Workplace Gift-Giving Guide

The do’s and don’ts of workplace present exchange

Who doesn’t love the holidays? Delicious eggnog, shimmering trees, and, of course, presents bound in cheerful wrapping paper. This time of year provides a wonderful opportunity to bond with your coworkers. Exchanging gifts that are a bit more personal enhances your workplace relationships

But not too personal. A happy occasion can be ruined by an inappropriate or strange gift.

DO: Office Supplies

Unique and fun office supplies make great gifts. If you have a friend who loves bulldogs, spring for a dog-shaped eraser, pen, or calendar. If someone’s a writer, maybe they would appreciate a typewriter-shaped pencil cup or a calligraphy pen. The gifts don’t have to be particularly quirky. If you want to get April from accounting something but aren’t sure what she wants, you really can’t go wrong with a numeric keypad!

DON’T: Anything Offensive or Inappropriate

Stay away from anything that includes swear words or lewd images. Even if you have an inside joke with your buddy Bob, giving him an inappropriate gag gift in front of the entire office is a bad idea. It makes you look unprofessional, and could even put Bob in a bad spot when he has to figure out what to do with your gift. Also, take care your gift won’t be offensive due to an individual’s religious or personal beliefs.

This is all still true even if the actual gift exchange isn’t happening at the office. People talk, and your boss is sure to hear about it one way or another.

DO: Personalized Items

It’s inexpensive to order customized items online these days. You can get a coffee cup made with an inside (and safe-for-work) joke plastered on the side for a few dollars, or a few pens monogrammed with someone’s initials for a similar price. Some Etsy sellers even create custom keychains or stickers for under $10. Search online and use your creative flair to design something memorable.

DON’T: Jewelry, Perfume, Flowers, Cologne, Etc.

Steer clear of any gift that could be romantic. Although your intentions might be entirely platonic, you have no idea how your coworker might feel upon receiving such a gift. Not to mention the gossip that could start because of it.

And personal items like perfume and cologne are a bad idea anyway. You don’t really know a person’s scent preferences, and could end up giving them something they don’t like or are even allergic to.

DO: Gift Cards

Although gift cards can be a bit impersonal, they are by far the safest workplace gift idea. It’s hard to get offended by a gift card to your favorite restaurant or retailer. Just ask around beforehand to make sure they don’t have a vendetta against any one chain or supermarket. A fun holiday card can add a personal touch.

DON’T: Alcohol

Although there’s nothing wrong with bringing a nice wine to a dinner party, it is usually frowned upon to bring such libations into the workplace. It might be alright if your gift exchange is happening at a restaurant or coworker’s home, but consider your company culture before deciding.

Looking for more workplace gift ideas? Let us know in the comments below!

The Home Stretch: Six Quick Tips to Finish Strong in 2017

With three-quarters of the year behind us, we’ve officially entered the final stretch of 2017. With 2018 just around the corner, many are feeling the pressure to finish strong. So, whether you’re a jobseeker or a busy employee, it’s important to take an assessment of where you are and what you need to do to meet—and exceed—your end-of-the-year goals.

Whether you’re right on track or falling short of your performance expectations, these six quick tips may help ensure you head into the new year with some positive momentum.

Fine Tune Your Action Plan
Although it’s likely too late to overhaul your annual plan altogether, there are small adjustments that can be made to give an extra boost toward meeting your end of the year goals. Taking a moment to review and revise your strategies before making a final push toward 2018 will help focus your efforts on the activities that will get you there.

Clear the Path
Sometimes the best thing you can do to shed all the clutter that has accumulated throughout the year is to clear a path toward the finish line. From extra projects and conflicts with colleagues or family members to actual files and paper piling up on every available surface around the workplace or home, ridding yourself of distractions lets you think more clearly about reaching and exceeding your goals.

Up the Ante
If you’re lagging behind—or just barely meeting performance goals—sometimes upping the ante is necessary to get a final burst of productivity to finish the year. Whether it’s changing your goal structure or setting “reward milestones” (where you treat yourself to something after a certain goal is achieved), giving yourself an exciting new reward to aim for may be exactly what’s needed.

Take a Breather
If you’ve had a long and challenging year up to this point, it’s likely becoming more difficult to summon the energy needed to stay on track. Before you start the countdown to the final days of 2017, take an opportunity to catch your breath. Whether it’s taking a full vacation or just a long weekend, a little time to recharge the batteries is essential to staying focused and energized for closing out the fourth quarter.

Throw a Hail Mary
If you’ve had a difficult year and it’s clear you are going to fall short of your goals, at this point in the game what do you have to lose by tossing a Hail Mary? Think way outside the box and take a risk on a creative strategy or job application that, if successful, could completely change the momentum and put yourself back on track to squeak out a win.

No matter what your end of the year situation may be, the most important thing is to stay focused. And, even if you fall short of meeting your goals, don’t dwell on it. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn what didn’t work so you will be better prepared to position yourself for success in the new year.

Celebrate Your 2017 Successes

Reflect on your accomplishments this year

2017 is almost over. You’ve followed all our blogs this year, prepped as hard as you could, and now all your tools are sharp. Your resume is rockin’, your network is newsworthy, and your industry knowledge is incredible. You’re ready for the job search in 2018.

And that’s worth celebrating. Looking for a job isn’t easy—getting everything up to date is a job in and of itself, albeit a job that doesn’t pay anything at first. And you’ve done it! Let’s take a look at all of the things you’ve checked off your list this year.

Your Resume Is Ready

Your resume is the most important tool in your job search arsenal. It gets you in the door with recruiters, can be passed out at networking events, and is a one-stop summary for everything that is you. Your resume isn’t just a list of the jobs you’ve held. It’s a monument to your achievements, filled to the brim with data showing how you’ve helped each and every company you’ve ever worked for succeed.

You’ve chosen your words carefully and analyzed job postings to find out what the industry lingo is. Each bullet uses new action verbs to show what you’ve done—no word is used twice. Your formatting is beautiful. Everything fits on one page, the margins are perfect, and the spacing isn’t distracting.

You update your resume regularly and have had friends and peers review it to make sure everything made sense. You even sent it off to a local recruiter to get their thoughts on it.

Your Network Has Grown

When you first started looking for a job, your network was relatively small. You had a few previous co-worker as connections on LinkedIn, as well as a few family members. But since then you’ve grown leaps and bounds. You’re active in your community, hold a position in a professional group, and keep up to date on all the latest industry trends. You receive email newsletters from your favorite blogs, and never miss a beat.

People like you for you. You haven’t run around begging for a job, but they’ve let you know about opportunities because of your relationship. That’s what networking really is. Becoming friendly (on some level) with people in your industry and sharing time with them. Then showing them how great you are at what you do. Leave it to them to put 2 and 2 together to realize you’re the perfect person for their job opening.

You’ve Developed Your Skillset

You’ve realized that some job listings mention skills you don’t have, or familiarity with programs you’ve never encountered. Not one to shy away from a challenge, you’ve found local or online classes that provide the training those companies crave. You haven’t let your existing skills dull as you’ve job searched either. You’ve found gig work where you can, and researched the latest trends in your industry to ensure you don’t fall by the wayside.

And for those of you who still have a few things left on your job search checklist? There’s still time! Read the articles linked in this blog to get started, and you’ll be ready in no time.

Have questions about how to get your job search kicked off in the new year? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t Let Your Resume Freeze

Melt the ice away with these helpful blogs!

Resumes are tough. They’re only a series of words on a page, but they’re the deciding factor on whether you get in the door for a job interview. If you start to improve your resume now, you’re more likely to succeed in the new year.

Here are a few of our past blogs jam-packed with resume renovation goodness you can use this holiday season.

30 Resume Power Words and Lucky Words for Your Resume

If your only way in the door is a series of words, then every word better count, right? Specific results-driven vocabulary can enhance your resume and help employers see that you have the soft skills they’re looking for.

Resume Tips to Impress Your Interviewer

Your resume needs to be uniquely tailored for whatever job you’re applying for—it should show why you’re right for the job, not just what you’ve done in the past. If you build your resume with these tips, you’ll hit the important points recruiters look for.

Creating an Organic Resume

Since there are only so many hours in a day, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that recruiters only spend about six seconds on each resume. If you have too much fluff and not enough substance, you’ll lose your reader fast. So cut out the less important information and focus on your experiences and hard facts. Formatting is also important. If it isn’t easy to read, nobody will go through the trouble of reading it.

Sizzling Hot Resume Tips

You can turn your resume into a warm cup of job search cheer with these hot tips. Take a break from the holiday bustle and review your resume. How is your spelling and grammar? Are your job descriptions both informative and concise?

Which is Better—Chronological or Functional Resume?

Still feel like there’s something off with your resume? Not sure that you’re really getting your point across? You may want to consider a functional resume. A chronological resume is perfect for a conventional career (you’ve gone from job to job with little downtime, and everything has been in the same industry), while a functional resume allows you to showcase your soft skills and experiences, rather than a string of continuous employment.

Not sure which soft skills to highlight? Check out this video on soft skills.

We’re happy to gift you answers for the holidays—just write your questions in the comments section below!

Poll: Why Can’t You Get a Promotion

Wondering why you can’t seem to get a promotion no matter what you do or achieve? Perhaps it’s a sneaky co-worker that sabotages your efforts, or a jealous boss that won’t let you ascend the professional ladder. Or it could just be that you aren’t yet ready or your company doesn’t have the funds or position available right now.

Whatever the reason, we want to hear about it. Let us know the reason you think you aren’t being promoted.

Let us know by voting in our poll!

 

Thanksgiving Lessons for Your Job Search

Stuff your job search turkey with holiday cheer.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to get together and celebrate with friends and family. Juicy turkeys, delicious stuffing, piping hot pies, and wonderful conversation make the holiday memorable. There’s just something about thankfulness (and eating) that brings us all together.

After Thanksgiving is over, you’ll be refreshed and ready to hit the job search again. But before you do, think back on the holiday and apply what made it so wonderful to your search.

Get the Party Started

Thanksgiving involves plenty of planning. You need to call Aunt Susie to make sure she’s bringing the mashed potatoes, email Uncle Fred about the discount turkey, and text your siblings to make sure nobody bakes the same pie. It’s a struggle, but at the end of the day all of that scuttling around results in a holiday everyone can be proud of.

You can apply the same hustle to your job search. Cultivate relationships with friends and colleagues, and then leverage those relationships to hear about new job opportunities. Just make sure to keep in touch, and avoid asking someone for a job connection out of the blue. After all, you wouldn’t randomly ask weird cousin Harold (who you haven’t spoken to in the 10 years since he stole the turkey) to bring the cranberry jam, would you?

Give Thanks

That’s the whole point of Thanksgiving, after all. Being grateful for what we have, and for all of the incredible people who have helped us get to where we are today. You need to be thankful in your job search as well. After an interview, always send a handwritten note (or at least an email) to your interviewer thanking them for their consideration. If any of your contacts help you attain an interview, thank them for their time, either via LinkedIn.com, email, or by phone. The more personal you can make the connection (a handwritten note, a kind phone call, an in-person meeting) the better off you’ll be.

Don’t Be a Turkey

Thanksgiving is a bad time to be a turkey. Whether your turkey is stuffed or topped with cranberry jam, you probably wouldn’t want to swap places with him. A turkey can also be defined as, according to Merriam-Webster, a “stupid, foolish, or inept person.” So it goes without saying that you don’t want to be a turkey in your job search either.

To avoid looking like a turkey, make sure to prepare. Join professional or trade groups to learn the ins and outs of the industry. Research a company online before you step foot into an interview, and have some idea of what the company culture and dress code are. You don’t want to stand out as a gobbling, semi-flightless bird. Try to soar like an eagle instead.

Have any other ideas about how Thanksgiving can apply to your job search? Let us know in the comments below!

Holiday Job Tips

Sleigh bells are ringing—what are you waiting for?

Whether you’re unemployed and looking for work or employed but looking for a change, the holidays can be a great time to jump start your job search.

Seasonal jobs, for instance, can be both a way to pay the bills and stepping stones on the way to full-time employment. And with Black Friday looming on the horizon, businesses are rushing to fill their job openings. Although many holiday jobs were filled in October, there are still plenty of opportunities for work out there. The challenge is finding those opportunities and getting an interview.

The following are a few ways to enhance your holiday job search and get one step ahead of the competition.

Apply Everywhere

If what you need is a job, any job, don’t narrow your job search to one type of business. Although retail is hiring in spades, other businesses are just as busy. More people shopping means more people stopping by coffee shops for a latte or the gas station to refill their tank. Warehouses also need more employees to keep up with the huge amount of gifts being shipped back and forth. After a long day of deal-hunting, shoppers will flock to restaurants in droves, which means a need for more wait staff.

Drive around your area and see which restaurants or stores are hiring. Then go online and use job search websites like Indeed.com or Monster.com to find openings in your area. You can go to the specific business website as well.

You can also send your resume to local staffing companies (like Express Employment Professionals) so they can connect you with opportunities you wouldn’t hear of otherwise. With you and the staffing agency both job searching, you get two times the job search power without paying a dime.

Network

The holiday season is a time of celebration and coming together. Networking events and volunteer projects are plentiful. Use these events to connect with others in your industry. Just make sure to be tactful. For instance, don’t beg for a job at a Christmas party or desperately follow someone to every one of their volunteer projects. Be yourself and show that you’re a person worth knowing.

Once you’ve made these contacts, search on LinkedIn and connect with them. After that, feel free to send a positive letter thanking them for connecting with you and let them know that you’re looking for work. Also, be sure to mention how you’ve been productive during time without work. These connections could lead to seasonal work or even a full-time job in the future!

Make a List—and Check It Twice

What do you really want in a job? It’s fine if you’re just looking for something to pay the bills right now, but do you have a long-term career strategy? What do you enjoy? What do you hate? What kind of boss and business culture do you need to thrive? Answering questions like these can make your job search much clearer, paving the way for the New Year.

Looking for more holiday job search tips? Ask us your questions in the comments below!