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5 Tips to Ace Your Next Phone Interview

An interview by phone may not seem as intimidating as one in-person, but it’s likely just as important — prospective employers often use these calls to determine which candidates are best suited for a face-to-face conversation.

Check out our list of 5 things you should do to ace your next phone interview.

 

Keep It Professional.

You may not always know which companies use phone interviews, so it’s best to be prepared for them as soon as you start applying. Make sure your voicemail greeting is appropriate, professional and clearly lists your full name. Answer unknown numbers with a similarly appropriate greeting stating your full name in case a company calls before sending an email.

 

Choose a Quiet, Distraction Free Area.

Most phone interviews are scheduled ahead of time through a phone call or email. Take advantage of this by setting time aside in your schedule to prepare and find a quiet, distraction-free spot for the interview. If you’re going to be answering the call at home, make sure to inform any roommates or family members not to disturb you until you’re finished.

 

Prepare Ahead of Time.

It’s easy to assume that a phone interview isn’t as important as an in-person interview, but just because you’re not meeting face-to-face doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be as prepared. Research the company beforehand, have questions ready for the interviewer and deliver your responses in a professional, concise manner. Phone interviews usually determine whether or not you’ll be invited to interview on-site, so a great first impression is vital.

 

Talk Slowly and Clearly.

During phone interviews, your interviewer will be focused only on what you say and how you say it, so things like clarity and tone of voice are especially important. Practice answering questions with a friend before the interview so you don’t end up talking too quickly because you’re nervous. To avoid trailing off at the end of your answers, summarize each response with a simple and concise sentence.

 

Keep Your Résumé and Notes Nearby.

One of the advantages of a phone interview is that you’re able to look at your résumé whenever you need to. Keep it in front of you as you answer questions so you can reference any major projects you’ve worked on, or important dates that you’re asked about. You should also keep notes of other accomplishments not listed in your résumé and a copy of the job description in front of you to make sure your answers are relevant to the job.

By Priscilla Aceves

6 Tips to Master Networking

Understanding how to properly network with others is crucial to expand your connections and create a system of valuable contacts. But the idea of standing around talking to others about yourself can seem overwhelming.

Check out our six tips below on how you should actually approach networking, and what you can do to make the most of it.

 

Build Relationships – Not Just Contacts

While networking properly can be extremely valuable for your career, focusing on what you can get out of a conversation will make the process feel forced and unnatural. Instead, start each conversation by asking others about themselves, and take genuine interest in their responses. Keep in mind that networking isn’t simply about collecting contacts, but about building relationships that can benefit both parties.

 

Go Beyond Networking Events

If you only network during networking events, you could be missing out on many opportunities to meet new people in your industry. Expand your network by signing up for conferences and workshops in your field, going out for lunch with people in different organizations and attending alumni mixers at your alma mater. Another easy way to find new connections? Volunteer to be a speaker at a class or seminar. People will usually come up to introduce themselves after you’ve spoken.

 

Quality Over Quantity

While you should work the room during networking events, don’t feel pressured to meet every single person in attendance. Focus on building genuine connections with several people rather than having superficial encounters with everyone. When you are ready to exit a conversation, do so gracefully and by maintaining eye contact so it won’t look like you’re in a rush to move on.

 

Take Notes

Meeting a lot of different people during one event can be overwhelming. To avoid blurring all the names and information of the people you meet, take notes about each person as soon as the event has ended. Jot down topics you discussed, things you have in common and when you might meet up in the future on the back of people’s business cards as a simple way to refresh your memory.

 

Diversify Your Contacts

A great business network shouldn’t only include people from your organization and career level, but also people from other industries and ahead or behind you in their trajectory. Be open to meet people who you may not seem to have much in common with. You never know when your paths could cross again, or if they could connect you with someone else.

 

Use Social Media

A simple way to keep the conversation going once a networking event has ended is to use social media to connect with the people you met. Tag others in your event-related posts and engage with their social media accounts. While official inquiries should be sent through email, social media can be a great tool to stay on people’s radar. Just make sure your social media profiles are work appropriate! (For tips on how to clean up your social media presence, check out our list of 9 Ways Not to Embarrass Yourself Online.)

By Priscilla Aceves

 

7 Mid-Year Resolutions to End 2017 Right

We’re midway through the year, and chances are, most New Year’s resolutions have already been abandoned.

But just because you haven’t accomplished at all your 2017 goals just yet doesn’t mean it’s time to throw them all out until next year.

Believe it or not, now is the perfect time to go back to your New Year resolutions and develop a plan to finish 2017 off even stronger. Here are a few of our ideas to help you gain some newfound motivation to reach all your #2017goals.

 

Be More Specific.

Broad resolutions like “lose weight” or “improve professionally” often fail because they aren’t specific enough to keep you focused. Revisit any general New Year’s resolutions you haven’t kept since January by breaking them down into realistic and specific action steps, then add each one into your schedule.

 

Reevaluate Your Goals.

Now that you’ve gone through six months of trying to keep your 2017 resolutions, you should have a pretty good idea of why they are or aren’t working. Go back to your original list and adapt your goals to the struggles you encountered along the way. Did you find exercising in the morning wasn’t the best fit for your schedule? Switch to evenings to motivate yourself to adopt a health lifestyle. Didn’t manage to read all the books on your list? Try audiobooks for the commute to work/school. Tailoring your resolutions to what you know you can or can’t handle will help make them more realistic goals for the remainder of the year.

 

Get Inspired.

Sometimes all we need to get back on track with our goals is a healthy dose of motivation. Pick up an inspirational memoir from someone who accomplished something you admire, or sit down for coffee with someone who has recently succeeded at a major goal. Hearing about someone else’s experience will provide you with the determination to go after your dreams and remind you that it’s possible to improve your life for the better.

 

Take it Month by Month.

New Year’s resolutions are often overwhelming because we feel pressured to make so many of them at the same time. Try a more balanced approach for the rest of the year to tackle those you couldn’t get through. Focusing on starting just one new resolution a month will help you build a foundation so that you’ll keep going strong for the rest of the year.

 

Kick One Bad Habit.

Many resolutions focus on cutting down on unhealthy habits, but a list full of things you can no longer do can be discouraging, and often backfires. With only six months left of the year, focus instead on only one bad habit that you can realistically avoid. Keep the rest of your resolutions positive by focusing on new, productive habits to add to your lifestyle so you won’t feel like you’re limiting yourself in every area.

 

Find Accountability Partners.

Taking on a bunch of new goals on your own can be overwhelming. One of the best ways to guarantee success is to enlist support from the people around you. Ask friends and family members why they think you haven’t been successful at any failed resolutions, and use that advice to modify your approach. Then keep them updated on your progress so they can keep you accountable until the end of the year.

 

Create New Resolutions.

Years don’t usually turn out the way we expect, which is part of the reason so many of our resolutions fail. The advantage of setting mid-year resolutions is that you can put them in context to what your year has looked like. Start by thinking over what you have accomplished this year and create new resolutions to build on those successes. For example, if you’ve been reading or traveling more than usual, create a list of books to get through or places to visit by December.

By Priscilla Aceves

6 Unique Texas Road Trip Ideas

With just one month left of the summer season, we think it’s time to hit the open road.

If you’re looking for a unique way to explore Texas instead of the traditional road trips to a nearby major city, check out our list of 6 unique road trip ideas perfect for foodies, nature lovers and more.

 

Take the Scenic Route.

From natural lakes to majestic mountains, Texas is full of impressive nature, and summer is the perfect season to take it all in. Spend a few days at some of the state’s most famous state parks and landmarks, including Pedernales Falls State Park, Enchanted Rock, and of course, Big Bend. Bring your camping gear along for the full experience, and the perfect opportunity for stargazing. Check out this sample route.

 

Get to Know Your State.

Embrace the spirit of Texas and learn more about our state’s history by incorporating famous Texas museums and landmarks into your road trip. From the Alamo to Houston’s own San Jacinto monument, each stop will leave you with more knowledge and pride about the lone star state. Sample route here.

 

Indulge Your Taste Buds.

Satisfy your wanderlust and your appetite by touring some of the most famous eateries in nearby Texas cities. Include famous breakfast stops like Magnolia Pancake Haus (San Antonio) and Bread Winners Cafe (Dallas) and renowned BBQ joints Snow’s BBQ and the Salt Lick to make this road trip one your taste buds will remember. Sample route here.

 

Relax by the Beach(es).

You don’t have to travel to the east or west coasts to relax on the beach. Texas has plenty of shores ideal for the perfect beach day. Get to know beaches beyond Galveston’s seawall by exploring the coast as you drive all the way to San Padre Island, which has some of Texas’ most popular (and cleanest!) beaches. Sample route here.

 

Not Everything in Texas is Big.

Disconnect from big city life by spending a week visiting the small towns of Texas. With everything from antique shops to local art shows, the state’s small towns are full of unique culture waiting to be discovered. For the most authentic experience, stay at bed & breakfasts instead of chain hotels and stop for meals only at local restaurants. Sample route here.

 

Tour Texas Theme Parks.

If you want to get your adrenaline pumping before the summer’s over, take the ultimate theme park adventure by visiting as many waterparks and amusement parks as you have time for. From Houston’s new Typhoon Texas to the classic Six Flags in Fiesta, Texas, this trip will satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie. Sample route here.

 

5 Must-Watch TED Talks on Leadership

Becoming a successful leader requires diligence, discipline and vision — and it doesn’t just happen overnight.

Whether you’re launching a startup or leading a student organization on campus, these 5 TED Talks on leadership will provide you with inspiration to become the best leader you can be.

 

EVERYDAY LEADERSHIP

In this talk, leadership educator Drew Dudley explains the need to redefine leadership as something that occurs in ordinary moments. Using a personal example from his own life, Dudley illustrates the impact one small moment can have on someone else’s life and why we need to remain aware of the potential of our simplest actions.

Our favorite quote: “My call to action today is that we need to get over our fear of how extraordinarily powerful we can be in each other’s lives.”

 

YOUR BODY LANGUAGE MAY SHAPE YOU WHO ARE

Confidence is an integral part of leadership, and in this talk, social psychologist Amy Cuddy reveals a simple trick to instantly increase your self-assurance. Cuddy uses research from several studies to explain the effect body language can have on personal motivation and how you can use that to your advantage.

Our favorite quote: “Our bodies change our minds, our minds can change our behavior, and our behavior can change our outcomes.”

 

WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO

Life coach Tony Robbins discusses the power of influence by listing the six human needs that drive people’s actions and explaining how understanding the specific motives of those you lead can make you a more effective leader.

Our favorite quote: “To influence somebody, we need to know what already influences them.”

 

HOW TO START A MOVEMENT

Leaders dream of starting movements, but like entrepreneur Derek Sivers explains, a movement always begins with just a few people. In this talk, Sivers describes how an innovator’s first follower is the person that turns him into a leader, and why we should look to fill one of those roles.

Our favorite quote: “When you find a lone nut doing something great, have the guts to be the first one to stand up and join in.”

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WINNING AND SUCCEEDING

Famed college basketball coach John Wooden redefined success as being about more than flourishing professionally. His advice and anecdotes will inspire any leader to prioritize the positive impact they can have on other people’s lives.

Our favorite quote: “Your reputation is what you’re perceived to be. Your character is what you really are. And I think that character is much more important than what you are perceived to be.”