Commuting to work is the worst. And then you get there and the day is full of meetings, interruptions and distractions. Meaning that you have to work extra late or take your work home to get it all done. That means you are devoting a good 10-12 hours per day to your work. At least.
But what if you love your job? And love the team, company and all that goes with it? You don’t want to leave. You just want to try and find some semblance of work/life balance.
The flexibility to work a day or two from home per week is the answer.
And luckily there are many companies and organizations that have jumped on board and are fully supportive. Unfortunately though, there are just as many that are nervous, suspicious and fearful of this trend.
If you are working with one of the companies, it may feel like all hope is lost, but there is a way to build your case and present a plan to convince them, all in 5 easy steps:
1. Tell them what you want.
Broach the subject with your boss. This can be done during an annual review, a weekly meeting or casually over lunch. If your commute was double then normal, the weather was horrible, or you have a lot of focused worked that needs to get done, these are all great icebreakers to start the conversation. Otherwise, just bring it up as something that is important to you.
The point is, they need to know that you want this. You never know, maybe they are open to it but never suggested it (I’ve seen this happen before!). More than likely though, you’ll hear a lot of the reasons why it just doesn’t work. This is GREAT! This gives you the information you need to build your “sales” pitch.
2. Overcome the Objections
What are their objections, list them all out and research ways that these just don’t fit in for you and arm yourself with information.
If productivity is a concern, then track your time. Especially look at time when you need to be focused on a task making sure you track your interruptions and distractions.
If trust in an issue, try to find out why that is an issue by asking some probing questions and inquiring about what you could do to prove your reliability.
If presence is an assumed necessity, think practically about that. Is it really? There are obviously some professions where you do need to be present and accounted for. But there are many roles where management just assumes you need to be there. Think about how if you are needed and you are at home, how would you address this?
If optics is an objection, how are you going to ensure everyone sees your work week as a full week instead of just a few days?
3. Create Your Proposal
First off, what is your work from home plan? How many days a week were you thinking? I would suggest to begin with 1 day/week or even every other week to start. I also recommend steering clear from Mondays and Fridays to address those optics objections.
What kind of research can you use to back up your claim, there are some great benefits listed in this article. Just a few key pieces that really hone in on their concerns.
Lastly, think of their objections. The best way to deal with objections is to validate them, reframe them and then justify the reframe. Be well prepared for a lengthy discussion about them.
4. Deliver The Pitch
Go in with a clear and concise proposal – essentially telling your manager what you want, why you want it, and how it benefits the company. Bring your answers to those objections and showcase your willingness to be flexible. It is okay to arm yourself with some quantifiable evidence about increased productivity with a work from home schedule but don’t overwhelm them, this isn’t a debate!
When you are having the discussion, be open to proposing a trial run, a probationary period if you will. This will give them an out clause which they may feel more comfortable with.
Ask your boss if they would like you to provide a written proposal in case they need to present it to the Executive Team. And then give them time.
5. Become a Work From Home Superstar
Once you are approved, talk with our boss to figure out the communication plan. Did they want you to touch base with them the day before to go over your plan, cc’d on all emails and/or to receive an email at the end of the day outlining what you accomplished? It may be annoying at first, but once you prove yourself I’m sure these things will go away.
Make sure you spend the first few months practically chained to your desk at home so that they can reach you at any time. It only takes once during this crucial time for them to change their minds.
I also recommend saving any focused work you can to be completed that day, so that it is in fact a super productive day.
Soon, you will be well on your way. And you could even ask for a 2nd day to add.
It is scary to ask for something so big, but lean into that discomfort but the result is working in a job you love, with a team you adore and a company you respect all while having work/life balance.
Are you still clinging to the old fashioned resume rules? Read on as I rewrite the olden days rules to fit this modern world of job hunting!
I remember when I first learned to write a resume there were a few "rules" I was taught that I must adhere to in order to secure that interview - but I can tell you after screening tens of thousands of resumes over the past 15 years that many of those "rules" are completely false. And the worst thing is that I still see them recommended all the time now. I want to use the experience I’ve gained plus the knowledge gained from industry professionals to reframe these old fashioned rules to fit into our modern day.
Each year brings new updates and changes, so I'm revisiting this article to add some 2019 updates!
1. Resume Length
The standard for so long now is 1-2 pages, but that standard was created back in the day when a recruiter or hiring manager had to go through paper resumes. But now? Most resumes are only looked at online so scrolling through the pages is nothing. That's not to say you should submit a 10 page resume if you are a new grad! But it does give you a little more flexibility. I think of it in terms of level of career. If you are new to your career then stick to that 1-2 pages, if you are experienced you can go up to 2-3 pages, and if you are an executive or seasoned professional than 3-5 pages is completely acceptable and in fact would be preferred.
The key here is to make sure the resume gives a good picture of who you are and how you match the job requirements - you don’t want it to be too short (or too long) where that message is lost.
2019 Update: according to a large Randstad recruiter survey, 71% of recruiters want to see a resume that reflects the person's career.
2. Need a strong "Objective" statement
Now I'm not opposed to the objective statement, but 80% of hiring managers or recruiters do not read the objective or professional statement, me included. When I’m advising clients I advise them to include a shot succinct and tailored objective statement giving an overview of who they are as a professional. What I like about the objective is it gives the resume writer a focus to grow upon. To be honest thought, the main reason I like it? It isn't for the content but more for the layout and look of the resume!
The key here is to include one that makes sense for who you are and what job you are applying to but don’t spend more than a minute or two on it!
2019 Update: The formatting aesthetics plus giving a great overview of who you are still the main reasons why you should include this!
3. Resume must be black and white.
This is another rule from the old fashioned job search era. But now, a little bit of colour goes a long way in getting your resume noticed, especially if the role is creative or there is anything in the posting about looking for innovative, thinking outside of the box, or creative problem solving. There are a couple of ways I've seen color used right - in the formatting (blue lines, coloured headers) or in the content (name, position titles, company titles in colour).
The key is to use the colour sparingly and in an intentional way to ensure it, and therefore you, will really pop!
2019 Update: Strategic use of colour is the way to go!
4. Two Resume Types - Reverse Chronological or Skills Based/Functional
There is only one choice - the reverse chronological. I have a strong dislike for the Skills Based/Functional and toss it aside when one comes across my desk - a sentiment shared by many hiring managers and recruiters. We typically spend 10 seconds for an initial review of a resume looking at the following:
The key here is simple, use the reverse chronological resume format! If you have gaps of employment, don’t worry. If you work experience doesn’t contain your relevant experience, there are other ways around that (posts for another day!)
2019 Update: this will never change UNLESS you are in Academia.
5. Your Resume gets you the Interview
Yes, in some cases you resume alone does get you the interview. But in this modern age of job hunting chances are there are some other factors at play. A lot of hiring managers and recruiters check out your social media accounts. So please check your Facebook - what is the privacy, do you have a "professional" profile pic and cover photo (make sure they are appropriate, something you be comfortable with your grandmother seeing!), same with your Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat feeds. If you have a lot of inappropriate posts then make your feeds private.
Also update that LinkedIn! Include a really nice photograph of yourself, just yourself, no one else. Most importantly, make sure it lines up with your resume! I have gotten a resume that fit exactly what I was looking for then went to their LinkedIn only to find a completely different story, that raised a major red flag. Needless to say those people do not get the interview.
Don't forget the leg work you did before applying, search LinkedIn to see who you may think the hiring manager is and if they are in your network maybe have someone introduce you to them. If this is a targeted company you have been interested in then I hope you have already made some contacts with the hiring managers so reach back out with a separate email to your application with your resume reminding them on your initial conversation. In these cases it is your networking that gets you the job interview!
The key here is to take your job search seriously. When clients and I work together to develop their job search strategy, I make sure to include the social media updates and the many different forms of networking. I encourage you to do the same, that leg work goes a long way in securing you those coveted interviews!
Here are some additional rules for you to follow for a current and modern resume.
1. Font Choice
Back in the day Times New Roman reigned supreme on all documents including the Resume. Well, that is no longer the case! In fact using Times New Roman can come across as dated. I would pick a font that you love and that are drawn to (but not Comic Sans or the like). Great fonts are Tahoma, Calibri, and Century Gothic.
Add in some interesting formatting to your resume. Something like a box, lines or colour. Something to add some visual interest.
3. Content Updates
First off, take out "references available upon request", that is to be expected and it takes unnecessary space.
Secondly, your resume should not read like a job description! Your bullet points should not be 1 liners that are really vague, craft a sentence that paints a picture of what you did.
Speaking of bullet points - a lot of the narrative is to have all accomplishments listed in your resume. However, if you are applying for a task based role we may be missing out on some keywords. Plus, a recruiter or hiring manager may not see the fit that easily, and our goal is to make it as easy as possible for them. Instead include both (with a KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS heading).
Leveraging LinkedIn for your career is one of the smartest things you can do and one that doesn’t even take up much of your time. Optimizing it to enable great job opportunities to come to you is a sure fire way for you to take control of your career. If you are actively job searching, it outsources some of that search, making your job search life just a little bit easier.
When I’m talking about leveraging and optimizing, I’m talking about setting up your LinkedIn profile so that you can be found specifically by recruiters. When a company begins a new search, 87% of recruiters turn to LinkedIn when they are seeking new talent to fill that opportunity. I was one of those 87%, I almost exclusively used LinkedIn throughout my 15 years of recruitment experience so I know a thing or two about what goes through a recruiters mind when they are hunting for that perfect candidate, knowledge that you can use to make sure your profile is all set.
1. Complete Your Profile
LinkedIn does have an algorithm and that algorithm is kinder to profiles that are 100% filled out, or received the All Star Badge. This will bias the search engine in your favour.
This is the number one thing you can do to get someone to click on your profile and send you a message, in fact LinkedIn’s stats show that you can get 9x more connection requests, 21x more profile views and 36x more messages
The photo doesn’t have to be a head-shot, but it does have to be professional.
3. Name, Headline & Location
When a recruiter does a search, the results show up with page after page of names, headlines and locations.
Most of us recruiters are inherently lazy, something I say all the time. But honestly we are lazy because it isn’t uncommon for the search results to be in the hundreds if not thousands, which means we have to be lazy as a way to be highly efficient with our time. So we only click on the profiles that are in line with what we are looking for:
Recruiters use search strings to find talent, search strings full of key words. That means when you are thinking about your profile don’t just fill it out from the perspective of what you do, also think of it from the perspective of what you want to do! Take a look at 3-5 jobs that are reflective of the industries, companies and jobs you would be interested in. Highlight the keywords that are common and fill out your profile with them.
A great place to start is your summary. I always include a list of skills and competencies in a client’s summary, a recruiter may never see that list (they would have to click “see more” and remember – lazy and no time) but the search engine sees them!
Next, make sure your work experience is up to date and actually filled in with information. It is recommended that you don’t copy and paste your resume but instead make your LinkedIn profile reflective of your resume. Use the keywords where relevant.
Lastly, use the Skills section. The great thing about this section is when you click to add more you’ll get some suggestions from LinkedIn. Use these suggestions! These are identified based on search strings used by people to find individuals like yourself, and chances are those people are recruiters! Use all 50 to get the biggest bang for your buck with this section.
5. Your Network
You can have the perfect profile but if you don’t have enough connections all that work would be for naught. As I have discussed in the past, your goal is to be a 3rd degree connection with most everyone within your industry and/or region. That 500 number is still the magic one, so working towards it is key!
6. Be Active
LinkedIn’s algorithm takes into account more than just a good profile, it now takes into account user activity and is kinder to those who log in often and engages on their platform. When you wake up in the morning, do you do a quick review of all your favourite social media platforms? Well I would add LinkedIn to that list and maybe like (or comment or share) a post each time you log in. 5 minutes of your time MAX.
7. Turn On Open to Career Opportunities
Let recruiters know you are open to hearing about new jobs.
Curious to know if it is working? There are a few things you can do. In your dashboard, look at your search appearances and your profile views numbers, they should rise after this work.
Don’t want to wait? Test it out yourself. Take a look at a job you are interested in, if you were trying to find a candidate to fill this role what sort of search strings would you use? Type them in, narrow down by location and see if you show up on one of the first few pages?
Feeling lost? I can help with that, schedule a strategy call to talk more about it.
Sara Curto, Career Management Specialist. Working with you towards Career and Job Search Success.
Dream Career Planner
Click HERE to download