Why Smaller Companies Are Better Early on in Your Career

The allure of large, name-brand companies such as Google, Edward Jones, Deloitte and Hyatt (all included in Forbes 100 Best Places to Work 2018) is understandable. Great perks, brand association, more resources, and exposure to the workings of core business on a large scale (i.e.: processes, performance, making an impact, etc.) make for an environment that can help you reach your career goals…maybe.

Although the corporate mold has major benefits in some respect, applying to smaller or medium-sized companies (<200) especially early on in your career will not only increase your transferable skillset but foster a ‘think outside the box’ mentality that will serve you in any working environment.

You’ll quickly learn a ton.

With varied responsibilities that don’t always fit your job description, you’re expanding your skillset on a regular basis. Getting to wear multiple hats and work cross-functionally with different departments is a highly sought after professional attribute in any business setting.

Creatures of habit will balk at change in responsibility, and if not presented correctly (i.e.: not being offered the proper resources to help you succeed) this type of transition can be stressful. Ultimately for your budding career, more opportunity is best and employees that work in smaller companies are visible and less likely to be siloed where they can’t professionally grow.

You’ll have more influence.

In a small business setting, the work you do is naturally more visible. For this reason, you’re able to make a tangible impact on a daily basis. Larger companies may offer a built-in support system but the connections you make at a smaller company where your immediate team and beyond are regularly witnessing your wins and contributions arguably makes for intimate references and networking connections.

Your professional success is vital to the success of a small business and this is a huge motivator for managers to make themselves to you. Your first job(s) are learning experiences and your boss/mentors have a great deal of information and experience to share. In larger companies (perhaps where the bottom line isn’t the #1 goal) it may be more difficult to gain access to your manager.

More flexibility to discover what works for you.

Larger businesses have corporate policies and regulations that are put in place regarding what an employee can and cannot do; not doing so would absolutely burden a corporate structure of 500+ employees. Smaller companies inherently have the wiggle room to offer things like flexible work schedules/breaks, adaptability in hiring, and even work from home options. This fosters a certain work ethic early on in your career where trust between yourself and your manager/co-workers is vital. There is no room to take advantage of long breaks everyday as your presence is noticed.

Applying to smaller businesses and start-ups requires a different approach. If you’re looking for guidance in how to get a small business interview (or what jobs would best fit your skills), we can help.

For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

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5 Tips for Beating Imposter Syndrome in Job Interviews

“What gives me the right to be at this interview?” 
“Do I belong here?”
“Did their HR make a mistake?”

 

Is it difficult to communicate your accomplishments during interviews? Do you feel as if what is on paper doesn’t represent the “real you”?

Many people suffer from interview jitters, but for some it’s an all-consuming feeling where they believe themselves a fraud and their interview a complete fluke despite their quality as a candidate. This persistent feeling of self-doubt may also sometimes hamper a candidate’s chance of moving forward in the hiring pipeline if they are coming across as unconfident. It’s called ‘imposter syndrome’ (IP) and many people from all walks of life will experience it in their lifetime. 

In job interviews especially, the last thing you would want to do is discount your achievements and have trouble remembering all the awesome projects you managed. So, how do you beat it during the interview process?

Familiarity will calm your nerves

Do your homework. Research typical interview questions for your specific job title and of course the company itself. Glassdoor is a great resource for checking out the specific questions candidates were asked and their overall interview experience. (Of course, take it with a grain of salt as everyone’s experience differs.) Realize that it is normal to expect to learn new skills in a new job and practice how you are going to frame questions around areas you need to improve.

Your internal dialogue isn’t reality

You may think you’re tanking the interview, but understand that the hiring manager sees something different and even expects some level of nervousness. While you’re overthinking how they must be perceiving you, you’re actively forgetting that an interview is a two-way street. You are there to interview the company, meet potential coworkers and managers, check out the workspace and generally see if this would work for you. Be present, focused, and try to enjoy yourself.

Hard work>Perfection

High-achievers and perfectionists are vulnerable to imposter syndrome because they’re constantly setting unrealistic expectations for themselves. It’s important to realize that nobody knows everything, and that’s okay! Seeing yourself as a hard-worker who gets things done as opposed to someone constantly chasing perfection will help you recognize your strengths and speak to them authentically.

Take your time

When candidates are nervous they tend to talk fast and immediately respond to every question. Give yourself a moment to absorb the information and ask clarifying questions, if necessary. You might even take notes or request to use the whiteboard. Hiring managers are looking for thoughtful, calm responses and prefer you take as much time as you need to answer their questions.

Post-interview evaluation

After the interview is over, give yourself an honest self-evaluation. Write down all the positive aspects that you believe contributed to your possibly getting the job. This behavioral conditioning exercise will help steer you away from focusing on the negative unnecessarily and instead how well you managed your stress.

Conclusion

Imposter syndrome is the idea that you got to where you are professionally due to some kind of error. The causality is unclear, but there are steps to take to better help you realize your accomplishments with the confidence you deserve. Interviews may seem daunting but, as the job seeker, much of what seems intimidating is controllable.

For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

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Why your Bachelor’s Degree isn’t worthless

Many job seekers rightly question whether their decision to attend college was a good investment. College today requires a great deal of time and money and the return on investment (ROI) isn’t always clear–especially when you’re simultaneously seeking work and paying Sallie Mae. Certainly there are different ways to evaluate the worth of your degree (some majors are considered to be more “valuable,” the name recognition of certain universities over others, how you decided to finance it, etc.) but the value of higher education in the job market today versus not having a college degree at all is clear.

It’s the new standard.

According to the US Census Bureau, over a third of American adults are graduating with Bachelors degrees, an 18% rise from just a decade ago. (It was only 4.6% in 1940!) Due to the oversaturation of the baccalaureate, it is now seen as the minimal credential necessary to attain an entry-level job. “Degree inflation” is commonplace across industries from administration to dental lab techs. Where the high school diploma was once suitable, the BA represents a basic point of entry into the workforce.

You still need the competitive edge.

Although a bachelor’s degree is viewed with less “prestige” than years past, not having one is a red flag for recruiters and hiring managers screening candidates. For one, a college degree acts as a litmus test for dedication and a certain commitment to one’s future; if you’ve pursued higher education there’s a certain cache you hold over a candidate without a degree. Secondly, many entry-level positions require a basic understanding of technical skills that in many ways are assumed with a college degree in 2018. In this respect, college grads are seen as more capable than non-grads.

You’ll earn more money.

On average, college graduates earn $1 million more over their lifetime than high school grads. Millennials with only a high school diploma earn 62% of what college grads earn. If you’re in the job market with only a high school education, you may be forfeiting a great deal of your earning potential.

Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates for people holding only a high school diploma are double that of those with a BA. Yikes.

It’s a buyer’s market.

Oversaturated markets and technological advancements in the workplace allow the buyer (aka the hiring manager) to set the price, so-to-speak. LinkedIN ssThe new standard for obtaining a “good,” middle-class job starts with the minimum ticket for entry and hiring managers recognize this trend in the labor force. Their ultimate goal is to secure the best candidate for the lowest price, and given this new standard, there is rising competition among education groups for the same positions (i.e.: Masters degree-holders in the same job pool as BA-degree-holders).

In addition to job hunters with MAs competing for positions that traditionally only require the 4-year degree, employers across industries are pushing education requirements towards even higher degrees.

Conclusion

In an ideal world hiring managers would focus on the whole person and the different experience each candidate offers when looking for top talent. Unfortunately, lack of time and resources precludes many employers from being so open-minded and certain standards are set to whittle down applicant pools. The undergraduate degree in 2018 is the basic investment towards a path to middle-class job opportunities; whether this is “fair” relies on new standards for opportunity being set.

If you’re currently in the job market and resenting your college degree as you tread through the endless slough of online applications, TalentWorks can help. In addition to optimizing your resume and matching you to jobs (that actually interest you) we have 24/7 mentorship with experienced hiring managers.

For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

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Tips for Older Millennials Looking For Family Friendly Jobs

According to our data, the best age for both men and women to get a job is 28 to 35. It’s a sweet spot in your career where you automatically have a 25.1% chance of being hired compared to other age brackets.

Why? Well, it could be indicative of this age bracket’s ability to be flexible in terms of opportunity and salary (i.e.: you’re young enough to take entry-level positions and old enough to have proven yourself as senior level managers). I’d be remiss not to mention that this data validates a stark reality: ageism in the workplace. (God forbid, you’re a 36 year old software engineer or 45 year old educator looking for work).

Sweet Spot on Hiring Chart

In any case, it’s simply the best time to be a job candidate. This age bracket also happens to represent the “most ideal” time to start a family, both financially and scientifically depending on how many kids you would want. Although there are wonderfully effective ways to delay parenthood such as IVF (a treatment 100% covered as a perk in many large companies and counting [yay!]), this is a dilemma that working women especially must weigh at some point, specifically: how do I maintain my career at this pivotal point while planning for kids?

Enter the “family-friendly” work environment.

It’s a job perk that is quickly becoming the new standard at companies driven by a millennial/young Gen X workforce. In an age where equally shared bread-winning and child-rearing is the preferred norm, it only makes sense to accommodate the talent you want to retain. “Family-friendly” work environments are employers that understand that life happens and provide their staff with the necessary flexibility to be a parent. It’s one thing to offer telecommuting opportunities, but if your employees are made to feel guilty about doing so it’s not a perk.

“Employers are beginning to realize that a family-friendly workplace benefits the business as well as the employee. Companies that offer flexibility and family-friendly policies generally experience increased employee productivity, less turnover, and lower absenteeism. This trend, combined with increased demand for flexibility amongst workers, is making the family-friendly workplace more of the rule than the exception.”

Erin Feldman , Sr. TalentAdvocate at TalentWorks

So, how do you find these unicorn-esque, ‘family-friendly’ work environments that not only market themselves as being flexible, but actualize it? Let’s dive in:

5 Keywords ‘Family-Friendly’ Companies Use

  1. “Flexibility”/“Flexible work hours”/“flextime”/“Job sharing”
  2. “Telecommuting opportunities” (“WFH available”)
  3. “Good work/life balance”
  4. “Paid parental leave”
  5. “Unlimited sick days”

Finding the ‘family-friendly’ work environment is not difficult, but you need to know how to search and deduce from the job post the type of company they represent. Although how “family-friendly” a company claims to be is relative (and we’ll get into that), it starts at the job listing and researching the company beforehand.

Interview Questions to Ask Regarding “Family-Friendliness”

  • In terms of this position, what does a typical work day look like?
  • How do you prioritize a work/life balance?
  • What kind of flexible work arrangements do people have?
  • How do you, as a manager, support and motivate your team?
  • How do you incorporate employee feedback into daily operations?

You don’t have to be sneaky or tip-toe around wanting more information regarding flexibility if you ask the right questions. Avoid inquiring if their employees work long hours during the first phone screen for example, and instead, ask the hiring manager during the second interview how they prioritize a work/life balance.

Many companies boast flexibility as an HR hiring tactic, but it’s in the interview with your potential boss and colleagues that you’re given the opportunity to suss out the actual environment. When you’re in office during an on-site interview, take a look around, as well. Do you see decorated desks with family photos, or nerf guns? Do you see people that represent the 28-35 year old age bracket? An intergenerational working environment can be very beneficial in many ways, but it’s important to have colleagues and managers you can relate to when looking for said flexibility. (Not many people in-office around the time of your interview? Look up their employees via LinkedIn to get a sense of who is being hired.)

Conclusion

If you happen to be in the 28-35 year old hiring ‘sweet spot’ (I’m looking at you, Millennials!) you have more options than you realize as a candidate. Finding a ‘family-friendly’, or flexible working environment is possible and your sway as an ideal candidate should lead you to succeed in having both a career and starting your family.

Psst– You can also pay us $10 to do it all for you: we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

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Yay-You Got a Job Offer! Now What?

You finally got the call. Maybe it’s an offer for your dream job, or maybe it’s for a job you’re less than excited about. Either way, you’ve got a big decision to make. Hopefully, you have at least a few irons in the fire—meaning you’ve been interviewing with other companies. When it comes to the job hunt, you want to have as many options as possible. Job offers can fall through for various reasons.

Early in my career, I’d accept job offers the moment they were offered to me. I was afraid they’d be offended and pull the offer if I said I wanted to think about it. And they just might. Some employers get pretty huffy when you don’t accept right away. But, for me, that sends up a huge red flag, and I’ve worked in enough not-so-great situations to pay attention. If they’re being this rigid now, what will they be like when I start working for them? Plus, why would they want you to make a rash decision? It’s better for both parties when you’ve had a chance to think everything through.

So, now that I’m older and wiser, here’s what I do when I get a job offer:

I let them know I’m grateful for the offer and that I’d like some time to think it over. Asking to think over an offer is not an unreasonable request, regardless of how an employer reacts. They will do what’s in their best interest, so you need to do what’s best for you. The length of time I ask for depends on the situation. If I’m more interested in other jobs I’ve interviewed for or I’ve received another offer, I ask for as much time as possible—but never more than a week. Most employers I’ve dealt with are at least willing to give me a couple days.

I contact other employers I’ve interviewed with and let them know I have an offer. Like I said, options are good. I don’t want to be asking myself what if or feel like I’ve been too hasty in accepting an offer. Seeing if there’s any other interest helps me feel like I’ve explored every possibility. If nobody else is interested, that makes my decision easier. But sometimes I do have other interest, which makes things a wee bit more complicated.

I ask for the offer in writing, information on benefits, and a copy of the employee handbook. A written offer doesn’t mean the job is a guarantee. But it does allow you to see all of the terms in writing, so there are no misunderstandings. I always ask for benefits information, so I can compare it with competing offers (if any) or just make the most informed decision possible. I also request the employee handbook, if the company has one. This can actually tell me a lot about the company culture. Are there a gazillion rules that remind me of grade school? If so, I’ll pass. Does it talk to me like I’m an adult who deserves the benefit of the doubt? That’s a definite plus.

I think about what is most important to me in a role and negotiate based on that. You can ask for the stars and the moon, but that doesn’t always mean you should. Remember salary is just part of the package, and it’s not the only thing you can negotiate. It’s good to do some research on what other people in your role are being paid, particularly in your area. Payscale.com is a great site for this. Salary isn’t the most important factor for me—although it’s important to me that I’m being paid what I’m worth. Let’s say I get two offers for jobs that interest me equally—Offer A and Offer B.

Offer A: Pays 50% medical insurance and gives 10 days of PTO. No remote work allowed.

Offer B: Offers 5k less than Offer A. Pays 100% of medical insurance and gives 20 days of PTO. Allows me to work remotely 1-2 days a week.

Work-life balance matters a lot to me, so I’d actually take Offer B. Those insurance premiums can add up, and the extra two weeks off makes a huge difference. Plus, I don’t have to deal with commuting every day of the week (yay for less stress), which will help me save on gas.

Would I still try and get Offer B to come up on salary? Sure. I’d ask if they could match Offer A. And sometimes, I get a nice surprise and they do! But sometimes they simply can’t or won’t go any higher. At that point, I try to negotiate other perks, such as more PTO or remote days (if they don’t offer them). The worst they can do is say no. Well, I guess the worst they can do is rescind the offer, but—frankly—I wouldn’t want to work for an employer who responded that way to reasonable requests. And that’s the key. Keep it reasonable. Don’t ask for 100k when the market rate for your role is 50k. Don’t ask for paid summers off, a new car, and a trip to Hawaii. Use common sense and be ready to tell them why they should pay you more.

I ask any final questions I have. Now is the time to ask anything else you’d like to know. After all, this is a big decision. When I’m debating between job offers, these final questions will often swing me one way or another.

Remember—you need to look out for you. Know your worth and stand by it. Ask the questions you need to, and take heed if an employer refuses to answer them. If you’re feeling anxious or uneasy about an offer, trust your gut. It’s easy to shove those feelings away, because you want and need an opportunity to work. I’ve totally been there. But I can’t say ignoring my instincts has ever worked for me. On the other hand, a job that fills you with excitement and anticipation is worth checking out, even if it’s not perfect. I dare you to show me a job that is!

How do you handle job offers? Share your story below!

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Ask Sarah: Why Do I Keep Getting Ghosted by Companies?

Sarah—

I don’t expect a response from every job I apply to, but what is up with getting no response after multiple interviews, even after I follow up. Do I suck at interviewing or are employers just that rude?

Feeling Ignored

Dear Feeling Ignored,

Some employers are just that rude. I mean, I can’t say if you suck at interviewing. Maybe you’re showing up in an orange tutu. Maybe you have no idea what the company does and biffed your way out of the classic “What do you know about us?” question. (If you’re not ready for this one, you really need to give one of our wonderful TalentAdvocates a call.)

Although it’s still uncommon to get ghosted after an interview, it’s happening more and more. But, what does happen all the time is getting ghosted after a job application. In fact, it’s pretty much the norm.

Chances are it’s not you. Most of us have the tendency to beat ourselves up about it. “I should’ve worn the blue shirt instead of the black.” “I should’ve smiled more.” “Maybe if I’d asked better questions…” “Oh, God, what if I had a massive booger hanging out of my nose? I knew I should have grabbed that Kleenex!”

We focus on the small, nit-picky things that might have made a difference. It’s easier to do that, because it puts a little control back into our hands. But, here’s the truth: we can follow every bit of advice out there — show up a little early (but not too much), dress up (but not too much), do our research beforehand, give killer answers — and still never hear back. There are so many things that can happen behind the scenes:

  • They already had an internal employee in mind (this happens a lot). Maybe the nephew of some VP needed a job at the last minute.
  • The hiring manager didn’t feel a connection. Personality is a huge part of the equation for a growing number of businesses. You’ll be spending more time with these people than with your own family — finding the right culture fit is just as important for your sanity and health.
  • Another candidate had fancy-schmancy experience. Maybe they worked for big, name-brand companies. Maybe you’ve got years of experience producing videos, but they made feature films.
  • Maybe you applied during the Resume Blackhole. After a job has been posted for more than 10 days or so, it’s almost not even worth applying to it. You’ll get ghosted (almost) every time.
  • They’re simply too busy.

And that last one? That’s the kicker.

Most of the time, it really isn’t you — it’s them. Let’s take a moment to think about it from a hiring manager’s perspective:

  • For every open job, there are often 100+ job applications. You have to review each application and pick 5-10 people to interview.
  • Even if you spend just 15-20 seconds on a resume and 2-3 minutes writing an email, that’s still nearly an hour.
  • The interviews basically take you a full day (assuming 30-60 minutes for an interview, plus notes, plus any other random emails and meetings you had).
  • Making the offer, writing it up, setting them up in payroll, getting them started on their project is probably a full day on its own.

Replying to 100+ job applicants is (realistically) never going to happen. Worse still, replying to every interviewee often falls through the cracks. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

But, honestly, here’s the thing: You’re going to drive yourself crazy with all the whys and what-ifs. Your time is precious — whatever the reason, don’t give them another moment of your time and energy. Instead, focus all of yourself on looking ahead and maximizing your job search.

There’s both an art and a science to the job search, and making sure you open enough (job application) doors is a big part of that science. The only way you can do that is by looking ahead — not at the closed doors behind you.

Look ahead, sister!

ask-sarah

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