Resume

This must be well written and organized in a way that a potential reader can quickly see what sets you apart from other candidates. Identify what skills you have, quantify those skills and accomplishments on your resume, and customize your resume for each position you are applying for. By doing these few things, you'll show employers a glimpse of the value you could bring to their organization, and your resume will be more likely to get past the ATS (applicant tracking systems).

Your Cover Letter

It's not enough to write a cookie-cutter cover letter anymore. For an effective job search, write a disruptive cover letter for every job application you send out. It should tell a story and demonstrate why you would be a good fit for the organization.

Your Portfolio

Not everyone will need a portfolio, but if you are in a field that requires examples of your work, a portfolio is crucial to your job search. Include a digital portfolio of your best work. Employers want to pre-screen your work before they decide to call you in for an interview.

Your LinkedIn Profile

If you are not on LinkedIn, you don't exist in the employment world. The vast majority of employers use LinkedIn to recruit new employees. Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is optimized and the information listed on your profile matches what you have on your resume.

​3. Establish A Brand

Your brand is formed in various ways including in person, on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter/X), and on personal websites and correspondence. You always want to leave a good impression on others, whether the impression happens in person or online.

That's why tip number one is so important to personal branding. You must know what you are good at. You also need to know what skills and expertise you possess that you want to leave with people. This will become your brand.

If you perfect the art of personal branding, employers will initiate contact with you.

4. Network Frequently

The first place to start when searching for employment is your personal network (former co-workers, family, friends, church members, and even friends on social media). These are the people who know you the best and will be more willing to refer you for an open position.

You must make networking a regular part of your activities, though, not just something you do during a job search. Join organizations related to your field of choice, attend networking events, and become active on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Do what works best for you and be sure to have balance.

​5. Target Desired Companies & Positions

Target positions that you would like to have and companies that offer those types of positions, then see if you have any connections to company insiders (referrals are the leading source for obtaining interviews).

How do you figure out which companies to target? Create an interview bucket list—a list of 10 to 20 companies that you would love to work for that also hire for your skill sets.

Be proactive and contact hiring managers even when there aren't open positions posted on their company websites. Introduce yourself and see if you can obtain an informational interview to find out more about the company and what they look for in candidates.

​6. Create Job Search Plans & Strategies

After you've targeted the companies that you feel passionate about working for, put together a plan that will help you get hired at one of them.

Regularly evaluate your plans and strategies and stick with things that have had positive results. If what you are doing is not bringing results, it's time to try a new approach.

​7. Follow Up With Employers

Once you have taken the steps to apply or inquire about a position, follow up with employers. Send a quick note that reiterates your passion for the company and desire to work there, and share an interesting article or video that you think they would find interesting. It's about providing value in the little ways that you can to strengthen the connection.

The goal is to stay at the forefront of the hiring manager's mind so when they need to fill an open position, you'll be at the top of their list to contact first.

​8. Increase Your Marketability While You Search

Don't get comfortable with your accomplishments. Continue to develop your skills and gain more experience while you are conducting your job search—and even when you are employed.

In your career, if you're not growing, you're dying. Seek professional development opportunities to make yourself more marketable to employers. Work on your career every day. To truly stand out in a competitive job market, you can't afford to think you have what it takes to get hired. You need to prove it. Always be looking for opportunities to grow your career!

In order to conduct an effective job search, it's important to follow the tips above.

School doesn't teach us how to get the job. So, don't be so hard on yourself! You can (and will!) find a job. Give these steps a try and see how much of a difference it makes in your job search.

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The 10 Key Components Of A Great Resume

A resume is the first opportunity you have to make an impression on a hiring manager or recruiter. And it's important to make a great first impression. The average recruiter spends mere seconds scanning your resume so you need to make yourself stand out.

We've compiled a list of some important factors to keep in mind when creating or updating your resume. Here are the 10 key components of a great resume.

1. Organized Format

Structure your resume in an organized manner; keep your font simple, your layout appealing, and your spacing consistent. You want your resume to be easy to read too, so make sure you have enough white space. You don't want to overwhelm hiring managers or recruiters with too much text. An organized resume format will automatically make them want to give your resume a closer look.

2. Correct Spelling/Grammar

Spellcheck everything at least twice and have someone else proofread your resume before you submit it. Spelling or grammar mistakes give hiring managers and recruiters the impression that you don't pay attention to details and don't really care about the job you're applying for. Avoid these mistakes at all costs!

3. Professional Attitude

List a professional-sounding email address—not "partyanimal_687" or "2cool4u15." Also, list a phone number that is attached to a professional voicemail greeting. Potential employers don't need to hear reality TV, loud music, kids crying, or road noise in the background. If this means you have to re-record your voicemail greeting, so be it.

4. Objective Keywords

Leave out subjective words like "reliable" and "hard-working." A potential employer is not going to bring you in for an interview because you say you're reliable. They are going to bring you in because they think you can solve a problem for them. This is why quantifying your work experience on your resume is essential.

5. Keywords From The Job Description

Incorporate words in your resume that are listed in the job description of the position you're applying for. This will help you get your resume past the ATS and also help a hiring manager quickly see that you're a fit for the position.

6. Brief Explanations For Employment Gaps And Layoffs

If you were let go from several positions due to downsizing, mention this. If you have a large gap in your employment history, explain what you were doing during that time and what you learned. Keep your explanations short and sweet.

7. Relevant Job/Internship/Volunteer Experience

If you're a veteran in your industry, you don't need to list the very first job you had decades ago. Keep your employment history to the past 10-15 years if you have a substantial amount of industry-related experience. If you're a recent graduate, listing the part-time job you had in college is fine—but you also want to list any internships, volunteer work, coursework, or projects you had that are relevant to the job. Unpaid experience still counts.

8. Effective Use Of Space

Treat each word on your resume like beachfront property. Space is so valuable. Make every word you use count. Remember not to jam too much text on your resume either. You want just enough information to get hiring managers and recruiters to give you a call.

9. Customized Cover Letter

Your cover letter should contain content that is different from your resume and should match up very well with the job description. This means you will need to rewrite your cover letter for each job you apply for. To get the best results, make sure you're writing disruptive cover letters so you can stand out in the hiring process.

10. Realistic Expectations

Be optimistic, but realistic. If a job description lists a required task that you're confident you can do, try to word and quantify your past experience to reflect that. But if a job description lists seven required skills or certifications and you only have three of them, then you don't meet the qualifications and shouldn't apply.

It's a great time to update your resume and reflect a bit on your strengths and skills. Being able to effectively and succinctly summarize your skills, education, and experience is important for everyone—regardless of whether you intend to seek employment in the near future. These resume tips are intended to help you put forth the best possible impression of yourself on paper. You only get one chance to make a great impression, so make yours count!

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 2 weeks 2 days ago

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How To Answer The Dreaded "Tell Me About Yourself" Question

The dreaded interview question, "Tell me about yourself," stumps a lot of folks. People of all ages and experience levels often fail to answer this question correctly, in a way that conveys meaningful information to the interviewer—information they will actually use to consider your candidacy.

First off, please know the interviewer is not asking you for a boring chronological recap of your professional history. That is the quickest way to lose their interest! What an employer is really asking is, “Why should I hire you?"

That being said, here's my three-step process for giving them an answer that gets their attention.

1. Explain WHAT Business Problems You Love To Solve

Enthusiasm for solving a business problem they need help with is the quickest way to get a hiring manager's attention. Let's face it, they aren't hiring you for the heck of it. You need to explain how you can make things better for an employer.

You are a business-of-one. At the end of the day, you provide a service for your employer. By talking about the problems you love to solve and how you go about solving them, the hiring manager will clearly see the type of employee you are and could be for their company.

2. Show Them HOW You Know This Is A Good Problem To Solve

Companies hire people who can save and/or make them money. So when you provide examples from your personal and professional past that demonstrate the value your problem-solving skills bring, you are proving your worth.

It also shows that you are thinking like an employee who understands that their job is to make things better for the company. Every employer wants to hire a candidate who can alleviate a pain for them.

The research you conducted on the employer before your interview will come in handy here. Connect your past accomplishments and problem-solving experience to the current problems you know the company is trying to solve (from your research). You'll impress the hiring manager with your knowledge of the company and you'll further answer the question, "Tell me about yourself."

3. Explain WHY You Want To Leverage Your Problem-Solving Expertise For The Employer

Let them know how you hope to grow your skills and abilities by taking your problem-solving skills to the next level. Also, mention how passionate you are about what the company does and how you feel connected to its mission (echoing what you wrote in your disruptive cover letter). This lets the employer know you plan to focus on being successful and expanding your value to the organization if you get hired.

Employers love candidates who clearly plan to hold themselves to a higher standard. If you make it to the last round of interviews, you should consider coming prepared for your final interview with a 30-60-90 day plan.

But that's the long game. In your first interview with an employer, combining your problem-solving expertise and your passion for the company in your explanation is an excellent way to answer the interview question, "Tell me about yourself."

If you follow this three-step guideline when answering, "Tell me about yourself," in your next job interview, I guarantee you'll create a compelling story that will have the employer sitting up and taking notice. This is your chance to sell your value—don't pass it up!

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Management & Beekeeping: 3 Tips For Managing A Software Team

Last month marked an interesting moment for me—the average tenure of my team hit the 10-year mark. We have had our fair share of churn, but it gave me a moment of pause—I am struck by how much time that is. When I first got hired in this particular storyline of my career, my boss (at the time) said, "We know you coders don't stay anywhere long, just give me two years." It's been 23.

A few years later, I stumbled on this humor piece by Orson Scott Card, and part of it is something I think about. The original is internet lore at this point, but there is a part about bees that has a sparkle of truth:

Here's the secret that every successful software company is based on: You can domesticate programmers the way beekeepers tame bees. You can't exactly communicate with them, but you can get them to swarm in one place and when they're not looking, you can carry off the honey. You keep these bees from stinging by paying them money. More money than they know what to do with. But that's less than you might think. You see, all these programmers keep hearing their fathers' voices in their heads saying "When are you going to join the real world?" All you have to pay them is enough money that they can answer (also in their heads) "Jeez, Dad, I'm making more than you." On average, this is cheap. And you get them to stay in the hive by giving them other coders to swarm with. The only person whose praise matters is another programmer.

The part that really resonates with me is that the most important thing keeping the hive together is the other bees. I've been in our beehive for many years now; the other bees are absolutely what keeps me engaged every day. I can't describe why it formed or why it keeps producing honey, but I do think I have figured out a few things and I think they are worthy of sharing to any fellow beekeepers and bees who find themselves pondering honey production.

1. One-on-ones

One-on-ones have taken on a buzzword-level (pun intended!) vagueness these days. In a software company, if you manage people, it's the most important time you will spend in a week. People are your most valuable asset. No software is being built without them.

An important part of establishing and maintaining a relationship with people is having regular and meaningful interaction. I look forward to these conversations and so should you. In this conversation, sometimes it will start off as a status update, which is fine, but that can happen in email or Slack. What you want is problem-solving, as in: there is a problem, and we are going to solve it together. Whether you like it or not, you have problems to solve, and they are either being ignored until they explode or you are working with your people to get them solved.

2. Let the Information Flow

There are definitely situations where confidentiality and discretion are important. There is also plenty of information that is irrelevant. That being said, it's extremely difficult to coordinate the success of something complicated if your team is operating in the dark. That's easy when the timing is convenient. Before you leave for the beach, check the weather. Before you go on a road trip, fill up the gas tank. Seems obvious. But it's most critical when the information is inconvenient or difficult: decisions are being made constantly and the timely actions on that information matter.

If a storm suddenly forms while you're at the beach, it's unfortunate that your vacation is getting interrupted, but you need enough time to get to safety. If you burn more gas than you expected, your schedule is messed up, but you should not skip this exit. Sharing this information will be uncomfortable, but you need all the available brains to avoid disaster. Most importantly, it establishes a sense of collective ownership and trust.

3. Reduce Friction

If you're a manager, you work for your team. Your job is to figure out how to get enough obstacles out of their way so that they can get the job done. The role of a manager, at any level, is to take the challenges you're assigned from the business, translate them into a strategy and tactics, sell your strategy and tactics, and then work hard to reduce friction that would slow the plan down.

The tactics and strategy will change when presented with new information (aka Agile) and the sources of friction will be different and challenging, but doing this for people is something that is truly appreciated and builds loyalty.

Managing a team is more educational than it sounds and it takes years to tune these skills, but it is worth every minute! What do you think? Any other tips you'd add for the beekeepers out there?

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 2 weeks 3 days ago

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5 Ways To Get More Challenging Tasks At Work

Everyone wants a job that is stimulating and exciting. Unfortunately, many employees experience days or even long stretches where they become bored with their job or even fall into a rut that seems impossible to overcome.

If you have found your job isn't as satisfying as it once was, you can make changes to improve your satisfaction. If you give yourself more challenging tasks at work, your job will be more than just a paycheck.

Here are five tips for getting more challenging tasks at work.

1. Show Initiative

One of the first steps is to talk to your boss about your current responsibilities. Ask him or her about other projects you can assist with or take on. If you see areas that require help you can provide, present your manager with a plan that allows you to fulfill these roles.

Bosses appreciate employees who are willing to show initiative, find ways to improve the work environment, and challenge the status quo to provide a fresh perspective on things. Heading into this meeting with a plan outlining your own ideas for improvement is a sure way to get some new responsibilities as well as impress your boss.

2. Keep A Positive Attitude

Many employees fall into a rut where they feel depressed or unhappy with where they are in their job. These feelings can have a negative impact on the quality of your work, as well as your overall attitude. One of the most difficult things to overcome is a poor attitude toward your work.

Perhaps thinking of the importance your work holds in relation to the larger picture can help change your attitude into a positive one. Sometimes a simple attitude change is all it takes to find that satisfaction you crave.

3. Evaluate Your Skills

Individuals are typically hired because they have the right skill set or potential for the job. If your job has become boring and unsatisfying, you need to re-evaluate those skills and determine how you can make them work to your advantage. In some cases, the skills you possess may serve your company well in areas you are not currently involved in.

Look at the range of work your department or company performs, and determine if you can help in these areas. You should also look for areas where you need to build your skills, challenging you to improve to serve your company more effectively.

4. Work For Yourself

This does not mean you should quit your job and go into business for yourself. Growing your own business may be a challenge, but it isn't right for everyone. Instead, make sure you are focusing on yourself and your needs within the company for which you already work.

Many people work to impress their employer and, as a result, they become bored with their work and lazy about completing it. Instead, complete your work with an attitude that keeps in mind that your work reflects on you and benefits you, and work less for the need to receive recognition and applause from your employer.

When you make your work about yourself, about your own career growth, you are more likely to challenge yourself and work harder. Your goal in all you do should be to make yourself more valuable to your current employer, as well as to future employers.

5. Forge New Relationships

Your attitude can affect everyone around you. If you are working with a group of people who don't care about their work and are constantly negative, this will eventually affect your attitude as well.

Evaluating your relationships at work and the attitudes of those with whom you interact with regularly can help you see if a change of scenery within the company can offer the boost you seek. Interacting with new people can have a dramatic impact on your level of satisfaction in your job.

If you find your job uninteresting and lacking in challenges, you may think you need to either deal with it or move on and find a new job. Fortunately, you have other options. When you follow these five tips, you can improve the level of challenge you experience at work and boost your overall satisfaction with your job, allowing you to enjoy going to work again.

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This article was written by Inbound Marketing Coordinator Tiana Tucker on behalf of CAREEREALISM-Approved Partner, 2U, an education-technology company that partners with higher education institutions such as Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences to deliver their Master of Science in Nursing degree for aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners.

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 3 weeks ago

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How To Set Up An Informational Interview

An informational interview is a great way to learn more about a job or career path you're interested in. It's also a great way to connect with someone who is already doing that job. However, if you've never set one up before, you could be confused about how to do it properly.

Your strategy for setting up an informational interview doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, you should keep it simple so that your intentions for the interview are clear.

Here are three simple steps you can take to set up an informational interview.

1. Identify Strategic People To Interview

Make a list of all of the jobs or career paths that interest you. If there are a lot on your list, narrow it down to the top two or three that you're really excited about pursuing.

Then, identify people in your area or on LinkedIn who work in your selected fields. These should be professionals who work at one of your bucket list companies in your ideal career path.

2. Send A Personalized Invitation To Connect On LinkedIn

Once you've made your list of people to reach out to, invite each one to connect on LinkedIn using a personalized note.

If you send these people a generic invitation, they'll think you sent an invitation to lots of other people. That can make your invitation look like spam.

Also, if you don't add a personalized note to your invitation, you risk these people ignoring you. Think about it: If they don't know who you are or why you want to connect, they're more likely to brush you aside.

Not sure what to say when connecting with someone on LinkedIn? Just remember to talk about something you two have in common and don't ask for any favors right away. Be curious about their career and the path they took to get to where they are.

In your note, explain that you've never met, but you saw that they worked in your target industry and wanted to reach out to learn more about what they do. Then, simply ask them if they'd be willing to connect.

3. Go In For The Ask

If someone accepts your invitation, send a follow-up message thanking them for connecting, and tell them you're curious about their industry.

Once you've exchanged a few messages, ask if they are willing to chat more about their work.

They won't always say yes, but it's always worth asking! People generally want to help you out, but people are also busy. It's important to be understanding and respectful of their time.

So, give your contact some options and find out the most convenient time for them. Throw out a few different dates and times. Offer to buy them a cup of coffee, or see if you can set up a quick 15-minute phone or Zoom call.

There are plenty of ways to connect with people to have informational interviews. Figure out what works best for your contact.

Networking plays such a critical role when it comes to landing a job, especially if you're trying to learn more about a career path, job, or company. In order to be successful, you need to be very intentional with your efforts and respectful of a connection's time. The simple strategy above is the best one to use if you're trying to set up an informational interview.

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 3 weeks 1 day ago

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6 Ways To Position Yourself For A Promotion

How do you get a promotion? It's a good time to start thinking about growing your career and positioning yourself for one.

Here are six tips to get the promotion you want at work.

1. Under Promise And Over Deliver

With many companies leaner than they were several years ago, there are probably many internal voids. You want to identify and fill them. We recommend looking at how you can informally be of service.

For example, ask your supervisor or team members how you can step in and support them as well as identify where you see hiccups in efficiency. Approach the appropriate person with a case for how you can step in and help.

At the same time, make sure you do not commit to work you know you cannot complete efficiently and to the best of your ability.

2. Be An Intrapreneur

An intrapreneur is someone who uses an entrepreneur's mindset, relationships, skills, and behaviors within an organization's four walls to develop new, innovative ways of working, new products, or new services.

Whether you are developing a new corporate social responsibility initiative or a new procedure for onboarding entry-level talent, elicit the support of all key stakeholders, do your homework to set yourself up to succeed, and set clear, mutually agreed upon criteria for success.

By launching a new venture within your company's four walls, you may just create your new position. And when you succeed, you will have evidence of your leadership experience.

3. Get Your Internal Networking On

It's important to develop mutually beneficial relationships within your department and team as well as throughout your company. Don't forget to connect with your co-workers, old and new, and continuously try to network with those outside of your immediate office or work environment.

To put yourself in line for such an opportunity as a promotion, set the time to get to know all of your colleagues. Be curious about their work and the opportunities they foresee on the horizon.

4. Balance Short-Term And Long-Term Thinking

This is another important muscle to flex when positioning yourself for a promotion. While it's important to have an eye on your goals so that you stay on top of your chief responsibilities, you also want to pay attention to how your work plays into the bigger picture.

Get clear on your department or organization's one-, two-, and even five-year goals, and work with your supervisor to make sure that how you are spending your time and energy is moving you—and the company—in the right direction.

5. Zap Negativity

People want to work with happy people. And—let's face it—right now, too many workplaces are seas of persistent complaints.

Senior leaders also want emerging talent who see opportunities rather than obstacles. Not only does a Negative Nelly or Negative Ned kill morale, but she or he also comes across as someone incapable of solving problems and inspiring others toward solutions, which are keys to positioning oneself as an effective leader.

If you want to get that promotion, focus on being positive at work. Your encouraging nature will show your manager you have the right attitude for a leadership position, therefore making you that much closer to getting promoted.

6. Ask

This might sound obvious, but we can't tell you how many people know a position is open in their company and fail to advocate for themselves or hope that a supervisor will read their minds and make them that offer they can't refuse.

This is particularly important for women.

Men and women initiate these kinds of conversations the same amount, but men get raises more often. You don't want to under promise and over deliver forever. Once you know you have laid the foundation for your ask, set a specific day and time to talk to the appropriate person about your aspirations, and make sure you facilitate the conversation in such a way that you are creating a compelling story about what you have achieved in your previous position and what you believe you can achieve moving forward.

Most promotions won't fall into your lap. If you want it, sometimes you just have to ask for it.

Remember, often the greatest impediment to our upward mobility is ourselves. Take this advice and position yourself for a promotion today.

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3 Things You NEED To Know About Being 'Overqualified'

As a seasoned professional, being labeled as "overqualified" is frustrating. You have the experience, so why don't employers value it?

Let's face it: Today's job search is much different than it was 20 years ago.

Here are few things you need to know about getting a job when you're tagged as "overqualified."

1. It Takes More Than Experience To Get A Job

Sure, you can have all of the experience in the world for a job, but when you're not actively keeping your skills up to date, that's where you run into problems.

It's a fast-paced world, and if you want to find a job, you need to keep up. Figure out where you need to upskill in your industry and start advancing your skills. You should also look to develop new skills so you can stay relevant at work.

Think about the technologies you'd need to use, tasks you'd need to complete, and projects you'd need to finish. Where would you struggle? Start there.

2. Nobody Wants To Overpay For Services—Especially Employers

Unfortunately, the hard truth is that you might not make the salary you had at your last job. Employers are finding job candidates with the skills they need for less money. Paying more for someone who can do the same thing isn't exactly something employers get excited about.

You need to understand what salaries are competitive for that role in that specific industry, then find ways to market yourself more effectively. You are a business-of-one. As an employee, you provide a service to an employer. So, in your job interview, you have to prove to the employer the services you can provide for the company will either save or make them money.

Employers need to justify paying you what you're asking for, so figure out what you can bring to the table that other candidates can't.

3. It's Not Your Age That's Holding You Back. It's Your Strategy.

You can't change your age, but you can change how you approach your job search. As we mentioned above, the job search has changed drastically over the last 10-20 years (and even in the last few!). If you want to stand out to employers and get interviews, you need to ditch those old job search strategies in favor of new ones.

What used to work for you likely won't work for you now. Today, you need to get your resume past the ATS, write disruptive cover letters, and build your professional network so you can use backchanneling to get on a company's radar. It's about working on your career every day because if you want to win, you've got to "work it daily."

If you've been called "overqualified" before—or think you could be called "overqualified" in your next job search—make sure to remember these three things. You (and only you) have the power to change employers' perceptions. Show them what a great job candidate you are today!

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 3 weeks 3 days ago

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