Staying Productive During the Holidays

You probably view the holiday season as a time to wind down, relax, and lay on the couch eating homemade cookies. And it certainly can be. But don’t waste perfectly good time that can be used to plan and improve your skills for the coming months. Below are a few ways to utilize this time in order to continue staying up to date with your job search.

  • View holiday parties as networking opportunities: Don’t just chat mindlessly, but ask friends and family what they are up to and see if they know anyone working for a company you would enjoy working with. Take these constant social gatherings to be new opportunities for growth.
  • Keep applying: The holidays may be seen as a “dead” time to hear back from employers, but continue job hunting and getting your resume out there. Maybe you won’t hear back until later, but take this time to send in the perfect application.
  • Spruce up your resume: Take the time off to brush the dust off of your resume. Check out some new resume templates or samples online for inspiration. Add new positions and skills, and make sure it serves to pack a powerful punch for future recruiters.
  • Find connections from your family: Older family members can be a great resource for career advice, particularly if they are working in the same line as you. Family members closer in age can also help with advice and connections–for example, I was recently put in touch with a new contact working in publishing thanks to my cousin.
  • Develop your skills: take online courses in coding, marketing, or even literature. Hubspot Academy and edx are just a few of the sources to go to to find free or inexpensive courses that will help you to grow your skillset and knowledge.
  • Practice Interviewing: Take this time to run a practice interview with a friend or family member, and prepare strong answers to interview questions. Find more tips here.
  • Plus–Get the perfect interview outfit: Maybe you could even ask for this as a gift. It’s important to look the part when interviewing for a job, so prepare yourself this holiday season.

What other advice do you have? What are your plans for the holidays?

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Great Read about Life, Love, and Therapy

In 2019 it seems that everyone is talking to someone, and, with an overall influx of anxiety and a focus on mental health, openly speaking about therapy is more commonplace than it ever has been. But, talking about our issues and emotions has never been easy. Lori Gottlieb explores this through her own experiences as both patient and therapist in Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. The memoir follows her life and the choices that led her to what she describes as a very rewarding career as a therapist.

She details her relationship with clients who present various problems. There is John, a seemingly curmudgeonly man who works on a very popular TV show. Even John is hiding painful pasts and emotions that are brought out in sessions. Then there’s Julie, a college professor coming to terms with her cancer diagnosis. Lori explains the nuances of relationship between client and therapist, and even what to do in cases of seeing someone in public.

Lori details her experiences both as therapist and as a patient with the therapist she coins “Wendell”. Lori decides to go to therapy after a shocking and unexpected breakup that leaves her anxious and constantly teary. Wendell helps Lori to unpack and rethink her thoughts about her ex, herself, and her child. Along the way, you learn about Lori’s life and about the history and methodology of psychotherapy.

I really enjoyed this read, and it provided a humorous, personable look into the histories that bring people into therapy. I think that it demystified the practice, and hopefully inspires more people to “talk to someone”.

Carrie Kerpen’s “Work It”: An Excellent Source for Professional Development Advice

Carrie Kerpen’s Work It: Secrets for Success from the Boldest Women in Business, features advice for young, female professionals and those starting off on their own. It features interviews from professionals including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg. Kerpen is also the host of the podcast “All the Social Ladies”. 

This was one of the first strictly career development books I have read, and I found it to very very inspiring and helpful. As a young women starting to build my career, many of the interviews and notes included spoke to my current journey. I enjoyed the format of the book, which was broken into organized chapters that also contained graphics and bullet points of best practices, plus parts you are able to fill out yourself. I think that this was a really great way to get in touch with your career goals and break away from negative thinking. 

Work It was written for women in the career force, and it includes a chapter on balancing family and career and on navigating a hostile work environment. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on networking and building a “squad” of powerful women to support your efforts. Networking is a big focus of the book, and I learned to not be afraid to send direct emails to people you want to gain advice or work from. I also learned to view networking as a never-ending activity, and to do it even in casual situations. Anyone can be a helpful contact. I also learned how to be able to say “no” when requests are unnecessary or harmful to my goals, and how to get over failures and move on to new endeavors. This was an excellent source for women looking to become entrepreneurs.  

The interviews in this book were particularly helpful, seeing how this is what Maggie does regularly for her podcast. Each women shared advice that aligned with the goals of the chapter, and included heartfelt personal anecdotes.

Overall, I was really pleased with the quality of this book and recommend it for any woman in the work force looking to grow or start their own business. 

Nail your Next Interview

Thankfully, I suppose, I have interviews scheduled for the next three days. Finally, something has gotten back! Interviews can be quite nerve-wracking, so it’s important to be prepared. If you do your planning and research, you are in good shape to get that job. These tips are imperative to follow if you are currently searching for a new position and hoping to crush your interviews. 

Dress the Part: Make sure to look your best before an interview. Wear something simple and professional, but don’t hide your personality.

Practice Beforehand: Find a friend or family member and run a practice interview with them. It is very important to have a run-through beforehand, allowing you to speak as confidently as possible. 

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Create an “Elevator Pitch”: an elevator pitch is a short speech about why you should be hired. It got its name because you should be able to say it while riding an elevator. 

Know your Strengths and Weaknesses: This is an all-too-common question, and getting asked what your greatest weakness is can feel like a trick. Try to choose a weakness that can be spun into a positive. Ensure, as well, that your greatest strength is tailored to the particular position that you are interviewing for. 

Use the STAR method: Specific Situation, Task, Action, and Result . This is a way to answer behavior-based questions by providing examples. This allows you to give specific examples of ways you were able to help. If asked about a situation that relates to the role you are applying to, talk about a specific situation from a previous role in which you completed a task related to what you will need to complete in the future. Then tell the employer about the action you did to complete this task, and the result that came from it. This should, of course, be a highly positive result.


Don’t make things up or lie, instead maintain an air of authenticity. 

Important: Know the job description and company very closely. Make sure you can explain why you want to work for this specific company and what you are able to do to help them. Be closely in tune with the needs of the company and industry, and connect your skills and training with their needs. You don’t want to show up to the interview without having researched the company or re-read the job description. The employer will assume that you don’t care about the company or position. 

Bring a copy of your resume, a portfolio, and a pen with you. It’s best to be prepared, and you typically will need to take down notes. 

What are other tips you have for job interviews? Let me know in the comments. 

Stay Happy and Healthy in the Cold

Shorter days and colder weather can weaken your immune system. It can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise when busy with holiday preparations and stuck in freezing weather. But there are important steps you must take to protect yourself in the cold winter months. The follow tips are important to follow when taking care of both your physical and mental health.

Avoid overeating: Healthy eating is important year-round. In the winter season, don’t go for a lot of carbs, though they may be calling out to you. Instead, make sure to instead eat a lot of protein. Add omega-3 fatty acids, which are helpful to prevent depression and inflammation. This can come from either supplements or fatty fish like salmon. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to ensure  that you are getting the correct amounts of nutrients. 

Exercise: When exercising, make a plan for the week and stick to it to ensure that you are getting in the correct amount and not straying from your plan. Or find ways to get your workouts in at home using youtube videos or home equipment. 

Wash your hands regularly. This is an important step to protect yourself from spreading sickness and infection.

Getting Warm in a sauna or heat room can also prove helpful to depression. 

Take your vitamins: Vitamin C and vitamin D are both important drugs to take to ward off colds and improve mood. Many of us lack vitamin in the winter, when it is more difficult to get natural light.

Go to bed as early as possible, get as much sleep as possible

Take time for yourself: Winter is full of get togethers with family and friends that are sure to bring on stressful conflicts and situations. Make sure to take a step back and find alone time to counter whatever is going on. 

Yes, still go outside: Bundle up and go for a walk or hike around your neighborhood to get some natural light and fresh air. 

Warm beverages: Get some warmth in yourself through liquids like tea and hot chocolate, but be sure to avoid caffeine after noon. 

Get a Mood Lamp: SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) impacts more people than you are aware of, especially if you live in an area of the world that gets a low amount of sunlight during the winter months. I have been using a mood lamp each morning while I knit and watch TV as a means to get in my sun in any way. 

Layers, Sweaters: Make sure to dress for the weather. Thick socks, sturdy boots, and thick sweaters are important staples of this season. 

Stay social: It’s easy to isolate yourself when it starts to get cold out. Instead, find time to invite friends over for warm drinks and movies or games. 

Are there any other ways you stay healthy in the winter? Let me know in the comments.

10 Tips for Writing Great Online Content

Writing for an online audience can be tricky. When adjusting from traditional forms of writing to content creation and blogging, there are quite a few new rules to follow and goals to aim for. Below, find a list of ten important tips to ensure you are creating readable, interesting content. Many of these were inspired by information from Hubspot Academy’s course on Business Blogging.

  1. Don’t forget about the title. Keep it short and strong. Make sure to draw in your reader with a promise or interesting premise.

2. Answer questions. Write content that educates your audience on their interests and helps improve their skills. This way, people will come to your content on their own.

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3. Don’t write about your own life, write with your audience and industry in mind. Make sure your article will be about something your audience is truly going to care about or need to improve a certain skill.

4. Small sentences and paragraphs. Don’t confuse your audience with lengthy information.

5. Don’t try to sound smarter than you are. Use words you’re comfortable with, not unnecessary jargon and heightened vocabulary. Contractions are okay!

6. Write conversationally. Utilize humor and personality to draw your reader in and create and connection.

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7. Write your introduction and conclusion last. Make sure that you have structured your main ideas before perfecting your piece.

8. Make sure to have a catchy introduction that draws in your reader with a funny anecdote or compelling promise.

9. Use strong language. No passive voice, speak directly to your reader.

10. Scissors> Pen. Edit closely to ensure that your main idea remains the focus. Don’t include any unnecessary words or information.

What other rules do you follow when writing or creating other online content? Let me know in the comments.

Taking the Unconventional Road to Your Career

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “it’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know” recently. Job advice from friends and family quite frequently comes in the form of cliches and outdated wisdom. But there is definitely a lot of truth in the power of networking, and I have come to realize that every social setting can be a chance to make connections. Looking at the world around me in a new way helps with the job search in a multitude of ways. I’ve found that the following practices helped me find professional development and leads in unfamiliar places:

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Do it Yourself:

Create your own job–start a blog, write content for others, help online companies with their content marketing efforts, and more. Have a talent for jewelry making, drawing, or writing? Try to capitalize on these skills, selling your finished work. Working for yourself provides you with an immense amount of freedom and capability. I have dipped into this role as the creator of this blog, and recently have submitted pieces to other publications.

Odd Jobs:

Tutoring, pet sitting, babysitting–all of these can be great ways in which to make money. I’ve even recently found work teaching small knitting classes.

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Internet Resources:

I have found UpWork to be a great resource in finding small writing projects. I am currently working on writing articles about beauty products thanks to a role I found here. All of this work is paid, and allows you to build your portfolio. Upwork is a site where business owners can post temporary jobs–admin work, tech work, blogging and content writing jobs tend to be more frequently seen here.

Of course, the internet is also great for looking for full time work. Turn to Linkedin, Indeed, or smaller, more specific job search websites such as Angellist, which is more prominently focused on start-ups. Make sure to be continuously active on these sites, maintaining connections and posting content that signals your skills and helps get your name out. I frequently repost blog content related to professional development on my Linkedin.

Reach out to anyone and everyone

I have found connections at a bar, book clubs, through friends and professors and family–everywhere. Don’t be afraid to ask and to put out your interests.

Study Up

Don’t stop learning and developing your skills after graduation. There are many ways to strengthen your resume through courses and certifications. I have been learning about content marketing through Hubspot Academy, which offers certificate courses entirely for free. Others include Google Analytics courses, Business Blogging, and more. Also–don’t forget to turn to your local library–many offer career resources, or, at least a multitude of helpful books on skill development and job search. My local YMCA, as well, currently is offering a job search speaker series.

Counselors

I have turned to Career Services at my University in order to improve my resume, find connections, and consider my career options. These resources are great, and if you no longer are nearby your college, consider finding a professional career counselor, as well.

Do you have any other career search advice? Let me know in the comments.

25 Free Tools to Improve Your Writing in 2020 — Nicholas C. Rossis

Writing tools promise to make our life easier. But first you have to choose which one to use. And God knows there are plenty of them around nowadays! I counted four posts on the subject on my blog alone, with dozens of links to promising tools. So, wouldn’t it be if someone organized that information […]

25 Free Tools to Improve Your Writing in 2020 — Nicholas C. Rossis

Want to Put your Writing Skills to Use? Learn About Content Marketing

It’s a sad misconception that humanities majors are doomed to a life of un- and underemployment. The skills learned in such degrees are highly valuable in the workplace, where clear and persuasive writing and communication are key. However, the world is changing rapidly, and there are technical and “hard” skills you can use to back up your degree in English, History, or any of the other social sciences.

One such skill is “Content Marketing”. Content Marketing refers to the use of written or visual content to attract potential customers and point them towards services that they will then pay for. Writers and editors with skills and experience in content marketing are much more likely to be hired in jobs where blogging and online content is used as a key tool to boost sales and following.

I recently completed Hubspot Academy’s online certification course in content marketing, which I was then able to advertise on Linkedin and on my resume, making my background stronger to potential employers. In this course, I completed a number of video modules, practical activities, and passed a comprehensive test. I improved my knowledge in content marketing as a means to not only boost my resume, but improve my own blog presence, as well.

Some of the most important skills I learned in this course include:

Know your Audience:

Hubspot’s course suggests compiling “buyer personas,” or fictional representations of the type of customer you are looking to attract. I thought about the type of viewer I am looking to attract on this blog, which is mainly college graduates looking to gain fill-time employment. It is important to research what this person may be interested in and to maintain connections with your real-life followers, as well. Knowing your audience is essential in gaining followers and attracting people with the right content.

Stay Organized:

This course helped me create a detailed calendar in which to organize when, where, and what content to post. It also made me think more clearly about the reason why I am posting content, and the ideal outcome I am looking for in posting. It also helped me discover new, creative ways to think of blog post ideas, and to think carefully about when to post them.

Be Social:

I learned that it is important to advertise your content on social media channels, and that these should all be personalized to the particular website. I also learned about the importance of guest blogging, and how maintaining connections with other influencers can help you to build up a following.

Learning these and other skills puts you in a place above your other humanities-major peers when it comes to looking for a writing position. Good luck with the job search!

Twitter

(For once?) Social Media can Improve your Health

Social exercise is the best exercise. There is no better motivation to finish a class or to run faster than a friendly competitor by your side.

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I’ve discovered the benefits of social exercise as a regular at Ride and Reflect, a spin, HIIT, and yoga studio with two locations in the Morristown, NJ area. The studio combines high intensity workouts with calming meditation and yoga sessions. Plus, it cultivates a friendly competition, and features regular workout challenges and even post-spin nights out at local bars.

If you don’t live in the area, you can still get in on the fun and improve your health by following @fit.like.krys on instagram. Krystal Weisberg is an instructor at Ride and Reflect who regularly runs health and fitness challenges on Instagram, inviting her followers to exercise and practice healthy habits for free. Currently, I am participating in “#thetrimdown” a fifteen-day detox and fitness challenge that helps prepare followers for food-filled holiday season. Participants receive a checklist of eating and exercise habits to check off, and, each morning, Krystal posts a new workout to complete. Plus, each participant is paired with another teammate to check in with on social media. This is a great way to ensure your success and to hold each other accountable–and, even, to make friends.

The positive impacts of this challenge are indicative of the wholistic, positive lifestyle promoted by Ride and Reflect–one that cultivates not only physical but spiritual health.

So get a friend, go online, and motivate yourself to get fit.