Giving Back

giving backMartin Luther King Jr. once said “People who have a stake in their society protect that society, but when they don’t have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it.” I firmly believe that not only is this true, but that giving back is a way to earn a stake in society. Whether it’s on a personal or corporate level, or both, it’s necessary to help anyone or anything in need.

Working with charities is rewarding for everyone involved. By giving your time, you get a new perspective on issues and learn humility. When an organization gets together to volunteer it can be an exercise in team building. We’re proud to say that this year we will be assisting 3 different charity organizations.

Housing Forward

Housing Forward is local organization in western suburbs of Chicago that set out to transform the lives of those needing housing. They work to address health needs as well as income needs as they transition people back into stable housing.

Melinda is serving on the auxiliary board for their upcoming Have-a-Heart Gala! The gala will be held at The Palmer House Hilton in downtown Chicago on February 11th, featuring a reception and a silent auction.

Anyone who is interested in donating prizes, big or small, please reach out to Melinda at melinda.holm113@gmail.com.

Sarah’s Inn

Sarah’s Inn is a local non-profit whose mission is to improve the lives of those affected by domestic violence and to break the cycle of violence for future generations. Their services and initiatives focus on ending relationship violence through domestic violence crisis intervention, community education, and violence prevention programs for youth.

Earlier this year we all got together to cook dinner for the women and children at the shelter, cooking enough for about 40 people! This year, not only will we be donating holiday gifts, but we’ll also be acting as drop off center. If you’re interested in contributing, feel free to swing by our office at 7630 Madison in Forest Park, Il  to drop off an unwrapped present through November 27th.

If you’d like to donate an item but aren’t in the area, feel free to browse their Amazon Gift Registry and have the gifts shipped right to Sarah’s Inn!

A few of the ladies here will be volunteering at Sarah’s Inn through the holidays as well! We love the partnership we’ve formed over the year and we’re happy to help in any way we can!

The Jane Adeny Memorial School

The Jane Adeny Memorial School, or JAMS, is an girls boarding school located in western Kenya that offers a high school education that is good enough for the richest, but open to the poorest. In lieu of gifts last year, we decided to sponsor a girl for all 4 years of her high school career.

I personally volunteer my summers teaching at JAMS and this past summer I had the chance to meet the bright young mind we’re sponsoring! Her name is Phloice and she comes from a small town about 5 miles from the school. Phloice is left with only her younger sister and father, having lost her mother at a young age. Upon being accepted at JAMS with full sponsorship, she gathered the few items she had and walked from her home in Koru up into the hillside to her new home.

The education JAMS gives is unmatched by any other school of it’s kind. The girls are taught to be curious and ask questions. They work all day and night to ensure that their grades are up and their campus is clean. National exams are administered yearly and determine which students will be eligible for university. While only 31% of students qualify to go to university nationally, 80% of JAMS students qualified!

MELINDA ON THE GO!

melinda-on-the-go

As a part of my role as CEO of Melinda Holm & Associates, I am attending many conferences both locally and nationally.

This week I went to the BMA, the LBMA, and the AMA conferences/seminars here in Chicago. I can’t keep the acronyms straight! I was recently out at a party and when talking to someone else in advertising, I said (paraphrasing) that I had known someone from BBDO or C-K who left to go to DDB or FCB and then went to as a VP to GSD&M or HCB or maybe it was HMT. The person in our group who is not in advertising said “WHAT? I have no idea what you just said”. But that is advertising and marketing!   
 
What I learned this past week. The biggest take-aways are:
 
1. Marketing Automation is HUGE and is continuing to grow.
2. Social media remains important of course. You must have good content, and then you can work on context – how do I deliver the message and when?
3. Beacons and other devices to track consumer behavior are growing in use. Exciting technology. As Tony Donova from Business Insider wrote:
“Beacons are a low-cost piece of hardware — small enough to attach to a wall or counter top — that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet. They are poised to transform how retailers, event organizers, transit systems, enterprises, and educational institutions communicate with people indoors. Consumers might even want to deploy them as part of home automation systems”.
4. Augmented Reality is also a huge growing market, along with Virtual Reality.
5. Global Sharing, or the Shared Economy is also continuing to grow in popularity. This includes companies such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Divvy Bikes and more. The focus is on being green, not adding to waste, cost savings and realistic usage. Why do you need a car everyday? Just share!  
 
I have to give kudos to some of the speakers I saw. Suzanne Martin from The Mx Group was awesome. She had a great warmth and connection to the audience, along with good content in her speech.
 
Melinda

From Recruiter to CEO

Melinda Holm-Peterson, CEO

Melinda Holm PetersonI have taken on a new role at Melinda Holm & Associates – CEO! While this has always been a part of my title, I’ve always been so involved in the day-to-day of recruiting that I’ve really functioned as a “Do Everything” person. In the past few years, we have worked to take responsibilities off of my plate and now, success! I’ve officially walked away from the day-to-day grind to become the face of Melinda Holm & Associates.

Lately, I’ve been spending my time going to different conferences, luncheons, and other events. For some people, they’re more comfortable networking in a relaxed kind of conversation setting than when trying to sell, and that is definitely the case here. Meeting new people through these opportunities has lead to many lessons of how the industry has been changing over the years.

Recently, I flew out to Orlando for the AMA conference. Unfortunately, as I landed people were being forced to evacuate the city due to the pending hurricane. I guess next time I should pay more attention to the news and weather! I’d like to give kudos to the staff at the hotel I stayed at (Cabana Bay) for letting me check out early without any fees, same with American Airlines and the AMA. The American Marketing Association credited my attendance fee without any questions.

Up next, I’ll be going to a variety of conferences and events to really help Melinda Holm & Associates be on the cutting edge of marketing and advertising recruitment. First up is the the Business Marketing Association Chicago’s Breakfast followed by RetailLoco – a day and a half conference that focuses on the latest and greatest in mobile and location-based tools for retailers. If you missed Content Marketing World, I highly encourage you to join BMA Chicago’s event! Later that same week, I will be finding myself at MarTech Smart, a marketing technology conference in beautiful Downtown Chicago. Later, in November, I will be making the trek to Boston for the In-House Agency Forum Conference – a prestigious and premier networking event for the in-house agency community. The IHAF Annual Conference is aptly named Game Changers this year and you should check it out!

On a side note, I am a huge fan of walking and cycling everywhere; I do my best to commute without a car. This may not work well everyday, due to Chicago weather and it becoming fall, but moving on! The latest average of daily walking is about 10 to 12 miles/day while cycling is can vary between 50-100 miles/week. During the Path to Purchase Expo just last month, I biked to Rosemont from Forest Park! Use your feet or bicycle when you can!

Have a great rest of your week!

HOW TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY IN THE WORKPLACE

increase-producitivity

Small changes can make a big impact

Tips to increase productivity

Sometimes, it feels like this digital age is masking our productivity. We can’t remember all of the details from the day when we shut down, but are we as productive as we think? Here are a few things to pay attention to so you can increase productivity.

First of all, this multitasking thing has to go. You’re doing now aren’t you? Stop it. The folks over at Stanford did quite a bit of research trying to figure out what makes multi-taskers so gosh-darn special and as it turns out, they aren’t. Those who multitask more actually have more errors. Not only that, they spend less time on projects, and could even be doing damage to their cognition. The rule here? Don’t take on too much at once. Instead, try focusing on one thing at a time and see how much better you do.

It might not just be the workload that’s distracting us, but our minds. It happens to the best of us more than a few times a day. Our brains have a crafty way of pulling us off task for just a moment. With things like Facebook only a click away it can be hard to resist the distraction. Obviously, taking time away from work to do other things is going to reduce productivity, but guess what else it impacts? Our standard of living. Track how much time you spend on things like social media and reduce it. 

Ah, but if it isn’t the workload impairing our productivity nor is it our natural desire to do something else then it must be… the dreaded open-office space. Who’s idea was this? Google. Bad Google! They’ve been playing with ways to optimize their workers the way they optimized their search engine and while I can wholly respect this, it’s safe to say the rest of the office world jumped the gun with this floor plan. The open-floor plan is probably good for some companies, after all, not everything in this world is absolute, but it’s not good for all companies. In fact, introverts and extroverts alike need solitude in order to work effectively. Headphones can be great to block out the unnecessary noise. Also, try scheduling time where people are to work with out interrupting others; this will make everyone more productive. 

And finally, the last bit advice to increase productivity: be nice. See, there’s this thing called psychological  safety. People are able to pick on others body language and tone of voice. Consider these things, especially when you’re feeling frustrated. A safe work environment means people don’t do things like reject or punish their coworkers thoughts or ideas. Definitely speak up if you have something to say, but use constructive criticism and thoughtful responses to question others on your team. A little respect can go a long way.

 

Volunteering: An Exercise in Team Building

Volunteering: An Exercise in Team Building

VolunteeringSure. Most of us love throwing back a few cocktails with colleagues at work functions, but team building can be time used for community building as well. Volunteering has been shown to be good for you mentally, physically and professionally. By volunteering you are learning and expanding upon your skill set, building a more cohesive relationship with your colleagues and employers, and doing meaningful work that you can take pride in. Also, it’s okay if it feels good to do-good.

In 2013, Forbes discussed corporate charitable giving and community involvement.  They mention that companies select causes that are relevant to their own industry, pick a local cause to support, or choose a cause that is personally important to one of the staff. Here at MHA, we do the latter. Keri, our Associate and Social Media, goes to Kenya each year to teach.  We annually participate in the JDRF walk to support a fellow colleague who suffers from type 1 diabetes. It is important to us that we show support for them, and others who are effected. Rather than donate money we choose events that require physical involvement as a way for our office to build comradery. Our company sponsors its employees to run in local monthly fundraiser races as well.

There are many things you can do with your company/team/department for team building:

  • Cook and serve a meal at a local homeless shelter.
  • PUPPIES!!!!!!!!! Who doesn’t love dogs? I don’t even want to know them. Local shelters would love, and are definitely in need of help.
  • Volunteer planting flowers, bushes and trees. Help make your city beautiful.
  • Mentor students preparing for college
  • Join Habitat for Humanity in building and repairing homes.
  • Organize an event at a nursing home, like an ice cream social, movie night, or bingo.
  • Have an employee bake off fundraiser. Enjoy friendly competition, laughs and delicious desserts for a good cause.

Enjoy the bonding experience with your colleagues, appreciate the time you spend giving back to your community and be grateful for working at a company that values you and your time and what you have to offer.

Thinking about a new career?

Thinking about a new career?

Thinking about a new career?

Wondering if it is the right time to make a move? Just curious on what other opportunities are out there? These are just a few of the things running through a typical job seeker’s mind. Everyone’s motivation for making a job change is different. However, there are some things that should consistently be taken into consideration.
Job searching is not necessarily a seamless process by any means. There are several things to take into consideration while job searching. Below are a few key things to consider:

1) Are you ready to commit to changing jobs?

Changing jobs can be a life changing event. Before you start to look, whether actively or passively, you should know if you are truly ready to commit to a job change should the right opportunity come along. This is the most important factor to consider. You do not want to waste your time or a potential employer’s time if you are not truly going to make a move.
2) What are your ‘MUST HAVES’ to take on a new job?
Not every career change is a response to dissatisfaction with a current job. That being said, you should know what is motivating you to consider another opportunity. Everyone’s motivators will be different. It is a good idea to think about these ‘must haves’ whether you are actively looking for a job or not; your dream job could present itself when you least expect it. Being prepared will ensure you don’t accidentally disregard that opportunity.

3) Is job title important to you?

This may not be important to you or it may fall under your ‘must haves’. Either way, defining your role with just a job title can be tricky. One thing to always remember is that titles always come with a description. The titles will vary with each company, some will make you appear under or overqualified others will consider you ‘spot on’ for your experience/qualifications and associated responsibilities. Employers are aware of this, and often consider other factors when determining a candidate for a position. It is important for you to know if having a specific title is important to you. Employers seldom are able to deviate from the titles that are in place.
4) What compensation are you looking for?
Knowing what compensation you are willing to move for is important. Don’t undervalue yourself but remain realistic; once you’ve made your mind up, be clear and upfront with employers on what you are looking for. Always know what your minimum requirements are before making a move and stay as close to them as possible. In most cases, there is room for negotiation however, employers do have budgets and it has been my experience that they are very fair and transparent with what they can offer.

5) How much time can you commit to your search?

This is a very important part of any job search. Finding time, especially if you are employed, can be difficult. You need to set aside time to focus on your search. Most IMPORTANTLY, when you are in the interview process you need to make sure that you are being flexible with your potential employer. Most employers try to work around what is convenient for the candidate to interview with them. That being said, it is important for you to show the same respect and try to be as flexible as you are able without disregarding your current employer. You may need to use vacation or personal days to interview and be prepared for that. This allows you enough time to interview with the employer without being rushed or taking away from your current employer’s time.

6) How much flexibility do you have with benefits?

This is a big thing for some to consider. When changing jobs especially if you have been with your current company for a longer span of time; there might be a loss of certain benefits such as vacation, insurance coverage, etc. These benefits are often accrued by the amount of time an employee has been with a company. Know what benefits you are open to negotiating or potentially losing. Candidates are encouraged to be open minded about the big picture and where that next opportunity can take them in the next five years.
A job search is a journey but the reward of a new job is limitless! Enjoy the ride.

YOU DON’T NEED THREE DRAGONS TO GET AHEAD IN YOUR CAREER.

Getting ahead in your career can be a long and sometimes frustrating task, but there is nothing more satisfying than finally obtaining that position you’ve been working towards. If you’ve been watching Game of Thrones, it would be the equivalent of sitting on The Iron Throne everyone is fighting for. But what’s the easiest and quickest way to get there? The truth is there are no short cuts; there is only dedication and the willingness to get ahead. Take Daenerys Targaryen for example, she didn’t just walk up to the Dothraki, Unsullied and the entire city of Meereen and say “take over the Seven Kingdoms with me, please?”. Instead, she confronted her fears head on, learned from those around her and took action. Although you don’t have three dragons to back you up on your career conquest, here are three tips to help you grow as a professional:

Listening:
Learning how to listen is no easy task, but when you’ve got it down you’ll find that the people around are filled with all sorts of information. Your peers can teach you new skills, help you with projects or give you a better idea of the role you play to make the organization work.

Developing an “I can” attitude:
Challenge yourself and face those projects or tasks you’ve been dodging! Taking on the hard tasks will allow you to broaden your talents; who knows, it might even earn you some recognition. Just believe that you can get ahead in your career and you will!

Get involved:

Adding to our lengthy to-do list is not something we get excited about, but taking on new tasks or helping others can help you grow. Whether you’re helping someone at work with a project, or volunteering at a non-profit you’ll be learning something new. Take action; it’s the only way you’ll get where you want to be!

Developing a Relationship with Recruiters

Developing a RelationshipI often feel like I lead two lives – my working life as a recruiter and my personal life as a wife, mother and friend. I am often asked outside the workplace what I do for a living. When I explain what I do, people often react one of a couple of ways: “wow, that is interesting” (usually from folks who don’t work) or I get “I have recruiters always calling me or messaging me on social media and I usually ignore them.” I often find myself explaining what recruiters actually do and why people should connect with recruiters within their industry.
Developing a good rapport with a recruiter is a great idea whether you are looking to hire someone or you are looking for a new job. I often work with candidates who want a new job and just want to know what I can do for them rather than taking the time to develop a solid working relationship. There are many reasons to develop a relationship with a recruiter in your field but I want to share just a few with you:

1 – Recruiters know the industry they work in – they know who is hiring, who is firing and what the culture is of many organizations. If you take the time to be honest about what you are looking for, a good recruiter will keep that in mind when they are working on new roles. Recruiters often know about open jobs before they are publicly posted and they know the wants of the hiring manager.

2 – If a reputable recruiter in your industry reaches out to you, take the time to respond vs. just ignoring their message. It never hurts to build your network. You just never know when you may be in the need of a new job or you have a colleague/friend who needs a new job. If you have a relationship with a recruiter, you can help others out by connecting them to the recruiter.

3 – All good working relationships are built on trust and it is the same for a candidate/recruiter relationship. The more honest you are about what you want in a new role, the better job a recruiter can do for you. If they know there is NO way you will move out of Chicago, they won’t contact you for out of state roles.

SO the next time a recruiter reaches out on LinkedIn, instead of ignoring the message, think about connecting with them. Be honest – feel free to tell them you are not looking for a new role at this time but happy to connect for future opportunities. You never know – sometimes the perfect job comes along when you aren’t looking!

Relax

We have billions of nerve fibers in our brains working around the clock to remind us of all the emails we haven’t opened (sometimes at 3am for no good reason) and the endless list of “to-dos” we’ve accumulated over the years. With this, it is no surprise that maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be an exhausting process all on its own. Fortunately, we are amazing creatures capable of adapting to almost anything, including new habits to improve our life. I’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks that have helped me make time for relaxation and family activities. Hopefully, these will come in handy when you’re working on your weekly schedule!

1. Incorporate downtime into your schedule
Make it a point to spend time with your family and friends! You can’t possibly work 24/7 so why not spend time at the park with your children or at that restaurant you’ve been eyeing.

2. Work smarter not harder!
Leaving work on time is a mission that depends solely on your productivity. Spending time on social media (if not work related) or searching for completely irrelevant information like what the winner of the third season of American Idol is doing these days, will only result in you staying in the office longer. Gossiping around the office, making personal calls and checking your bank account to see how much you don’t have will inevitably result in the same outcome. Try to set list of goals for that day and get through it in a timely manner, once you’re done the day is yours!

3. Outsource your errands!
This might sound impossible at first, but think of all the little activities you complete daily and how much time you spend doing them. Grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, by the time you’re done with all of it you’re falling asleep watching “That’s 70s Show” reruns. Why not save time by prepping meals, shopping online or using laundry drop-off services? Doing so will open up your schedule for hobbies or some serious R&R.

4. Get moving
The best way to keep yourself and your luscious brain healthy is physical activity! It’s not as easy as it sounds but maintaining a consistent exercise routine will make your work-life balance a breeze. Physical activity helps pump blood and stimulate growth of new neurons, which means you’ll be able to think more clearly. Also, when you exercise your body releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings. Look into activities that work with your schedule like swimming, yoga, or walks around the park; it’ll only result in a positive outcome.

5. Relax
Last but certainly not least, make time for whatever helps you relax. Read a book, take a bath with all the bubbles, listen to your favorite album, or simply take a walk. Whatever it is, you have to make time for the things you enjoy.

YEAH, I CAN DO THAT!

Yeah I Can Do thatBeing a team player within an organization is extremely important. Not only does it show that you can play well with others, but it shows a willingness to go above and beyond what is being asked of you. Being collaborative shows taking initiative to help out where you are needed while exhibiting some skills you may not regularly showcase. But what are some good ways to be a team player?

First and foremost, show a sincere dedication to the work. Committing to the cause shows that you are serious about helping and giving 110%. Bring new ideas to the table, be active in creating the game plan, and help to carry that plan out. Be in it from start to finish, and do not walk away halfway through. One of the best ways to show commitment to the work is to do the research and be prepare. You want to be knowledgeable so that you can contribute to the project in a meaningful way.

Be adaptable. Flexibility also makes for a great team player. Be ready to lend a hand, even if it means stepping outside of your normal job description. I know this is easier said than done. We often get caught up in what we are responsible and not responsible for, and then we leave the rest to someone else. However, stepping outside of your comfort zone is an amazing opportunity to show off not only your skills, but willingness to be a part of something bigger than yourself. I once had a boss that frequently said “flexibility equals indispensability”; by being willing and able to adapt to change, you make yourself necessary for the business.

Active communication is essential in just about everywhere– in your personal life as well as in teamwork. Communication is comprised of both voicing your thoughts and opinions as well as actively listening to those around you. Sharing your thoughts and feelings on a project, process, or whatever you are working on, is key. You show that you are a proactive member of the team and not someone who sits on the sidelines. Listening to other team members is something to also keep in mind. You want your cohorts to feel that their opinions are valued just as much as yours. Stay engaged in what they are saying because they have some great ideas, too. They may think of something you did not and would be perfect for what you are working on.

Lastly, it is imperative to manage up. If you have a lot on your plate, it may be best to wrap up what you are working on instead of taking on a larger work load. Your team needs to have the confidence that you are going to put forth the effort, and if you cannot pull your fair share of the workload, then they need to know that, too. Self-awareness needs to be monitored, and, sometimes it is best to know if you would be more of hazard than a help.

Working as part of a team is a reality in the workplace. Henry Ford once said “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Work together is success”. Be that success and you will become indispensable.

Choose Your Attitude

We are all affected daily by things that stress us, aggravate us, or make us want to run for the hills screaming. This comes in to play at work, at home, everywhere.

The quote that has helped me recently with annoying situations is the following –

“Everything can be taken from a man but the last of human freedoms – the ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.
– Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

If a client made you so mad, you just had to slam down the phone in their ear, remember – they did not, YOU did. You are SO lucky that you get to choose to be mad, sad, or glad in a certain situation. Hopefully you will choose a positive reaction. The big thing is you can make your life change around by choosing a happy response or even no response versus a response you will later regret.

I think this is one aspect of daily living that we forget – you don’t have to be irritated all the time! You can give yourself permission to let it slide, to not stress and to choose a tranquil response. This is not to say you need to be a push over – set boundaries and stick to them, but choosing to take a deep breath and smile vs yelling does not make you a wimp.

I still get angry and overstep, but being aware that I can choose how I respond to situations is a huge plus for me – and YOU! Just remember it the next time a client ticks you off!

A CULTURE YOU CAN THRIVE IN

As Recruiters we always want to find the right opportunities for our candidates. Culture is always a topic of conversations. Our candidates talk about laid back, friendly, collaborative, positive, or entrepreneurial culture- the list can go on. I recently spoke to a close friend of mine who went from a Worldwide Advertising Agency to a small 20-25 person agency.

“Culture was a big obstacle since my very first day at my first agency. It was a really large, worldwide agency, and I knew I didn’t stand a chance.
I entered the Advertising business as a 30-something artist of many disciplines. My art wasn’t very marketable, but I knew how to keep my head above water via my various jobs – sign maker, landscaper and bartender being my three favorites.

Entering my new world full of corporate-conscious, financially motivated people was a culture shock, especially when I saw how many positions were required to do the myriad things I previously did by myself everywhere else prior. I began to learn the ebb and flow of my new environment, finding its strengths and weaknesses. I began to understand the nuance of this new vocation.

I began to find my “place” when I started to enjoy, and excel at, my work. I made friends. I had a blast at the huge parties — all more opulent than the last – but I couldn’t shake how the bombast of the parties rose while our bottom line, and our wages, did not. It seemed like the executives were going out of their way to impress each other at the expense of the hundreds of people who depended on their prudence.

After four years of making the proverbial lemonade, I knew I needed to jump ship. I needed a place that valued work above artifice. When I found my new home, a much smaller agency, I knew the industry didn’t need to be one particular way. I saw the entire horizon by eliminating one obstacle. I actually didn’t feel like a great fit here initially. I didn’t know how to distinguish my new situation from the last one I couldn’t help but run from, but I could NOT be happier now. The small shop is my kind of shop. That’s what I need. People I work with, who started their careers at my new spot, look out their windows longingly at new horizons. I know some of them would do amazing things in the very environment I couldn’t wait to leave. Some might call that “greener grass”, but I just call it “variety”, the spice of life.”

How well you fit into a company’s culture depends entirely on your personality traits and outlook. These are intrinsic to you — you can’t fake it, and unlike your skills or salary, you can’t “build up” to a good cultural fit.

THE ART OF STORY TELLING

The Art of StorytellingSo often we hear our clients ask for a candidate who has the ability to tell a good story. Storytelling is a selling technique/art form used to inspire excitement or interest from others to bring one’s vision to life.

Storytelling can be used in many facets of business. This could include branding, marketing, sales and more. When you are in a job interview (whether you are interviewing a candidate or a job seeker), storytelling can be used to generate more interest from your audience.
As a candidate
– A resume can only tell your prospective employer so much about you. Come to the interview prepared with stories of your proudest moments throughout your career. Also, think of examples where you’ve learned a big lesson and how you’ve handled it.  Anything you can think of to help bring forth your personality and build rapport with the interviewer will help. Be yourself.  Keep your stories short and to the point.  Review the job description and company thoroughly before you interview and prepare stories which will talk to each task on the job description.  Also, it could not hurt to review the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile to show that you’ve done your homework on him/her.
As an interviewer
– Think of what makes your company unique. Why would a candidate want to work there? What makes this company special? Are there any stories you could share about the culture, benefits, significant wins, team outings, etc.?  Candidates need to walk away from the interview with a genuine excitement about moving to the next step.
Regardless of if you’re a candidate or interviewer, be genuine, sincere and personable.
Here is a graph created by Fast Company, which illustrates The Science of Storytelling as it relates to a brand. Job seekers, think of yourself as a brand and as you’re looking for a new job opportunity, consider all content marketing tactics as listed below.

BLURRED WORLD OF COMMUNICATIONS

The communications industry has been going through a very noticeable shift in the last several years where job titles and responsibilities are blurring between advertising, marketing and public relations to include the ever present digital/social media and content development.  Public relations agencies have been known to focus on earned media but as of late, large PR agencies have been building out their paid media expertise as well as hiring Creative Directors, Strategic Planners and Digital Analytics teams; all areas that PR firms have not necessarily concentrated on hiring in the past.  Now, it’s a necessity to create integrated communications plans to blend all areas to satisfy clients as well as their customer base.

In the age of digital/social media, consumers want messages and brand experiences that are holistic and aligned from all mediums whether it’s coming from their television, billboard or FaceBook banner ad.  As Recruiters, we are seeing more people with integrated experience in the past few years that mirror what we are seeing happen in the industry.  People focused on earned media, media relations and press release writing are now getting experience with original content creation, managing paid search campaigns and strategy as well as managing SEO/SEM campaigns and analytics.  So, don’t be surprised if you start getting contacted by recruiters for opportunities that feel outside of your comfort zone or different than what you may be used to.  For instance, you could be approached for an Account Management role with a PR agency if you have strong brand management experience but don’t necessarily have the typical earned media experience; however, your background may be very transferable to the needs of the client for that firm.  So be open to gaining new experiences, growing your skill set and moving into this blurred world of integrated marketing communications.

WHAT DOES WORK-LIFE BALANCE MEAN TO YOU?

Work LifeWe often hear candidates say they would like a good work-life balance. This got me thinking. What exactly is a work-life balance and what does it mean to me? My next step was logically to hit up Google and do my research.

According to Wikipedia “Worklife balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).

I also found this article which I was interesting!

The definition made complete sense to me, but at the same time, I feel like it is more complex than that. I feel like it is truly something that is individualized and that we should think about in order to really maintain a work-life balance.  So I decided to break it down for myself by answering 2questions; what are the 5 things that are important to me in my career and what are the 5 things that are important to me in my personal life?

For me it was the following:

Work:
1) Career growth
2) Importance of my role within the organization
3) Work schedule
4) Compensation/benefits
5) Vacation time

Personal:
1) Spending time with my daughter
2) Travel and taking vacations
3) Hanging out with friends and family
4) Health and Exercise
5) Continuing education

After writing these down I took some time to think. I felt after evaluating everything I had written down that working with my current company is a pretty good spot for now in terms of what is considered a good work-life balance for me. Of course, not all of my ideals were met. However, based on what I have learned, work-life balance does not mean that you get everything you want; it is about finding a middle ground of what is mandatory and what you can budge on.

I feel like knowing what a good work-life balance is for you is important. Let’s face it – a majority of us spend a lot of time at work. Knowing what is important to maintain the balance can determine how happy we are in our jobs as well as our personal life. When you get a chance you should sit down and think about it – maybe even write it out like I did. See if you have a good work-life balance or if there are maybe a few things you should be looking to change!

 

2016 RESOLUTIONS

2016If you have pledged to find a new job in 2016, you are among 21% of employees. And that percentage is even higher for those under the age of 34. The good news is that there are a lot of job out there and employers are realizing that it has become an employee marketplace. The bad news is…looking for a job can often become over-whelming and is big time commitment. If you are truly resolved to finding a new job in 2016, go about it with your eyes wide open and have realistic ideas of what you want and don’t want in a new role. Besides a higher salary, the most important factors people note in a job search are: job stability, affordable benefits, location and a good boss/team.

The beginning of your search is when you should sit down and make a list of what you want in a new role – specific to your career ambitions and your lifestyle. Are you open to a long commute? Will you only take a job that give you a work from home option? Do you want to work at a large or small company? The more questions you ask and answer for yourself, the better targeted your role will be.

When job searching, do not overlook working with a recruiter. If you find a good recruiter who specializes in your industry, they can help open doors to roles you didn’t know were available. Recruiters have worked hard to build strong relationships with hiring managers and internal recruiters. They build their reputation on delivering quality candidates and those candidates often rise to the top of a resume pile. Also, looking for a job takes time and using a recruiter is a good use of time. You could spend your lunch hour contacting a few companies a day or your recruiter can be contacting numerous companies and doing the leg work for you. It makes sense to develop a good working relationship with a recruiter– one built on honesty with a recruiter. I would never say to give up searching on job sites and company job boards but making a recruiter part of your overall search strategy is something I would highly recommend.

Good luck!

INHALE CONFIDENCE. EXHALE DOUBT.

Let’s paint a picture. You just heard from your totally awesome recruiter at MHA and they have a cool job that sounds perfect for you. You’re totally excited about it. You have your prep call with the aforementioned totally awesome recruiter and they tell you things about the position, how to dress, and, above all else, exude confidence. But, what does that mean exactly? What do confident people do? 5 Ways to Project Confidence is a great article published by Forbes gives some great tips on how to just that.
Start by playing to your strengths. This is simple because you are already good at whatever strength you are exhibiting. Doing something you are good at is an easy confidence builder, but the key is to identify what you are good at. The article explains that you can be good in your job, but that does not necessary translate to confidence. However, once you are aware that you are competent, at even the little stuff, your confidence begins to build. Try to find things everyday, no matter how small, that you are good at and hit out of the park. You will be beaming with confidence in no time!
Next, with the way you look. Dress for success. When you look and feel successful, that will translate to just about everything else from your firm handshake to your unwavering (but not creepy) eye contact. Also, watch your posture. Standing up straight can make you feel more powerful and dominant. When you feel you are in control, your confidence automatically rises. It’s been proven by science. The article discusses that posing in “high-power” stances helps to reduce cortisol (the stress producing hormone). This makes sense. How confident do you feel when you are completely stressing about something? Not very. So, if we can reduce the stress, we can increase the confidence.
Choose to be positive. This can be challenging for some people who are naturally more negative. Do not dwell on the things that can go wrong or something that did not go quite right. Hashing negative events over and over is a waste of time and energy. Instead, focus on the positive and things that are going right. Now, that is not to negate the fact that learning from mistakes is useful, but learn from them and move on. Also, focusing on the positive will shine light on other opportunities that you did not see before.
Loosen up and go with the flow. I have to admit that this is my biggest downfall. I am such a worrywart and like things to stick to my plan. Now, this does not mean to not worry at all about anything, but to let go of the things you cannot control. This also goes back to controlling your stress. Learn to be flexible, if you are not already. Work, and life in general for that matter, do not always go as planned. Adapt. The quicker you are to adapt and think on your feet, the more confident you will be.
Lastly, embrace failure. Have you ever heard the saying “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”? You do not fail if you do not try. And not succeeding at something does not make you a failure. Even just the fear of not succeeding can be a huge road block. This goes back to being an optimist. Failing does not need to be a bad thing or a negative experience; it can be looked at as a learning and growth experience.
Exuding confidence is definitely easier said than done – especially on a professional level. However, if we can inhale confidence and exhale doubt, getting that new job or getting a promotion would be easy as pie. Nothing can stop you when you are feeling your best.
Mmmmmmm… Pie…

MODERATION

Moderation is what we strive for in eating, drinking, exercising, smoking, and in general, all things fun. It is easy peasy for some people and for others, not so much. Am I the only insane person who likes to go overboard? I was talking to my sister the other day and her comment TO ME was – “I have never known you to do anything in moderation!”
So – What is moderation?   Spark People says –
What is Moderation?
On the surface, moderation simply means avoiding extremes. It involves finding strategies and habits that can be maintained over the long-term, without cycling between one extreme and the other.
At a deeper level, moderation is a commitment to balance and wholeness. It is rooted in the recognition that each person has many different (and often competing) needs, desires, abilities, and goals. Living up to your full potential means finding ways to incorporate all of them into your decision-making processes and choices.
During this holiday season, think moderation when you are cavorting, but not as a bad thing. Think of an overall holistic approach to your wellness.
The only caveat- it is completely fair to break any commitments to moderation if you have family in town staying with you for more than two days.
Happy Holidays!!

Earn Respect in the Workplace

EarningIt is really easy to get frustrated with certain aspects of our jobs. Let’s face it, everything cannot possibly go the way we want in the business world.  Even company owners and presidents have aspects of their jobs that they dread.  Here are a few things to keep in mind to earn respect in the workplace:

Recognize the value you bring
Note that your current boss saw a lot of potential in you when s/he hired (or promoted) you. Every minute of work you put in is helping the company achieve success. Take pride in that because you are on that success ride with your company and will likely grow and be rewarded for your contributions.

Continue to prove your value every day
Your employer puts a lot of trust and faith in you for doing your job well.  You need to calibrate your mind with a positive outlook, sense of urgency/speed, optimal efficiency, focus and pride in your work to achieve excellence.

Do not let yourself become complacent.  If you find yourself not feeling challenged, seek out new responsibilities at work. Present new ideas to the team and offer yourself up as the change agent to spearhead new initiatives.

We are all replaceable and there are others who would jump at the opportunity to take over your position. Don’t let yourself be so easy to replace.  Stay focused and motivated. Stand out and commit yourself to working 20% harder than your peers. It will get recognized and you are likely to achieve growth faster.  Don’t fly under the radar by doing the bare minimum.

Look at the big picture
Don’t let a few annoying things let you lose sight of the fact that you have a company which is taking care of you. Look at all of the good things your team members have taught you and have learned from you.   Recognize what you get in return from your employer.  Money and benefits are obviously very important.  So are your personal relationships, job security, and more.  Don’t let any setbacks let you lose sight of the goodness of your company, boss and team members.

Count your blessings for what you have rather than focusing on what you aren’t getting.  Remain grateful in your own mind and it might help you gain clarity of the bigger picture.

Strive for valuable relationships in the workplace
Gaining respect at a company takes a lot of hard work, dedication and patience.  Act like an adult and be professional. Avoid gossiping, bullying, pettiness and aggressiveness.  If things don’t go your way, don’t take it personally.  Be above it and try to understand the rationale for decisions.

As an employee, your role is to make your employer’s job easier. If s/he constantly has to instruct and guide you through your daily tasks or call you out on things that have slipped through the cracks, s/he probably won’t have much respect for you. Instead of waiting for a new project, take initiative and figure out what needs to be done on your own. Give your boss updates before it is asked of you. Hold to all of the promises you make to your boss and refrain from making promises you know you can’t keep. Be flexible in your scheduling and workload, and strive to go the extra mile instead of scraping by doing the bare minimum and expecting respect to be handed to you.

Your boss is human and will understand that we all make mistakes. If you own up to your mistake before your boss finds out  from someone else, then you won’t lose respect from him/her.

Celebrate others
Don’t take credit for other people’s contributions. Applaud your team members and support them to achieve greatness.  Make yourself available to jump in and help when others are struggling. Recognize that if your team members have obstacles then that is automatically an obstacle for the entire company’s success.

Help others remain positive when they’re having a bad day and ask for them to give you pep talk when you need it.  Give people the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t hold grudges toward good people who may have made mistakes, themselves.

Speak up
If something is upsetting you then set a meeting to speak with one of your supervisors. Before doing so, prepare yourself with specific examples in writing of the issue at hand. Come with a proposed solution to the problem and remain open-minded to the feedback you’ll get.  Set metrics (if you can) to prove your value for a promotion or for areas you see that need to be changed.  Try not to let your emotions take over the conversation. Remain professional.

Earning and keeping respect comes down to work ethic, personal drive and respect for yourself and others.  Do your work to the best of your ability.  Stay focused and conduct yourself with a good attitude.

Keeping Current

Linkedin can help you find jobs, clients and industry knowledge, all in one place. It is a social media site that offers you the ability to keep current and on top of what is happening in your field. Connect with people you have worked with in the past or wish to work with in the future and allow you to follow companies or leaders of your industry. You update your Facebook almost daily, so why wouldn’t you keep your LinkedIn updated of any changes in your career???

Your dream job is out there.
So, you are happy in your current situation and haven’t updated your Linkedin since before you got the job…SEVEN YEARS AGO! You may not be looking for a new opportunity but that does not mean that a great opportunity won’t find you. After all, you have been honing your skills and climbing the ladder within the company. You added value to your worth and your LinkedIn profile should reflect that with pride. Who knows, maybe you will be contacted about a new opportunity. One that will allow you to work in a specific area you have been dying for, and with a sweet new title to boot!

Social networking with a purpose.
Expanding your connections could mean more prospective clients, more job opportunities or finding that great employee who completes your dream team. Introductions are a two way perk. Just as someone can make an introduction for you, you can also make an introduction for trusted connection who is looking for new opportunities.

Just in case.
Of course you have savings stocked away in case of you lose your job, but you should always have your resume current just in case as well. Some things happen that you cannot prepare for, like lay offs due to company merges or downsizing. The better prepared you are now, the easier and quicker the process of gaining new employment will be later.

There are a plethora of reasons to keep your profile up to date. Just remember, even if you are not updating it someone is still seeing it.

UNDERSTANDING RECRUITERS

Prior to working here at Melinda Holm & Associates I had no idea what a recruiter did. I had received calls from recruiters over my career and never gave them a chance to talk before saying “not interested” and hanging up. I assumed they made calls all day, bothering people. My impression was that they’d just waste people’s time trying to sell them on opportunities which would benefit them. I’ve learned in my time here (after being hung up on a few times) that there are others that see this the same way.

Well, I’ve come to find out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Recruiters tirelessly work at finding the right candidates for their clients. They do their best not to waste the candidates’ time by contacting them for inappropriate positions. This is not an easy task as the careers and lifestyles of candidates change all of the time. There are times when we have a dated resume and information on file. This could lead to candidates being contacted for positions at a different level then where they are currently at. This being said, it’s definitely in your best interest to send your resume over as you continue to update it and advance in your career.

Aside from having our candidates who register with us directly or who are referred to us, there is still a lot that goes into finding the right candidate for the position and vice versa. There are many resources recruiters exhaust to find the perfect candidate for very difficult searches. It is not an easy or quick process by any means. There is never down time.

In addition, recruiters are extremely busy presenting the candidates to the clients, following up for feedback, convincing clients to meet candidates, scheduling interviews, negotiating offers and keeping the candidates up to speed on where everything is at in the process. This is a job that truly requires a strong ability to multi-task and willingness to put in a lot of hours.

Overall I’ve learned recruiters are not out to bother people or do what is best for themselves. They really do want to make people happy in their professional lives, both employers and candidates. Feel free to see How to Manage Your Recruiter 101.

So, as we have all heard a million times, “never judge a book by its cover.” The next time you receive a call or an email from a recruiter, in my opinion, it may be in your best interest to at least hear them out. Sometimes the best opportunities surface when you’re not even looking.

TIME FLIES

When my children were younger, I was constantly being told to “enjoy this age…time flies…they are only young once.” I always smiled but in my head was thinking, I am drowning…when are they going to get older and be more self-sufficient. Sometimes I would feel guilty feeling this way but I also thought that this parenting thing was too hard. I must be doing something wrong because I am always feeling rushed, tired and un-organized.

Now, my children are getting older and I am feeling sad that time is going by so fast! Why didn’t I listen to all those wise older women…why didn’t I worry less about laundry and more about enjoying the moment.

I recently was told “the days are long but the years are short”. I have heard it before but never really appreciated the comment til now. And wow, does it ring true. My four children are growing into young adults before my eyes and I couldn’t be prouder! I just wish I had tried to enjoy the little things more…the long days.

So my pledge to myself is this – stop worrying so much about a clean house, pressed clothes and worry more about enjoying the time I have with my kids. Enjoy their unique personalities and be proud of what nice children they have become.

I urge all of you take the time to enjoy life! Remember “the days are long but the years are short”

Fall In Love With Life

LoveWhen is the last time you went for a walk by yourself? How often do you sit alone, maybe with a cup of coffee, and just look out at all the wonder in this world? Do you see beauty passing on the streets or do you keep your eyes fixed on what’s ahead of you? People always seem to be rushing from one point to another and I can’t help but wonder if they really appreciate what’s around them. Are you in love with life?

I rarely seem to find myself where I think I ought to be in. To be clear, I’m usually pretty happy about whatever it is I’m doing; it just seems strange that I’m there. Often times I have to remind myself that I’m living for an ever changing dream. I keep my happiness and appreciation in check so that at no point am I ungrateful for what this world has to offer.

Make the choice to be happy.
Things can be rough sometimes, but don’t let those things take over. Even hard times have a silver lining. If you’re unhappy about something, take a step back and ask why. Come to terms with your feelings and work at changing your life.

Live for a dream.
Why are you doing what you do? What is your goal? Do you have a goal? We all have things that we’re working toward and it’s important to understand what that is. A lot of people I see seem to be chasing after money, and personally that seems to be a lousy thing to chase.Studies show that money and happiness are directly related, but only up to a certain amount. Don’t let money be your end goal. Impact those around. Leave an impression of love and warmth. It doesn’t matter how you do it.

Acknowledge People
When’s the last time you made a stranger smile? When’s the last time you even made eye contact with a stranger? There’s a certain callousness that comes with industrialization, so the bigger the city an individual lives the less likely they show they care. I can’t find any research to support this hypothesis, but I feel like it’s an accurate statement. Happiness is contagious, though! Think of how wonderful this place could be if we all just worked a little harder at being happy. See people. Value them. Give the world a reason appreciate you and you may just fall in love with life.

THE NEW ERA VS THE OLD

As a young African American I have witnessed death, gun violence, robbery, etc.. I have been a victim of loss to the streets of Chicago. Everyone always asks questions like “How can we stop the crime? “or “Will the it ever stop?” The truth is crime can stop if we have parents spending more time with their kids.

We as parents need to pay attention to our kids instead of keeping our kids dressed in designer clothes and fashion. We need more fathers spending quality time and bonding with their sons and daughters. The reason why the era is so bad is that our youth don’t have leadership. Fathers are either deceased or in prison.

To answer to my question “will the crime ever stop?”… As a young mother coming up in our world, I continue to pray for our country. It starts with us first, the parents, to make the changes. It’s very important to show your kids love and support and to be there. Talk to your kids and find out if anything bothering them at school, among their peers. As a parent we might be frustrated from a bad day at work, finances or other things. We as parents need to stop taking our frustrations out on our kids. All that does is lead them to be afraid of us. We need to pay close attention to our kids. It only takes a second to lose a child to violence or be the parent of a child who commits violence.

Spend more time with your children. Teach them the value of things like money. Talk to your children. Please, continue to pray for our country, especially the ones in your own community.

TO TEXT OR NOT TO TEXT… THAT IS THE QUESTION.

In a recent meeting, we at MHA were discussing new techniques of contacting candidates about a new, hot job that might be of interest to them. Now, we know that everyone utilizes email, the phone and LinkedIn. But what about text messaging? Would text messaging be an appropriate initial point of contact to notify candidates about a new job? Or maybe even a follow up to an email? It is definitely an up and coming tool for recruiters to use to let candidates know about new job opportunities.

However, with most things, there are pros and cons. Let’s start with the positives. Text messaging is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways of communicating with other people. In fact, most younger professionals prefer texts as their main form of communication. Recruiters would be able to quickly alert more junior candidates to a new opportunity. In turn, the candidate would be able to express interest and we could get the process moving more quickly. In essence, phone tag is completely eliminated. Texts are also succinct enough to get the point across without an overly wordy email.

Now for the cons… We know that recruiters are not always top of mind when candidates are not actively looking for a new opportunity. So, when a candidate gets a text message from someone who is virtually unknown to them, it can be aggravating and confusing. It may even feel like an invasion of personal space. Sometimes, messages like these can also come off as a bit spam-y. By looking like spam, recruiters risk losing the personal touch and connection that might be needed to interest candidates in the perfect opportunity. Text messaging also, inadvertently, creates an age gap. Whereas younger people prefer text messaging, more seasoned professionals understand the value of a phone call as well as a well thought out email. Human interaction is key in making connections, both in and out of the professional world, and it is quickly becoming a lost art.

Text messaging job opportunities is definitely still up for debate, and it is worth being a topic of conversation. For now, it may be tool that is used on a case by case basis. However, with the younger generation working their way up the ladders, it may become a more commonplace and accepted practice.

Penny for your thoughts? What do you think? Let us know!

A Most Refreshing Bike Ride

RefreshingI rode my bike to Madison last week. I left from Forest Park on Wednesday and arrived in Madison Friday afternoon. I went 215 miles by myself and cleared my brain!

On the ride, I was struck by not only how beautiful our Illinois Prairie Path is how it’s also an unused resource!!  You can jump on your bike and head west and north and south and gosh darn it, just about anywhere!

Seriously, it is great to see the City of Chicago and the suburbs take pride in offering safe biking options for cyclists. I commute by bike all the time, in addition to my longer rides. From Forest Park, I can ride downtown on a bike lane that runs down Madison, then to Washington, and take that all the way downtown to our office at 225 W. Washington in the Loop. I can ride home on Randolph, pick up Warren, and head all the way home. Or, I can pick up a bike lane on Damen and then home on Division or cut back down to Lake and its bike lane.

When I first moved to Chicago in 1990, there were not the options provided to cyclists that there are today. Yay Mayor Daley and Rahm! Keep it safe and fun- enjoy those lanes and the trails!!!  If you want any tips on best bike routes, I am happy to give suggestions!  Would love to hear from you on your favorite bike lanes and trails!

MY STORY

StoryOn NYE in 2011 my boyfriend of 11 years proposed to me on a rooftop in Minneapolis. It was one of the best nights of my life! A year later and the wedding planning started! AHHHH! Wedding dresses, bridesmaid’s dresses, flowers shops, guest list, food, seating and working full-time. I was dropping a lot of weight as we planned everything. Wedding jitters?  I didn’t think much about it but by our wedding, I had dropped 60 lbs. 60 LBS!!!

On September 1st, 2013, I married the love of my life!

A couple weeks after our wedding I started to feel really sick. It was hard to catch my breath, I was exhausted, and often dizzy. I called my doctor and made an appointment. On October 7th, 2013 I broke down in his office because I didn’t understand what was going on with me. I was really scared. My doctor took my blood samples and sent it to the lab ASAP. I brought my little sister with me to the appointment for support.  We waited and waited and waited. Finally my doctor and his nurse came back in the room and told me that my blood glucose levels (blood sugars) are at 403. I didn’t get it…I just stared at him. He said, “Lyndsey, you have diabetes.” I went white. I asked what type and he said “You’re Type 1.” I always thought Type 1 was juvenile diabetes. At 30 years old I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I couldn’t believe it. I went home with insulin, needles, a BG monitor, test strips, and carb counting books. I didn’t know where to start. I made an appointment with the endocrinologist my primary doctor referred me to.

Over the next couple months I was writing down every time I checked my BG levels, carb counting, figuring out how much insulin to inject myself, reading article after article. There were times I broke down, but I kept thinking to myself “this disease is not taking over my life.” One day I met with my nurse practitioner and she told me about the pump. She sent me home with a folder of information on Medtronic. I couldn’t believe it! There’s a device out there that could change my life. I told her I am in! YES, YES, YES!!!! She sent all my information over to Medtronic. A couple days later I received a call from a Medtronic representative congratulating me. I was floored!

It has been almost two years since I was diagnosed. I am seeing an amazing endocrinologist at The University of Chicago, I have gained healthy weight, joined many social media groups for Type 1, and am living my life to the fullest!

Last year I joined the JDRF walk in Chicago. JDRF is the leading global organization funding promising, life-changing T1D research. It’s their goal to progressively remove the impact of the disease from people’s lives until they achieve a world without T1D. This year Melinda Holm & Associates is  joining and supporting me to help JDRF continue to fund life-changing Type 1 diabetes (T1D) research and create a world without T1D. So far we have reached our goal of $2,000! Here is the link to our team page. Please donate or share!

JOIN OUR RUNNING CLUB AND NETWORK!!! THE DASH AD DRINK FUN RUN

Melinda Holm & Associates is starting a monthly running club for marketers, advertising gurus and friends.  Come join us and build new friendships within the marketing and advertising community.

Are you saying “Eek!” to the thought of running?  No problem as we will have a group of walkers you can join.  If you are not interested in moving at all (c’mon, really?), we encourage you to join us anyway as we will mingle after each run and offer snacks, cold beer, savory bloodies, and refreshing mimosas to enjoy together.

Why did we decide to do this?  So many of our candidates and employers tell us about their stories of races training or fitness journeys. During these discussions, we’ve both said “Hey, let’s go for a walk or run together someday”, but it just never happens.  Now is the time!!!

Additionally, we have relationships with so many industry experts who could benefit from meeting each other. We feel that this beats networking with a name tag on at some lame hotel. This is an opportunity to build business and personal relationships in a more relaxed and informal setting where you can be your true self and get a work out in.

You will set a good example to your employer by joining us. Healthier, happier employees are more productive, take fewer sick days and cost less to insure Nearly three-quarters of companies that provided health benefits last year also offered some sort of wellness program, up from 57 percent in 2009, according to an annual report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

If you are interested in running, but not sure if it’s for you then start slowly. You’ll be surprised at how easy it gets if you remain consistent with your workouts. Here is more information: http://www.runnersworld.com/getting-started/the-8-week-beginners-program

Below is information on our first Dash and Drink Fun Run:

5k walk and run option – a mapped route will be provided

Date:  9/13/15

Time:  Please arrive by 9 AM. Departing for the walk/run promptly at 9:15 AM

Where:  7630 Madison Street, Forest Park, IL 60130 (meet in the parking lot in the back of the building)

Click HERE to join us!!

FITNESS IN THE WORKPLACE

WorkplaceHere at Melinda Holm & Associates we have had a lot of exciting things going on, especially with our expansion. One of the many nice things about the additional office space is the awesome fitness room we had put in. Prior to the fitness room only about half of us regularly worked out. Those who didn’t often couldn’t find the time. Lucky for us, Melinda knows the importance of health and fitness and promotes it in the work place. Since the addition of the fitness room everyone has been working out regularly. We have even started monthly fitness challenges. We started with a 30 day squat challenge and are moving on to a 30 day plank challenge next. It has definitely fostered team work and improved employee morale. Health and fitness in the work place has many benefits and I am grateful we are enjoying it here at MHA!

INDIVIDUALITY IN THE WORKPLACE

When I started at Melinda Holm & Associates in May, my mind immediately drifted to a John Hughes film:  a coming of age tale about a group of teens trying to connect with each other while trying to find themselves, with every situation drifting between sweet and funny to just plain awkward.  Why was I suddenly imagining myself with red hair, brown leather boots and a super hero power of boobage lipstick application?

You see, we are a small office with only twelve employees, all women.  It is a mix of small and big personalities, some quiet and others obnoxiously loud (you know who you are) and all with an opinion. Where would I fit in in this myriad of personalities?  I began to see the Hughes stereotypes forming.  An athlete, a princess, a brain, a basket case, a criminal…just kidding, there are no ex-cons employed here.

Every day is interesting to see how such different people could work so well together.  How they could completely disagree on so much, yet find a bonding common ground on how great NWA is, or the importance of bringing your dog to work (not so shockingly, dogs in the workplace upped happiness levels and productivity — in between the cooing, that is).  The fact that we all see things differently has not been a hindrance, but rather of valuable importance.  We debate, respectfully.  We argue, passionately.  Our very different backgrounds and lifestyles brings new viewpoints and creative solutions in the workplace that the other may not have thought of.  We have learned to respect the differences among us.  Those differences have developed into unusual friendships that extend beyond work hours.  There is an underlying common thread tying us all together…we love our job and want to make it a healthy, happy and fun place to work.  We did not need a Saturday afternoon of detention to find ourselves, but working at MHA we have found that each one of us is a bit of a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…and a princess…and a criminal (checking Facebook on the clock), and that is what makes us so successful.

Sincerely yours,

The MHA Breakfast Club

LIVING WITH INTEGRITY

I often tell my kids they need to always have integrity.  That they must make decisions based on their sense of right and wrong – not decisions based on what their friends are doing.  The other day my 10 year old asked me what I mean when I say “live with integrity.”  Well…I had to think about it a minute so I could explain it in terms that a 10 year old would understand.  As I began my explanation, I realized it could and should be explained to people of all ages.  I can’t speak for all but I know I want to surround myself with people of integrity.  That means in both my personal and professional life.

I would say integrity has different meanings in personal and professional situations but many areas crossover.  In terms of business, I would say integrity means avoiding conflicts of interest, following laws, and living by the guidelines your company has established.  And of course, you should strive to work at a company that has the same sense of integrity as you do in your personal life.

Integrity goes far beyond following the rules or standards of the company.  It is about doing the right things even when no one is watching.  And sometimes even harder, doing the right thing when people are watching.  It means taking pride in your work.  Following through on promises.  Living up to expectations.  Not cutting corners or taking shortcuts.  Taking on problems, not ignoring them.  The daily internal struggle to do what you know is right even though it may be hard and difficult.

And at all times, integrity is about putting the organization’s interests ahead of our own.  If people are driven first by self-interest, they will eventually be exposed.  And it’s hard, if not impossible, to coach someone to overcome self-interest.  It’s so ingrained that all the coaching and mentoring in the world just can’t change a basic sense of self over others.

I think that self-interest is at the core the true downfall of many leaders – perhaps more than any other single trait. It translates into poor decisions, poor execution, and a poor company reputation.  And while there may be patience to help a leader develop, there’s little to no patience to overcome a gap in integrity.

Are you working for someone of integrity and are you keeping to your standards of integrity?  Sometimes the same things we are taught as children apply to our adult life.  Simple truths but truths nonetheless.  Take some time to think about this – you will be a happier individual if you are living your true self.

The Jane Adeny Memorial School

RainsAfter three days of travel, we were finally approaching our destination. Over 20 hours was spent getting on and off planes, followed by staying the night with kind strangers just so the next day they can take me back to the airport for yet another flight. I left my house early Friday and the following Monday I found myself driving through western Kenya. Nestled up on the hillside, a system of buildings with red roofs can be seen from the main road. We turn off and start going up through the hills. There is no pavement and at one point Teresa, the director of the school, has to get out of the vehicle to move a large stone so Andrew, her husband who is driving us, can pass safely. Upon arrival to The Jane Adeny Memorial School (JAMS), the students come out to greet us. The 80 girls stand in a group, one stepping up at a time, as Teresa calls them by name and hugs them.

The school is a private, not-for-profit, all-girls high school that relies on donation. It was started by Teresa Wasonga and Andrew Otieno to help impoverished girls whose families can’t afford to send them to school. I was invited to stay at the school for 5 weeks to teach sexuality education. It was, hands down, the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done and I’m excited to say I get to go back again next year.

Teaching sex ed. isn’t an easy task in most cultures. Sexuality is filled with stigma, judgement, worry… all outside pressure. Because I’m from the U.S. it is thought that I have little shame about the topic so I was easier to trust than a local would have been. That as well as my extensive studies on sexuality means that not only am I honest and open, but also knowledgeable. I didn’t realize how much information I had floating around my brain until the first time I stood in front of the Form IV (senior) class. The girls wanted to know everything and were rarely too afraid to ask.

I tried to make sure my lessons included as much as possible. We covered everything we could including what sexuality encompasses, anatomy, mindset, STIs, relationship dynamics and more. It’s not uncommon for girls to drop-out of high school due to pregnancy. HIV rates in Kenya are between 5-10% (here in the US the HIV rate is less than 1%), with the highest rates being in the Western area not far from where the school is. The end goal of my class wasn’t to stop the girls from having sex, to not get pregnant, or to not contract HIV because teaching people what NOT to do doesn’t work. Instead, I focused on empowerment. They needed understand all aspects of sexuality and how it can impact their health, opportunity, and future.
Now that I know what I’m doing, next year is going to be great.

ALWAYS GOOD TO GET AWAY!

Well, we all stress over work, bills, money… just finances, period.  As a single mother, I know I have to prioritize finances before planning any kind of vacation time.  Just recently, I came back from a family vacation and I can say it was truly needed!  If you have vacation time, use it.  Take a few days or a week to see how relaxed and mellow the time away can make you.  Your work will still be there when you return.  Stop stressing over deadlines.  My motto is, “It will get done.  You are only one person.  If you need help, ask.”

A lot of people don’t like to take time off of work because of bills, money, and personal finances.  Regardless of whether you’re a single parent or have a family, there are ways to get away.  I recommend taking two trips a year: one personal trip without any of the children and another one with the family.  Even if it’s only a weekend getaway, it’s better than letting the stress build up.

First step, plan ahead and look into deals that are offered.  There are travel agents or sites that can be used.  Groupon is the bomb.  They have so many destinations you can choose from with hotel and airfare included for a very low price.  There are places that you may have dreamed about going to and I’m telling you that you can make those dreams a reality.

HELP, I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UP!

This last couple of weeks at MHA, we have been going the the 360 review process. As the recipient of the review, it can be nerve-wrecking because now you will find out what everyone really thinks of you. I am happy to report that the majority of my review was good, but here was an overarching theme – I need to learn to raise my hand when I need help.

I have always (wrongly) associated asking for help as looking like it was a sign of weakness, laziness, or failure. In fact, it is the opposite. It shows that you know your limits and that you are not afraid to admit what you don’t know. It shows your commitment to doing the job right, getting it done in a timely manner, and wanting to learn and grow in your career. But how do you ask?

I have found an article on Forbes.com that has a 3 step process onhow to ask for help. Try first, then ask for help. You want to make sure that you have tried everything you can think of before asking for help. Not figuring out something on your own isn’t a failure; it just means that you two heads are better than one.

Step two is to not be a martyr. I have to admit, I am frequently guilty of this. I have this nasty little habit of trying to take on way too much and then becoming overwhelmed. Once I get to that point, I don’t even know where to begin or how to prioritize; I shut down. As a result, I end up working some crazy hours and still feel like I have accomplished nothing. I would be better off raising my hand asking for help. This helps to manage expectations as well as to help re-prioritize whatever I’m working on. It you don’t ask for help, it becomes counterproductive and nothing gets done. You spend more time worrying about how you are going to get things done rather than doing the work.

Lastly, make a list a questions or solutions.This shows that you have put forth an effort and have thought about the problem. Then, your manager can help re-prioritize or help to delegate some of the work so that it is more manageable.

Everyday, I am learning and growing professionally. Sometimes, the lesson is small and tactical, and other lessons are larger and abstract. Admitting I needed help with the amount of work on my plate was tough, but a learning experience nonetheless. I learned that it is more beneficial to ask for help then let my work get out of control. Everyone needs help every now and again and there is no shame in asking.

RE-TRAINING YOUR BRAIN

I am reading a book The User’s Guide to the Human Mind: Why Our Brains Make Us Unhappy, Anxious, and Neurotic and What We Can Do About It … by Shawn T. Smith.

This is a great book to read if you are ready to change your thinking! I myself am my worst enemy.  I have a hard time staying in the moment, often worried about something coming up or something in the past.  However, I am getting much better!  And, this book is a real eye opener for me.  In a nut shell – start watching your mind, be aware of your mind.

Try to think of your thoughts as toy soldiers (or signs or balloons) marching in front of you and you can CHOOSE which one you might want to hold onto… and that is a novel thought for many of us – we can CHOOSE our thoughts.  To our mind we can choose to say “thank you, but I don’t need your help, I am going to choose my path based on facts, not emotion”.

Thoughts are not reality, not always helpful, and often, based in past, learned experiences.  So what your mind throws at you may not be a true assessment of a current situation, or your mind may lead you down the path of continuing past behaviors and responses, which have not been effective.

What I find liberating is the ability to choose MY behavior, my responses, my thoughts.

It is neat to watch your mind think and to slow down, pick out your responses.  Try it, and try the book!

FIRST TIME BUYER

Make sure you research the company before your job interview.

Employers want to see that a candidate has done his/her homework prior to an interview. This applies for in-person interviews, video interviews and phone interviews. Having knowledge about a company’s history and what has made them stand out will help you to make a good impression.

When discussing the company, be sensitive to the fact that the interviewer is not going to be as excited to hear any negative comments or questioning. Position your input sincerely, but in a flattering tone.

If you happen to receive the name/title of the person you’ll be speaking with then try to find his/her profile on linkedin, google, facebook, etc. Understanding his/her career journey can open up a topic of conversation. Also, know the name of the President and CEO or COO.

There are websites where employees and former employees anonymously review companies and their management. Examples include glassdoor.com, yelp.com, careerbliss.com, etc. We have found that the reviews on these sites tend to come from mostly disgruntled employees. We are not implying that the reviews should not be considered, but keep in mind that one person’s input is not always agreed upon by others. Several of our clients with top notch reputations and low turnover have been in receipt of one to six bad reviews, but they have a staff of over 400 to 500 people. The numbers don’t translate to a real picture if only 1% of their staff post reviews. If you see a consistency of something (i.e., long hours, no pay raises, etc.) in several reviews and you’d like to address it, then be very delicate about how to bring it up. Usually you’ll be asked if you have any questions. At this point you can tell them that you’ve read some of the company reviews and wanted to ask what input they have on them.

Ask around. Check to see if anyone in your network has worked there or knows of someone who has worked there. Ask open-ended questions about his/her experience at the company.

Review the company’s social media including their blog, Facebook. Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest and anything else you can find. Find out which awards they’ve won and and scan through press releases on their website. Check their website for work samples, case studies and anything else you can find.

Obviously, review the job description a couple of times prior to your interviews. List out examples of your experience to discuss which are relevant to the job description.

In sum, we always encourage our candidates to research the company and the individuals conducing the interviews.

 

Do your homework and you’ll impress!

A FEW TIPS ON LETTING GO!

As recruiters, we run across many candidates who are ready to make a move and let go of their current job. Others, however, aren’t quite ready make the jump. One thing we always tell candidates is that you should always leave your options open because you never know when that perfect opportunity could arise. Letting go of things, especially a job, can be tough, so here a few tips to help prepare yourself for this situation.

  1. If you are leaving your options open, know whether you would seriously make a move and mentally prepare for that.
  2. If another opportunity comes along, write out all of the pros and cons from each job to give yourself a better picture of what is most important to you. Is it Salary? Title? Commute? Work/life balance?
  3. Know what type of job you would leave your current position for. Even if you are happy in your current role, put some time into thinking through what types of roles would intrigue you enough to make a move. It will have you prepared if that perfect job happens to make its way across your desk.

These are just a few tips to consider thinking about. I think learning to let go is one of the hardest things anyone can do. Until some recent life changes, letting go of things was a challenge for me. One of the reasons letting things go can be hard is because it can mean change and change can be scary. A favorite quote of mine is by Gail Sheehy: “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t living.” This reads true in many aspects of life not just our jobs. So keep in mind that letting go of things from big (such as your job) to small (such as a bad hair day) can make a huge difference in your life.

TIME IS PRECIOUS

Over the years, I personally never understood the meaning “Time is Precious”.  It wasn’t until I gave birth to my gorgeous daughter my whole perspective changed.  Time is always important, especially now!!!!  We are living in a world where there is hatred, racism, killings, and depression.  One person can’t change the world but one person could help out the world by focusing on their time.  So here are a few different aspects of time:

Important Time: This is the time we use to attend to the things that are of high importance in our lives; like working to earn a living, filling the role as a parent, and partner, paying bills, balancing our budget, attending school, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are all things that usually take up our important time.  Prioritizing these tasks will add value to our lives, and leave us with a feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day.

Interrupted Time: This time involves all of the things creep into our day that are unexpected.  Finding yourself stuck in traffic, missing the bus, or with an increased work load may get in the way of what you need to do.  You need to recognize that some of these time issues are out of your control.  This will help ease stress and lead to a better frame of mind so you can come up with alternate ways to tackle the issue at hand.

Escape Time: These are the moments when we simply need to get away from daily grind, to step back and away from the situation in order to clear heads. Using this time is very important for maintain sanity, especially if you find yourself being short tempered on the job or snapping at others. Simply stepping back to gather our thoughts can lead to making healthier choices.

Relaxing Time: The time we enjoy food , get caught up with what’s going on in the lives of friends, vacationing, watching TV, reading a book, or participating in something you love.  Setting time aside is a MUST.  Taking time to relax will re-energize the mind and body.  We’ll be able to reflect on what we’re grateful for like our jobs, loved ones, and health.  Sometimes we take these things for granted.

Bed Time: This the time everyone looks forward to, especially after a hectic day.  It is important to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep and get your body ready to handle the new day.  We need to use the time we have now, to embrace the good, to love ourselves, and to give life to others by showing we care.

BREAKING THE BLOCK

Writing is an essential part of everyday business life. We all have to do it and we all get the occasional dreaded writer’s block. When I was asked to write this blog, I literally have no idea what to write it on. Then it hit me; write your blog on how to write a blog when you have writer’s block. A stroke of genius if I do say so myself!

One of the key factors to writing a good blog is to get started before the blog is due (my first mistake). This way, you can brainstorm a few good ideas and start the writing process. If you are looking for topics, there are tons of websites out there for appropriate business topics. I found a few ideas from MONK posts:

1. Compile a “best of” list
2. Compare the new vs. the old way of doing business in your industry
3. Review a book dealing with your topic that displays out of the box thinking
4. Take a common issue that many people care about and explain how it relates to your industry
5. Make a donation to a good cause and write about it

Once you make a list of ideas that would be good, possible blog topics, pick one and start to define your big idea. Start adding the details. Knowing what you want your central theses to be and what position you want to take will definitely help your blog take shape. You need to decide if your writing is a persuasive, expository or a narrative. Once that is figured out, sketch out the major details pertaining to your central idea and a lot of the blog will practically write itself! It’s funny how that works, isn’t it?

Lastly, be creative and have fun. Writing, in general, doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, many of these tips can even be used outside of blogging. It is perfectly okay to inject appropriate humor and personal anecdotes into your writing if relevant.

So, go on! Take out those sledge hammers and break up that writer’s block! You never know what ideas you will uncover once you break that wall down!

WORRY… AND ARE THERE REALLY MARTIANS?

It is hard to stop the brain from dissecting events, thinking of what one should have done, what one should not have done, said, etc. This is in both social and work situations.

The motto that I am striving to live by is to not over think. I can think about a situation, but if I start looking back at what I did or said, what I think others are thinking, or what might happen – then I have evolved into worrying. And, worry accomplishes nothing. One of my favorite quotes about worrying is from www.tut.com:

“As far as I can tell, worrying about anything at all is a pretty good indicator that one has begun thinking that their joy and prosperity will somehow hinge on pending physical events, other people, or angry green Martians.

First, joy and prosperity are created within. Second, the events and people of your life can be changed with your thoughts. And third, for the most part, Martians are neither green nor angry.”

I continue learning and practicing each day that happiness is in my control, and worry is a habit that CAN be eliminated. Staying in the present is one of the best ways to control worry – a subject for another blog!

DON’T BE A DEAD FISH

Handshaking is perhaps the most widely recognized of greetings worldwide, in both Western and non-Western societies. While on the surface a handshake appears to be a warm, friendly gesture, this can be a superficial reading. It’s important to recognize the different meanings of handshakes in different situations, and to be able to use them to your advantage.

The history of the handshake dates back to the 5th century B.C. in Greece. It was a symbol of peace, showing that neither person was carrying a weapon. During the Roman era, the handshake was actually more of an arm grab. It involved grabbing each other’s forearms to check that neither man had a knife hidden up his sleeve. Some say that the shaking gesture of the handshake started in Medieval Europe. Knights would shake the hand of others in an attempt to shake loose any hidden weapons.

Today, handshakes are the standard greeting in business and even personal situations. You’re probably not looking for weapons. But there’s still a lot to be learned about the motives and beliefs of others handshake style!

The Palm-Down Shake

When someone shakes your hand and turns their palm down, they want to dominate the interaction.

When you receive a palm-down shake you can move both of your hands back to the Equal Shake. And you could make the decision if you want to work with the other person or not. They are most interested in getting their way!

The Palm-Up Shake

When someone shakes your hand and turns their palm up, they want to be welcoming and pleasing and will most likely do exactly what you want.

When you receive a palm-up shake, you can move it to the Equal Shake position to show that you want to be on even ground. In your dealings with palm-up shakers, make sure that you go for a win-win. They will be easily persuaded to do what you want!

The Equal Shake

When you shake hands and the clasp is vertical, it says that you’re meeting on common ground and want a nice, even interaction. You can easily turn a palm-down or palm-up attempt into an Equal Shake if necessary.

There’s nothing to do about this. It’s what you want!

The Fist Bump

This shows a symbol of power and raising fists together to fight in unity. Its origins are as a secret handshake between soldiers.

If someone offers you their fist, just bump it with yours. It’s more awkward to change course once the fist is offered instead of the palm. Plus, you want to be cool, don’t you?

The Dead Fish Handshake

A limp handshake tells people that you don’t have a backbone and will do anything they want without any argument. If you receive a dead fish handshake, it could indicate that the person or couple is going to be agreeable to your offers.

If you are giving someone else a dead fish handshake, it’s likely you don’t even know it! As a rule of thumb, when you shake another person’s hand, just match their grip and you’ll let them know you mean business.

The Nice Firm Grip

The perfect handshake is firm, but not too firm.

When you get a handshake that matches the firmness of your grip, you know that the other person wants to meet you on common ground. If your grip is less firm, be sure to match theirs (unless you find yourself in the situation below!).

The Bone Cruncher

When you receive a handshake that’s way too hard, you know that the other person is trying to dominate the situation or trying to be someone they’re not.

A handshake like this lets you know who you’re working with and their deep, unconscious motivations. Be careful! They may be friendly on the surface but you’ll know what’s really on their mind.

What’s your style?

 

Resource: What Your Handshake Style Says About You

FINDING “ME” TIME!

Everyone wants a good work-life balance but what about just setting aside time for yourself.  Until recently, the thought of setting aside time for myself between work and family seemed like a impossible joke.  For the most part my routine was get up, get ready, get my daughter ready, go to work, pick my daughter up, cook dinner, play with her, give her a bath, story time and bedtime.  I never had any time for myself though and it didn’t feel possible.  I used to love to read but could not tell you the last time I read until I started setting aside time for myself.

Now when I am talking about setting time aside for yourself, I’m not talking about hours a day or anything absurd.  I learned that finding 15 minutes a day for myself for just my own thoughts or what I want to do is not impossible.  It helps with stress and not feeling like I’m pulled in too many directions.  If you give yourself a “time out” everyday, it will become part of your routine.  And I promise that you will be happier for it.

Here are some 10-15 minute break ideas that I came across that could be helpful: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/21-counter-intuitive-break-ideas-to-boost-your-productivity-at-work.html

AS I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH…

I received my degree in psychology. Most of my classes involved sexuality. If they didn’t, I would find a way to relate the topic. My educational experience with advertising consisted of “Killing Us Softly”, a series of documentaries about the negative repercussions popular advertisements have on women and society. I’m a headstrong feminist with political agenda and have always planned on getting my master’s degree in counseling for abusive survivors.

With all of that, there was no evidence I would start working at a marketing and advertising recruitment firm. I was never too sure what I would do with the interim between my undergraduate degree and graduate studies, but it did not involve sitting in a cubicle, doing grunt work in a field I knew nothing of.

There are no regrets there. While I still argue I have too much personality for cubicle, I do like having a cubicle. While the first few weeks may have been a little rough, I rode the curve (the learning curve that is). I’ve been learning the positions and Googling titles to better understand everything. The ladies here are all really helpful, too. I also have been finding myself moving away from the idea of a counseling degree and more toward consumer psychology and marketing.

WHAT DO I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP?

As a recruiter, most of the candidates I talk to in the course of my day seem to have a pretty good handle on the answer to that question. Most seem to have a path in mind.

But occasionally, I have had some candidates ask me for more advice than I have a right, or am trained, to provide. Once in a while, I will be interviewing a candidate who has been in one kind of work situation for a long time, or worked in one kind of industry or sector and now wants a change. I am not talking about a change to a different company in the same sector or different advertising agency that promises a promotion. I mean a CHANGE. A MASSIVE SHIFT. And they ask my advice. They tell me about what they have done in the past and then they share their passions, the things they have always wanted to do but have not yet done, and then they ask me, what do you think? How can I move from being a marketing manager to being a potter?

And here is where I have to be careful. If a candidate is, perhaps, choosing between two opportunities and wonders which would be the next best step, we, as recruiters could offer up some insights into what might be a good next move for long-term career growth, or we could, perhaps, help weigh the benefits offered by two companies to help the candidate make an informed choice.

But when those larger life choices, BIG CHANGE questions come up, that is where we, as recruiters, have to step out. And that brings me to the idea of Career Counselors. I, personally, happen to be a big believer in seeking out the help of these sorts of professionals, to help you weigh some of these larger questions. If you are looking for a way to explore these LARGE career shifts, life shifts, a good licensed career counselor can be a great way to get some insights. It can also be beneficial to be in career support groups where chatting with others who are in a search mode can be supportive, can inspire, can give you big light bulb ideas.

If you are looking for that SEISMIC SHIFT, consider reaching out to people who are trained to guide you, to help you get those inspired moments, at least as a starting place. Of course, this kind of exploration can also be done with therapists, spiritual leaders, trusted family members. You have to go with what works for you. The path to becoming that potter, or painter or master gardener, or yak farm operator is out there.

Just being in the question of what do I want to do when I grow up is the first place you have to get to and seeking out the people who can help to guide you is a good next step.

What do I want to be when I grow up? I am still trying to figure that out! But it is better than the alternative…

ONWARD AND UPWARD

Promotion. This is the most exciting yet simultaneously the most terrifying word in our professional vernacular. I have recently been promoted, and, truth be told, I am a little afraid. Most of my tasks are different than they were before and a few were added for good measure; I’m learning a whole new job. Although advancement is almost always a good thing in your career, it is still something that needs to be handled with care.

First and foremost, know what you don’t know. When moving into a new position, it goes without saying that there will be new duties and tasks that will be required that you have never done before. Spoiler alert: your boss knows this, too. Although it is human nature not to want to look dumb, especially at our jobs, it is very important to ask questions and raise a hand if you need help. You boss and team want the work done correctly and also want to see you succeed. How else you would expect to learn and grow professionally if you don’t ask questions?

You should be asking about not only the job itself and the process, but also about your boss’ expectations. Joan Lloyd and Associates has outlined a few good questions to consider:

1. What are my new tasks?
2. What is the most important project that you would like me to start with first?
3. Who can I use as a support person ? Who can I ask questions to?
4. Are there any areas that you have a concern about?
5. Here are some areas that I have a concern about…
6. What are my performance expectations over the next 3, 6, 9 and 12 months?

However, asking questions may not enough. You need to retain what you have learned, so take copious notes. Make sure to keep your notes readily available so that you can reference them at any time. If needed, have 2 different notebooks. Keep one for taking notes in the moment when receiving instruction, and one that is neat and organized where you can find things easily.

Lastly, try to be confident. For some (like myself), this is easier said than done. Your boss is confident in you; why shouldn’t you be confident in yourself? After all, there is a reason your boss picked you. Be realistic and know that you are going to make mistakes. Pick your self up, dust yourself off, and try again. Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. And, like my mother says, “If all else fails, fake it until you make it”.

Promotions can be intimidating at first, but are well worth it in the end. You learn new skills and get a chance to showcase what you’re made of. Even though I’m still learning what is expected of me, but I have no doubt that I’ll be just fine.

NEW YEAR, NEW YOU

A new year means New Year’s Resolutions. Taking time over the holidays is a good time to reflect on the last year to see what you could have done better. You can look back and figure out what you’re happy with and what you’re not so happy with. What are you looking to change? Do you want a promotion? Maybe change fields? Ask for a raise?

What steps are needed to obtain these things? Keep yourself organized. Being organized and confident proves to others and yourself that you’re serious about what you wish to change. Don’t be afraid to talk to friends and coworkers about your goals. They can help with strategy or support, just as you can help them. Think of each other as ‘responsibili-buddies’.

Just be aware that you’re going to slip. You may even fail. You may even give up for a day, week, or month. It’s part of the process. You need to accept change isn’t easy. If one or two little bumps in the road is enough to deter you, then maybe you should reassess what you want. We’re all prone to slip up every once in a while. Those moments don’t define us, it’s how we handle it that does. If you want to follow through with new goals, or even old goals, it comes down to you. Be stronger, more educated, more aware. Remember, you miss 100% of the shots you do not take.

LAUREN’S STORY

“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi

This holiday season, Melinda Holm & Associates made a donation to the SAMFund in honor of Lauren Wollenberg, a young cancer survivor and the sister of our very own Lyndsey Wollenberg. SAMFund is a grant program that helps to support young adult cancer survivors by providing financial assistance to help them recover from the monetary impact of receiving treatment. They also provide online resources and education to help survivors truly move forward with their professional, personal and academic goals.

Lauren shared her story with us to show how the SAMFund has made an impact on her life:

On April 1, 2007 I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia at the University of Chicago Hospital. I was able to keep my disease under control with oral chemotherapy drugs (Tyrosine-Kinase Inhibitors) until the day I was told I needed a bone marrow transplant. I was extremely blessed to have my sister, Amy, as my 100% HLA- identical match. I had my bone marrow transplant in October 4, 2010.  I tolerated my transplant well, but I was really feeling the financial burden of my treatment. I was seeing the doctor upwards of 16 times a month and had stacks of prescriptions to fill. I was unable to work and thought to myself, “How am I going to make it?”

I received a call from a research nurse who told me about a grant program called the SAMFund. They provide financial assistance to young adult cancer survivors.  Since I was in the right age group, a cancer survivor, and out of treatment, I was the perfect candidate. I had no idea there was any organization out there like this! The nurse sent me the link to apply on July 6, 2011 at 2:39pm with the deadline at 5pm that evening. I hurried to get the application completed, and I did! It felt like a weight was lifted. It blew my mind to know that some strangers in Boston might help me to pay off a part of my medical debt.

On December 30, 2011, I received a call from Michelle Zeitler. She let me know that my application was accepted and they would pay off $963.00 of my medical debt. I was so relieved! These people who knew nothing about me other than my cancer story and financial challenges helped me in a way I never thought possible. It was one of the best days of my life!

Since then, I have discovered that SamFund does more than just help pay off debt; they have all the resources that any cancer survivor would ever need. They offer great webinars, social media support, and awesome parties to get to know other SAMFund recipients. I feel truly blessed to be part of the SAMFund family! And I’m so grateful to Melinda Holm & Associates for making a donation in my honor! They are giving cancer survivors like myself an opportunity to move forward! #CANCERisntFREE

Please feel free to visit SAMFund’s website to learn more or make a donation.

Warm wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from your friends at Melinda Holm & Associates!

What is Recruiting?

When I started here at Melinda Holm & Associates I had no idea what a recruiter did. I had received calls from recruiters over my career and never even gave them a chance to talk before saying “not interested” and hanging up. I assumed they made calls all day bothering people. My impression was that they’d just waste people’s time trying to sell them on opportunities which would benefit the recruiter more than the candidate. I’ve learned in my time here (after being hung up on a few times) that there are others that see this the same way.

Well, I’ve come to find out I couldn’t have been more wrong. Recruiters tirelessly work at finding the right candidates for their clients. They do their best not to waste the candidates’ time by contacting them for inappropriate positions. This is not an easy task as the careers and lifestyles of candidates change all of the time. There are some times we have a dated resume and information on file. This could lead to candidates being contacted for positions at a different level then where they are currently at. This being said it’s definitely in your best interest to send your resume over as you continue to update it and advance in your career.

Aside from having our candidates who register with us directly or who are referred to us, there is still a lot that goes into finding the right candidate for the position and vice versa. There are many resources recruiters exhaust to find the perfect candidate for very difficult searches. It is not an easy or quick process by any means. There is never down time.

In addition, recruiters are extremely busy presenting the candidates to the clients, following up for feedback, convincing clients to meet candidates, scheduling interviews, negotiating offers and keeping the candidates up to speed on where everything is at in the process. This is a job that truly requires a strong ability to multi-task and willingness to put in a lot of hours.

Overall I’ve learned recruiters are not out to bother people and do what is best for themselves. They really do want to make people happy in their professional lives, both employers and candidates. Feel free to see How to Manage Your Recruiter 101.

So as we have all heard a million times, “never judge a book by its cover.” The next time you receive a call or an email from a recruiter, in my opinion it may be in your best interest to at least hear them out. Sometimes the best opportunities surface when you’re not even looking.