Take Control of Your Interview

Take Control of Your Interview

Interviewing is no walk in the park for most of us. Between the nerves and the need to impress the person on the other side of the table (or on the other end of the phone), it can be hard to stay in control of the situation — but it’s important that you do!

You have to remember you are interviewing the person and company just as much as they are interviewing you. By doing your homework ahead of time, you’ll be able to start off with the upper hand. Some things you can do ahead of time:

  • Look into the company culture and check out reviews on Glassdoor (a fantastic resource that not only gives you salary and job information, but reviews from employees and how the interview process went for candidates who applied previously).
  • Have a number in mind when it comes to salary. Know your worth, vina!
  • Be ready to ask them questions about their culture and future as a company, and how they see you fitting into the mix.

So, now you’ve done your homework and it’s time for the phone or in-person interview. How do you stay in control?

For starters, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer why they were interested in speaking with you about the position. Say something like, “What about my resume interested you?” or “What about my background caught your eye?”  This will help set you up as a power player for the interview.

It will also prompt the interviewer to answer with specific skills that are likely needed, which in turn prompts you to respond with a confirmation statement, acknowledging they have a solid understanding of your background/skills.

Asking those questions in the beginning leads straight into the thing no one wants to talk about, but it’s important to discuss immediately: salary. I’m going to be frank — it’s important to get this out of the way as quickly as possible because no one wants their time wasted — not you, and most certainly not your interviewer. It’s not a fun dance, but a necessary one. You can start by saying simply, “What salary do you have budgeted for this role? I’d like to make sure we’re on the same page.”

If they come back with a range, awesome. If it’s in your desired range, that’s even better! But don’t be surprised if they try to dodge the question or tell you they cannot disclose that information yet. If they turn it back around on you by asking you what you currently make, you don’t have to tell them (in fact, it’s a law in several states that employers can’t ask prospective employees their current salary). Be polite and firm. You can say “my previous employers have always considered that to be confidential information…” and add one of the following to the end of that statement:

  • “…but I’m open to your thoughts on this because I believe you will be consistent with the current market.”
  • “…but I’m open and somewhat flexible as I appreciate the opportunity to add value. Can you share how you value this position and what the budget is for the role?”

The idea here is to be polite, firm, and show your genuine interest in the opportunity. After all, you’re interviewing each other for a reason!

Another way to stay in control is to remind them that they called you. Ask them questions that reflect on your skills. “Can you tell me what a typical week looks like in this position?” or “what kind of projects will I be working on for your company?”

Last but certainly not least, be transparent about the fact you’re interviewing with other companies. It’s not something that should hinder your chances for landing the job, but rather help give you an advantage. You can simply tell the interviewer that you are speaking with other companies and you’d love to continue the conversation, but make sure you ask when you’ll hear back from them. If they don’t give you a definite time frame, don’t be afraid to request one. You don’t want to hang out forever waiting to hear back, especially if other opportunities arise in the meantime.

This post was originally published on the VINAzine. <3

How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

How to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Whether you’re looking for a career change or your very first job out of college, we don’t have to tell you how important it is to make sure your resume shines bright like the star you are. If you are looking for ways to make sure your resume stands out against the ever-growing sea of applicants, check out these tips below for some inspiration!

DO A LITTLE TAILORING

You may be applying for multiple jobs at one time, so change up certain aspects to better customize the resume for that particular job. For example, you can reorganize the order of your professional skills. Whether you’re going after a writing gig, a retail management position, or something at a Fortune 500 company, be sure to tailor your resume respectively and include the things relevant to that industry at the top of the list.

KEEP IT TRENDY

Trends for resumes are constantly changing, so make sure you’re ahead of the curve by doing a little research. Hit up Google and LinkedIn to find articles and sources on the latest and greatest resume tips. Some quick ones for keeping it fresh in 2017 are:

  • Forego the objective and replace it with a short biographical profile. A quick statement can be a few lines about you and your experience, as well as what you are seeking professionally.
  • Avoid using caps. (SEEMS A BIT SHOUTY, DON’T YOU THINK?)
  • Stick to using no more than two complementary fonts. This is a classic design trick that helps avoid inconsistency and distraction.
  • Make sure it fits on one page. You want to also leave space in the margin to allow the interviewer space to make notes.

MAKE IT MODERN (READ: VISUALLY APPEALING)

Calling all ladies in the visual arts field – show your potential new boss how creative you can be by making your resume pop on the page by using bright colors and graphs. Just make sure it looks good on the screen and in print – print a couple of versions in color as well as in black and white to make sure your information still stands out to your future employer no matter which way they’re viewing it.

Not in the visual arts? Keep it sleek and chic. You can use an online resume builder service, like ineedaresu.me (which is free, babe!), to help you build a gorgeous, modern resume in just minutes.

IF YOU CAN SWING IT, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL (Like me!)

There are many resources out there for hire – you just have to search! Contact a local college or university’s writing center to see if there are any student writing consultants or recent graduates looking for extra work to build their resume. You can also place an ad on Upwork, a popular freelancing website. LinkedIn may also harbor some connections you already have who provide resume or professional writing services.

Even if you aren’t looking for a new job, it’s always a good call to make sure your resume is in tip-top shape should an opportunity swing your way. After all, your next career move may be waiting for you around the corner!

(Feature image via Popsugar)

This post was originally published on the VINAzine. <3

Oh Ya Know, I’ve Just Been Busy Making It Happen!

Oh Ya Know, I’ve Just Been Busy Making It Happen!

Oh em gee. It’s been quite a while, hasn’t it? Summer has come and gone – it’s hard to believe it’s nearly Halloween! I’ve been quite busy over the last six months… here are the highlights:

The Geeky Press is becoming quite a thing. We’re doing things. That’s kind of our thing. Ha – but seriously, this is something we (the Partners) always say. It’s really growing and we have a lot of great stuff cooking!

  • We’re building a solid community, between our monthly #WritersHack Meetups and our one-day retreats. We have our annual weekend retreat at Bradford Woods coming up (still one spot open, so hey Indianapolis area writers, if you’re interested, drop me a line!), plus monthly events. Check us out on Meetup or visit our website for more!
  • We published our first book, Bad Jobs and Bullshitthis past September. BUY IT. It’s awesome.
  • We’re planning our next book, which will become a series titled Dear America. We will be putting out a call for submissions at the end of October, so stay tuned for that project!
  • Another project is currently in the works, so to find out what that is, you’ll have to stay tuned… but if you’re an Indiana writer (or a writer from Indiana), I can give you a hint: you’ll get to submit your work. That’s all I can say for now!

Let’s see… what else has been going on in my world? Oh yeah – I became an Assistant Producer of a couple of new podcasts while The Bevs have been on hiatus! I act as the lady behind the scenes of each of these podcasts, handling social media and web content. Both are hosted by Molly McAleer of Plz Advise and co-founder of HelloGiggles.

Now, for some other quick highlights:

  • We’re planning our wedding, whooo! We’re eloping and not having an actual wedding or reception, and I cannot tell you how thrilled we are about that. Low stress and exactly what we want. That’s how it’s supposed to be, right?
  • I finally visited NYC. It was a blast – I joined my love for a few days in the City and we did all the great touristy things. My faves: we visited Top of the Rock at sunset, traveled to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and took a cruise around Manhattan with some friends who joined us from home.
  • Said “see ya later” to my favorite band, who (much to my dismay) is taking a year off from the road. Dave Matthews Band, you gave me some killer shows this year – from Blossom to Alpine to Deer Creek, many memories were made and I will miss you so much in 2017! (Plus side, I can plan my wedding without worrying about missing a show. Ha. I’m only sort of kidding. lol)
  • I learned how to ride a motorcycle! I can’t believe it. I was once terrified to ride with my love on his, but he *gently* urged me to take a course. Last weekend, I took a ladies only course though Harley Davidson and learned how to ride the right, safe way. Not gonna lie – I want a Harley of my own now. Maybe one day – I should probably get a house first.
  • I’m studying for my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. I figure since I’ve been officially a Project Manager for the last couple of years, I might as well make it official. I love learning new things and everything I’ve covered so far is making me a more knowledgeable PM. Anything to advance my career!

I’ve also learned a lot about myself over the past six months and grew as a person. How it’s okay to stay in my own lane and focus on myself instead of the lives of others. It’s been quite difficult to close some doors, but it was necessary to help myself move on and not be hurt (as much) anymore. I have to keep reminding myself that I cannot change others. I strengthened some friendships and let one lie. I realized I can be there for those who appreciate me, but some chapters must come to an end – but they can always be reopened if necessary.

Wow, could I have been anymore vague in that last paragraph?! I think a lot of people can relate to the things I’ve gone through this past year or so, but I’m just not quite ready to put it out there for the world to read. Or to deal with the backlash. Someday though, so please be patient. I will share when the time is right, and perhaps we can start a conversation. Either way, I have solid notes for my memoir…

That’s all for now, folks. I promise, I won’t stay away so long this time around. As always, thanks for listening! xoxo <3

My Latest Happenings

My Latest Happenings

I planned to write this post about a week ago, but I fell ill with the worst flu I’ve had in my adult life. My love even said this is the first time he’s seen me knocked on my ass by the plague – normally, I’m back to myself within a few days. Whatever this was, it sucked a week of my life away. But now I’m back in action, and I have wonderful things to share!

As you may (or may not) know, last year I became involved with a local writing group/collective: The Geeky Press. I joined mainly because of the monthly Downtown #WritersHack, which helped me better manage my time set aside to write. To say it has helped my writing is an understatement; it has done so much more, like helping me connect with other writers in Indianapolis, for which I’ve been desperately searching since graduating college.

In February, the two partners of The Geeky Press (Brad and Amber) approached and extended me an offer of partnership, which I graciously accepted. I am happy to announce that I am officially a partner of The Geeky Press! I will take over the organization and planning of the #WritersHack events, as well as assisting with other literary events the collective hosts. Soon, I’ll be putting together a little event of my own to get more writers in Indianapolis together, so stay tuned!

The other piece of news to share… over the last few years, I started exploring the world of podcasts (if you have a podcast you think I’d enjoy, please tell me about it – I’m always looking for new things!). Recently, I discovered something right up my alley: THE BEVS, co-hosted by Ariana Madix (yes, of the hit Bravo reality TV show Vanderpump Rules) and one of her good friends, Meredith Kate. The Bevs cover many things, like politics, current events, pop culture, friendships, and feminism. I found the podcast through a couple of others I listen to, and also because I’m shameless fan of #PumpRules on Bravo.

After getting hooked to Bevdom, I sent the ladies an email and shortly after became good old fashion (email) pen pals with Meredith, a move inspired by Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour podcast (see Episode 1: Friendship with Ashley C. Ford to see what we mean). After sharing emails about intimate parts of our lives for a month, we began texting and I offered to help out with some behinds the scenes work of the podcast so Meredith and Ariana can focus on creating episodes with fabulous guests and building the Bev Empire.

I’m thrilled now to share that I am officially the Bev Behind The BevsI joined the Bev team at the beginning of March and now assist the ladies with various work behind the scenes of the pod, from website shenanigans to other online initiatives. I’m so excited to be on board! Here is some shameless plugging: Subscribe on iTunes | Listen on Soundcloud | Follow on Social Media: TwitterFacebookInstagramTumblrSpotify

Now, hopefully the next exciting piece of news I share with you, faithful readers, has to do with personal writing projects! With that said, I better get back to it. Lots of great things are in store – to say I’m eager for the exciting next chapter of life is me just playing it cool. I’m really looking forward to getting more involved with both of these ventures and bringing lots of good stuff your way. I hope you check out The Geeky Press if you’re local to Indianapolis and see what The Bevs are all about. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions about either. Happy Sunday!

Writing for the Workplace

Writing for the Workplace

No witty introduction to this one – we’re diving head first today!

I work in Corporate America… and I can’t tell you how many times I want to claw my eyeballs out of their sockets with the nearest sharp utensil when I read a terrible email from a colleague. Why does this happen? I have to assume a lack of proper preparation for workplace environments is to blame.

Over the summer, I took a course about teaching technical communication. Because of that course, I have narrowed down the area of college writing I want to teach – writing in the technical world for engineering and science students. I think it’s important for students bound for a corporate, professional workplace after they graduate understand how to effectively communicate through writing.

Our world has most definitely reached the digital age in recent years – communication will never be the same as a result. It seems that we, in corporate environments, converse with our colleagues over email and IM systems more than we pick up the phone. I personally like this, because I find it easier to be more concise with my words and convey my point clearly. Granted, there are some times where it’s always better (and easier) to pick up the phone or schedule some face time with your co-workers, but it’s essential to corporate success that people understand how to communicate through written words.

Some tips I’ve come to hold near and dear when composing work emails, documents, and more are as follows. If you can remind yourself of these when writing a co-worker, you’ll be off to a great start.

  • Keep it simple and be quick, clear, and concise as possible. Short and sweet is the best way to go – you don’t want to bog your readers down with pages and pages and pages to read. Explain your message clearly, be concise, and be sure to get to your point as quick as you can – if you are a busy person, you should assume your reader is just as time-poor as you are.
  • Write as you would talk – except use the proper version of your language. Your voice is what the reader will hear when they read your message, so make it conversational. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, either – these are your words, and you are attaching your name to the message… so own it!
  • Break your message into short paragraphs and avoid long sentences. Reading words on a screen can be daunting for some, and easier for others. Accommodate your audience – breaking up your paragraphs and keeping sentences short will allow your message to be easier to read. I tend to get overwhelmed when a colleague sends me a long email and it’s all in one paragraph. I have literally copied and pasted it into a Word document to break it down, so I can receive their message a little more clearly. Think about this the next time you don’t use paragraph breaks!!
  • Maintain a positive tone.  It’s tough to read emotion through written word sometimes (especially in text messages!), so it’s important to be positive throughout your message. This will help your reader see the point you’re trying to make without negativity.
  • PROOFREAD AND EDIT BEFORE SENDING! I will say this over and over until my students understand this must happen EVERY SINGLE TIME a message is sent to someone through written words. I won’t lie – I’ve caught some serious typos or found that my message didn’t make sense when I reread it before sending. I suggest reading your message to yourself out loud to see if it makes sense. Things seem to read differently when you hear them aloud versus when they stay on the page. Don’t hesitate to have someone take a glance too – a fresh pair of eyes can catch things we don’t the first few times around.

Of course, there will be exceptions. Case in point, my boss and I are very close – if someone read our emails, you’d be able to tell that right away. We use emoticons and sometimes shorthand, but most of the time we keep it super professional – our company records all communication for legal purposes, so we want to be sure we’re professional when on the record. We start with the usual address (“Hi Nicole,”) in the first round, but then usually it’s a conversation back and forth in the replies that follow. The important thing here to be sure you gauge your audience and use communication to accommodate accordingly.

If you have questions or want more advice about writing for work or your professional environment, let’s chat!

Reflection: Theories and Applications of Teaching Composition

Reflection: Theories and Applications of Teaching Composition

When I began this course, I feared I did not have enough experience as a teacher like my fellow classmates, as I have only tutored in the academic setting. In fact, until this class began, I did not believe that I had a pedagogical background. I discovered that it has been there all along, waiting to be uncovered. I’m beginning to understand this desire to teach has been here all along, and I have to reflect on my life as a writer to even begin considering what my teaching theory could be. To be honest, I never thought I had a set of theories about writing and teaching writing until this course. I have discovered that my teaching principles began to take shape when I took a course to become a tutor in the University Writing Center (UWC). It brought a lot to light for me, and helped me identify and physically write down what two of my theories could be.

  1. Writing is therapy. Many who write can funnel their passion creatively, or use research as a way to find the answers to their pressing questions. In my experience, journaling has been a savior on its own. I can spend a few moments a day writing out what is bothering me or what makes me happy. I also enjoy challenging myself to put a creative spin on my words when freewriting.
  2. There is not one end-all-be-all way to write a piece. The beauty about writing is that it’s flexible and can vary from person to person. After I trained to be a tutor for the UWC, I realized I would need to adapt the way I assisted each individual student. Some learn better by seeing, then doing… and others learn better by simple instruction. Even though I would begin each session the same way – breaking the ice, asking them questions about the piece, and have them begin reading aloud – I would often find myself ending the session a different way every single time. This alone helps me learn to adapt to unique situations in an instructor position, which I believe is very important.

My goal for this semester was to better understand theory of teaching composition, and learn how to apply it in my future classes. I believe I met half of that goal, simply because I do not have a classroom yet to test my ability. I have gained a better understanding of the reasons why we teach composition, and I have a better outlook on how I might do so in the future. For instance, for my final individual project I created a syllabus based on the four theories I made a personal connection to – expressivism, genre, culture studies, and social justice.  These are the ideas that captured my attention the most.

Now that I have completed this course, I am able to take a deeper look into the traditional definition of theory – Theory is defined as a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be; a set of principles on which the practice of an activity is based. Considering this definition and the readings, theory has a large role in teaching composition. Up until I began my graduate degree, I did not understand how theory had a place in writing. when I look back on my education, theory was present the entire time – I just didn’t realize I knew how to identify it. This course has most definitely helped me in that area. Writing was always just a hobby, a way to get the ideas and demons out of my head and onto paper. It was just, and still is (but with more meaning), my form of therapy.

I now understand that the role that theory plays in writing can be quite flexible – there are many ways to go about instructing someone to conduct a task. Understanding theory and how to apply it to each unique situation in the classroom helps everyone – instructors and students alike – become more versed in a craft. Looking back on this course, I now realize how theory really comes into play – and I really understood that subconsciously when I began working as a writing tutor. I can now clearly see my path as a writer would be to help others and educate them about the craft. I will now be able to go forward and help others learn the art of composition.

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