The beginning of the New Year is a good time to reflect and think about changes you want to make to improve. Do you want to start a new hobby? Lose weight? Spend more time with your loved ones? In keeping with the New Year’s spirit, I thought it would be a good time to talk about New Year’s resolutions that we can apply to our work life. Here are three that most people can relate with.
Distractions are a part of any person’s work life, whether it is e-mail, phone calls, or websites such as Facebook or Twitter. It is easy to see how a person can get off task! If this sounds like something you need to work on, try making a time management plan. Start by prioritizing your to-do list and setting specific time frames when you are going to sit down and get those things done. Include specific times for responding to e-mails and returning phone calls. Finally, limit yourself to checking your personal e-mail and social networking accounts to off-times, such as during lunch. By creating a scheduled time for tasks and keeping distractions to a minimum, you’d be surprised how much you can get done.
Utilize New Technology
Technology is constantly evolving and making our lives easier in many ways, but only if we take the time to learn. Take time this month to learn to become more familiar with the products and computer programs your company has for you to use. If you don’t know how to do something, ask for help or consider taking a class or watching a tutorial online. In the end it will help you to stay ahead of the learning curve and add to your skill set.
Finally work/life balance. Work can become overwhelming and require extended hours. However, don’t forget to take some time out for yourself to de-stress and recharge. Try to set time out every week to spend time with family and friends and do the things you enjoy. It can be as easy as watching a movie or eating dinner together, or even just exercising. In time, you will see that the time you take for yourself will be as beneficial to your work life as it to your personal life.
One of Lifesize’s biggest pushes recently has been to invest in demand generation and online marketing and thus we find ourselves hiring quite a bit in the marketing department lately. Though the examples I talk about below refer to a marketing role, the concepts can be applied to almost any position where you are designing or developing a product. The two most common roles that come to mind are marketing and engineering. Whether that product is a web application, a piece of machinery, or a marketing brochure, if you spend your days creating stuff, the concepts below can apply. And in general, the concepts below are targeted at more entry level to junior hires. If you are further along in your career, you may take the concepts below for granted, but even if you are a mid-senior level professional, everyone could use a refresher and perhaps after reading this, it might inspire you to make improvements to how you market and position yourself to potential new employers.
When Lifesize recruits for marketing talent, typically we are looking for strong skills in certain areas like Web Design, Graphic Design, Written Communication Skills, Social Media, etc. In almost all cases, there is no way for us to tell how good your skills are without a portfolio. If you were a high school senior looking to get recruited by a college team, how could you convey via a resume or a phone interview, how good of a basketball player you were? Sure, you could tell them your vertical jump, height, weight, points/rebounds/assists per game, etc but at some point, in order to paint a full picture of how good a player you are, we need to see you in action. High School athletes nowadays put together highlight reels to send to prospective coaches to try to get noticed. Actors and Musicians put together demo reels to send to potential producers to get noticed for gigs. For roles that require skills that can’t necessarily be quantified, there is no better way for us to evaluate your skills than to look at the work you’ve done. You can tell an interviewer all day about how good you are with Photoshop, but the bottom line is that this work can’t simply be boiled down to a bullet point on a resume or a couple sentences in a cover letter. You have to show us what you can do. Remember when you took the SAT’s and you had to write an essay in 90 minutes based on a certain topic? Similarly, innovative companies and hiring managers are going old school and asking candidate to write content during their interviews to show their ability to think quickly and meet deadlines.
If you’re applying to a role that has a major writing component to it, it should be a no-brainer that you would have a writing portfolio available for review. If you’re fresh out of school, don’t be afraid to send college papers that demonstrate your writing abilities. If you’re applying to a graphic design role, you should have a portfolio of graphic design work that you’ve done. Going even further, if you could put this content online in a personal website, that would be going that extra step that will get yourself noticed. (And make a recruiter or hiring manager’s life much easier!) You can even hire a web designer for a short project to make a website like this for you if you don’t know how to do it and there are simple CMS systems like WordPress that can handle all the heavy lifting so you won’t have touch a line of HTML/CSS code ever. Remember, the hiring managers are looking at many resumes and portfolios and will probably spend on average 30 seconds reviewing it all! So it’s in your best interest to make a big impact in that short time. It’s so simple to put an online portfolio together – it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it. A portfolio link should be one of the first things referenced on your resume as well as your cover letter, if you decide to send one. If you’re a marketing candidate and a recruiter asks you for a portfolio and your response is “I can pull one together”, that’s a red flag. And if the job description specifically states that it is required and you don’t have one, that’s a double red flag!
Marketing positions are in extremely high demand. I find that most mid-senior level marketing folks have portfolios when they are required however many entry level to junior level candidates haven’t taken the time to do this quite yet. Whether it’s a lack of confidence, ignorance, laziness, or they just don’t know any better it’s an unfortunate situation and local colleges today should be taking time out to prepare candidates on how to put together a proper portfolio and market/differentiate themselves to potential employers as it would make a world of different for those candidates finding it hard to get the proverbial “foot in the door”.
If you don’t have any work experience and you’re fresh out of college, find a buddy to do some pro-bono graphic design/PR/Marketing work for and put those samples up in your portfolio. If you’re a developer, make it a side project to develop an innovative useful application with some business application and send the code samples along with your resume to a potential employer.
If you don’t have any work experience, don’t despair! Make a highlight reel of yourself and show us that through the legs reverse dunk that you threw down. Be creative, and remember: Show. Don’t Tell.
We are honored to have Martha Tuma guest blog today. Martha is the Vice President of Human Resources for Logitech, the parent company of LifeSize. With more than twenty years of experience in human resource management, Martha leads Logitech’s global HR strategy and Worldwide Human Resources group. She is an active participant in recruiting great talent to both Logitech and LifeSize.
Your final interview, sometimes with an executive, should not be something you fear, it should be something that you look forward to. That is, if you are well prepared. Why? There will never be a better time to learn about the organization, its challenges and opportunities, what the leader is like, and what to expect if you are hired.
A few important tips on how to make sure you have the best-possible interview with the executive.
• Do your homework on the company. Come in knowing more than a little bit about the position you are applying for, learn some about the business. Taking the initiative to learn more than the basics of the specific job opening will not be lost on the executive.
• Be concise. Time is precious, so think before you answer. Take a moment to construct a crisp, clear and concise response.
• Don’t sidestep a question, or be vague. If you don’t have an answer, or a qualification, say so, and then ask if you can offer up alternative experiences that will be of value. If you are not willing to be transparent in an interview, when will you be?
• Have a point of view. Heck, you have the ear of the leader of the organization. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone who has ideas and is willing to share them? (Assuming of course, you are qualified for the position.)
• Have a few good questions to ask, and not about pay or benefits. Now is the time to learn more about the company, the leadership, the key priorities of the organization, what you will be expected to produce once on board, and what success looks like.
Just remember, an executive wasn’t always an executive. Come prepared, relax, and show them what you’ve got and who you are.
I’m starting to notice a trend that more companies are using video to interview candidates. Whether thru a third party service or simply using something like Skype or Logitech VID, companies are realizing the advantage of using video in the recruiting process. It can expedite interviews and save money on travel expenses for out-of-town candidates.
At LifeSize, we build exceptional video conferencing equipment, so we have been using it for years to interview candidates. For someone who is new to video interviewing, you should probably know a few things before you go thru your first interview. Check out one of our previous posts, How to Interview Over Video, for some key tips and tricks.
And don’t forget that the video interview can work in your favor. You get the chance to make a great face-to-face impression and potentially meet with more people within the organization who are not physically located near you. It has allowed us at LifeSize to provide global candidates with a more comprehensive view into our company, the position and their potential team. Overall that’s allowing us to make smarter hiring choices and helping our candidates to determine if we are the right place for them.
Every Thursday during the summer, one of our executives hosts a lunch for our current interns. It’s a chance for the young talent in our LifeSize family to have a personal conversation with our leaders, gain some advice and learn that executives were once interns too.
Yesterday our VP of Worldwide Services and Support talked about some of the lessons he learned during the first few years in his career… stuff they don’t teach you in school but probably should. Build good relationships with your co-workers. Inspire trust in yourself and your work product. Be accountable. Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know.
Most importantly he shared that you need to be yourself in the job interview. It’s the beginning of your relationship with potential co-workers. Make sure that you lay the right foundation for your success in this new position. Otherwise they will quickly sniff out who you really are during your first week on the job. What a disastrous way to start your career with a new company!
While this may seem simple, it’s phenomenal advice that most people don’t consider. I see many candidates who are so concerned with landing the job that they sabotage themselves on this basic point. Besides, if they don’t like who you really are then chances are that you won’t like them and it’s not the right place for you to work anyway.
The Recruiting Department at LifeSize Communications started this blog to share information with our talent community. It's a great resource for anyone interested in learning more about working at LifeSize.