Time Management Tip: Get Synchronized

If you’re like most people, time management is likely a huge struggle for you. Keeping track of everything you have to do can be insanely difficult, especially if you’re a busy person always on the go with a million things to do. It probably doesn’t help that you have a calendar at work, a calendar on your phone, and then you’re getting invites from friends through personal e-mail and Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. So how do you keep track? Simplify. How do you simplify? Synchronize!

First step, you have to keep track of everything you need to do. This includes putting reminders into your phone any time you say “i need to do this later.” Don’t make the common mistake of saying, “I’ll remember it.” I’m just as guilty as anyone else if doing this. Unfortunately, there were numerous times in college where I’d remember at 1:00AM and the assignment was due at midnight. So put it in your calendars!

Step two, SYNC UP! Did you know that you can synchronize just about anything that uses a calendar? If you use Google Calendars, you can sync it up with your Microsoft Outlook at the office. Now you can add events from your personal accounts to your office accounts and vice versa. And if you have a smart phone, you can sync your Google Calendar (i’m sure you can do it someway with MS Outlook as well) to your phone’s calendar application (or any other calendar app you’ve downloaded).

If you want to really sync up, you can even sync your Facebook Events to your calendars. If you use any other services, look for ways to sync them together. Odds are there’s a way to do it, even if it’s not listed directly on the website. Just to go to trusty Google and I’m sure you’ll find an article somewhere to fix your problem.

Sync up, and you’re guaranteed to be more on task and worry less about what you have to do. Because you’ll be able to see all your events at the same time, whether you’re in MS Office, Google Calendar, on your phone, or any other service you sync with.

The Easiest Resume In The World

Don’t have a resume? Looking for a way to create one without having to worry about formatting and everything looking perfect? Thankfully, as technology has advanced, resume building has gotten easier and easier. There are plenty of resume builders out there. There are also plenty of templates and samples that you can follow the format off of. But if you’re in a hurry and you don’t have time to make one yet, or you just don’t feel the need to (though you should), there is a solution to your problem.

LinkedIn. As you can probably tell by now if you’ve been reading my posts, I’m a huge advocate of the website. This is just another reason. LinkedIn not only allows you to create a profile that allows you to lay out your entire life, it also enables you to download a PDF version that has a very simple yet effective outline of your profile in a resume format. Is it perfect? Of course not. It largely depends how you format the data you have on LinkedIn. For example if under each job you’ve put a paragraph describing the company or what you did there instead of bullet points, that’s what you’re going to get.

But hey, it’s not a bad start. Plus it includes your skills, specialties, etc. The downside? it doesn’t fit it all on one page. Resume’s should be one page, two pages tops (and you better have reason for it). If you’re well established in the field, this might be a good way to think about getting your CV started. CV’s are essentially longer resumes for those established in fields, usually applying for grants and highly competitive positions. CVs can be enormously long (40 pages long enough for ya?). But if it’s your first time, maybe LinkedIn can at least help you get started on it.

Note: This should be a last resort. Say you haven’t worked on your resume in forever, but you just got a call for an interview and you don’t have time to update it. Well, print out the PDF of your LinkedIn and bring it in and explain the situation when you hand them this and state that you can send them an updated resume if they’d like. If you have the time, you should put in the energy to produce a really nice resume that will help you stand out.

Quick Tips For LinkedIn

Here are some basic quick tips to make your LinkedIn stand out and impress potential suitors. I’ll provide a more detailed explanation on how to maximize your LinkedIn’s potential in the near future.

1. Professional Photo – You don’t necessary need a head shot. But try and get a nice, clean, crisp picture of you in your best business outfit. Think of it this way, would you wear what’s in the picture to a job interview? If the answer is no or shaky, find another picture. If all else fails, have a friend take a quick photo.

2. Get Recommendations…REAL Recommendations - Don’t have your roommate or friend who works at Subway write you a recommendation. Let’s get real. Recommendations are falling by the way side anyway. Employers really don’t care about them that much anymore. But get your boss, professor, or someone with some clout and name/title recognition to write a recommendation for you and it could peak some interest. The employer most likely will glance over the recommendation itself. What they’re really interested in is who said it. Your friend might bring you to tears, but if his title is, “Cashier,” don’t put it up.

3. Link To Your Websites and/or Blogs – Ok, so some of you might not have a blog or a personal website. Link to an organization you’re involved in. Link to your school. Link to your current or past employer.

4. Max Out Your Percentage. LinkedIn provides a “completion” percentage. This is largely accomplished by adding key sections like skills, a photo, experience, and specialties. Make sure it reads 100%.

5. Applications. LinkedIn allows you to get creative in some aspects, changing what is shown on your profile by using applications/widgets/plugins or whatever you prefer to call them. For example you can upload documents for prospective employers to download through a box application. Or you can link it to your blog so it shows your most recent blogs, same with twitter. You can add a “What am I Reading” type of plugin that shows employers what kind of books you read. These can go a long way in giving employers a glimpse into your personality and more info. The easier it is for them to get an idea of who you are, the more likely they are to contact you for an interview or opportunity.

How to Handle That Pesky “Weaknesses” Question

What Not To Say In Response

During the interview process, you’re invariably going to be asked, “Can you tell me about some of your weaknesses?” or some variation of it. How you answer this question could very well determine whether you get another interview, or the job at all. Here are some tips on how to deal with this commonly asked, and feared, question.

  1. Be honest. Your interviewer isn’t asking for no reason. They legitimately want to know if you acknowledge your own weaknesses, and what you’re doing or plan to do about them, and how they might effect your job.
  2. Don’t be too honest. You didn’t really think I was telling you to tell them, “I’m perpetually late, have a tendency to forget tasks, and lose paperwork on my desk. Oh yea…and I take two hour lunches. When do I start?” Pick one or two small things you have issues with, generalize them so they don’t sound too bad, and most importantly…
  3. Address how you compensate for those weaknesses. If you have trouble keeping track of meetings, tell them you now put EVERYTHING in Outlook or in a planner. You set reminders for yourself on your phone for every little thing you do. Say something like, “I tend to be very detail oriented, but sometimes that causes me to lose focus on the big picture. But I’ve started taking time out of each day to step back and remind myself.” This tells your employer that you’re not arrogant, you recognize your weaknesses, and you take actions to correct them.
  4. Don’t get cute. I’ve heard stories about people using “chocolate” as a weakness in an interview. You might have a soft spot for it, but don’t you dare say this in an interview. For every person that will find this amusing, there’s another who will resent you for ignoring the question. You might as well tell them, “When I’m asked difficult questions, I avoid it like the plague.” Instant interview killer.
  5. Always Give An Answer. This may seem simple,  but don’t think for a few moments and say, “I honestly can’t think of any weaknesses.” This will tell your employer you’re either a kiss up, a liar, or you don’t admit to your own mistakes/faults. Regardless, they likely won’t appreciate it. If you really are struggling to come up with something, give the detail oriented answer in #3. It’s a good answer, it’s a common problem for workers, and you’ll at least have an answer.

“What Do You Know About Our Company?”

How many times have you been in an interview and gotten this question? Most first interviews involve this question, it’s an early screening question to see just how much you’ve researched and prepared. Interviewers use it to get a sense of what kind of worker you’ll be. How in depth will you go when they ask you to take on a task?

The truth is your answer to this question is a golden opportunity to outshine everyone else interviewing for the position. Especially for those entry-level positions right out of college. Because let’s face it, most people interviewing for that job don’t have a lot of experience. So interviewers have to gauge you more than ever off your answers to their questions.

How Not To Answer The Question

  • “Not much, really.” Are you kidding me? You better know SOMETHING about the company. If you say this, the interviewer will be counting the seconds until they end the interview.
  • “Well I know that you’re in __________ and that you have __________ # of stores and _______ # of employees. You’re headquartered out of __________ and your CEO is ____________.” Really? So you know about as much as anyone who’s ever looked at the company’s website or wikipedia page.

How To Answer the Question

  • “Well according to your most recent annual report, company profits rose so and so percent. That’s one reason why your company interests me, it’s on the rise and making money in tough economic times. I know that recently you released this new product/service, and that it’s being received well by the public. ________ Magazine said it’s ___________. And your CEO, _______ stated that in the coming years you’ll be looking to ______________.”
  • Be careful not to sound scripted. Sound like you just know a lot about the company and you’re thinking of these things off the top of your head.

I’m being vague on purpose. The answer varies greatly from company to company. But if you can cite specific examples about the company that’s been in the press recently, or bring up remarks made by the CEO in their annual report (or if you’re interviewing with someone that speaks publicly for the firm, recite what they’ve said recently).

If you can do this effectively, your interviewer will be blown away. Most people they interview will be giving them cookie cutter answers. Meanwhile here you are stating what’s in their annual report (10-k). Your interviewer is bound to have their interest in you peaked and you’ll land another interview, if not the job outright.

Professional Dress

There’s nothing more frustrating to me than someone walking into a professional setting not dressed professionally. Understandably, not everyone knows what is and what is not acceptable for dress. Below are some basic guidelines I found helpful, and a friend of mine found these images that sum it up nicely, for business professional AND business casual (men and women).

Note: Click the links to be taken to the images.

Women’s Business Professional
Women’s Business Casual
Men’s Business Professional
Men’s Business Casual
Accessories

Additional Tips For Men

  • Invest in tie clips/bars and cuff links. Tie clips do wonders for your look. Plus if you happen to be walking around outside your tie won’t be flying all over the place. Cuff links add a bit of class, but aren’t as necessary.
  •  Don’t get too flashy with interviews or until you know the company atmosphere! Don’t go in there wearing bright colors unless 1) company culture encourages it, or 2) you can pull it off. NOTE: FEW MEN CAN PULL IT OFF INITIALLY. So until you know for sure, play it safe.
  • LEARN TO TIE A TIE! And at bare minimum you should be tying a half-windsor. Go full windsor when you need to impress. Simply put, if the top of your tie isn’t flat, you’ve tied it wrong and you don’t look as good as you could and should.
  • Your tie should reach the middle of your belt buckle (unless you’re being a hipster). That’s how you know it’s the right length.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of your socks matching your shoes and not being too outlandish. The little things matter. Same with belt color/style.
  • Business casual is either a jacket and no tie, or a tie and no jacket. In most instances simply wearing a collared shirt is not considered business casual. (as always, there are exceptions, I work in an office that shuns ties and jackets).

Additional Tips For Women

  • Wear pantyhose. Always.
  • Heels shouldn’t be too high, but not too low either. Go simple, don’t get too flashy.
  • Don’t show cleavage in an interview. I understand you may be very attractive. But your interviewer may think negatively of you for it. Don’t risk it.

Sorry I don’t have much more advice for women. Obviously the above are guidelines, not rules. There are exceptions to all of these. But until you absolutely know for sure that anything else is acceptable for a specific instance or company, this should be your guidelines.

Pro Hedge back in 2012!

Sorry for the lack of posting and updates in the last month. In that time I went through finals, the end of my internship, a series of interviews that led to my new position as an Investment Analyst with The Newport Group (based out of Orlando, Florida), graduation, and now two weeks at the new job (where I’ve been focusing all my extra time and energy). But as 2012 gears up I’m ready to continue.

As for the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge, I will do my best to catch up and complete the challenge. However, I also plan on obtaining my Series 7 and 66 Certifications in 2012, as well as various other projects. So it’s not at the top of my priorities, but I will continue to read, expand my knowledge, and share with you recommended readings throughout the year.

Happy New Years everyone!

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