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

The Importance of Creative Side Projects

The Importance of Creative Side Projects

There are so many advantages to having a side project, especially if it’s something that pulls out your creativity. I love my job. I truly do. But my job doesn’t define me, nor is it what my life revolves around.

To stay sane, I freelance and work on a couple of passion projects. And you know what? My boss loves it because it keeps me happy and motivated, which in turn, makes me a better worker for my company.

I am a firm believer in the fact you need to make time for the things you love. By doing so, you’ll create a healthy work/life balance and not feel drained by your day job. It should go without saying, but it’s important to not lose your passions after you accept a job, especially if your new profession is demanding.

When you have a steady income, that can make the side projects you have feel much more fulfilling. There isn’t pressure to hold down your creative side, You have the freedom to try different things, like taking the cooking class you always wanted to try. Take up painting or photography. I write in my spare time; throughout the work day, I’m able to write a bit on breaks and over lunch. Not only does it feed my soul, it boosts my brain and gives me a burst of energy, especially when I have hit a wall.

The other nice thing about having a day job and with various passion projects on the side is that it not only shows you can manage your time well, but that you have a diverse set of interests. This builds your set of skills too, which makes your resume look great when you’re looking for a new job.

You can even turn your creative side projects into money makers. Become an expert in something you enjoy by taking an online class or getting a certification, then doing some freelance work on the side.

Keeping a creative side hustle keeps your brain sharp, your resume stacked, and your life full. Make time for something you love each day – your soul will thank you!

This post was originally published on the VINAzine <3

Why I Journal

Why I Journal

Keeping a journal has been an essential piece of my writing process, since the moment I became a writer all those years ago. Putting the pen on the page and letting my thoughts spill out before me is not just comforting, but helpful – even if I am just doodling or writing about how much I dig the pen I’m using.

Journaling been so many things to me, but the three things below are what I find most important about my journaling journey.

BRAINSTORMING

When I am working on a project (personally or professionally), I often start with brainstorming. I will literally just start writing down topics, key words, random thoughts, or any tangent of an idea that I’m having at that moment that is connected with the task at hand. When I take to my journal to hash out potential ideas for a blog, poem, or for a process at work, I let my pen narrate my thoughts. It helps me to visual the ideas I have, either in front of me on the page or displayed on a white board. And because I love lists, it helps me organize my thoughts and formulate a plan to move forward.

LOGGING LIFE, EXPERIENCES, AND PROJECT PROGRESS

I have more notebooks than I need, so I usually use them for separate things. I have a journal for personal thoughts, a small journal I keep in my purse for musings on the fly, legal pads for outlining, etc. I also write down big things that happen during every day life, so I can look back and see how I changed, for better or worse. When I got married this past spring, I recorded our weekend and the epic road trip that followed, so my husband and I could read it later and remember exactly how our marriage began.

A few years ago, I decided to dive head-first into fiction and began writing a novel (and I won’t lie, it’s taking forever because, you know, life). I started a journal for that project mainly to chronicle my thoughts, shortcomings, and victories while working on the piece. How wonderful it will be to look back on that journal when I finally finish the book, to see how I grew as a writer. And who knows, maybe I’ll find gems years later that prompt the next endeavor!

THERAPY

Ah. Therapy! Perhaps the most important reason why I keep a journal. Since I was a pre-teen, I have written down my thoughts to sort through them. Those angsty teen (and let’s face it, early twenty-something) feelings I had were always worked out between the pages of my private journal. The things I went through as a kid, teenager, and young adult – I was able to sort through the weird thoughts and feelings by writing down how I felt in the moment. I don’t know where I would be, emotionally and mentally, if it weren’t for my journals.

One of the most therapeutic exercises I’ve done is not even keeping some of those pages inside the journal. To work through the tough stuff I write down exactly how I’m feeling. Maybe it’s directed at a person, or just how I’m feeling in general. When I’m finished, I make a deal with myself: once I destroy this paper, I will let it all go. That’s when I rip it to shreds. I flush it down the toilet or I burn it. It’s a strange relief, I must say. It honestly helps me move forward.

What are your reasons and how does journaling help you? Even if you aren’t a writer, give it a shot. You might be surprised with where journaling will take you!

This post was originally published on the VINAzine <3

I Took A Social Media Detox… Should You?

I Took A Social Media Detox… Should You?

Over the last decade, it’s no secret that social media has wildly grown and become an essential piece of our daily lives. There are SO many pros to using a social media network, like connecting with friends, co-workers, family, or meeting awesome new friends. We can make connections around the globe and aren’t limited to the people who live in our vicinity. It’s truly a beautiful thing, when used correctly.

For me, Facebook became a site I logged into out of habit and rarely enjoyed my visit. I would endlessly scroll through the timeline and became increasingly annoyed at most of the posts I read. I got to a point where I would log in and think, “Why am I even here?”

Sure, I enjoyed seeing updates from friends and family about their happy lives, but i could no longer tolerate or scroll past the users who would blindly share incorrect information or misleading/fake news stories. I wanted to shake the person posting and scream, “Seriously, it takes 30 seconds to open Google and verify something these days!” I even texted a friend and said those exact words. Their response? They didn’t care or think it was a big deal. I finally reached a breaking point.

I decided to actually do something about it. I couldn’t continue correcting people in the comments (yeah, it’s fine, I was that person…). It was time for me to bid my adieus and bow out gracefully. But that isn’t the answer for everyone!

How do you know a social media detox, whether it’s in the form of deactivation or deletion, is right for you? Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is this adding joy to my life, or is it simply a way to pass time?
  • Would I miss it if I didn’t have it?
  • Am I wasting too much time endlessly scrolling through a news feed, only to find myself annoyed or angry at the content I view?

That third question was a big YES for me and that’s how I knew it was time to detox. I ended up deleting my Facebook account in May after having it for 12 years. TWELVE YEARS! I mean, the archive this website had on me was insane (which, to be honest, was a great reason to delete it). I was worried I would have a serious case of FOMO, but I don’t. Sure, I miss connecting with friends and family but deleting has (happily) forced me to make phone calls and send texts/emails to the people I love.

I still have Twitter and Instagram, but I’ve changed my habits on both of those platforms after this detox. I took a small break from posting anything on those networks and even deleted the apps off my iPhone for a couple of weeks. I missed those much more than Facebook, though. It didn’t take long to reinstall those and I didn’t have a sense of dread when I did. I kind of had the “first day of school” feeling — you know, when you’re excited to get back to see all your friends and hear about what they did during the break!

When I decided to end my detox with Twitter and Instagram, the first two questions I mentioned before were now easily answered: yes, these do bring joy to my life (but also to pass time when I am waiting for someone or something), and yes, I did miss it when I didn’t have it. That’s how I knew I took enough time away.

Deleting Facebook was a bigger decision, given I was connected with family and friends. That, and I used Facebook for professional purposes. I help moderate several pages and groups on different networks for the podcasts on which I work, and I simply can’t abandon them. I found a way to work around this and still have a successful detox and/or removal of my main account, but it does require some effort.

  1. Make a new “burner” account. Create a new, separate profile without any friends or personal details (or what you consider to be the bare minimum of information for your profession).
  2. Log back into your original account and make that new burner account an admin/editor of all the pages you run. If you work for a company, make sure you clear this with your boss first!
  3. Log into the new profile and test! Double-check your permissions are correct and that you have access to everything you need.
  4. Wait a couple of weeks. Make sure you have everything you need from your original account before pulling the plug. Or, just rip off the bandaid – honestly, what’s the worst that can happen?
  5. Click that delete button! It’ll feel so good, I promise.

Would I detox again? Absolutely. I think it’s healthy to take a break from everything in life every now and again – it’s just like taking a vacation from work. Sometimes you just need to unplug!

Why Making Friends Online is Totally Normal

Why Making Friends Online is Totally Normal

Before the internet, a girl from Indiana couldn’t fathom making friends with someone from California. Or Australia. Or even someone in her city, without leaving the comfort of her home. My goodness, how things have changed.

Over the last decade, we have witnessed technology evolve right before our eyes – it’s bringing us together, from all corners of the globe. And it’s freaking awesome.

I grew up in a very rural area of the Midwest – back then, we relied on making friends in our hometowns or from neighboring schools through sporting events and after school activities. Until we could drive and get jobs outside our small town, our friend circles revolved around who was in our classes or extra curriculars. But when I was thirteen, the internet finally arrived in my area.

I remember chatting online with people in my area then making plans to meet them when our schools played each other in basketball or football. I was able to make friends outside the small circle of people I knew my whole life, and I loved it. It’s true – I was hooked on making friends with strangers through the computer. Some I’d meet in person, and who are important people in my life still. Some I still talk with online, still having never met them in person.

When I was a kid though, I was teased for chatting online with strangers. People in my class thought I was lame for chatting on ICQ or AIM, but I didn’t care. I loved meeting new people, in person or over a computer. Fast-forward (more than) a few years later… it’s now considered normal to find relationships and meet new friends off the internet based on your common interests. YAAS, FINALLY!

Over the years, I’ve formed wonderful relationships with folks I’ve met online. I’ve had deep conversations with people I’ve never seen before in person through forums and social networking websites. I’ve forged lifelong bonds with some amazing women who I see regularly. When Twitter took off, I joined solely to follow my favorite rockstar… but soon found a community of fans that were just like me. We started talking to each other online through 140 characters at a time, then ended up meeting each other at concerts all over the country. During the times we waited for (an insane amount of) hours together to snag a front row spot to see our favorite band perform, we created meaningful friendships with each other. Some of the ladies I met during that time I speak with almost daily, and they are coming to my bridal shower this spring!

With websites like Twitter to find people who are into the same things you are, it’s so easy to make new friends online. And again, it’s freaking awesome – most women know it’s harder to make friends once they have finished their college years, begin professional careers, or start having children.

Our circles naturally shrink when we grow older, but ladies, I’m here to tell you they don’t have to. The internet makes it SO much easier for us to form friendships with people we wouldn’t meet under what we used to consider normal circumstances. Luckily for all of us, the new normal is making friends online. The thirteen year old me is rejoicing and shouting “see, I told you this would take off!”

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