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6 Ways to Energize Your Workday

Balancing work life and personal life (whether that is hobbies, family, vacation, etc.) is invaluable in your work performance. Without a way to recover, our bodies become fatigued physically, emotionally, and mentally. But how can you recover if you don't have time or money for a vacation?

Daily rituals during the workday can help energize you and increase your peak performance. 

What are some healthy workday habits?

1. Stock a snack drawer each week of organic, low-sugar bars, nuts, and fruits. Take a 10 minute break to stand up, get a glass of water, and enjoy the snack while listening to some music or talking to a coworker about something other than work.

2. Call a family member or close friend and catch up for 10 minutes, but be sure not to bother your coworkers.

3. If your employer allows it, go for a 10-20 minute walk outside.

4. Bring a book or magazine or find a funny blog to read for 10 minutes.

5. Go to your local coffee shop to buy a cup of coffee and bring a pad of paper to write down some creative thoughts.

6. If you have room in your workspace, bring a large exercise ball and replace that as your chair for a brief time during your work day. 

While these habits help during the workday, other habits such as waking up early some mornings for a workout, writing a to-do list every morning, and eating a healthy breakfast can also help energize you to get through each work day. While it may seem like a good idea to stock up on coffee when you are feeling drained, some studies have shown that too much caffeine in a day can actually have the opposite effect of adding stress and quirks in perception.

Most importantly, you should listen to what your body feels throughout each day and make sure to drink plenty of water and sleep a decent amount each night. Pushing through each day until you are completely drained will actually make you less productive both personally and as part of your workplace team.

Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions

Interviews can be intimidating. But most interviews share many of the same basic interview questions. It is important that you prepare your answers to these questions beforehand so you come across as confident to the recruiter or hiring manager. 

1. "Tell me about yourself." The hiring manager or recruiter already has your resume in front of them and reviewed it before your interview, so do not repeat what is on paper. Create, practice, and confidently express your personal elevator pitch including a brief job history, your most impressive accomplishments, and your relevant goals.

2. "Why do you want to work here?" Do your research about the company. You should know a few recent news topics that would make the company a desirable place to work and details about the position that you are interviewing for that enticed you to apply.

3. "Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?" Demonstrate your desire to grow within a company and expand your skill set. It is important that you express your focused career goals. You may have several interests and career goals in mind, but do not express all of them to the hiring manager. Focus on one that is in line with the business goals of the company or organization that you are interviewing for, so that investing in you as a new employee sounds like a good idea to the employer.

4. "What are your strengths?" Your answer to this should be different for every interview because the strengths you focus on should be tailored to the job description of the position you are interviewing for.

5. "What are your weaknesses?" Do not use the cliche "I don't have any weaknesses" line that every hiring manager will see through. Prepare a real weakness in your mind before the interview and discuss ways you're working to improve in that area. Do not blame your weakness on previous employers or coworkers, which will compromise your credibility and integrity.

6. "What did you dislike about your previous position?" It is important to give a factual answer to this, but with a positive spin. A negative answer will set the tone that you are a miserable person to work with, not easily pleased, and talk behind the back of coworkers and/or employers. Talk about general things, such as the position did not give you enough opportunity for growth or you just did not feel it was the right place for a long-term career.

7. "How do you handle conflict?" This should be answered with a specific example of a previous work-related situation and how you handled it and what the results were. If you could have handled it better in retrospect, explain specifically how you would handle future situations. Also, make sure to point out that you value teamwork.

8. "How do you evaluate success?" First of all, do not say a paycheck. Show that you evaluate success both on a personal and team level. This shows that you would be an accountable employee for your work and asset to their team without needing to be micro-managed. 

9. "What are you passionate about?" Your answer to this question does not have to be work-centered. In fact, it is good to set yourself as a unique potential employee with this question. Talk about hobbies and/or accomplishments you have achieved. However, make sure that you make it clear that your hobbies would not interfere with work, such as backpacking across Europe or spending your summers helping with a family lawn care business.

10. "Why should we hire you?" If answered properly, your answer to this question could set you apart and make a lasting impression to the hiring manager. Here is your time to shine! Toot your own horn! Tell them you are ready to start! 

What is An Informational Interview?

If you're a college senior, many of your professors, managers, and peers may be recommending that you schedule informational interviews as part of your job search. But, what exactly is an informational interview?

Informational interviews are an underutilized part of the overall job search process. Such an interview is with a local professional either in your field or at an organization you have your sights on for future employment, or both. They allow you to expand your network of contacts, receive constructive criticism on your resume and portfolio, and learn where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

To find the right people to sit down with for these informational interviews, scour the internet, browse LinkedIn, and tell your professors, peers, and managers that you are looking to meet inspirational and successful people. Once you have a list, send each person a personalized letter that explains your background (college studies, internships, etc.), your career goals, your interest in an informational interview, and what you hope you gain from sitting down and speaking with them. Be clear that you are seeking information only - not a job - and that you are flexible to do this during their lunch break at a coffee house, via phone, or at their office at their convenience. It may also help to make it clear that you plan on this meeting being brief (less than an hour) so as to not inconvenience their work day.

Informational interviews require the same preparation as a real job interview - know information about the interviewer and organization, dress professionally, have your resume and portfolio prepared, and come up with some questions to ask. Some great examples are: How did you get in this field? What do you like least/most about your job? What skills are most pertinent for success in your job? What is your typical day like? What emerging trends do you see potentially changing your field over the next 5 years? What is your biggest tip for a recent grad trying to get a job in this field?

Following up after the informational interview is crucial to building your network. Immediately after the appointment, email the professional you met with to thank them for their time and their input. If you know this professional regularly goes to professional events in your local area, make a point to go to those events and touch base with them. You never know they may be able to help you again in the future, and who they may know as you continue your job search. These days, it is not only about just what you know, but also who you know in order to land a job. It is important to make the most of these valuable meetings.

LinkedIn "Must-Have" Checklist

First of all - Congrats to the Class of 2014! Soon the celebrating will settle down and reality will sink in that you need to land your first job in your professional post-college career.

LinkedIn is an invaluable tool for your job search. With more than 225 million people on LinkedIn, it has become the "go-to" social network platform for professional networking. More than 77% of job openings are posted on LinkedIn, and recruiters love it for its ease of use, inexpensive costs, and validity of information. 

So what do you need to use LinkedIn to its full potential?

1. The Basics. First you need a professional photo - if you don't have one, recruit a friend or family member to take a photo of you with professional clothing and a non-distracting background. You also need: custom URL, concise profile summary, specialties sub-section, education and credentials information, clear career story with jobs and internships. it would also be good to join a couple groups related to your industry, and subscribe to "Pulse" updates for related news.

2. Network. Now that you have listed your places of employment and educational background to your profile, you can do a search for professionals who have also affiliated themselves with those places. Do a search and request to add people that you have worked with, completed projects with, networked with at local events, and family members. Do not add people that you do not know in real life - the key is that if any person you add was contacted by an HR manager or recruiter, they would know you well enough to compliment you for the job. More than 250 connections before your first career may look like you are just trying to get a high number.

3. Recommendations. Ask your key coworkers, managers, professors, and classmates if they would write a recommendation for you. While generic recommendations on your work ethic, personality, and experience are good, it is best to get recommendations on specific projects, internships, and accomplishments you made during your college years.

Once you have created your fresh, concise, appealing LinkedIn profile, it is important to keep it maintained. This is not a "do it and leave it" kind of space. If you complete more projects, volunteer, or gain/change employment, make sure that your LinkedIn stays up-to-date.

Good luck on your job search new grads!

Volunteering to Boost Your Resume

It's that well-known job seeker frustration - you can't get a job without experience, but you can't get experience without a job. This is a growing problem, especially for Millennials. Graduating college seniors this year are facing a very difficult job market. College graduates these days earn degrees, but not necessarily jobs, and especially not necessarily jobs in their desired field. Currently, approximately 260,000 college graduates are in minimum wage jobs. An even worse stat, is that those without college degrees between the ages of 25 and 34 that are currently unemployed has risen from 4.3% to 10.6% from 2007 to 2014.

Internships are the number one recommendation to boost your experience to land a job, but many internships these days are unpaid and only available to people enrolled in a full-time degree. And even if an internship has been completed, it may not be enough to set you apart. So what else is there to do?

Volunteering is a great way to boost your resume. Not only can volunteering boost your self-worth, confidence, and skills, but 20% of recruiters and hiring managers consider it as work experience (according to LinkedIn research). Added bonus - volunteering is a great way to meet new people and network. The reality of a competitive job market is that landing a job is not always about only what you know, but also about who you know.

Before you take any volunteer position, think about what hands-on experience will help you land a job in your required field, while also being personally fulfilling as a way to give back to the community. For example, if you want to be a project manager, you may want to volunteer for an upcoming nonprofit fundraising event. If you want to be a nurse, you may want to volunteer for the RedCross. While volunteering, stand out from the crowd and try to help in any way that you can. Make sure to talk to everyone, both those associated with the nonprofit and also those that are in need. You never know who may become a mentor, what doors of opportunities may open, and what you may gain on both a professional and personal level as a result of your volunteer involvement.

The "Two Minute or Less" Rule

Did you know that your resume has two minutes or less to grab the attention of the HR professional reviewing applications for a position? In fact, nearly 20% of HR professionals invest only 30 seconds per resume.

So how do you write a resume that grabs attention and hopefully an invitation for an interview?

1. Be specific. Whenever possible use metrics, specific accomplishments, and project successes. Don't be vague.

2. Don't use a cookie-cutter template. Creating a custom resume can be time-consuming, but worth the investment. If your resume looks like every other one in the pile, it won't grab attention. However, don't go overboard either. Make sure you keep in mind what kind of position you're applying for and who your audience is.

3. Create a branding statement. A branding statement is located at the top of your resume under your personal contact information. It states your career title, a concentrated description of your contributions to other organizations, and your expectations of making a difference in your future position.

4. Prioritize. Put your most relevant and impressive recent position and accomplishments at the top of your resume. Don't make the HR professional search for your shining career moments.

5. Add a certification/training section. Consider any certifications or training that would make you stand out as a top applicant. The HR professional will see that you bring value to the table and are motivated to increase your skill set and knowledge and expertise in the industry.

6. Be honest. Job hopping, employment gaps, and long-term unemployment can deter an HR professional from considering you for a position. But, lying is even worse. Do not add work to your resume to fill gaps unless you really did it. If you have an area of concern on your resume, be upfront and honest about it in your cover letter. For example, if you took a year off from work to take care of an ailing family member, and are honest about it, and HR professional will look beyond the initial red flag.

Shortages Loom in Skilled Trades Staffing

It was recently reported that the Boy Scouts of America are starting to learn skilled trades to be prepared for a possible job opportunities down the line. For two or three generations, the focus has been to go to college, earn a 4-year degree, and ensure a bright future. As a result, the skilled trades workforce has aged with few people coming in to replace the vacant positions. According to ManPowerGroup, skilled trade positions, such as welders, machinists, and electricians, are more difficult to fill than positions in nursing, web design, and even engineering.


While a college education is a great investment, if you do not have the money or drive to attend 4 years of college, looking into trade schools might be a great idea. This goes for those who are unemployed as well; it may be time to pick up a new skill for your job search. It also helps to show that you haven’t just been sitting around while looking for work. School shows you are proactive and eager to learn and grow yourself as an individual and potential employee. You could close a great door of opportunity if you assume that blue collar skilled trades jobs means low wages and meaningless work.


Below are the 10 highest paying blue collar jobs according to Forbes.

1. Elevator Installers and Repairers

Annual income (average): $74,140
Top 10%: $106,450
Total employed in field: 19,700


2. Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay

Annual income (average): $67,380
Top 10%: $88,790
Total employed in field: 23,920


3. Transportation Inspectors

Annual income (average): $66,470
Top 10%: $111,780
Total employed in field: 24,310


4. Electrical Power-Line Installers and Repairers

Annual income (average): $62,280
Top 10%: $89,020
Total employed in field: 112,450


5. Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, and Gaugers

Annual income (average): $60,730
Top 10%: $83,040
Total employed in field: 41,020


6. Surveyors

Annual income (average): $59,180
Top 10%: $90,920
Total employed in field: 40,190

7. Subway and Streetcar Operators

Annual income (average): $58,220
Top 10%: $73,590
Total employed in field: 8,750


8. Rotary Drill Operators, Oil and Gas

Annual income (average): $56,540
Top 10%: $84,390
Total employed in field: 25,090


9. Boilermakers

Annual income (average): $55,830
Top 10%: $79,970
Total employed in field: 17,660


10. Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians

Annual income (average): $55,690
Top 10%: $76,660
Total employed in field: 119,160