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How Do You Have A More Productive Day? 3 Is The Magic Number

I have to admit that I’ve been a bit unfocused lately. There’s too much to do and not enough time, so it’s hard to figure out where to begin. After a little research (thank you, internet) I found a tool that I’ve been using for the past couple of weeks that’s helped to identify my most important goals each day. It’s the “rule of 3”:

1. Plan 3 outcomes you want to achieve each day, followed by 3 for the week, and 3 for the year.

2. Do this every morning before you do anything else. Don’t wade into the sea of email! You’ll never come back.

3. Check yourself (before you wreck yourself) and see how you did at the end of the week.

Were you realistic about your expectations? I certainly wasn’t. I thought I could get a lot more done. And I also lumped too much together in terms of individual outcomes. Now I’ve learned to be realistic about what my 3 goals are, and to actually block time off in my schedule for them. And when I have that moment of “Oh god, what next? There are too many things so I’ll just flip through my email” I turn to my list and re-focus.

So what? You’re fine with your long list? Well, you don’t have to take my word for it.  The smarties at Harvard also say this sort of thing is a good idea.

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3 Tips for Job Interviews


It’s been a while since my last post. Blame that on a very demanding toddler and some new, exciting stuff happening at Central Park Conservancy.

I’ve been thinking about the job interview. How do you improve your chances once you’ve got your foot in the door? Most job interviews are pretty short and first impressions are set very quickly. In my last post I had a few quick pieces of advice: be on time, bring a resume, and listen. The last one is critical; so many people jump right into talking about themselves before they even learn what the interviewer is looking for. Let’s say you’ve got the basics. What else can you do?

1. Brag. A friend of mine shared this great book: Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, which teaches you to talk yourself up. Like many other women, I have the problem of often downplaying my expertise and skills. When you’re in a situation (like an interview) when you are being asked to share your achievements, you need to be able to pull from an accessible list of anecdotes that allow you to highlight your best qualities and experience. A simple way to do this is to think about your career like it’s a story: what were the challenges? How did you overcome them? If you observe yourself as if you are an omniscient narrator, you may be able to give yourself more credit than you would normally. Write your anecdotes down so you can recount them easily.

2. Ask really thoughtful questions. I hate when someone asks nuts and bolts questions like “When are you making a decision?” or “How much does the position pay?”. It tells me you’re not looking to really understand the role. Here’s a fantastic list of questions from Business Insider that will spark discussion and understanding of the job.

3. Pay attention to your body language. If you haven’t done it yet, have a friend mock interview you and tape it. Watch how you sit and how you gesture. Do you maintain eye contact? Are you fidgeting without knowing it? Is your voice loud or soft? The last time I did this I couldn’t believe how my “resting face” made me look angry. Now, I make an effort to smile slightly during meetings because my neutral face isn’t inviting during a discussion. See more body language tips here.

Anything to add? Tell me in the comments below!

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Six Ways to Improve Your Job Search

My very talented husband is looking for a new job due to restructuring. His company, Fuse, was just recently sold. As he starts to polish off his resume, it reminded me of the advice my father gave me when I graduated and was looking for a job. He told me to read What Color Is Your Parachute. At the core of the book, it’s all about networking and managing your expectations for transition. If you’re looking for a new job, I’d recommend reading it.

While you’re waiting for amazon drone to deliver, here’s some wisdom I’ve rounded up with my perspective as a hiring manager:

1. Tell everyone you’re looking for a job. (If you don’t want your employer to know that you’re looking, then only do this with people you trust—-i.e. not on facebook or by the Keurig machine in the break room at work.) Social media is a obvious. What about sending your resume to friends and relatives via email? You may think that your Aunt doesn’t know anyone in the news world, but you never know who she goes to brunch with (the grandmother of the guy who works at NY1, that’s who).

2. Be clear about what you’re looking for. I can’t help you if you’re simply looking for a job. But if you’re looking for a job as a digital content producer with expertise in social media and are interested in the nonprofit space, then yes, let’s definitely meet because I’m hiring!

3. Find a good fit—for you and for them. There’s nothing worse than someone who thinks they can do or be anything. A resume that lands on my desk that isn’t a good fit for the position is a waste of time for everyone, and indicates that the individual is desperate, or not realistic about what their skills are. So you’ve been in the hospitality industry for the last 5 years but think you are a good candidate for my digital strategy position?

4. Once you get the interview, don’t be stupid. For the love of god, be on time. Bring a copy of your resume. Do a google search and know what’s going on in the news for the company, the industry, etc. Browse their website and social media. Listen to the interviewer.

5. Say thanks. Send a follow up, right away. Don’t just do the cursory thank you note. If you’ve listened and asked questions during the interview, you should understand the problems they are facing so that you can tell them how you would approach solving them in your thoughtful follow up, which I do read, carefully, I might add.

6. Ask why not. I once interviewed someone who didn’t get the job but had the wisdom to ask why not. I really appreciated that she wanted to know what she could do better next time. If you’ve made it to a second round and don’t get the position, ask why. It may help you to fix a flaw next time round. (FYI she was qualified but didn’t seem passionate about our work. See #3.)

If this all seems obvious, then good! Tell me what you’ve learned during your job search that was successful in the comments below.

Other resources:

* This amazing article about organizing your search from HBR. Must read.

* Don’t write a cover letter, write a pain letter.

* More on writing a simple cover letter. I barely read the ones I get because they’re too long and there’s no time. The one I liked the most last week had bullets because it made it easier to read, but that’s just me.

And by the way, my husband’s linkedin is here. He’s a writer with a background in print and online journalism, as well as digital strategy. He’s funny and cute. Send any leads his way, please!

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Author Brigid Schulte says companies should stop rewarding overworked employees and focus on productivity instead.

At one company, staying late at the office is actually viewed as a sign of inefficiency and can result in dismissal. “[This company says] if you cannot figure out how to do your job in 40 hours, we will fire you.”

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(via hopehelen)