Express Donates $10,000 to Children’s Miracle Network

LogoThanks to everyone who voted in December to choose which charity would receive $10,000 in celebration of the record Express reached in 2011 of 3 million hours worked by associates in just one week. The charity that received the most votes was Children’s Miracle Network.

Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals have been working to help as many children as possible by raising funds for children’s hospitals in local communities throughout North America. This donation – made in honor of Express franchisees, and their customers and associates – will help Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals fund state-of-the-art equipment, breakthrough research, and care for millions of kids in 170 hospitals.

We’d also like to thank Big Brothers Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity for participating and for the work these organizations do to change lives across North America and the world.

To learn more about Express’ recent milestone, visit www.expresspros.com/3million.

Clean Your Workplace in 5 Minutes

Cleandesk_Jan2012_webMonday, Jan. 9 is National Clean Off Your Desk Day. It originated from Anne Chase Moeller, who is the daughter of one of the co-founders of Chase’s Calendar of Events, a publication showcasing special events, federal and state observances, and holidays. She often helped out at her father’s office, but he had an incredibly messy desk. Just for Anne to work, she had to cover the mess with a cloth and remove the cloth when she finished. Getting so frustrated with the mess, she made her father promise to clean off his desk at least once a year. To enforce it, they put National Clean Off Your Desk Day in Chase’s Annual Events book in 1982 as the second Monday of every January.

The old saying “a cluttered desk is a sign of genius” isn’t always true, and a messy desk can interfere with your productivity at work. To help celebrate National Clean Off Your Desk Day, here are some quick hints to help you clear the workplace clutter and boost efficiency at work.

Trash Your Stash

Take a minute to quickly glance around your workspace. Odds are there will be some crumpled up pieces of paper, candy wrappers, empty paper cups, or junk mail laying around. If you have to ask whether it’s trash or not, don’t throw it away just yet. You can deal with that later. All you need to do right now is a basic sweep of your area for any obvious trash. As you scan, take the junk and throw it away. Don’t give too much thought in deciding if something is worth keeping or not. Just use a minute to locate and toss any obvious trash.

Proper Paper Piling

Write down all of your daily work duties like bills, receipts, invoices, reports, phone messages, or any other reasons you need to keep and separate pieces of paper. Take stacks from your work area and sort the papers into an area that matches one of your daily tasks list. You don’t need to figure out or make decisions on the tasks themselves, just sort them into neater stacks. It’s possible you’ll have to add categories as you sort, and you might find trash-worthy items along the way.

There’s no Place Like Home

Now that the paper is organized, look for miscellaneous items like books, folders, and tools that are lying around and put them back where they belong. You should try to keep your books and folders organized on a shelf or some place that’s easy to reach, but separate from your workplace. If you find items that don’t have a home in your work place yet, find a location that is away from the area you work in the most and come back to it later. 

Seal with Sanitation

Now that everything is squared away or organized, take a minute to grab disinfectant wipes, or spray and a paper towel, and quickly wipe down the areas with high traffic in your workspace. For many, the workspace is like a second home and more time is spent there than anywhere else. It’s important to keep that place clean not only from clutter, but also from germs and bacteria.

Be a Rock Star Worker

Congratulations! Your office is now cleaner and more organized. Now that you’ve taken the time to organize your stacks into categories, you have a clear list of duties to take care of when you get back to work. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish if you take 10 to 15 minutes a day to deal with the piles of papers. Just deal with one category at a time and figure out your next plan of action on each piece of paper or information. What do you plan to do with all the free time achieved by your newly-found productivity? What are some quick and easy ways you’ve cleaned your workspace? Let us know in the comments section.

Job Hunting for the Shy and Introverted: Networking

Shynetworking_jan2012_webThe outgoing and extroverted population dominates U.S. society. While various studies show different numbers, introverts in America average about 25%. Businesses are run on relationships and trying to find a job on your own can be difficult because employers tend to hire those they trust instead of taking a risk with a relative stranger. Just because you’re intimidated by the prospect of interacting with large groups of strangers or find long periods of small talk exhausting doesn’t mean you have to be at a disadvantage at finding a job. Here are some helpful hints to better understand yourself and use your strengths as a shy or introverted person to connect with others.

There’s a Difference

There is a difference between being shy and being introverted. Shyness is the fear, discomfort, or awkwardness experienced when a person is near, approaching, or being approached by other people. Introversion is a matter of energy. An introvert internalizes and processes everything around them in greater detail than extroverts, so social activities and busy schedules can greatly drain introverts. There are many different degrees and types of shyness and introversion. To many, these traits can appear to overlap, but they require different approaches when it comes to networking.

There’s a Time

For introverts, time management is key, because you shouldn’t treat networking like a marathon. Know what time of day you feel most energetic and upbeat, and schedule your networking interactions around that time of day. If you are going to a meeting or social event with several people, clear out time before and after the event to keep your energy levels up. Try relaxing on your favorite couch and listening to music, or visiting a quiet museum that’s nearby after the job fair.

For the shy person, being ready to boost confidence is crucial. Practice your elevator pitch, develop talking points, or practice with others so you can feel confident meeting with others or going to an event. Planning ahead of time will let you go at your own pace and help you move out of your comfort zone with ease.

There’s a Place

Where you choose to network can make a big impact on your networking success. For those with a more extreme case of introversion, consider making small, intimate encounters with individuals of interest instead of trying to meet as many people as you can at a seminar. It’s about making a few solid relationships and avoid thinking you have to connect with everybody. If you’re going to an event, show up early before crowds arrive to help manage your energy. This will help you meet and get to know individuals instead of trying to mingle your way into a small group or conversation.

For the shy job seeker, make a list of professionals, influencers, and peers who you feel would be great sources during your job search. Next, list them in order of difficulty to meet outside your comfort zone. When prepared and ready, you can slowly work your way from the easiest to hardest. You’ll realize most people in your desired profession enjoy helping others and are flattered when someone is interested in them and their job.

If shy job seekers attend group events, it may seem impossible to approach a circle of people talking and force yourself into that conversation. Try going around the direct method by asking the host or organizer to introduce you to people. If you know someone you’d like to speak to is attending an event, contact him or her ahead of time. If you can, bring a friend with you to the events so you can have a sense of comfort and familiarity, and someone who can encourage you to meet others.

There’s an Advantage

Whether you’re shy, introverted, or both, you have an advantage when interacting with people: listening. Use your listening talents to engage others in conversation and identify their needs. You’ll be surprised how many of the fast talking, super outgoing extroverts you meet love having someone who will just listen to them. Your listening and loyalty to their conversation can help build relationships faster.  You can then find commonalities to later follow up with to keep the relationship going.

There is nothing wrong with if you prefer to spend a quiet night curled up with a book and music. You have a long list of skills and talents that are valuable and needed at the workplace. If you are shy or introverted, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear your perspective when looking for a job.

Women’s Work Attire That Never Goes Out of Style

Women's business attireIn a previous post, we discussed traditional styles of men’s work attire that have stood the test of time. They are still some of the best ways to make a good first impression when interviewing and working with colleagues. This post will highlight some professional styles for women that never lose their elegance and look good too.

Some may consider business fashion more difficult for women because of the constantly changing trends and styles available to them, but it’s surprising to know that when it comes to classic attire that is timeless and still means business, women’s fashion is very similar to men’s.

That Suit Looks Like a Lady

If you’re looking for classic, then go with wearing the skirt suit. Skirt suits are considered to be the best option when interviewing or showing for a very professional look. If you absolutely loathe wearing skirts and pantyhose, check with your employer’s dress code before wearing a pantsuit. While some organizations may allow them, more traditional companies won’t because pantsuits are still considered less formal.

Just like men’s suits, going with dark brown, gray, or navy will give you a professional, confident look without bringing attention to yourself. Blouses should remain a light color, but avoid low cut or revealing shirts. If you want to accessorize, consider wearing a softly colored scarf. If you have to question yourself about a color being appropriate, go ahead and choose a different color.  While it may be fun to mix and match your colors, having a matching suit is preferred.

Don’t Skimp on the Skirt

The hemlines of your skirt should be mid-knee length or longer. Miniskirts are not only inappropriate, but they also send the message that you’re not serious. When wearing longer skirts, avoid wearing ones with deep slits at the sides, back, or front.

Sometimes the constant struggle with wearing pantyhose can lead many women to consider pantyhose their worst enemy. But, full-length pantyhose should be worn with a business suit.  Natural skin tone colors are best, but you can wear colored hose as long as they stay opaque and don’t look like tights. As far as classic shoes, you can wear some with a pattern, but keep them the same color as your suit.

Don’t be an Accessory to a Fashion Crime

When it comes to attire in the workplace, less is more. Accessories and jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Try to limit yourself to about four accessories with earrings counting as one. Over accessorizing can bring a lot of unwanted attention to yourself, instead of wanted attention to your work. Earrings should be modest, including a stud-type or small hoops, and not dangly. All jewelry should be conservative to enhance your suit, and should not be distracting or flashy.

Makeup should appear natural. Avoid using overly dark or bright eye shadow and lipstick. It’s best to save your creative or stylish makeup routines for outside of work activities. While nails should be clean and manicured at a decent length, avoid using bright or decorated polish. No one wants to shake hands with Freddy Krueger. If you want to wear perfume, keep it light, but try avoiding using it at all.

Wearing traditional business attire doesn’t have to be rocket science or boring. If you follow our easy guides on appropriate business attire that never goes out of style, you’d be surprised how effective ditching the latest trends for the classic look will be for your career. What are some fashion tips you think should be included on this list?

Men’s Work Attire That Never Goes Out of Style

Male_professional_Dec2011_webWhether you just graduated from college or are looking to switch careers into the professional world, you may not have a full grasp of what is considered appropriate workplace attire. If your company dress code requires professional dress, you may be a little lost as to what is currently in style and what has always been conservative, classic professional business attire. 

While some consider men’s business fashion relatively easy compared to women, there is still much to consider and be mindful of when choosing appropriate wardrobe. But have no fear as we point out classic business styles that will give you the best chance of making a good first impression and look like the highly skilled professional you know you are.

Suit Up

The most important element of a professional male’s attire is the business suit. You want to appear approachable and confident, so wear neutral colors like gray, charcoal, navy, or dark brown. Black suits are very formal, elegant, and stylish, but consider an alternative color when interviewing, because black suits tend to send an overly formal or standoffish message.

Your suit jacket should be buttoned while standing and unbuttoned when sitting. If you have a two- or three-button suit, keep the bottom button opened. Your slacks should match the coat, be hemmed to the top of the heel at the back, and touch the front of your shoes.

No Shirts, No Ties, No Business

It’s important to make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. If you don’t take the time to get rid of excessive wrinkles, potential employers and co-workers won’t think you’ll take the time on the job. To contrast your dark suit, wear light colored shirts like cream, light blue, or white. Even though Donald Trump made the two-tone shirts with a different colored collar famous, keep your shirts plain and free of insignias.

To complete the ensemble, choose a medium width tie with subtle designs and colors that falls to the middle of your belt. They should be darker than your shirt and complement the color scheme of your suit. You may love your Tabasco® or holiday tie, but keep it subdued when in a professional environment.

Accessorize Your Right to Look Classy.

Keeping things minimal is key in professional male dress. Try to limit accessories and jewelry to three pieces. So chose to wear a ring, cuff links, and handkerchief while leaving the lapel pins, watches, and tie tacks at home. Avoid necklaces, piercings, or tattoos because they aren’t seen as professional for a male and can be distracting.

Your socks, shoes, and belt should match with the color scheme of your slacks. If your suit is navy and you are wearing brown shoes, make sure your belt and socks are brown as well. Socks should cover your calves and be a darker color without any loud or busy designs. Wear wing tip or lace up shoes that are properly shined and maintained, leaving the loafers to your more casual events.  

If you adhere to the tried and true fashion of classic business attire, you will always be dressed appropriately in that situation. Check back next week when we’ll discuss business attire for women that never goes out of style.

3 Tips for Taking a Job Search on the Road

Longdistance_Dec2011_webIf it’s time to move your job search to a new city, there are a few things you can do to make it easier and more effective. 

Choose a City
Is the move to expand your job network or are you moving for personal reasons? If you’re moving for career opportunities take some time to research your options before focusing on a particular city. Use online resources to your advantage, running job searches for your specific position in particular cities to see what type of prospects are available and to review compensation ranges. Check out the city’s chamber of commerce or economic development council websites for media clips on job creation and business growth, cost of living information, and relocation tips. It’s important to understand what your job is worth in that market and if there is a demand for your talent. 

CareerBuilder offers CareerRelocate.com, a tool that allows you to search career skill demands, and conduct a salary conversion based on local standards of living. You can conduct a keyword or category search for specific career skills to find where low and high demands are across the U.S. The tool also allows you to enter your current salary and city, and compare how much you would need to make in a different city to maintain your standard of living.

Use a Network
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down where you are going to search for a job, it’s time to build a local network. Thanks to local networking groups on LinkedIn or sites like Brazen Careerist, you can make connections with local individuals and learn more about the job market in that city. The best way to start interacting is to contribute information or past experiences to the questions posted within a group forum. For example, if someone is asking for advice on different types of software, respond with relevant advice regarding your experience. Try responding to a blog post or feature article with your own advice or insights. Another great way to connect is to attend in-person networking events sponsored by online network sites. Taking a trip to your new city before you actually move can also help speed up the job search in the new market by allowing you to gain some local contacts.

Another option is to work with a local staffing agency to uncover job opportunities. Staffing firms have a good pulse on the local job market and have established connections with employers that may help land you an interview. Also reach out to any friends or family you have in the area to let them know you’ll be job searching in their market. Send a copy of your résumé attached to an email explaining when you’ll be moving to town, a summary of your top skills, and what type of work you would like to do. Make sure to update your own social media profiles with information about your search for employment in a specific city and when you’ll be available. 

Get Local
Channel your inner-detective to uncover potential employers and positions. You’ll want to start your job search before you move to town by researching open positions and building local connections, but the best thing you can do is to visit the city you’ve chosen. Once you’re in town spend some time exploring the area and make sure to have a few contact cards or copies of your résumé handy when you do so. One way to get a feel for the local job market is to visit an area coffee shop early in the morning, ask the wait staff where people around that area work and what they know about the larger employers. Also, try visiting restaurants around the lunch or during happy hour that are located near an employer you are targeting for employment. You may be able to strike up a conversation with someone who can help connect you to local open jobs. If you haven’t moved yet, make sure to schedule your trip to your new city when a local networking event or job fair is taking place. You may also consider taking a class at the local technology or vo-tech school to brush up on your skills. This will give you access to their career center and allow you to meet others working in your industry.

In short, it may seem easier to look for a job where you currently live, but opening up your job search may allow you to discover the career opportunity you’ve been working toward. With the networking power unleashed within social media, the world seems smaller every day. Now may be the perfect time to get outside your boundaries and take your job search on the road. 

 

By Rachel Rudisill