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10 Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Job Offer

29 Apr

By Jessica Robinson

A lot of job-ready, eager millennials are graduating college, interviewing for jobs and looking to start their career.

Source: someecards.com

Source: someecards.com

Millennials are also more likely to change jobs than their older coworker – at a rate of about 3 years so even the working young professional is likely to be on the job hunt today, perhaps satisfying a quarter-life-crisis.

To add to the pressure, millions are still unemployed and new grads are challenged more than any previous generation with finding employment after graduation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, College graduates’ of 2013 have an unemployment rate that is the highest in over 20 years. CNN called them the ‘Boomerang’ kids because 85% of college grads moved home in 2012. All of this sounds really difficult but it doesn’t mean that negotiating desired benefits are off the table or that a job seeker regardless of generation should accept a job that is unsuitable to their career goals.

It’s important to look out for yourself in the workplace because nobody else will do it for you. How do you interview a potential employer while they’re interviewing you? There are some obvious things like salary and benefits but there is more to a satisfying job than that.

First, try to outline your ideal working environment and company culture and how important they are. Are things like casual Fridays important? Is flexible working schedule a must? Is teamwork where you excel? Add that on your list of questions. Here are some other ideas to ask. Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

  1. What is the day-to-day working environment like on the team? Look for things like what types of people you’ll be working with. Ask what the level of individuality is like. Try to understand types of projects or responsibilities that are most common.
  2. What is the room for growth and the time frame associated to that?
  3. If I asked the team to describe their job and the team culture, how would they describe it?
  4. What qualities and characteristics do you consider strengths of your team?
  5. What are the biggest challenges you feel that the team (or company) is facing right now?
  6. What type of person do you work best with, and what type of person doesn’t do as well?
  7. If a team member isn’t performing as expected, how do you react?
  8. On the flip side, how is good work rewarded?
  9. What is the best part of your day to day work?
  10. Ask to speak with others in the company. You need to find out what type of management style your boss or indirect influencers have. Find out who directly impacts and evaluates most of your work (it’s not always the direct report) and find out if their management style is what you would consider desirable. Talking with others will help indicate that more honestly than anyone else.

Do you have tips for job seekers based on your experience or from someone you know? Let us know in the comments!

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Robberies, Fires and Prohibition: The Midland History You’ve Never Heard

12 Mar

midland michigan

Did you know that Detroit was the first city to pave a concrete road? Or did you know that Michigan supplied an estimated 75% of liquor to bootleggers during prohibition– thanks to our helpful Canadian friends? (source) Or what about the fire that almost destroyed parts of Midland? I didn’t think so.

Don’t worry. I haven’t either and I was born and raised in this town. It’s easy to dismiss this quiet, conservative city to be boring and uneventful. That’s not true today and that’s not true of its past.

Midland has contributed a lot to the history of Michigan and there’s a lot more to tell. We’re sitting down for lunch on March 25 with Gary Skory, the Director of the Midland County Historical Society to hear Gary’s stories specifically about Midland County’s rich (and sometimes scandalous) history.

You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy this stuff.

Gary will share stories you’ve never heard about Midland’s rich history at the next MYPros Luncheon. His presentation has only ever been told to Leadership Midland graduates and now you have a chance to hear from him, too. Gary is smart, witty and engaging. If you think history is boring, you have never heard Gary present.

JOIN US TO LEARN HOW MIDLAND HAS SHAPED HISTORY

The presentation “Robberies, Fires and Prohibition” starts at 11:30 am on March 25 and concludes at 1 pm. Questions before registering? Leave a comment. We’ll get back to you.

5 Apps to Help Maximize Productivity

4 Mar

There’s nothing like a dependency on technology to make us incredibly more productive. I fully intend to strengthen our obsession with technology and make you more effective while doing it by sharing my 5 favorite productivity apps for any aspect of your life. Thank me later.

Evernote – Free

Evernote is completely brilliant once you start using it and best use its features. The best and most complicated part is that the sky is the limit and everyone will use it differently. Evernote can be installed in your browser, on your PC or Mac, and on your phone syncing wherever you have it installed. The ability to categorize “notebooks” offers some segmentation to shared and private content, and work and professional content. Of course, each piece can be tagged making it easier to find and navigate your content. On top of all of that, there is an additional layer of features like reminders to help juggle all of the ongoing things in one’s life. Lives have been changed with Evernote.

Reminders for iOS – Free; Pre-Installed

Are you an Android user? Skip this app entirely. Sorry.

Reminders app is a super simple stock application already installed in any Apple device and like Evernote, syncs throughout all iOS devices. Not to be confused with how Evernote works, it’s a simple, listed way to help you keep on track for more things than you can imagine. For example, set up a shared list for groceries so you and your roommate or partner can work from the same list while at the grocery store. My favorite is the location based reminders and the tool’s ability to connect with Siri. “Siri, remind me to start the dishwasher when I get home” will alert you when you arrive at the address that you’ve set as “home.”

Captio – $1.99

captioDo you often email yourself to remember to do something or send yourself a quick note to remember ideas? Captio is made specifically for capturing an idea or task as fast as possible, with minimum distractions. When setting it up, you choose the email you’ll send your notes to and you never have to type in your email address or a subject in the future when using the tool. The experience is even faster, when using voice to text.

Stitcher– Free

Stitcher is a podcast app that allows you to subscribe to favorite podcasts like Freakenomics, Market Place Radio, and Radio Lab (all my favorites!) and also allows you to listen to aggregated snippets of top news. This tool doesn’t directly help you maximize productivity but it can, however, be productive to listen to the news while you’re commuting into work or while you’re getting ready in the morning. It saves you time by consuming the news while you’re doing something else like driving or getting dressed.

wine

Now that you’re completely productive, have some wine anremember it later.

Delectable – Free 

Delectable is a database of wines making it quicker and easier for you to capture, remember, and find wines that you or your friends have tried and enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy! You don’t want a repeat experience). It’s is actually founded by a prominent defense contractor used for anti-terrorist technology. Delectable’s comprehensive database of wines is combined with unparalleled photo recognition and a team of wine experts to guarantee accuracy making remembering the wines you are drinking, learning about them, and buying them again easier than ever.

Do you think you’ve got something better? Please challenge this list by sharing some of your favorites in the comments.

10 Things You Should Accomplish in 2014

7 Jan

The key to being better at anything is consistency. Whether you’re choosing a New Year resolution or having a quarter-life-crisis in June, identify a few simple things that you can develop into habits and build skills that will help you overcome career-changing and challenging situations.

1. Become a better writer

Writing is a simple way to improve communication overall. Committing to becoming a better writer will strengthen your communication skill and it will last forever. Start a blog to share your ideas with the world. I suggest WordPress or Tumblr to build a base with. Both are well known and easy to use.

Writing a journal is an alternative, low-pressure way to regularly write without the pressure of making your thoughts and writing available for public consumption. I recommend (and personally use) Day One, a digital private journal. It has a mac app for my computer and an iPhone app for jotting down quick thoughts on the go.

Make it measurable: Aim for at least 1 post a week.

2. Volunteer for something new

Volunteering gives you an opportunity to polish your skills while helping others. There is no better way to learn and grow than when you’re work is helping others. Choose an activity where you’ll get to meet new people with similar goals. Bonus: it strengthens your network.

Make it measurable: Sign up for 1 volunteer activity this year.

3. Pitch a new project to your boss

Suggest an improvement to a process or a new way to help the company you work for. It will give you an opportunity to develop a pitch, deliver it via report or presentation (polishing writing, and/or presenting!) and earn you some respect from leadership. It will probably add a little more work to what is already expected of you but it’s worth it.

Make it measurable: Choose one project in 2014.

4. Read more

It will help you be a better speaker and a better writer – we’ve already talked about that. Plus, by rotating novels and professional literature, you’ll learn while having fun too. Here are some suggestions for some recommended reading. Amazon has a bestseller list that’s worth choosing from regardless!

Make it measurable: Pick something you consider manageable. I’d recommend choosing 6 books in 2014 and switch between novels and professional books. Or if you prefer short form reading, perhaps subscribe to Fast Company and commit to reading each edition or download Zite and commit to reading daily.

5. Relax a little

Every day, the demand for our time will increase and become more valuable, making breaks a priceless opportunity. Don’t let that get out of hand and commit to managing stress by starting today. Taking 10 minutes out of your day to meditate or be alone will improve your overall well-being and give you the chance to recover from stress and other pressures put on you. Find 10 minutes to close your eyes and breathe, whether it’s in the parking lot every morning when you arrive to work or when you finish lunch. If the peace and silence is too much for your busy and active-prone style, walk around your work for a few minutes before or after a bathroom break. Take time for yourself for 10-minute intervals, 1-2 times per day for yourself.

Make it measurable: Build it into your day – Schedule it ahead of time and make it daily.

6. Find a mentor

A mentor is someone you can lean on for advice and can guide you based on experience. Don’t feel uncomfortable about asking for someone’s time because more than likely, they’d like to help. At the same token, if you have a mentor already and don’t feel as if you need another, decide to mentor someone else. Teaching is the best learning.

Make it measurable: Find a mentor, or seek out someone to mentor this year.

7. Subscribe to a podcast

Or five. It doesn’t matter. Find a news radio that you enjoy and keep up with the world while multitasking. Maybe it’s during your daily walk or on the way to work. It’s a different way to consume news and it will likely diversify what you know and learn a little more this year.

Make it measurable: Listen to the news round up on Stitcher at least once a week.

8. Invest your earnings

If you haven’t started investing your money, now is the time. I’m no financial planner and won’t pretend to be but I urge you to meet with a financial planner and ask about long-term investments like Roth IRA accounts, the 401K your company may offer, and how to pay off your debt if you have it.

Make it measurable: Meet with the adviser and set up your long-term saving and investment accounts. Find the appropriate amount of money of your earnings to invest or save. Many recommend 10% or more. You can find a list of qualified financial planners on the Chamber’s website.

9. Be humble

Oh how arbitrary you say? Humility is the quality of being modest or respectful. It’s also one of the top recommendations of Warren Buffet to young professionals. Recognize what you don’t know and what you can learn from others. Yes, this will be a hard one to measure but we will.

Make it measurable: Make a mental list (or a journal!!) of people you interact with daily and things that you think they’re good at. In conversation, ask them questions about how they do things and advice about things you think that they’re good at.

10. Sign up for a 5K

I’m biased because I’m a runner but I think everyone should try it because everyone can do it. You can literally run everywhere at any time with no need for a gym membership or special equipment. Start by downloading Couch to 5K on your iPhone or Android and make a commitment by finding a local race or color run. Signing up will hold you to it and you can make it a bucket list activity.

Make it measurable: Easy! Complete the race.

50% of Internet Users are Worried about Online Privacy

9 Oct

Bonkers_privacy_comic

 

(Image Source)

Americans share more about themselves online than ever before but this doesn’t mean we’re not concerned about the side effects. A recent study by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project found that “privacy concerns among Americans are on the rise, with 50 percent of Internet users saying they are worried about the information available about them online.”

We fret about advertisers accessing our personal habits. We fear being watched by the government. We’re targeted by hackers. We struggle to secure personal safety and home security. Our online activity can compromise all of this if we’re not proactively taking steps to manage and mitigate risk.

The good news is that it’s possible (and not that hard) to proactively manage your privacy while comfortably networking and sharing with those you choose to engage with.

Not all social media is created equal.

Review how you use social media currently between different platforms and identify the purpose for each. Consider, for example, that you have profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter (It’s the most likely combo as the top 3 most popular networking sites).

Facebook is most likely going to be one’s personal network. Users tend to only connect with people that they already know like friends and family. Make deliberate choices about what you share but never assume what you post will ever stay private. It’s easy enough to take a screen shot of the most private status update. Pro tip: use Facebook’s smart list feature to group your friends and target each post you publish to a smart list to manage who sees your content.

Twitter is growing as a place for public information. Users follow and engage with news, celebrities, popular interests, and friends. Frequency of engagement is high and it’s not uncommon for users to follow and engage with people they’ve never met and will never meet. Twitter is best used with a public account so consider how everyone will perceive what you say and share. You can still be funny yet professional and you can still be professional and personal. Pro tip: you don’t have to tweet to find use from Twitter. Feel free to follow, search, and learn from what people are saying without the pressure to share your own thoughts.

LinkedIn isn’t just a job-searching platform – in fact, it’s far from it. Most users use LinkedIn for business development and professional networking to further expand personal business opportunities. At the very least, create a profile and complete your profile. Pro tip: sharing status updates and engaging on others’ status will help you expand and grow your network faster and stronger.

Understand Privacy Policies. 

As online engagement grows and the way we use social media platforms evolve, naturally the privacy policies and options will evolve with them. It’s your responsibility to understand your options and limitations on each channel.

Despite criticism you may sometimes read, Facebook makes it easy to manage your privacy. In a related point, one cannot protect personal data by posting a status update. Any variation of “I hereby prevent Facebook from using my photos” is completely fake and useless.

Twitter’s privacy management is probably the clearest of the three platforms highlighted here. You’re public or you’re private. All or nothing.

Managing your privacy on LinkedIn can be somewhat more challenging but it is the more likely platform that you may use to represent yourself publicly.

What is the best privacy management tip you’ve got for engaging across the platforms?

4 Ways to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile Today

5 Aug

You wouldn’t go to a professional networking event wearing flip flops and a t-shirt, right? Surly you wouldn’t walk in and refrain from contributing to the discussion. The whole point is to be prepared and expand your presence. You certainly shouldn’t neglect your professional online presence either.

Using the examples of two leaders, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and The President of The United States, Barack Obama (yeah, he’s on LinkedIn) we’re going to evaluate the most important parts of a profile and how you can step up your game a bit, too.

1. Always Have a Professional Photo

You should use a head and shoulders style shot and of only you. Find one that is as professional as possible. Professional doesn’t necessarily mean your typical “corporate” head-shot, either. Notice that Mr. Obama isn’t looking at the camera almost giving a more casual demeanor. He also has a simple background. If it was not the president and perhaps you or I it’s something that could have been easily taken by a friend or cropped from a larger photo. Jeff’s is a more standard-looking corporate shot but it is simple and you can clearly tell who it is.

Both types of photos are great examples to aim for when choosing your own.

Obama LinkedIn

2.      Headline Title

Your headline is the description you give of yourself at the very top of your profile. This doesn’t have to be your official title because that will also be reflected within your experience section. This is an eye catching one-liner that describes you professionally. It should be clear and to the point. I guess if you’re the president or a CEO you really don’t need to elaborate any further than what they have. However, it’s not always that clear cut for everyone and many like to get creative with this liberty. To start, read some best practices from the pros and develop some options for yourself.

Have you seen some good headlines or think yours is noteworthy? Share some with us in the comments.

3.      Summary

Take this very seriously because this is going to be the last thing people are likely to read on your profile if they make it this far.

Think of your summary as your written elevator pitch. The best part about writing out this pitch for your summary is that you now have a practiced and thought-out elevator pitch when you need it. Harvard Business Review has some great resources for crafting your perfect pitch as well as a pretty awesome tool that walks you through building it out.

For LinkedIn, I recommend keeping it down to 1 paragraph of no more than 4 sentences. Always include a call to action. Some examples could include:

4.      Completed Job Entries

To complete your profile optimization list out all of your relevant job experience. Include the title of your last role at that company or break them out into 2 separate roles. For example, if you received a promotion or were in two different departments, decide if it makes sense to create a new entry. If not, be sure your most recent role is reflected for that company.

At least one sentence to describe your role is sufficient. Include measurable results if you can provide them. There are more advanced ways to elaborate on your role and if you’d like one of your experiences to stick out more than others consider adding a project or a presentation to that experience like Jeff did in his.

Jeff Weiner LinkedIn CEO, Experience

What would you add to this list as a best practice for LinkedIn?

 

Jessica Robinson