You can beat stress at work

Call to Action: 7 Ways to Relieve Stress at Work (Without a Stress Ball)

By Giana / April 25, 2016

April is National Stress Awareness Month. As you may already know, managing stress in the workplace can generate lasting benefits to your physical and mental health. Follow these tips to make it happen. April is Stress Awareness Month, a designated month of public awareness campaigns developed by health experts to shine a light on the negative consequences of poor stress management. We all experience stress during our busy lives, but the way we manage our stress can mean the difference between optimal well-being and a cascade of problems from cardiovascular damage to mental health issues. Stress comes from multiple sources, but almost no aspect of daily life is more closely associated with chronic stress than our area of specialty: the workplace. If you hear the word “stress” and immediately think “work,” you may need a little help controlling the impact of your work life on your physical and mental health. Here are a few simple places to start.
  • 1. Breathe deeply  

When you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed, the first step is the easiest: Take a deep breath in and exhale slowly. Breathe in to the count of four, and exhale to the count of eight. Center yourself, and move forward with your day.  
  • 2. Sort

When you have too many items on your plate, sort the circumstances you can control from those you can’t. This designation may change with time (for example, an item that can’t be controlled right now might shift into the other category later this afternoon when you receive a report with new information), but don’t worry about later; sort based on what’s happening now. Stay focused and present.  
  • 3. Recognize the problem

You’ve faced a mountain of challenges before, and you can do it again. If the mountain looks bigger than usual, acknowledge that fact. Sometimes the work we face is —in fact — more than we can handle. Accept that this is happening. If your deadlines are becoming unrealistic when measured against your to-do list, know that the problem lies with the list and the deadlines and not with you.  
  • 4. Get perspective

It’s official: Your tasks and challenges are not resolvable by the end of the day. (Or the week. Or maybe ever.) But panic solves nothing. So back up and recognize that you’re not performing heart surgery and no one will die because you miss a deadline.. Then move forward one step at a time. (If you ARE performing heart surgery, skip this step and move onto the next one.)  
  • 5. Turn to your team

All these people around you? They’re here for a reason. They don’t just come for the free coffee. Reach out and trust the system that has been designed around you by people who know more about this business than you do. If you have boss, turn to your boss. If you have direct reports, start trusting them with higher levels of responsibility (remember that this is good for their career paths as well). Lean on your co-workers, when necessary.. You would offer the same support if your positions were reversed.  
  • 6. Recognize the difference between chronic and acute stress

The tips above apply mostly to acute stress, or a sudden uptick in work-related pressures. But chronic, low grade stress that never subsides can be an even bigger threat to your health. If you feel like you’re about to lose your mind and it’s just a normal Wednesday, you’ll need a different approach; specifically, you’ll require one that can be sustained day after day and week after week. Start by making sure you’re eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, getting 20 minutes of daily exercise, and striving for adequate sleep.  
  • 7. Get to the source

If your chronic stress doesn’t subside after you’ve checked off diet, exercise, sleep, breathing, and hydration, try digging deeper. If you need a new job, now is the time to acknowledge this fact (though it may be difficult). Don’t fight for the status quo if the status quo is actually the source of your problem (for example, something’s wrong if you find yourself aggressively defending your terrible job when a kind friend suggests you search elsewhere for work).   This job may have some benefits, but if it’s time to go, then it’s time to go. You can — and you will — do better. Start your next chapter with a visit to Quintcareers and check out the resume building and job-search resources on the site.
African American man working on a laptop computer.

How to Write an Excellent Project Manager Resume

By Giana / December 19, 2016

You need a project manager resume that sets you apart from the crowd. Here are a few tips that can help you land the job you’re looking for. As a project manager in search of a full-time or contract based job, you’ll need a resume that sells your skills, education, and experience, just like an applicant for almost any profession or industry. But your resume will also need some details that are specific to your project-management goals. For example, you’ll have to demonstrate your ability to clarify and rein in a sprawling mission, a.k.a. “project-creep”. You’ll need to showcase your leadership skills, even at the entry level. And you’ll need to explain how your specific skill sets can support your employer’s specific enterprise. Here are a few moves that can help you accomplish these goals.

First, focus on your summary.

You may be searching for work in a wide range of fields that require expert project managers. So in the summary section of your resume, clarify exactly how your experience lines up with the needs of your target audience. To assess those needs, do some research or make your best guess based on the information available to you. By the time they’ve read your summary, your reviewers should know-- for sure—that this open position falls into your area of interest and expertise.

Move experience above education.

Your education section will be very important, but for most project management positions, reviewers like to assess your experience first. Again, they want to know that the projects you’ve worked on in the past reflect similar challenges to the ones you’ll face on this job. Focus on the client problems you’ve solved, the budgeting restraints you’ve dealt with, and the ways in which you—and your past projects—have exceeded expectations. After briefly listing and describing your past positions and your proudest home runs, you can share your education, training, and certifications.

Highlight skills that grab attention.

After your education and experience sections, you’ll create a resume subheading focused on your special skills. Keep in mind that a long list of marginal and forgettable skills (like proficiency with the Microsoft office suite) will easily slip out of your reader’s memory after they close your file. But a shorter list of rare, highly valuable, and very specific skills will stay at the forefront of your reader’s thoughts. Cull and curate your “skills” list carefully. Don’t include every single one of your software skills—only the most relevant. And don’t list bland, broad categories like “communication” and “leadership”. Instead, be specific. Cross out “communication” and replace it with “public speaking”, “grant writing”, or “PR management”.

Show results.

Your experience section will highlight what you’ve done. Your education section will highlight what you’ve learned and what you know. Your skills section will demonstrate what you can do. But for all three sections, emphasize the end results. Did you earn cum laude status? Did you successfully advance your employer’s interests by expanding market share or raising revenue? Describe the specific problems you’ve solved, honors you’ve earned, or changes that have come about due to your own personal actions. Use numbers to make your point. For more on how to tighten each essential section of your project management resume, turn to the resume creation tools available on LiveCareer.
Business people working together in office

Communication Counts: 83% of Recruiters Consider it Key to Sizing Up Cultural Fit

By Giana / December 14, 2016

To impress your interviewer and land your dream job, you’ll need to communicate clearly and well…but what exactly does this mean? It’s no surprise that most employers and hiring managers cite “good communication skills” as a positive trait when evaluating candidates for open positions. But “good” or “strong” communication can mean different things to different people. In fact, a recent Jobvite survey that polled 1600 recruiters and HR professionals found that 83% consider communication style the most important element when evaluating candidates for cultural fit. This means that if your method of speech and message-shaping matches that of your employer, you’re in. If not, you’re more likely to slip through the cracks. So as you search for work, make sure that you’re communicating well, in the universal sense. While you’re at it, make an effort to understand the unique culture and style of your interviewer and your target employer. Here are a few moves that can help.

Be clear.

Clarity means delivering your message using impeccable grammar, proper spelling, complete sentences, and a logical link between each written or spoken thought and the next. This may sound like a no brainer, but far too many candidates assume that text speak, abbreviations, and broken phrases are acceptable when speaking to a recruiter by text, email, or voicemail. They aren’t. Edit your messages, even the simplest and shortest.

Be mindful of nuance.

Grammar matters, and so does tone. There’s a difference between: “Thanks for your message! We’ll talk soon!” and: “Thank you for your message. We will talk on Monday.” Both are grammatically correct, but they convey a different voice and tone. Word choice and punctuation contribute to your conversation and help readers gain a complete picture of who you are as a person. Stay in control of that picture.

Listen first.

If you’d like to present yourself as an adaptable person with a flexible personality who can get along with almost everyone, that’s great. It’s an excellent way to open a dialogue with an unknown person or company. But once the dialogue is open, stay tuned in to the culture of the company and the personality of the person on the other end of the line. Don’t keep cracking jokes if your audience isn’t responsive to your sense of humor. And if your audience seems relaxed and forthcoming, smile and take it easy. Demonstrate your ability to receive social cues and respond appropriately.

Remember details.

Write down the details and facts your interviewer or recruiter shares with you. No matter what information comes your way, the more you retain, the better. Make note of names, numbers, the company’s history, the needs of the open position, and the details of your own background that you have and have not already shared.

Keep records.

As you search for work, you may create long email or text chains with various employers and contacts. Keep these records straight and accessible. They can and will come in handy as your conversation develops.

Learn to brag appropriately.

Almost every job search comes with a universal conundrum: The need to brag about your abilities and while being self-aware and socially well-adjusted. Finding balance between the two is an art. But you can pull off this tricky maneuver if you place yourself in your listener’s shoes and think carefully about your messages before you send them. It may also help to review some successful cover letters and/or watch videos of successful interviews (you can find both on LiveCareer!) For more information on how to ace your interviews and establish meaningful connections with recruiters and employers, explore LiveCareer’s job search and resume creation tools.
man with a beard looking over documents

How to Survive the Holidays as a Freelancer

By Giana / December 5, 2016

The holiday season and the end of the year can be a challenging chapter for freelancers and independent contractors. If you fall into this category, here are a few strategies that can help you survive.

The holidays can be a harrowing time for anyone. We’re all familiar with the social stresses, high- pressure event planning, lonely moments, and workplace drama (it’s review season after all), that accompany the last few months of the year. But freelancers are in a unique position, and as it happens, gig economy employees and independent contractors often find themselves in the crosshairs of all of these problems at the same time. Freelancers may need to miss social gatherings to attend to work during non-business hours, and are often trying to line up enough work—or any work—for the year ahead. While their clients leave for holiday vacations, freelancers rush to finish jobs on corresponding deadlines (without regard for their own vacation time). If you’re a proud representative of the gig economy, here are a few tips that can help you face the holidays without missing a beat.

Expect a slight slowdown.

Most freelancers who work for large companies as contractors and subcontractors can expect a work slowdown between December and February. Almost all projects that require freelance input (from design, to project management, to accounting) go through a lull as corporate clients and their own customers turn their attention away from work-related matters. When this slowdown happens, be ready. Have a financial plan in mind so you can spread out your yearly income to cover a few quiet months, and have an action plan in mind so you aren’t left spinning your wheels.

Keep your contacts close.

The holiday season offers plenty of opportunities to build and strengthen your network. While you’re searching for new jobs, stay in circulation socially. Attend events, reach out to old friends, and send friendly seasonal messages to current and former clients. Connect with old friends, meet new ones, and don’t hide at home in the glow of your screen.

Make changes to your business model.

If you intend to change your rates, change your methods, or adjust your business model (offering new services or phasing out old ones), take care of this now. Most of your clients will be working on budgets and needs assessments for the following year, so this may be a perfect time to draw their attention to changes that may affect them.

Manage your time wisely.

While the holidays can mean a slowdown for freelancers, they can also present the opposite: a rush of work with tight, holiday-related deadlines. These deadlines can be hard to meet while also navigating social obligations and holiday travel. Be ready to handle some tricky planning, and if it helps, let your clients know as much about your circumstances as you can. For example, tell them when you’ll be going out of town, even if you intend to take your work with you.

Maintain a regular routine.

Waking up and starting work early can be hard during the cold, dark winter months, and while steady office employees have alarm clocks and watchful bosses to keep them on track, freelancers need to handle their schedules on their own. Exercise your self-discipline… and get some exercise. Don’t slide into a state of hibernation like a bear. Stay busy, and you’ll thank yourself for your happy clients, strong relationships, healthy body, and full work schedule when spring rolls around. For more on how to stay focused and on track throughout the winter no matter what your work schedule looks like, explore the tools and resources on LiveCareer.