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Career and Interview Tips

“What are Your Salary Expectations?” - The Best Answers

Level Up 90 Founder Anica John Shares Her Tips (And Scripts) For Getting It Right

When I'm interviewing for a job, there are very few questions that trip me up. Hit me with, "Tell me about a time that you failed at work," or, "If you were a fruit what fruit would you be," and I'm dynamite. (I'd be an avocado, in case you were wondering.)

But ask me, "What are your salary expectations?" and my head starts to spin, equal parts anxious and annoyed.

The anxiety:

  • "What if I ask for too little? Or too much? Or seem too 'difficult' if I refuse to answer? What if I say the wrong thing and they reject me before they've even gotten to know me as a candidate?"

The annoyance:

  • "Surely they know what fair compensation in this role would look like. What should my expectations have to do with it? Why can't they just pay me what I'm worth?!"
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Career and Interview Tips

Are Jeans Business Casual For Women? One Of Life's Mysteries Revealed (Photos)

The dos and don'ts of denim in the workplace

I still remember what I wore on the first day of my first-ever internship: black dress pants, cute flats, and a tailored blouse. As I waited in the lobby to meet my boss, the other interns shuffled in. The guys were all rocking khakis and button downs (surprise, surprise), and my lone female counterpart was wearing a tailored blouse, cute flats, and to my horror, black jeans. I had a brief panic attack on her behalf - the welcome email from HR had clearly said we should all be dressed business casual.

Surely jeans didn't qualify… or did they?

I learned a major lesson that day: dress codes like business casual are highly context dependent.

So, are jeans appropriate business casual attire or not?

The short answer is they can be. A lot has changed since my internship nearly 10 years ago. American workplaces continue to relax their dress codes, and jeans (and even leggings) at the office are becoming more and more common. That said, whether or not you should rock denim depends on 1) the situation, i.e. where you work and the occasion and 2) the type of jeans and how you wear them. (And if all this talk about dress codes and jeans has you going nuts, check out these remote jobs where you're free to wear shorts, jeans, or no pants at all!)

When Not To Wear Jeans?

Interviews, first days, or if you work in an industry where the men dress like this:

Photo Credit: @midtownuniform(Looking at you, finance and consulting)

When To Wear Jeans?

If most people (not just the tech team) are dressed like this:

If you're dealing with a startup or tech company known for their less-than-business-casual attire, then jeans might be exactly the right choice for your interview/first day. That said, it still doesn't hurt to look a bit nicer by opting for casual slacks and a fitted top. Just because your interviewer's rocking a hoodie and a beard doesn't mean you have to...

Still not sure what your (potential) employer considers business casual?

If you're on the fence, go with a skirt or slacks so you don't have to wonder if you've done business casual right; you can hide your nerves behind a killer outfit. And let's be honest - a pair of tailored but loose fitting trousers are way more comfortable than suffocating skinny jeans anyway.

When Else Can You Wear Jeans?

Just about any other time!

Outside of the aforementioned industries and situations, there's no reason you can't incorporate jeans in your business casual rotation. The key, however, is to continue looking professional while you do.

Follow these tips to master the art of business casual denim:

1. Dress them up, not down - Balance casual bottoms with dressier tops and accessories, or pair your jeans with a blazer to create a crisp, professional look. A pair of heels or dressy flats can also help ensure your jeans don't look too casual.

Photo Credit: Ann Taylor

2. Keep it neat - Make sure your jeans are free of any rips or tears (even the intentional ones), and steer clear of bleached or heavily faded looks.

Photo Credit: Levi's

3. Find your fit - Unfortunately, as women, we're constantly playing Goldie Lox with our clothes - not too loose or too tight… just right. The same is true with jeans in the workplace. You want them to be fitted and flattering, but not so tight as to be uncomfortable or impractical (as someone who once ripped her pants wide open while squatting to lift a box in the office, trust me on this).

*Quick Tip* - when you're trying on jeans (or any clothes for the office), don't just walk around - sit down! If you feel your butt hanging out, go for a different pair. After all, you'll likely be seated most of the day and you don't want to be constantly worrying that your underwear's exposed.

4. Go dark - As a general rule, darker blue jeans look much more polished than light ones. And some black jeans are nearly indistinguishable from slacks.

Photo Credit: Levi's


Photo Credit: Ann Taylor

Wrapping It Up

So, should my coworker have shown up in jeans on day one? Probably not. Was it the end of the world because she did? Definitely not. They were black, professional looking jeans and she clearly had put effort into her appearance.

As the definition of business casual continues to evolve and companies disregard business casual altogether in favor a more laid-back vibe, the most important thing is that you continue to feel comfortable. Whether that means blending in or standing out, dressing up or dressing down, make sure that you like how you look and feel good about yourself. Because while it's true that when you look good, you feel good, it's also true that when you feel good, you look good.

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And again, if office dress codes have you stressed out, consider these remote jobs where you can wear whatever kind of pants you want, or none at all!

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Career and Interview Tips

Remote Work vs. Telecommuting: Surefire Ways To Tell The Difference

Quick tips on what to look out for.

As an expat in Buenos Aires, who until very recently was being paid in Argentine pesos, my salary nearly halved when Argentina's currency plummeted this August. Facing my financial reality like the fiscally responsible millennial I am, I was worried I might have to move back to the U.S. and leave the city I've come to love. But then a friend suggested a seemingly perfect solution to my dilemma: working remotely. I could continue living in Argentina while working for an American company… and start getting paid in sweet, stable U.S. dollars.


media3.giphy.com


As I began searching for my ideal remote gig, I quickly discovered that not all jobs advertised as remote actually are (luckily my new role as a content marketing associate at PowerToFly is). To my frustration, I realized I didn't qualify for many "remote" jobs because I wasn't located in a particular part of the U.S. Why would companies offer the flexibility to work outside the office and then impose these restrictions?

So I did some digging, and discovered that those companies were actually looking for telecommuters. While many people consider telecommuting and remote work to be synonymous (and oftentimes they are used interchangeably, to the confusion of many, myself included), there is actually an important difference in meaning.

Remote Work vs. Telecommuting

*check out this explanation of the Nexus law if you'd like to learn more

Still confused? Let's look at two examples:

Telecommuting Example

Although Dell labels this job as remote, they clarify that you must reside in the DC area. Why? The position is, "Home Office Based with travel in the Washington DC Metro Area."

Dell mentions the location restriction in the headline for the job, but it would be clearer if they labeled the job as telecommuting instead of remote.


media3.giphy.com

Remote Example

A truly remote gig! No location restrictions are mentioned - actually, the post even mentions that the whole team is remote (a great sign that you'll be well-integrated as a remote team member, and not missing out on any impromptu in-person meetings).

Whether you're an employer or a job seeker, the key is to know what you're looking for and strategize accordingly.

Employers:

  • Do you want to cast a truly global net in your search? If so, label your job opportunity as remote and make it clear that it doesn't matter where the applicant is based.
  • Alternatively, if you're only looking for workers in certain regions, label your job as telecommuting and specify the exact restrictions in your post!

Job seekers:

  • Do you want a truly remote job that gives you the flexibility to work from the beaches of Thailand or the comfort of your bedroom? If so, be sure you're looking at remote jobs that don't have any listed restrictions.
  • Or would you rather find a job that offers you the flexibility to work from home, with the option to come into the office occasionally and physically interact with your team? If so, you may want to gear your search towards telecommuting gigs.
  • Regardless of whether you're looking for a remote or telecommuting gig, consider using both terms in your search in order to maximize your chances of finding what you're looking for. In spite of the growth of telecommuting itself (FlexJobs' 2017 State of Telecommuting report stated that nine million people work from "home" at least half of the time, a substantial increase from 1.8 million in 2005), a quick Google search reveals that telecommuting jobs returns 19,600,000 results compared to 546,000,000 for remote jobs.This may be due to the fact that the term telecommuting often evokes images of car phones and oversized blazers… which makes sense, given that the term was first popularized in 1980. Many younger workers who technically would be considered telecommuters prefer to use the term remote worker because it sounds more modern, and employers will often categorize jobs as remote to appeal to a wider base of candidates.

So, is telecommuting just an old-fashioned way to say remote work?

Telecommuting might sound like an antiquated term, but its meaning is distinct from that of remote work, and employers as well as job seekers should be aware of the difference.

That said, whatever type of flexible job you're looking for, always do your due-diligence. If you're a job seeker and you're not sure whether the "remote" job you just found will give you the flexibility to work from your current home-base in Vietnam, ask for clarification. After all, the key to success in any out-of-office job is good communication.

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Career and Interview Tips

How The​ ‘Tell Me About Yourself' Question Can Set You Apart

By Carroll Welch - Originally posted on iRelaunch

No matter how it's worded or where you hear it, if you're relaunching, you'll be asked by someone to tell about yourself. It may be at a barbecue, an informational interview, a college reunion, a screening interview or a conference. Depending on the context, this question could be asked as:

  • What should I know about you?
  • What's your background?
  • How can I help you today?
  • Do you work outside the home?
  • Tell me in your own words, who is [your name]?
  • Tell me about yourself.

Whether formally or casually asked, 'Tell me about yourself' is an opportunity. When you have an articulate, confidently delivered response that takes into account what the listener wants to know, you can distinguish yourself and make a positive impression.

Here are three points to help you prepare. (For convenience sake, all forms of Tell Me About Yourself will be referred to as TMAY.)

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1. Prepare. Don't wing this. Your response to TMAY is an important part of how you market yourself, just as your resume and Linked In profile are. It's hard to come up with a good response to this deceptively difficult question on the fly. By preparing bullet points in advance that you've committed to memory and can tweak and integrate into conversations as appropriate, you'll be ready.

2. Consider Your Audience. What a prospective employer wants to know about you is not the same as what your best friend's spouse wants to know at the neighborhood holiday party. Don't reflexively tell the person what you want to tell them. Instead, think about what they might want to know and make it part of your response.

  • Strengths. For job interviews, make sure that the beginning of your response includes 2-3 key features about you that would be compelling to that employer. Here's an example:

Q. Tell me about yourself.

A. I'm a career relauncher and project manager with 10 years of experience in pharmaceutical marketing. I've always loved project management work because I can use my excellent organizational and technological skills to make sure that all the moving parts of a project sync. During my 7 year career break, I became a trustee for my local public library and chaired our technology committee so I've been able to continue to use and hone those skills. Also, I was a four year DI college athlete, and when I worked at Rose & Whitney as a project manager, I was consistently recognized for my strong team orientation, and how I coordinated and communicated well with all team members, regardless of seniority.

  • Relauncher Status. It may be okay in some circumstances to explain that you're exploring, researching or considering more than one relaunch career path. Usually, this will likely be in a social or casual situation or in informational interviews, but not in job interviews. An example of how to explain your 'undecided' status as part of a TMAY response to a networking or social contact who might be able to help you is:

I'm a relauncher and before my 10 year career break, I practiced as a health law attorney at a large law firm for 5 years. I'm planning to return to work as a practicing attorney. I'm currently exploring either a path to a hospital legal department position or practicing elder law at a small firm. I've always been interested in health care and was pre-med in college. I became interested in elder law when I helped my parents navigate some challenging long term care, Medicare and estate planning issues.

  • No Chronologies. Your response to TMAY should never be a chronological story that starts with where you were born or what you did after grad school. Instead, it should highlight who you are now and what your strengths, 'value adds' and/or career relaunch plans are.
  • Mind the Time. Your TMAY response should be between 30 seconds and 90 seconds long -- at the most. You'll lose your listener's interest and attention after that.
  • Fluid Not Static. Your TMAY response will change over time, as your goals and targets do. Check in on your TMAY response periodically to be sure that it's still doing the job of conveying an accurate picture of you.

3. Practice Delivering with Confidence. Your listener in some cases may remember how you delivered your TMAY response more than what you've actually said! Practice with a friend, in front of a mirror and/or with the recording feature on your phone. If you're not feeling particularly confident about your TMAY response at first, pretend! With repeated delivery, you'll get better.

Many job searchers and relaunchers flounder when asked to tell about themselves. By nailing this question and making it a positive part of how you market yourself, you'll become more memorable and compelling as a relaunch candidate.

This article originally appeared on the iRelaunch blog. iRelaunch is the pioneering company in the career re-entry space with a global community of over 65,000 individuals who are in all stages of returning to work after a career break. We also work directly with more than 55 blue chip companies to create career re-entry programs. Sign up to learn more about how we can help you return to a rewarding career.

Career and Interview Tips

Diversity In The Workplace Benefits: 5 Studies To Take To Your Boss

Recently, a recruiting manager at one of the world's largest companies told my team he was struggling to build a case for investing in more diversity-focused initiatives. His employees were questioning why their company would be spending money on diversity recruiting campaigns, including events, where women and people of color could hear why the company should be considered an inclusive place to work.

I was shocked. It's 2018. Homogeneous teams are not only bad for business and the economy as a whole, but diverse teams literally strengthen profits and innovation within workplaces.

Study after study has proven this.

Then it dawned on me that so many people are ill-equipped to make a case for the benefits of diversity in the workplace.

Don't worry. What follows is a quick guide for how to make the case. It includes research from Harvard, McKinsey, Gallup, and peer reviewed studies for you to lay out how your business could be reaching new levels of productivity, profitability, and long-term enhanced recruiting outcomes if diversity were to become a priority. Take this to your boss, skeptical colleagues, and even your uncle who argues that his male-dominated workplace doesn't need to change.

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1. Diverse Teams Produce Financial Returns 33% Higher Than The Industry Mean  

A 2017 McKinsey Study used a data set of 1,000 companies to determine that profitability and long-term valuation increased dramatically when teams were diverse.

Say this to your boss and team members:

  • This McKinsey study proves that returns rise when you have people working at your company who represent the vast array of customers you're trying to reach.

2. Gender Diversity Could Grow The US Economy By 5%. 

Source: Building Inclusive Economies

The IMF showed that closing the gender gap in labor force participation in the United States could boost GDP by an estimated 5 percent.

Say this to your boss or team members:

  • When women have higher paying jobs, they create multiplier effects for their communities because they reinvest more than men do (look at the studies) into the health, nutrition, and education of their children.
  • It's called "womenomics" and instituting it literally saved Japan from a recession when its workforce was aging out.

3. Harvard: When There Are More Women On A Team, Collective Intelligence Rises 

Giphy

This Harvard Business Review study says it all:

"There's little correlation between a group's collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises."

Say this to your boss or team members:

  • Many studies show women score higher on social sensitivity tests. That means they share feedback and learn from customer cues, creating stronger products and financial returns.

4. Gender Diverse Teams Are Radically More Innovative Over A Two-Year Period  

Giphy

"In a study published in Innovation: Management, Policy & Practice, the authors analyzed levels of gender diversity in research and development teams from 4,277 companies in Spain. Using statistical models, they found that companies with more women were more likely to introduce radical new innovations into the market over a two-year period."

Say this to your boss or team members:

  • There's a reason why women, immigrants and people of color have propelled American innovation and started our most successful companies. They see windows of opportunity and products to modify that traditionally white all-male groups don't see.

5. Diverse Team Members Bring In More Diverse Team Members 

Giphy

Stacy Brown-Philpot, the CEO of TaskRabbit, spoke about the problem of not recruiting early for diversity at Google. When she joined Google they had about 1,000 employees. "It took me two and a half years to look around and realize there weren't a lot of people like me. So [my colleague] David Drummond and I…put together a group. It was really late. I think that's part of the challenge [at Google]." Brown-Philpot's story is backed up by a study that shows the cumulative effects of having the same people interact with each other over time.

Say this to your boss or team members:

  • Investing in diversity recruiting now will pay dividends. Diverse team members will help draw in more candidates from personal networks and we can speak truthfully that we cared about diversity - and all of its benefits - from day one.

How To Actually Diversify Your Workplace 

As made clear by the Google example, if you've waited years to make diversity in your workplace a priority, then you have a challenge ahead of you. It gets harder to diversify teams if you wait too long. But don't fret, you can still turn it around.

Here are a few quick tips:

  • Ensure you have an environment diverse candidates want to join. Survey your workplace anonymously to ask what needs to be done to make it more inclusive.
  • Throw an event, and partner with a diversity-focused organization like PowerToFly to run the invite list, programming, and follow-up so people feel engaged and heard.
  • Set goals that are realistic and look at how you're getting there. Often the simple things matter most: are you responding to diversity candidates and are you making sure they are interviewed by panels that aren't all white and male?

For more tips, check out this piece I wrote for The New York Times that highlights simple ways to ultimately employ more women and diverse candidates

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