Changing Careers in a Changing Economy

By Kelly Evanko

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In 2008, the U.S. economy took a huge hit and many of us took a blow professionally, as a result of it. Many either lost their jobs, had their hours cut, or had to take a pay cut somehow, leaving many of us scratching our heads wondering, “What do we do now?” Since then, the corporate world has required us to work longer hours and the low morale has left us feeling generally unhappy or burnt out.
How about you? Maybe you have even gone as far as you can in your current job. Are you yearning to try something different? Well, this begs the question, “Is this a good time to consider changing careers?” Here is some food for thought if you are seriously considering it.

For anyone thinking of transitioning into a totally new career, the very first thing you need to do is make a checklist of all of your strengths and talents. This is a good exercise to get a true read on what you really WANT to do for the rest of your life.

The first step to take once you have made your checklist is to check out multiple resources that can help you to identify what you want to do based on what you are good at. Make a list of potential work options. There are many surveys online that you can take to see what transferrable skills you already have. I also recommend reading the book “What Color Is Your Parachute?” This is the holy grail of career information. These resources can help you find the best fit for your particular interests and talents. (It may sound crazy, but it is actually possible that you are already in the right career path that’s best suited for you. You just may need to find a company that better fits your goals and needs)…Read More

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5 Things the Fashion Industry Taught Me

By Kristina Brahmstaedt

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Five years ago, I started my career in fashion retail. As a recent high school graduate from a small city in the middle of nowhere, this new job wasn’t quite an easy ride. I had to realize that I wasn’t as fashionable as I thought, that I hadn’t the right clothes in my closet, and that I had a total disadvantage for not having super rich parents with a faible for designer handbags. The lessons I learned, however, helped me make my way up in this tough industry.


1. Don’t be as superficial as the industry

The only thing people in the fashion industry appear to be good at is to party, look good, and not eat anything. Of course, this is not true at all. First of all: You should definitely eat something. Second: For being really successful there is no alternative to working hard. This means that you have to wake up early, be on time, and, most important of all, know what you are talking about. You will certainly meet many impostors, but they will stumble on their ways someday. There is a lot more to know than the latest trends and the hottest clubs.

2. Be a follower…sometimes

As the new gal in the business, it is clever to follow the crowd in the beginning. Orient yourself, every company is a microcosm with its own rules. You do not have to hide, but find out how to dress, where to go after work, or how to behave in front of the bosses without attracting negative attention… Read More

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6 Interview Tips to Nail Your Dream Job

By Martina Reynolds

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In this day and age, interviews are gold and each should be treated that way. It is the time to show the company you are a valuable asset and that you are truly interested in the position. Remember, actions speak louder than words. Here are 6 ways to show you want the job!

1. Preparation is key – It is essential to know your CV (or resume as we call it here in the United States) inside and out and a mistake-free CV (Resume) is a must! You must be fully prepared to answer any and all questions regarding your past professional experiences, academic background, employment history gaps, and personal interests. Remember that little white lie you told about playing tennis on the weekends? Well, you might be asked which tennis club you have a membership! Honesty is most certainly the best policy when it comes to your CV.

2. Do your homework – It is very common for an employer to ask what you know about their company/business during the interview and it is your responsibility to find out everything humanly possible (this is an absolute must and you have no excuse not to do your research since information is easily accessible through the Internet). Some commonly asked questions include: when was the company established, who is the current director/CEO, what is the company ethos/motto, etc. A good tip is to perform a news search for the company to find out why they were most recently in the media. Some simple research can really turn the tables in an interview… Read More

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Minding Your Manners at Work

By Kelly Evanko

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Nowadays, it seems as though manners have gone by the wayside ironically at a time when etiquette is essential now more than ever in a professional setting. With so many of us looking for work or trying to keep the job we have, we need to constantly mind our manners. Social media outlets have blurred the lines in terms of what is appropriate and we are left shaking our heads while navigating unchartered social territory like never before. In its most basic form, etiquette is really all about making another person feel good. It’s not just a list of do’s and don’ts or telling people what to do or how to do it. Etiquette is just an overall outline on what to do or how to act in certain situations. I always check myself by saying, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Here are a few tips to help you build your etiquette at work.


When interviewing for a new job, always look your best. This is the first impression someone will have of you and it can either set you apart from pack or send you packing. Whether it is a professional setting or a causal one, try to be neat, tidy, and well groomed.

Always come to work or an interview prepared. When interviewing, make sure to bring extra copies of your resume and a list of references. If possible, bring examples of your work with you, as well. Do your homework when interviewing for a company you may not be familiar with and read up on the company’s website so that you can display your knowledge when speaking with the HR officer. When presenting ideas or working on a project, make sure to have any notes or presentation materials ready to go, so you don’t have to keep people waiting. When making a presentation, be sure to be concise and stay on topic. Allow others to ask questions and give feedback… Read More

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Be More Productive When Working from Home

By Violeta Vasilopoulou

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Working the last couple of years as a freelance translator/proofreader as well as the editor of a lifestyle blog means that I spend my days working from the comfort of my home office. It wasn’t an easy transition and I won’t lie, there were days that I struggled with deadlines as I mismanaged my time and had to stay up until the early morning hours to catch up. However, through years of practice, I learned what works and what doesn’t. As I mentioned in the first part of this post series, Pros and Cons of Working from Home, it is a career choice that you have to consider carefully and its certainly not for everyone. You have to eliminate the sources of distraction around your house and, if you choose to follow a few or all of my tips to increase your productivity while working from home, I can promise you will see positive outcomes right away.


Start your Day Right. 

You should consider starting your day by getting up as if you worked at an office. Get up early, take a shower, get dressed despite the urge you are feeling to spend your day in your pyjamas, and enjoy a nutritious breakfast with a hot cup of coffee. Keep in mind that it is the most important meal of the day and you should never skip it. Following this simple morning routine will ensure that you are refreshed up and ready to face your overflowing inbox and files and it will help you get in “work” mode, which will boost your productivity.

Always Make a Schedule. 

Before you go to bed at night, think about what you want to get done the next day. It is helpful to make yourself a schedule and a to-do list as these two will force you to think about how you will be spending your working hours. Make sure to follow your schedule closely and you will accomplish more. If you keep a to-do list, you will get a feeling of accomplishment every time you check something off and it will encourage you to keep working hard. There are plenty of free or inexpensive list and schedule services out there, including the iPhone app Clear and my personal favorite cross-platform Evernote… Read More

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Red or Blue? Avoiding Office Politics

By: Molly Tullis

No, I’m not actually referring to whether the bumper sticker on your car is of a donkey or a well-dressed elephant – or for some millennials, even a Green Peace sticker. Office politics are a beast all on their own and have a different way of bearing their ugly faces. While a political debate in an office space can be done intelligently and respectfully, office politics lend themselves to be more reminiscent of a scene from Mean Girls than West Wing. They are just that: a political game of co-workers usually resorting to gossip and back-end deals to try and secure promotions, bonuses, or even pay raises through relationships and back stabbing. Office politics can be toxic and usually involve destroyed relationships, hurt feelings, and are much more appropriate for an episode of Survivor than somewhere nine to five.

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One of the first things that I was told upon entering my fashion industry internship was to avoid office politics at all costs. It seemed an easy enough rule; anyone knows in black and white situations that office politics are detrimental to a happy work environment. But about three weeks into the job, it became apparent that not all situations were plainly black and white. When dealing with office politics, it’s usually grey. I’ve combined the best three ways to identify office politics, and stop yourself from launching a campaign.
1. Gossip has the most to do with office politics. Most often called ‘water cooler talk’, it’s the little things that co-workers talk about on breaks in hushed whispers. The topics can range from who is getting fired, who’s getting hired, to, in my situation, which PR agent was going to get the best couture brand campaign. While the talks seem harmless and quite interesting, unless it has been confirmed by a higher up and it’s common knowledge – try not to talk about it. Especially in fashion, which is known for back stabbing and ruthless people (Devil Wears Prada, anyone?), these kinds of rumors and gossip can only ruin your reputation as well as that of others. There is one woman in my company who is always starting a conversation with, “Did you hear about…?” and everyone in the company knows not to trust her with confidential information. When it’s time for promotions, if you can’t be trusted, you can’t be promoted.
2. Stop it when you see it. I’m not saying that you need to monitor the hallways with your hall monitor badge and flag anyone having a hushed conversation by the water cooler. What you should do, however, when someone approaches you with office gossip is make a smooth transition. This is a skill that I’ve been taught for whenever I don’t want to answer a particular question. If you work in media, then you know the specific skill set I’m talking about. If anyone approaches you…read more 

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How Coaching Made Me a Better Manager

By:Kelly Evanko

When people hear the word coach, they immediately associate the word with a sports coach who motivates, encourages, and trains his team to win the game. Surprisingly, there is a similar objective to this kind of leadership in the professional sector. When I started my retail career as an assistant manager, I was a fish out of the water as far as motivating and encouraging my employees. I had to ask myself what are the tools I need to succeed as a good manager? I sought out the other managers on my team and observed them in action while asking lots of questions. I opened myself up to feedback and constructive criticism and, in the end, all of these initiatives really helped me build myself up for the position. I listed here some of the things I observed, learned, and put into play that I believe made me not only a better employee, but a better manager. I learned to lead my team to successful results and that, in turn, led to a peaceful working environment.

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 The first thing I learned (and I really think this is a great tool to utilize) is to BE YOUR OWN COACH. If you look inward at your own work and think about ways you can improve YOUR growth on a personal level, then you have what it takes to pass that wisdom onto your team. A good coach changes the game early on. If there is something that is not working or that needs to be changed, such as a behavior or a technique, NOW is the best time to remedy it before a undesirable action has been taken, or a foul decision has been made.

    A good coaching method is to always provide guidance and to constantly motivate the employees on your team. You should always encourage positive behavior and recognize employee contributions. This positivity will ultimately help your whole team develop and grow. Also, don’t forget to…read more

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How to Build Your Brand

By: Kelly Evanko

Now more than ever, since the economy took a downturn, many of us need to find a way to be more innovative in marketing ourselves to potential employers or to start our own ventures in the creative sector. The days where we spent 10+ years at our jobs are long gone. The most important job we have today is to be our own boss and to essentially sell and market ourselves to others. Today, YOU and your brand are the new modern resume. Your personal persona will follow you long after your professional persona is gone, therefore, here are some tips on how to market yourself, whether you are looking to change careers or take the job you already have to the next level. 

It’s not about WHAT you know, but WHO you know!

passion branding

 

The first and most important thing you need to do to brand yourself is to really start building a strong personal foundation. In order to do this, you need to essentially interview yourself by asking these questions. These are the building blocks to building your brand.

1. What is my passion?

2. What are my beliefs?

3. What is my opinion or way of thinking?

You need to take the time to lay out your core values, as these shape how you present yourself in public, as well as how people identify with you. Always be open to self-improvement and self-reflection. These are positive things that can make us grow both on a personal and on a professional level, as well. Don’t be afraid to experiment or think outside the box. Creativity is key to the development of your brand.

     Next, you need to identify your primary specialty, what you have to offer to others. Make a list of your top five talents or qualities. What is your gift? Turn these into your tagline. It helps potential clients or employers remember a KEY point about you, so make it count. Don’t be afraid to ask others for feedback or constructive criticism; this can only make your brand stronger. Become an Expert. You need to make people believe you are the best at what you do. It is all about perception. You obviously have the talent, so now is the time to get out of your comfort zone and put those talents to work for you. You also need to keep learning and updating your talents as the landscape is forever changing.

      Communication is key. This is where Social Media becomes your best ally. This gives people an easier way to identify and connect with you. Here are some ideas.

1. Build your own domain. Use your name or something that describes you.

2. Blog. Post a few times a week discussing topics that pertain to your brand, share on Facebook and Twitter to increase traffic of people who see your posts. (Read more about how to Blog Your Way to Your Dream Job)

3. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest are great ways to gain followers and share the same interests as you. Engage and interact. This will attract people to your brand.

    Now, one of the most important factors of building your brand is networking. Networking helps build relationships. Do for them and they’ll do for you is the mantra that best describes these connections. Get to know people and put yourself out there; this helps you stay miles ahead of the game. Networking and building new acquaintances may be out of your comfort zone, but it can make all the difference in the world. New relationships are the movers and shakers that can take your brand to the next level. These are the people who can retweet links to hundreds if not thousands of people. These are individuals who know others that they can put you into contact with.

     Your brand is essentially what can get you the interview, or take your creative passion to the next level. The truth of the matter is, today you are judged more by what you’ve done and who you know more than anything else. With the right strategy, a little self-reflection, and some old-fashioned hard work, you can create a brand that everyone will be talking about for years to come. 

 

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Pros and Cons of Working from Home

By: Violeta Vasilopoulou

Lately, more and more women choose to work from the comfort of their homes. Whether they are splitting their work schedule and working from home a couple of days per week, running a small successful home-based business, or freelancing full time from their home office, women are increasingly establishing themselves professionally not in some office, but at their very own home offices. 

Pros & Cons from Working from Home

Surely, there are many reasons for setting up a home office. Either you need to stay home with the children or you lack the funds to rent an office space. However, whatever the reason, there are equally important pros & cons to working from home that shouldn’t be overlooked but weighed in carefully.

When you work in a corporate environment, all the advantages of working from home become very appealing in your mind. Many people often get attracted by the whole of idea of working from the comfort of their homes and setting their own work schedules that they often forget to consider some of the drawbacks. But, let’s first explore the great benefits of working from home.

Pros of Working from Home:

·      Flexibility. There is a lot of flexibility that comes with working from home. You complete your tasks on your own schedule and many times you can also set your own hours. 

·      No commute. Another major advantage is that travel time is eliminated. You won’t have to waste hours commuting to-and-from work. No more sitting in your car during “rush hours” or stressing out over being late.

·      Closer proximity to family. Working from home, full- or part-time can help fill in the gaps when family members are ill or when kids need to be picked up from school. You are able to spend more time with your loved ones, especially your children.

·      Wear your pajamas at work. Although it is probably best to get dressed in the mornings, even if you are working from home, in order to make the distinction between work and off-time, if don’t feel like dressing one day, you CAN work in your pajamas. It is completely up to you; whatever makes you feel more comfortable and effective. Just remember you are in our Pj’s and stay away from Skype.

·      Save money. When you work in an office, unless you’re diligent about bringing your lunch to work, eating out each and every day, can really stretch your monthly income. Even if you choose a low cost lunch, spending less than ten dollars per day, that’s still equals $200 a month on lunch alone. Making a sandwich in your kitchen will help you save a significant amount of money and you will be able to use the extra cash to accomplishing the goals you have been saving towards. You will also need a relatively smaller collection of work attire and this will also help you save more money. 

Unfortunately, as much as we don’t want to think about these, there are a number of disadvantages from working from home. 

Cons of Working from home

·      Flexibility. Flexibility can be a pro as well as a con. Once your family and friends learn you work from home, they might think that you are more available than you really are. (Those of you who work from home know exactly what I’m talking about) Friends may drop by or call to ask you favors.  Your family will need time to adjust to the fact that, just because you are at home, you still have deadlines and work that needs to be done.

·      Isolation. Peace and quiet are beneficial to working productively, but you have to keep in mind that there are tow sides to that coin. Working from home can be isolating at times. It is a good idea to maintaining contact with your co-workers, colleagues, and associates via Skype, phone, or even instant messaging. Work one or more days at your local cafe and make lunch meetings with associates, so that you can still get in contact with other people.

·      Less collaboration. If your job requires collaboration with a partner or a co-worker, working from home can put a layer of complexity into that process. Skype, FaceTime, and other video chat options will help, but it’s tough to beat face-to-face interaction during business meetings.

·      Distractions. You might think that by working from home you eliminate distractions, such as co-workers talking loudly on the phone or chatting away with the latest office gossips. However, distractions exist at home, as well. Laundry is oh-so-tempting, daytime television lurks steps away, and then there’s the ever-present lure of Facebook, Twitter, and the time consuming Pinterest. The bottom line is, that if you are easily distracted, you’ll really have to be diligent if you plan to work from home.

·      No IT department. The harsh truth is that computers and technology sometimes don’t work the way we want them to. At the office, you are likely to have an in-house IT person just a call away. However, that’s not the case when you are working from home, so your home office equipment may take longer to fixed than you’d like. (Not to mention added frustration) 

Ultimately, the choice to work from home is yours, since it is a major change that is not for everyone. I have been working from  home for the last four years and freelancing full time. There are days that I love it and others that I crave my old office days. Choose wisely and, in the end, if you find that working from home isn’t for you, you can always go back to working in the office. 

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21 Words that will Make You Sound Smarter

By: Ashley Wallace

There is just something about using Buzzwords that grabs people’s attention and makes them look up at you with a whole new found sense of respect. We have all heard them and most likely have used them from time to time. Here are the top 21 words that were hand picked from the CgC Daily office. These 21 words will automatically add credibility to any sentence and (Drumroll please) change your life (or at least how people see you). 

Buzz Words

 

1.     Strategic
2.     Bottom line
3.     Pivot
4.     Empower
5.    Absolutely:  (when used instead of Yes)
6.     Accountability
7.     Alternative
8.    Best practice
9.    Big Picture
10.   Buy-in
11.   Challenge (when used as a euphemism for “problem”)
12.   Change agent (or catalyst)
13.   Circle back
14.   Coach(ing)
15.   Conceptualize
16.   Core competencies
17.   Deliverables
18.   Downward trend
19.   ​Face time
20.   Game plan 
21.   Get our ducks in a row:
  (No, this does not mean you are going hunting)

Warning: Uttering a mouthful of buzzwords can cause a whole room of people to stop talking and pause waiting for you to say something equally as brilliant.  

What is your favorite Buzzword to use?

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