Thursday, April 18, 2019

Ways To Make An Impression In An Interview

If you’re reading this, it gives me hope that you’ve finally finished reading yesterday’s lengthy yet informative blog post. In a hope to make these posts relatively linear, I figured the next post to share with y’all after focusing on job applications would be interview tips and how to make an impression. Hopefully, yesterday’s tips helped to land you an interview which is equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. After prepping myself for an interview, the next step is picking out an interview outfit. 

 


This dress from Persifor would be the perfect way to make an impression while still looking cute. I am definitely drawn to gingham, so it is no surprise that I loved this dress. Combining the print with a drop waist silhouette that I am also drawn to in a spring-y shade has me eager to wear it to work and church. While some jobs may require suits and therefore it would make sense to wear a suit to interview, I feel like dresses are a great way to show your personality while still looking professional. Since our office is more casual, I paired the dress with affordable tan wedges although for an interview I would likely stick to heels or flats. I can’t help but love the bow in the back that acts as an added detail while cinching the dress’ shape in a bit to make it more flattering. 

 


Aside from what you wear, there are plenty of ways to make a positive impression both during and after an interview. I think the only reason I feel relatively calm before interviews is because of sorority recruitment. Call me crazy, but it is great practice when it comes to learning how to talk to a variety of different people while selling your experiences to someone. When narrowing down my best tips for how to make an impression I was able to think of 5 that when paired together should help you to stand out as an applicant. 


Do your research
Although I’ve never been on the hiring side of an interview, I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to interview an applicant who has not done a fair share of research on the company and/or job they are applying for. If you’re a serious applicant then looking into details about a position is important not only to make a positive impression but also to get a feel for whether or not the position is a good fit (although you should probably be making that call before you start applying). When it comes to researching ahead of time definitely take a look at the jobs website, LinkedIn, and social platforms. While they only give you a glimpse, it is helpful to reference and help form questions to ask. I’d also recommend knowing the names and faces of the people who you suspect will be interviewing you. Greeting them by name when you go into your interview will give you some peace of mind and hopefully help you to feel slightly more at ease. 

Anticipate what will be asked and come up with answers ahead of time
While you may not be able to guess all of the questions that will be asked of you, there are some questions that you can pretty much assume. In most interviews, you’ll likely be asked what about that job made you interested, so there is no reason not to prepare in advance for that question. Glassdoor is a great resource to reference when trying to come up with potential interview questions as well since it contains reviews written by people who currently work for the company. It can also be used to search for jobs and attempt to gain a more concrete understanding of the salary you may be offered. Before I interviewed for the job, I have currently I wrote down any question that I thought could be asked and began to work through my answer. I’d like to think it would’ve been just as easy to answer on the spot, but I know that thinking through these questions helped me walk into my interview more confidently.  It also gave me time to work on my next tip…

Bring in something related to the job that the interviewers can keep 
One of the questions I correctly anticipated being asked was “what experience do you have with print publications?” Since I previously hadn’t had any, I decided to create my own experience by putting together a portfolio for the interviewers to keep that showcased different responsibilities required in the role while tying my blog to the magazine. I used the magazine as a resource while creating my print portfolio and included an example social media spread with captions, used blog articles with subjects that would fit into the various columns seen in the magazine, and also included my cover letter and resume. While it was time-consuming to put together, I like to think it helped me stand out and it was reassuring to see it in our HR directors folder with my information when I came in for my first day on the job. 

I know that not all of you are interested in the magazine industry so here are some other ideas of items that you can possibly bind with your resume and cover letter to leave with a potential employer (let me know if y’all would want a post with more details about the portfolio I made):

·     Teaching: Example lesson plan and resources to go along with them, USB of you teaching a lesson, letter from a student or parent showing the impact you’ve made

·     PR or Graphic Design: You likely already have some sort of portfolio online, but a printed version highlighting some of your best work would be great to leave with an interviewer

Write a thank you note and send it immediately after
I’m talking pack personalized stationery in your bag so that you can sit down someplace nearby to write the letters and mail them within the hour. Directly after my interview I went and sat down at a Starbucks nearby to write a personalized thank you note to each person I spoke to while at the office. I had stamps ready to go and mailed them off before driving home afterward. I know that this can seem a bit suck up-y, but it is a great way to continue to show the interviewers your interest and respect for their time (especially as they are making the decision). 

Form a connection
Just because it is an interview does not mean that you can’t be friendly and charismatic. Lighten the mood a bit by forming connections with the people you are talking to. From my 45 minute interview, I was able to piece together that one of my interviewers had a beach house near my family’s beach house, another one went to college at the same place where my mom went, and another had friends who were sending their children to the school I went to growing up. None of this was forced and came about from just being friendly. All of these connections help to better associate you with the people at the company and are great tidbits to mention in the thank you note you are sending to show your interest in the people at the company as individuals instead of solely showing interest in the job. Even if the connection is small, it is worth mentioning. After interviewing for a teaching job where the principal was a huge Clemson fan I was able to tie into the fact that I was an Alabama fan but was more than willing to look past our different football allegiances to work together as part of a team. After accepting a different job that principal still reached out to one of my professors to tell her how much of an impact being personable both in person and afterward made.  

Some questions on the topic that y’all asked:

Q: What’s the best way to greet a potential employer? 
Handshake. I can't imagine greeting a potential employer in any other way. Be sure to make eye contact while shaking their hand firmly and expressing your gratitude for them taking the time to meet with you. It may sound silly, but if you don't have a ton of experience shaking people's hands maybe practice with a friend ahead of time. 

Q: What do you do when they say they will be in touch and they don’t follow up?
This can be tough since sometimes it is because they haven't made a decision just yet. If they give you a firm date that they say they will be in touch and aren't I would wait a day or two and see if that changes. If they still haven't reached out I would follow up with an email explaining that you loved coming in to learn more about the role and meeting whoever interviewed you (use names). Maybe toward the end of that email say something along the lines of "I know that you had other interviews lined up and may still be in the decision process and look forward to being in contact soon." 

What tips do y'all have? I'd love to have you share them below!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Where To Look For Jobs + Resume and Cover Letter Tips

Any college senior right about now is probably so sick of the question “What are you doing after graduation?” I know it overwhelmed me at that point and the pressure to have it all figured out makes a time when you’re hoping to enjoy the last bit of fun college has to offer more stressful. In an attempt to help and calm nerves during this process, for the rest of the week I’ll be sharing some job, interview, and LinkedIn tips in my blog posts.


I am no pro when it comes to navigating the job market regarding applications, resumes, and cover letters but have received so many emails and requests for help in the past couple of years that it would be nice to have all of your questions answered in one place. For those of you that may not be aware, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education from Furman in 2017 and then got my master’s degree in Early Childhood Education in 2018. I taught fourth-grade full time while getting my master’s and decided not to sign my contract to teach the following year (more on that here). I now work as an Editorial Assistant for a magazine in Birmingham, Alabama and was looking into other jobs in that realm when I accepted my current position.

While that’s not a ton of experience with applications and interviews in my short time since college, it does give me perspective when it comes to applying for two very different kinds of jobs that may provide you with a bit more insight. 

Even if you’re not looking for a job or writing a resume and cover letter hopefully, you’ll come back to see tomorrow and Friday’s career-related post for some cute work-wear inspiration (trying to keep everyone entertained here, ha). So, before we get into the tips, let’s focus on this outfit. Our office dress code is pretty casual which is really nice, but sometimes I like to dress up a little bit. Jeans are allowed, but you’ll also find people in heels, so there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to what to wear to work. This look is on the more formal side of what I’d wear on a given day but something I plan to accessorize in different ways to wear a lot in the coming months.



After seeing Kate from Lone Star Southern feature this dress on her blog, I was sold. The silhouette looked so cute on her that I hoped it would work equally as well for me especially given where it’s from and its price. It reminded me a lot of a dress I had looked at on Tuckernuck’s site and am pleased to say that it is just as good as I imagined it would be in person! Dresses make getting ready in the morning especially easy, and the long sleeves on this make it perfect for chilly offices. With any white piece I assume I’m going to have to wear a slip of some sort and while this dress was no different, the lightweight cotton material makes it perfect for summer. I paired it with the cutest short blush block heeled sandal from Shop Minette. The heel makes it a little fancier without taking away from the comfort, and the blush color and detail on the strap make the outfit more fun. Although I don’t take a purse to work and instead rely on a tote bag, I couldn’t resist matching my shoes with this circular blush crossbody bag.

 

white shirt dress // blush crossbody // blush heels // flower stud earrings // watch (nearly identical Michele watch on sale for $368 off) // bracelets (1 & 2)

*Important later addition: A Michele watch that is very similar to the one I wear all the time (as pictured above) is currently $368.00 off on Walmart's site. If you've been considering getting one I'd act quickly as I've never seen them priced this way! And if you prefer gold, that one is available here for $621 off. This would be a perfect graduation gift or way to celebrate landing a job! If you're looking for a more affordable watch option I also love my Daniel Wellington watch that is $100 off here.

Now let’s tackle some of my tips and the questions y’all had on today’s topics. 

Where to Look for Jobs


Q: How do you find job postings?
Searching for job postings can feel like a full-time job. Once you’ve narrowed down the industry location, and type of job you’re interested in I would recommend making a master list of companies you’d be interested in working for. From there, following the company on LinkedIn (I’ll have a post all about LinkedIn on Friday) and checking their website will help you to look for openings. There are also lots of Facebook groups for people looking for jobs in a given city that may share postings as well. In larger cities, job postings can also be found on the city’s website (Atlanta, GA., Birmingham, AL., Charlotte, NC., Greenville, SC.). LinkedIn and company websites were where I mainly focused when I started to look. 

Q: How do you reach out to someone for a job if no job is posted?
If a job isn’t posted on a site, reaching out directly to the company’s HR director with your resume and cover letter may be your best bet if you don’t have another connection at the company. If you have a connection at the company, scheduling a time to get coffee or call them before sending your information off to the HR director would be especially beneficial as they could give you a better idea of the company and you’d be able to mention the connection in the email to HR making the email seem a bit less out of the blue. 

Resume Format and Tips



Q: Are you more a fan of the creative resume or the professional, plain style resume?
I’ve always used a more formal resume. While I like the idea of something creative, I think it is going to depend on the company as to what they prefer. If from your research the company seems to be more laid back and creative then switching up the design of your resume may work in your favor but I can think of plenty of jobs that would likely prefer the more traditional approach. For both my teaching job and the job I have now I went the traditional route formatted the way I am showing you here. I did, however, discover other ways to creatively display my skills both by creating an online resume using Wix and making a portfolio to take along with me to my interview. If y’all want more details about that in a later post let me know.

I’ve shared a resume template with y’all before (throwback to this post from 2016) and honestly this one is very similar. The age-old debate when it comes to resumes is if you have to stick to it being strictly a page and while I wish I had a firm answer for you on that one I don’t. My goal when making a resume both the first time and when re-making it to focus on relevant experiences for this job was to keep it to a page. I originally got this resume formatting from my brother who was somehow able to keep his accolades to a page which encouraged me to do the same since his laundry list of skills, achievements, etc. would be longer than mine. I also found encouragement in the fact that if this resume template was good enough to get him into Stanford’s Law School then hopefully it would be good enough to land me a job (and it has landed me two!). If you decide to put your references directly on your resume, then I think having it run over to the second page may not be the worst thing. 

As for other formatting tips, I would recommend using Times New Roman font size 12 for the majority of the document. Making your name at the top 16 point font is a good idea, but aside from that, I think uniformity helps to make your resume easier to read. 

Cover Letter Format Tips

Resumes are nice because as long as you’re applying to positions in a similar industry chances are you will only have to minorly tweak your resume for each listing. Cover letters on the other hand, not so much. I can’t tell you how many different cover letters I had started to draft for various positions in Birmingham to send out with my resume. Fortunately, it only took applying to one other position before I landed the job I have now, so I definitely lucked out when it came to not having to fully execute them all. 

Bottom line: Your cover letter needs to be specific to the job you are applying for, and the entirety of it shouldn’t be able to be used for multiple postings. You should be including how the different experiences and activities listed on your resume apply to the responsibilities listed for the job you’re applying to. Making these connections and highlighting the skills you have are what is going to make a difference about whether or not you will be contacted for an interview. 

Whatever you do, have someone you trust to give you constructive criticism and grammatical guidance (this may have to be more than one person all things considered) before sending it off. While it can be so tempting to be able to check that off your to-do list, you would hate to send a less than perfect version of these items to someone just because you wanted to have it finished. 

Q: What aspects of your personality should you focus on highlighting in an application?
While it’s important to showcase some of your personality in your application and cover letter my take is that the interview is the real time that you should be expressing that. Definitely mention personality traits in your application and cover letter as they specifically relate to the position and the positions' requirements but otherwise let the interviewer get a true feel for that either on the phone or in person! That’s not to say you want to be dull, but I think there is still a sense of professionalism that is expected in these documents that you wouldn’t want to come across too strong. 

My brain is feeling a bit like jello after typing up these tips, so I sure hope that you feel more clarity in the job application process from this post. If you have any other great tips to share leave them in the comments for other readers to see! I hope to see you back here tomorrow and Friday for two more posts tackling job-related questions y’all had.

Shop this outfit and other affordable work wear favorites:

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

My Five Step Everyday Makeup Routine

When it comes to makeup, I feel like I am only skilled enough to do one look. I don’t have much expertise and feel like most of the way I look for work is pretty much the same as when I put in more effort for an occasion or event. I am always so impressed when people can do different eye shadow looks or highlight different areas of their face with contouring. That is a skill I’ll leave to the professionals while I continue to do just about the same thing every day.

pajamas

Since I’m a “pro” with what I do, I figured why not share the step by step and products I use with y’all! It helped that the bathroom where we are staying in Charleston provides such great lighting and a pretty backdrop to make this more visually appealing too!


 

makeup case

Depending on how awake I am, this only takes between 5 and 10 minutes to do and only because I like to let my moisturizer sink in before moving on to the next step. If you’re not committed to spending much time on your makeup in the morning or are getting ready to re-stock a product or two hopefully, you’ll find something to add to your makeup bag. 

Step One: Curl Eyelashes and Put on Mascara
I know that most people do this toward the end of putting on makeup, but I tend to focus so intensely while attempting to put on mascara hat I get lines on my forehead that would become more noticeable if I waited until the end to do this step. I also am notorious for getting mascara on my eyelid so doing this at the beginning kind of gets the hard part out of the way for me. My eyelash curler is nothing special and was probably one of the least expensive ones I found at Target. I don’t think you need anything fancy to get a bit of a curl but have heard great things about this one if you’re looking to splurge. Then I apply a few coats of Loreal’s Lash Paradise Mascara. My friend Ellison got me hooked on this, and I have continued to buy it a year later whenever I need a fresh tube. 

Step Two: Moisturize and Apply IT Cosmetics CC Cream with a Beauty Blender
I’m not fancy when it comes to the moisturizer I use before applying makeup and typically just reach for the Cetaphil I have on my bathroom counter at home. I know that many people rely on a primer, but I consider this to be my primer. Then, I soak my Beauty Blender (admittedly this is one from Real Techniques that replaced my Beauty Blender, and I like both brands version equally) in water, squeeze it, and apply one pump of IT Cosmetics CC Cream in the shade light. I love the dewy finish this cc cream provides while still hiding imperfections but not masking my entire face in product. It’s also really nice that it has SPF 50 built into it! 

Step Three: Apply Powder 
I have to use a powder to help keep my makeup in place and have been using Milk Makeup's Powder for a while now and really like it. It seems to be a slightly tinted translucent powder more than anything but feels great on the skin and sets my makeup nicely. If you prefer something more full coverage, then you probably won’t love this, but with summer coming up it’s a good thing to know about! 

Step Four: Nars Bronzer and Blush Duo
I know very little about bronzer and am usually intimidated with how it looks in its packaging since I don’t want my face to end up looking dirty. This one (in the shade Laguna) looks pretty natural and is a good way to accentuate underneath your cheekbones. I finish with the blush which has a slight shimmer that comes across more glowy than glittery which I prefer. 

Step Five: Brush Eyebrows and Occasionally Fill in with Beautycounter’s Eyebrow Pencil in Medium
Confession time, I’ve never had my eyebrows done. The idea of putting hot wax that close to your eyes kind of freaks me out. Instead, I use tweezers to tackle anything that may be out of place. I also really like the spooly side of Beautycounter’s Eyebrow pencil and use it to brush my eyebrows as my finishing step before heading out the door. If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll sometimes use the pencil on the other side to fill my brows in a bit, but that’s not that often.

Five steps later and you’re done! This definitely isn’t giving me the fullest coverage, but it’s great for every day when you’re wanting to look polished while still looking very much like yourself! If you have any more full coverage foundation favorites, I’d love to hear them as I prepare to have to do my own makeup for friend’s wedding events.


Monday, April 15, 2019

White Dress Round Up

After sharing this post last week, I had so many of y’all ask specifically for a roundup of white dresses. My guess is that you’re looking for these because either 1. You’re getting married or 2. You’re graduating and have to wear white. Otherwise, I feel like white dresses are very cute for summer but lately seem strictly reserved for brides. I hate that it has become a thing for brides to feel the need to wear white to every single wedding related event since it is far from practical since these dresses aren’t ones that you’ll necessarily be able to re-wear when celebrating the same milestone in friends’ lives. Maybe it’s just me being overly practical, but if I’m spending money on a cute dress, I definitely want to be able to wear it multiple times.

The only time I found myself really gravitating towards white dresses (aside from the cutest one you’ll see in Wednesday’s post) was for my high school graduation where we were required to wear white since the gowns we wore were white. Aside from that, it’s something I prefer in shirts or jeans due to versatility. Regardless of the reason you may be on the hunt for a white dress, I was able to come across a ton of cute options that I would definitely consider buying if all the events I have coming up weren’t related to other people’s weddings. Hopefully, you will find something that works for you in these picks too! 

To shop any of the dresses featured click on the item in the image below to be taken to where you can purchase the piece. Don't forget to check out yesterday's step into my week post here!

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