Cliché Answers to the Most Common Interview Questions

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man and women in a job interview

By Brianna Flavin

The internet offers a massive amount of job interview advice, sample questions and potential responses. When you are trying to land a job, it’s easy to devour this advice in bulk, but that might actually be more detrimental to your career than you realize.

What’s resulted is hiring managers hearing the same cliché responses over and over again. When your objective is to learn about applicants to determine if they will be a good fit for the position, and they all say their biggest flaw is “perfectionism,” it’s frustrating, to say the least.

As a job seeker, you want to do your homework and come to the interview prepared to answer the most common interview questions. But how can you avoid sounding like an echo of every other candidate?

“The preferred response to any question is one that is honest and upfront,” says staffing and onboarding coach Jen Teague. Ideally, your circumstances, interests and aspirations will factor into every answer, leaving your interviewer with a clear and accurate impression of who you are.

To get you started in the right direction—and to help you steer clear of some responses that could leave a bad impression—we asked hiring managers to share the most cliché answers they encounter when interviewing job candidates. See what the folks in the hiring seats are sick of hearing and their advice on how to craft a more impressive response.

  1. Why would you excel at this job?

What NOT to say: “I like working with people.”

“This is one of the most robotic answers a candidate could provide,” according to Beth Tucker, CEO of KNF&T Staffing Resources. She says though it might seem like a friendly answer, it doesn’t actually reveal anything about you as a person or employee.

“Most people like to work with other people,” Tucker explains. “Instead of saying this, try thinking of the core message you’re trying to communicate.” Are you an especially strong communicator? Do you work harder when you’re collaborating with coworkers on a project? Do you enjoy delegating responsibility?

“You’re much better off giving an example that demonstrates your abilities,” Tucker says.

A better approach: Talk about a team project where you interacted with a diverse group of people—or difficult people. This will have a much bigger impact and make a better impression on the interviewer.

  1. What do you know about our company?

What NOT to say: “Not much. I was hoping you could tell me.”

“This answer highlights your lack of initiative and preparation,” says Mike Smith, founder of SalesCoaching1. He urges to always do your research on any company you are interviewing with and come prepared to dazzle.

A better approach: Smith suggests a statement that displays what you understand about the company and what you might still want clarification on. An example is, “I found your annual report and noticed your company has grown your market share and is opening other branches. What is the next location planned?”

  1. Why do you want to be in this business?

What NOT to say: “It looks like a cool company to work for.”

This vague enthusiasm also reveals a lack of research. Smith says experienced interviewers hear this same answer time and time again. Why would you prefer to work for this company, rather than some of their competitors? Even if you do plan to interview at both companies, you are better off being specific.

A better approach: “I have done a lot of research in this marketplace. Your company and your competitors (name them) are in the fastest growing sector. I want to be a part of that growth.”

  1. Why did you apply for this position?

What NOT to say: “I want to get my career started.”

“The worst cliché answer I receive is something along the lines of, ‘I’m not picky about my position; I just want a chance to work,’” says Shell Harris, President of Big Oak Studios Inc. He says this kind of answer typically comes from the mouths of college graduates having difficulty landing their first job.

“When I hear this response, I am thinking this person is desperate to work and will say anything to get any job, even a job they may not like,” Harris says. He adds that this is often an indicator that the candidate will continue job searching even if he or she does land the position. He believes applicants who have specific expectations about what kind of work they will do in the company come off much better.

“It tells me they understand what we do, how they can help and, most importantly, that they want to be a part of the company,” Harris says. “Sure, I believe they want to work, but they aren’t being honest with me or themselves if they say they’ll take any job.”

A better approach: Talk about what the role you’re applying for does for you. Could it help you develop a skill you’re hoping to sharpen? Does it align with your strengths or expertise? What excites you about the position?

  1. What is your biggest weakness as an employee?

What NOT to say: “I’m a perfectionist.”

This is one of the biggest clichés out there in interviewing world. “The age-old advice about spinning any negative about yourself into a positive only works when it’s specific,” says Gail Abelman, recruiter at Staffing Perfection.

“I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard people tell me, ‘I’m a perfectionist,’ or ‘I’m too honest,’” she says. “These are about as cliché and phony as it gets.”

“You can tell immediately when people are not being genuine,” says Rebecca Baggett, Director of Human Resources at Bigger Pockets. She says responses like ‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I’m too loyal’ really communicate either a lack of honesty or a lack of self-awareness. “I always appreciate when a candidate says, ‘I messed up and this is how I corrected the situation,’” she says.

Ableman advises telling a story to answer this kind of question. It will sound more personal and realistic, and you will provide your interviewer with a better picture of who you are and what it will be like to hire you.

A better approach: Describe an issue you experienced at a previous job, the problem you had solving it and the steps you took to ultimately overcome it.

  1. What are your long-term goals?

What NOT to say: “I want to move up within the company.”

Advancement might seem like the only right answer to give to this question, but thinking of your goals in terms of a one line track to the top is actually rather limiting. Teague says personal goals as well as professional goals can play into your answer here, particularly if they could intersect (i.e., Wanting to learn another language).

Once again, get specific. Your interviewer wants to know what motivates you. Try to think beyond a larger paycheck and detail some goals that make you excited about what you do.

A better approach: Explain that you’re motivated to advance as a professional, and list some particular goals you’d like to achieve (both personal and professional).

  1. Do you have any questions for me?

What NOT to say: “No, I think you covered them all.”

This answer if often on the tip of everyone’s jittery tongue at the close of an interview, but it reveals no preparation or willingness to research the industry, according to Smith. As this is often the question that will conclude the interview, your response has the potential to leave a particularly lasting impression.

Smith suggests thanking interviewers for what they did cover and offering at least one, in-depth question. You can riff off something they already mentioned in the interview or bring up something you found in your research. “This shows a business maturity and a professional approach,” Smith adds.

A better approach: Ask about a recent announcement you encountered in your research or ask the interviewer about what brought them to the company.

About Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college that is dedicated to changing lives and the communities it serves through high-demand and flexible educational programs. Since 1900, the College has been committed to academic innovation and empowering students to pursue a college degree. Rasmussen College offers certificate and diploma programs through associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in seven schools of study including business, health sciences, nursing, technology, design, education and justice studies.

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Applying for a Job? Don’t Do These 3 Things

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When you apply for a job it’s tempting to do anything you can to stand out. Sometimes that’s a good idea. If, for example, you’re a long-shot candidate, it might make sense to make a joke, try something bold, or make a big statement through your cover letter to get the recruiter’s attention.

There are limits to how helpful that can be, and there’s absolutely bad attention. Your goal in applying is to get an interview. It’s not to have the recruiter talk to other people about your candidacy without even considering calling you in for an interview.

These are common mistakes that happen during the interview process (not just on cover letters). If you avoid them you’ll have a much better chance of getting hired.

1. Don’t insult the company

It’s fine to tell the company all the positive things you bring to the table. You can even talk about your history of improving processes, increasing sales, or otherwise making the companies you work at better.

You should never point out what you think the company is doing wrong. That’s presumptuous and a tad obnoxious. It’s also possible that you don’t have the full picture and by being bold you’ll just look silly.

2. Don’t respond slowly

Sometimes a recruiter will see your cover letter and resume and have an immediate question. When that happens, the recruiter may shoot off a quick email designed to answer that question so he or she can decide whether or not to offer you an interview.

If you don’t answer quickly, you may miss your opportunity. This is a case where “quickly” means within a few hours, because if you take longer, the recruiter may still like you but have already set up interviews with other candidates.

3. Don’t talk about the job you really want

Your cover letter offers an opportunity to sell yourself as a candidate for this job. It’s not a chance to tell the recruiter or hiring manager about all of your hopes and dreams for the future. Focus on the opportunity that’s in front of you and why you’re a good fit.

It’s great if you someday want to be a poet, a philosopher, a CEO, or whatever else, but that’s generally not relevant during the hiring process. Even if asked about your long-term goals, try to keep your answer relevant to the job/profession at hand.

Gauge your risk

If you have very little chance of getting an interview, it might be worth going out on a limb. You can use your cover letter to make a case for interviewing using metrics that aren’t clearly what the hiring manager has laid out in the job ad.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

What Is an Intrapreneur and Why Does Everyone Want to Hire Them Right Now?

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disabled entrepreneur

Sure, there’s plenty of talk nowadays about entrepreneurs and freelancers—people who work for themselves, set their own days, and run their own businesses. But there’s another crew in town that’s becoming increasingly popular: intrapreneurs.

If you’re not familiar with this term, you’re not alone.

The first time I heard it was from William Arruda, a global personal branding expert whose clients include many Fortune 100 companies and the author of Career Distinction: Stand Out By Building Your Brand. In it, he describes an intrapreneur as “a person who demonstrates an entrepreneurial spirit within an organization.”

This concept shows just how much the employee-employer relationship has evolved. And when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense in today’s working world. Employees are demanding more freedom and autonomy in order to grow. And employers are understanding the need to create a strong company culture that retains top talent and fosters innovation.

The result? Companies are eager to welcome and embrace people who are creative, proactive, and flexible—in other words, intrapreneurs. I’ll explain what it means to be one and the benefits they bring to employers—and how you can be an intrapreneur, too.

What Is an Intrapreneur?

In many ways, an intrapreneur could be considered an in-house entrepreneur. If we go back to Arruda’s definition, this group of people is classified as having an “entrepreneurial spirit.”

So, what does that mean, exactly?

Well, entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to create new services or products. In doing so, they develop original ideas, think beyond what’s already been done, and are always looking to provide valuable solutions to common problems. They’re personally invested in achieving a successful outcome.

The same thing can be said about intrapreneurs. They’re creative freethinkers who are passionate about sharing new ways to get things done. The difference is, they operate within a company rather than solo. While no one’s job title is likely to be “intrapreneur,” you can adopt the mindset in pretty much any role.

What Are the Characteristics of an Intrapreneur?

You can instantly spot an intrapreneur within a company because they treat their job as if it were their own business. Also, an intrapreneur’s ingenuity makes them a star employee—they’re always coming up with resourceful ways to approach challenging situations.

Here are some more characteristics that make them truly special.

They’re Authentic

An intrapreneur’s greatest trait is being consistently humble and sincere—whether it’s in an email, meeting, or passing conversation. This makes them experts at establishing trust and highly respected and liked throughout a company.

They’re Savvy Collaborators

Ever known someone who can pick up the phone to ask for a favor or information and get an immediate response? Well, that’s a classic intrapreneur move. As masters of building relationships, they never run out of people to contact who are willing to help—because they’d do the same in return.

They’re Highly Confident

It takes a certain level of confidence to express creative ideas and proactively start a project. Intrapreneurs are risk-takers, so they trust their actions and aren’t afraid to try something different or learn from trial and error.

They’re Uber Resilient

Whether it’s about finding an answer to an ongoing problem or hammering out the details of a new plan, an intrapreneur won’t give up. An intrapreneur is not easily deterred and hasn’t met a challenge they’re not willing to tackle head-on.

They Have Strong Personal Brands

Intrapreneurs are highly aware of how they communicate their unique strengths and work hard to maintain a positive external reputation in order to promote their expertise and services. Because their professional image is important to them, they also have just as strong of a presence online as they do in person.

Why Are Intrapreneurs So Valuable to a Company?

You may think, “Hmmm… Wouldn’t these kinds of people be perceived as a threat to a company’s success? And wouldn’t they just take off the second something better came along?”

But it’s actually to a company’s advantage to have employees who take ownership of their work. Employees who feel like their talent and contributions matter (for real) will work smarter, feel more satisfied, and bring forth their best ideas—which will ultimately become the company’s ideas and products.

Some may fear that allowing employees to be too innovative will lead to folks using what they do at work to benefit their own side hustle. However, even if that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as there’s no conflict of interest (for example, working on outside projects during work hours or working on something that’s a direct competitor to the company).

Why Should You Be an Intrapreneur, and How Can You Be One at Any Company?

So as you’re thinking of ways to grow your career, consider how the mindset of an intrapreneur is also an asset to your own brand and success. Sure, your ideas are going toward a company’s vision, but you know where else they’re going? Into your resume and LinkedIn profile—your own portfolio!

Every successful initiative you’re a part of gives you concrete examples of scenarios when you took action and delivered results. This increases your potential to make more money and access more growth opportunities down the road (for example, a promotion, a new role you get to define, or a completely new start somewhere else). Plus, being an intrapreneur allows you to pursue a passion project with the added benefit of having a company’s resources and budget—as opposed to having to start from scratch and launch it all on your own.

As an intrapreneur, your experience is tied to in-demand skills that are transferable anywhere you go, instead of a specific job title.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Top Organizations to Receive Diversity and Inclusion Honors Award At Annual Conference

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The Association of ERGs & Councils(a practice group of PRISM International, Inc.) released their annual list of the Top 25 US Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), Business Resource Groups (BRGs) and Diversity Councils set to receive the tenth annual 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ at an award ceremony during the 2019 ERG & Council Conference in Orlando May 3rd.

The 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ is the only annual national award that recognizes and honors the outstanding contributions and achievements of ERGs, BRGs and Diversity Councils. It was established in 2008 by the Association of ERGs & Councils, a practice group of diversity and inclusion consulting and training firm PRISM International, Inc.

The 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ recipients are a diverse combination of US organizations representing most sectors, geographies and sizes. “This year we had a diverse pool of highly qualified applications representing 1,079 ERGs, BRGs, Diversity Councils and their chapters,” states Fernando Serpa, Executive Director of the Association of ERGs & Councils. “We also had several non-Top 25 groups demonstrate best practices and results that deserve to be recognized and they will be receiving the Spotlight Impact Award™ that highlights the achievements of these select groups in the categories of Organizational Impact, Talent Management and Culture of Inclusion.”

This year, for the first time, the Association of ERGs and Councils will bestow the honor of Top Executive Sponsor of the Year. “We wanted to recognize and call out the important role executive sponsors play in developing, supporting and enabling their ERGs and Councils to succeed,” Serpa said.

The 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ Top 25 recipient rankings will be revealed at the May 3 award ceremony at the Disney Yacht & Beach Club Resort in Orlando, Florida. The Award Ceremony and Conference is open to all diversity and inclusion professionals involved with ERGs, BRGs and Councils.  This is a great opportunity for individuals to learn and share best practices, network, grow and celebrate, to become inspired and be renewed…all for the purpose of increasing their impact on key organizational and business objectives. Learn more by visiting ErgCouncilConference.com.

The 2019 ERG & Council Honors Award™ recipients in alphabetical order include:

  • American Airlines – American Airlines Diversity Advisory Council
  • Atrium Health – Atrium Health Divisional Diversity Councils
  • Bank of America – Military Support & Assistance Group ( MSAG)
  • Cleveland Clinic – ClinicPride Employee Resource Group (ClinicPride ERG)
  • Cleveland Clinic – Military/Veterans Employee Resource Group
  • Cleveland Clinic – SALUD
  • Davenport University – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council
  • Entergy Corporation – Entergy Employee Resource Group
  • Erie Insurance – Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council
  • Froedtert Health – Froedtert Health Diversity Council
  • General Motors – General Motors Employee Resource Group Council
  • KeyBank – Key Business Impact and Networking Groups
  • Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals – Mallinckrodt Inclusion & Diversity Council
  • Mount Sinai Queens, part of the Mount Sinai Health System – Mount Sinai Queens Diversity Council
  • Mount Sinai St. Luke’s, part of the Mount Sinai Health System – Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Diversity Council
  • National Guard – Joint Diversity Executive Council
  • Northern Trust Corporation – Advancing Professionals Resource Council (APRC)
  • Northern Trust Corporation – Women In Leadership Business Resource Council (WIL BRC)
  • Northwestern Mutual – Asian ERG
  • Northwestern Mutual – Northwestern Mutual Women’s Employee Resource Group
  • Novant Health – Asian Business Resource Group
  • PNC Financial Services Group – Corporate Diversity Council
  • State Street Corporation – Professional Women’s Network – Massachusetts Chapter (PWN-MA)
  • Texas Instruments – Texas Instruments Diversity Network (TIDN)
  • Turner, Inc. – Turner Business Resource Groups
  • U.S. Bank – Spectrum LGBTQ Business Resource Group
  • U.S. Bank – U.S. Bank Proud to Serve

The 2019 Spotlight Impact Award™ recipients in alphabetical order include:

  • Dominion Energy – Dominion Energy Executive Diversity Council (EDC)
  • FedEx Services – Diversity and Inclusion BRT Council
  • Food Lion – Diversity and Inclusion
  • MUFG Union Bank, N.A. – Women’s Initiative Network (WIN)
  • Summa Health – Diversity and Advisory Council

The 2019 Executive Sponsor of the Year recipients in alphabetical order:

  • FedEx Services Diversity and Inclusion BRT Council – Rebecca Huling
  • Perdue Farms Inclusion Council – Randy Day
  • Southern California Edison Company (SCE) Women’s Roundtable (WR) – Maria Rigatti
  • U.S. Bank Proud to Serve – Mike Ott

About the ERG & Council Honors Award™
The ERG & Council Honors Award™ is the only annual national award that recognizes, honors and celebrates the outstanding contributions and achievements of ERGs, BRGs and Diversity Councils that lead the diversity and inclusion process in their organizations and demonstrate results in their workforce, workplace and marketplace. Learn more by visiting ERG & Council Honors Award™.

About the ERG & Council Conference™
ERGs and Diversity Councils are vital links for improving organizational results. However, to remain impactful and effective, they need opportunities to increase their skills and knowledge and to learn and share best practices. They need opportunities to network, celebrate and grow. This is the purpose of the only annual conference designed specifically for ERGs, BRGs and Diversity Councils. Learn more by visiting ERGCouncilConference.com.

About the Association of ERGs & Councils
The Association of ERGs & Councils is a practice group of PRISM International Inc. and the premier resource for transforming Employee Resource Groups, Diversity Councils and Employee Network Groups to impact key organizational and business objectives. Learn more by visiting the ErgCouncil.com.

About PRISM International, Inc.
PRISM International Inc., a Talent Dimensions company, is a WBENC-certified, full-service provider of innovative and proven consulting, training and products for leveraging diversity and inclusion, addressing unconscious bias, increasing cross-cultural competencies and creating more effective ERGs and Diversity Councils. Learn more by visiting PrismDiversity.com

40 incredibly useful things you didn’t know Google Search could do

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Young woman working with computer

Take your search game to the next level with these tools that’ll save you time and help you get more done.

When you think about Google services, apps such as Gmail, Docs, and Photos may be the first things that come to mind. I’d be willing to wager, though, that the Google service you use more than any other is one you rarely think about—because it’s woven so tightly into your life that it doesn’t even feel like a service anymore. It just feels like a utility, something that’s always there—like a faucet for metaphorical water.

I’m talking, of course, about Google Search, the gateway to an endless-seeming array of answers and information. But these days, Google Search can do a whole lot more than just look up simple queries. In fact, if you know all of its hidden powers, Search can be a Swiss Army knife that’s always within reach, even when you aren’t actively thinking about its presence.

Browse through these 40 advanced functions—and get ready to see Search in a whole new light.

Useful tools

1. Need an impartial judge to help make a decision? Try typing “random number generator” into Google. That’ll bring up a tool that lets you specify a minimum and maximum number—for however many choices you have, or even representing a specific set of values within a spreadsheet—and then have the Google genie randomly pick a number within that range.

For a more visual (although also more limited) version of the same concept, type “spinner” into Google and then switch the toggle at the top to “Number.” You can then create a wheel with anywhere from two to 20 numbers and click it to spin and land on a random digit. The Google Search number spinner will land on a random digit, with anywhere from two to 20 options in place.

2. For even simpler decisions, let Google flip a coin or roll a die for you by typing either command into the search box. (Bonus tip: You can also ask Google to spin a dreidel.)

3. Make Google serve as your personal time-keeper by typing “timer” or “stopwatch” into a search box. You can also launch right into a specific timer by typing “20 minute timer” (or whatever amount of time you desire).

4. You probably know that Google can act as a basic calculator, performing addition, subtraction, and so on—but did you know it can also do all sorts of advanced mathematics? For instance, you can have Google graph complicated equations like “cos(3x)+sin(x), cos(7x)+sin(x)” by entering them directly into the search box. And you can fire up a geometry calculator by searching for a specific query—”area of a circle,” “formula for a triangle perimeter,” or “volume of a cylinder”—and then entering in the values you know.

5. Google has separate standalone calculators that can figure out tips and monthly mortgage payments, too. Search for “tip calculator” or “mortgage calculator” to give either a whirl.

6. The next time you need to convert between units, try asking Google to do the heavy lifting for you. In addition to handling currency and practically any measurement system, Google can convert megabytes to gigabytes, Fahrenheit to Celsius, and days into minutes or even seconds. You can explore all the possibilities by typing “unit converter” into the search box and then looking through the dropdown menus that appear—or you can perform most conversions directly by searching for the exact changeover you want (e.g. “14.7 lbs to oz”).

7. Who among us hasn’t come across a sprawling number and stared at it blankly while trying to figure out how to say it aloud? Search for any number followed by “=english”—”53493439531=english,” for example—and Google will spell out your number for you in plain-English words.

8. Designers, take note: Searching for “color picker” will pull up a simple tool that lets you select a color and find its hex code, RGB value, CMYK value, and more—and easily convert from one color code type to another.The color picker tool is an easy way to find color codes and convert among different code types.

9. You can also see an identifying swatch for a specific color code by typing it into Google in almost any form: “#fcef00,” “rgb(252, 239, 0),” “pantone 444 u,” and so on.

10. Get up-to-date info on any flight, anytime, by typing the airline name or code and flight number directly into Google.

11. Find your current IP address in a snap by typing “IP address” into any Google prompt.

12. Google can measure your internet speed and give you speedy results, regardless of whether you’re on Wi-Fi or mobile data. Just type “speed test” into a search box and then click the “Run Speed Test” button to get started.

13. From your phone, type “bubble level” into Google to load an on-demand level tool and make sure the picture you’re hanging is perfectly straight. Keep the toolbox in the closet and pull up a bubble level right from Google Search on your phone.

14. Trying to stay on beat? Google “metronome,” and the search site will give you a fully functional metronome with a slider to start any beat-per-minute setting you need.

15. Search or browse through hundreds of old print newspapers at Google’s hidden newspaper archive site. The selection is pretty hit-and-miss, but you just might find what you’re after.

16. Hardly anyone knows it, but Google has a system that allows you to save results from your searches and then organize them into collections. From a browser, it works with images, jobs, and places; after searching for any of those types of items, you’ll see small bookmark icons alongside your results that can be clicked to save the associated entities. If you have an Android phone, you can also save web pages by pulling them up within the Google app and then looking for the bookmark icon in the upper-right corner of the screen. Either way, you can find and sort your saved stuff by going to google.com/collections or looking for the “Collections” option in the Google app on Android (tucked away within the “More” menu).

Advanced information

17. Find your next job on Google by searching for “jobs near me” or something specific like “programming jobs.” You can then narrow down the search as needed, find direct links to apply to positions, and even turn on email alerts for worthwhile queries. Google’s job search function pulls in postings from all over the web and presents them in a centralized, easy-to-follow manner.

18. Thinking about going back to school—or maybe enrolling in college for the first time? Google can give you oodles of useful info about any four-year college in the United States. All you have to do is search for the school’s name, and you’ll get an interactive box with facts about its average cost (before and after financial aid for any income level) along with its acceptance rate, typical test scores, rankings, and notable alumni.

19. Get the perfect recipe for any meal by searching for the name of a dish from your mobile device. Google will give you a scrolling list of choices and will even provide one-tap commands for sending any set of instructions to a Google Assistant Smart Display connected to your account. (Bonus tip: You can search for drink recipes in the same way—again, though, only on a mobile device for some reason.)

20. Speaking of eating, you can Google any individual ingredient to find detailed nutritional information about the food. You can also search for specific nutritional queries—things like: “How many calories are in avocados,” “How much fat is in an egg yolk,” or “How much protein is in chickpeas.”

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Balancing Work and Life With Your Unique Abilities

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Achieving work-life balance requires intentional effort

If you have a job and family, you know how hard it can be to juggle your work and your home life. Taking care of things both at home and in the office isn’t easy for anyone, and people with disabilities can often find it even harder to achieve a healthy balance.

Studies show that working is good for you, both mentally and physically, and contributes to an overall better quality of life. But taking good care of yourself is an important factor, and that’s particularly true for people with disabilities.

Erika Hagensen is a public policy consultant for The Arc of North Carolina and the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities. She spoke to Professional WOMAN’s Magazine about how she strikes her own work-life balance while living with a physical disability.

“With The Arc of North Carolina, I monitor federal and state public policy and frame issues so individuals with disabilities and their families have a voice in things that impact their daily lives,” Hagensen says. “Helping people become knowledgeable and feel confident responding to critical, complicated topics is a dream job.”

Balancing Work and Life

Hagensen doesn’t claim to have any magic formula for juggling work and family—it’s an ongoing effort for her, just like the rest of us. She says, “I’m not sure how well I balance work and life—both throw curveballs on a regular basis, and I just try give it my best shot. In our inter-ability household we say, ‘function over form.’ Meaning it doesn’t matter if I use arm crutches, a walker, a wheelchair or if an activity takes twice as long—we decide what we want to do as a family and build a solution backwards.” She’s learned to lend that philosophy to the notion of work/life balance, which she approaches in three ways. “First, instead of focusing on balance, I pay attention to what a balanced life feels like for me and my family, and figure out how to make it happen. For us, it means healthy meals and eating at a small table in the kitchen. We don’t get hung up on whether it’s home cooked, frozen, or takeout from our favorite hole-in-the-wall dumpling shop—we focus on dinner together. Bonus points if the kids help make or plate it. Second, I’m happier when I exercise. I’m not going to lie and say I make it every week, but I try my best to work out at least once for an hour even when I’m sure I don’t have the time. When I do, I think more creatively, play more with my kids, and fall less.” Finally, she says she actively walks away from comparisons. “Other people’s career trajectories, kids’ activities, or social Rolodex aren’t a part of my thinking or daily calculus,” she explains. “In fact, I’m not on social media—a rare move in the public policy space.”

Challenges

Hagensen has limited time and, she adds, “as a person with a physical disability, limited energy.” That means she has to choose her priorities carefully, which can be difficult when her job isn’t predictable. “It turns out Congress, courts, legislatures and federal departments don’t work in a 9-to-5 framework with weekends off,” she reveals. “And a time-sensitive policy response doesn’t change if my son has a fever, or my daughter’s school shuts down with snow.

Resources

Tools can be helpful in the daily juggle of appointments, request and general demands. “Google calendars are a must to mesh work, kids, and family schedules, but I still love the satisfaction of crossing off handwritten lists.” She says she and a group of other parents schedule their kids’ activities and summer camps together so they have trusted backups when life gets complicated. In addition, she appreciates convenience apps that allow her to take care of some of the more mundane tasks, such as shopping for groceries and either picking them up on the way home or having them delivered to her door. “When life is really busy, we get help with the house and organizing,” she says. “It helps keep things moving forward, takes off the pressure, gives us more time at the dinner table.”

Advice for Others

When asked what advice she would give to others trying to find a good work-life balance, Hagensen answers, “Be kind to yourself. Avoid ideas or choices that start with ‘should’—it’s often steeped in comparison or guilt. Spend time with people who make you smile.” Finally, she advises, “Sleep.” A basic need that sometimes slips to the bottom of your list of priorities!

Before becoming a public policy consultant, Hagensen was executive director of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation and Director of Disability Rights, Family and Technology Policy for The Arc of the United States and United Cerebral Palsy’s Disability Policy Collaboration (DPC). She received the OMB Watch (now The Center for Effective Government) “Public Interest Rising Star” award for her pursuit of government accountability, citizen participation, and social justice. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington.

Resources for Business Owners with Disabilities

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disability-owned business

These resources can help prospective business owners living with a disability make their dream of owning their own business a reality.

Fact: Self-employment is a more popular choice among people with disabilities than it is with the general population. The Small Business Administration reported that 12.2 percent of the general population chose self-employment, and 14.3 percent of people with disabilities started businesses.

Alice Doyel, author of No More Job Interviews: Self-Employment Strategies for People With Disabilities, suggests five clear advantages of self-employment for people with disabilities.

  • Work activities that fit personal interests and capabilities
  • Control of the company
  • Workplace supports and accommodations to meet needs and enhance success
  • Connections with other community business members
  • Long-term employment with the opportunity for personal growth

Any person with a disability who has worked in the labor force may be familiar with the concept of Customized Employment (CE). Customized Employment starts not with a job description, but by identifying the strengths, conditions and interests of a job candidate. After this process of discovery, an employer or job counselor can identify a position that matches the candidate’s profile.

The same framework can be applied to identifying self-employment opportunities.

Joe Steffy is a young adult with Down syndrome and autistic spectrum disorder. When Joe was in his teens, teachers and school administrators didn’t think he’d ever work – at best, he’d spend his days at a fully supervised workplace, also known as a sheltered workshop.

Then Joe worked with a Customized Employment expert, and together they discovered Joe’s interest in popping kettle corn. Joe’s family bought equipment, and he began popping and selling kettle corn at local businesses and farmers markets. He started when he was 15 years old, and in three years, teenage Joe’s sales grew to $50,000 with a staff of five part-time employees. Joe works five or six hours a day popping corn and delivering it to stores.

Joe is in his 30s now, and Poppin’ Joe’s Gourmet Kettle Korn is still going strong.

Going through the Customized Employment framework is a good first step for any person with a disability thinking about starting their own business.

Melony Hill, who has been diagnosed with PTSD, depression, anxiety disorder, dissociative identity disorder, and fibromyalgia, launched a successful speaking, writing, and coaching business called Stronger Than My Struggles.

A big part of her success came from identifying a profession that worked for her rather than one focused on money. “Instead, I sought to find ways I would feel I was living peacefully and doing things I enjoyed,” Melony says. Now she teaches others to do the same.

Once a potential business owner has identified their unique strengths and abilities, the fun begins – identifying a business that is a right for them.

The PASS program

Usually, federal supplemental security income (SSI) payments are reduced or eliminated once the recipient finds a job. With the PASS (Plan to Achieve Self-Support) program, SSI recipients wanting to start a business can continue to accumulate SSI payments while they work and use the money to fund their startup.

PASS money can be saved up and set aside to pay for the following:

  • Transportation to and from work
  • Tuition, books, fees and supplies needed for school or training
  • Childcare
  • Attendant care
  • Supplies to start a business
  • Equipment and tools to do the job, and
  • Uniforms, special clothing and safety equipment

The Social Security Administration will not count money set aside under this plan when they decide on an SSI payment amount, so recipients may end up getting a higher payment. However, they won’t get more than the maximum payment for the state in which they live.

To qualify for PASS, the intended recipient can’t have a net worth exceeding $2,000 or $3,000 for couples. However, assets or equipment to be used for the business don’t count toward this amount.

PASS participants must get their plan approved by the Social Security Administration. Examples of businesses that have been approved include a carpentry business, a music production business and a candy vending business.

To qualify, recipients must complete paperwork, including the creation of a business plan. Here’s more about the PASS program:

Writing a business plan

Creating a business plan is a requirement of applying for PASS. It’s a vital step for any business owner.

A business plan outlines the goals of the business and details the steps needed to achieve them. The plan will include specifics like equipment needed, how the business will be promoted, and anticipated revenue.

Continue on to Business.com to read the complete article.

How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter From Scratch in 30 Minutes

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You know enough to regularly update you resume—so if you find a job posting you’re interested in, you’re halfway through the application process.The other half, of course, is your cover letter. If you have some time and are just rusty, you can make a game plan to write a draft, then take a break, and come back to it with fresh eyes.

But if you see the deadline to apply is just 30 minutes away, you don’t have any time to spare. Here’s how to write a cover letter that will bolster your application—in just half an hour. (And if you need to revamp your resume or prep for interview in the same amount time, look here and here.)

Minutes 1 Through 10: Write Down Your Main Points

Maybe it’s just me, but I often struggle the most on the opening line of a cover letter. I know I shouldn’t lead with “My name is…,” and I want something that’ll grab the hiring manager’s attention. But my quest for the perfect beginning can lead me to spend 15 minutes (or more) typing and deleting the same line over and over. (And at that rate, my 30-minute cover letter would be all of two sentences.)

So, skip the intro if need be, and just start writing about why you’re a great fit for the open position. Don’t stress about the very best way to phrase your current responsibilities. Just write down your main points.

Need a prompt? Answer these questions: What do you find most exciting (or interesting) about the position? What relevant experience do you have? What would you bring to the role (and/or company) that’s unique to you?

Definitely make sure to have your resume and the job description open or printed out next to you. That way you can glance over at both and make sure you’re highlighting the right experience.

Minutes 10 Through 20: Add in Examples

OK, so you’ve written out all of reasons why you’re perfect for the job. Now it’s time to make sure you’re on the same page as the hiring manager. How so? Go back to that job description.

Re-read what the position calls for. Did you mention the experience and skills they’ll be screening for? To connect the dots in a way that’s clear—but wouldn’t be confused with a laundry list—add in an example or two.

If the job calls for people skills, swap out the line that reads, “I have excellent people skills” with a line that explains how in previous roles you’ve managed relationships with board members, which taught you about working with opinionated stakeholders. Does the position call for someone with sales experience? An anecdote about how you’ve been in sales since you set up your first lemonade stand when you were seven years old is memorable.

Continue onto Muse to read the complete article.

Hiring People With Disabilities Is Good Business

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By: Ted Kennedy Jr.

Microsoft, Bank of America and CVS are just a few big companies that profit from their proactive employment practices.

For years, companies have maintained low expectations about hiring people with disabilities. Most of these companies believed that employees with disabilities could not perform well in the workplace and that actively hiring them would drag company performance and profits down.

Thankfully, over time, many employers have come to understand that these perceptions are untrue. And new research strongly suggests that the opposite — that hiring people with disabilities is good for business.

A recent study has shown, for the first time, that companies that championed people with disabilities actually outperformed others — driving profitability and shareholder returns. Revenues were 28 percent higher, net income 200 percent higher, and profit margins 30 percent higher. Companies that improved internal practices for disability inclusion were also four times more likely to see higher total shareholder returns.

These findings, presented in a report from Accenture, in partnership with Disability: IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities, give companies a new reason to hire people with disabilities. The results are based on an analysis of the financial performance of 140 companies that averaged annual revenues of $43 billion and participated in the Disability Equality Index, an annual benchmarking tool that objectively rates company disability policies and practices.

What exactly are these exemplary companies doing?

Well, Bank of America brought together 300 people with intellectual disabilities to create a support services team to manage fulfillment services and external client engagement. Microsoft built a successful disability hiring program specifically for people on the autism spectrum. The program, designed to attract talent, is a multiday, hands-on academy that gives candidates an opportunity to meet hiring managers and learn about the company as an employer of choice. And CVS Health refocused its training programs to capitalize on characteristics — creativity, problem-solving ability and loyalty — that people with disabilities often demonstrate.

The new research identifies five common denominators among such organizations. First, they hire people with disabilities, ensuring that they’re represented in the workplace. Second, they carry out practices that encourage and advance those employees. Third, they provide accessible tools and technologies, paired with a formal accommodations program. Fourth, they generate awareness through recruitment efforts, disability education programs and grass-roots-led initiatives. Fifth, they create empowering environments through mentoring and coaching initiatives.

Continue onto the New York Times to read the complete article.

4 Ways To Respect The Needs Of Employees With Disabilities

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man in wheelchair with woman sitting next to him looking at laptop

Employers are hiring more employees with disabilities — and for good reason. These workers are crucial to winning the war on talent since they can be highly skilled — and too often overlooked. Adding people with different experiences to a team can also have a positive impact on a company’s culture, and thus ultimately on its bottom line.

Some companies may already employ a number of workers with disabilities and not realize it. Joe Nuzzo, vice president-counsel of worldwide sales and marketing at ADP, believes organizations should understand that the concept of disabilities, as recognized by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), comprises a wide range of conditions. These include physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, invisible disabilities, mental illnesses, cognitive disabilities, blindness and deafness.

The ADA covers an estimated 54 million Americans, Nuzzo said, citing the latest industry statistics.

“Almost any American at some point in their life may experience a condition that qualifies as a disability,” he said.

Yet disabled employees are often afraid to disclose their conditions. They can struggle to get proper accommodations and can face discrimination from colleagues. That in turn can lead to problems integrating into the workplace and lead to higher turnover.

How can organizations recruit and retain disabled employees and ensure that their workplaces are welcoming and safe environments? Here are four ways to become a top choice for workers with disabilities:

  1. Know and follow the ADA and other disability rights legislation

The ADA protects employees with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace, so it’s crucial that organizations understand their obligations under the act.

But the ADA is not the only law your organization might need to follow.

“Most states have similar anti-discrimination laws that protect individuals with disabilities,” Nuzzo said. “Some have tighter requirements.”

When it comes to accessibility, it’s important to think broadly about what it means for your organization. Not having a wheelchair-access ramp is an obvious barrier, Nuzzo said, but an organization might be excluding or disadvantaging disabled people in unintended ways.

“Is your hiring process accessible to everybody, even to those applicants who might have hearing or vision impairments?” Nuzzo said.

Whenever an employee indicates a health need or discloses a disability, the ADA triggers obligations.

“Once an employee identifies that they have a disability and might need an accommodation, the employer needs to have that individualized discussion with them,” Nuzzo said. “You have to make sure that you fully understand their needs and fully explore possible solutions.”

There can be significant consequences for discriminating against employees with disabilities, who may sue organizations that violate the law.

  1. Proactively recruit employees with disabilities

Given the sheer number of workers with disabilities and the current low unemployment rate, organizations not actively recruiting this group are more likely to struggle when it comes to hiring qualified people.

“If you’re not reaching out and connecting with that portion of the population,” Nuzzo said, “then you’re really limiting your reach.”

He suggests sending employment listings to job listservs that target the disability community and ensuring the descriptions are written in a way that appeals to people with disabilities. Offering flexible hours or the ability to telecommute can be particularly attractive.

“I think the companies that do a great job of employing individuals with disabilities find an employee population that is incredibly determined, has much higher employee retention than their peers, and has an innate ability to innovate and problem solve,” Nuzzo said.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2019

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Resumes get a bad rap. We write them begrudgingly, usually during periods of transition, or tumult. We fiddle with phrasing and format, agonizing over how to craft our qualifications into the best resume possible. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

For smart job seekers, resumes are an opportunity — to make a case for their candidacy, to get the salary they’ve earned, and to convince any hiring manager she would be crazy not to hire them.

Yahoo MONEY teamed up with Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder of Brooklyn Resume Studio, to help you become one of those job seekers. Here’s how to write the perfect resume — and a free resume template that you can download and use for your next job interview.

Resume sample-Yahoo MONEY

(Resume design courtesy of Dana Leavy-Detrick; click here for a free downloadable template)

[1] The Best Resume Format

When it comes to resume format and design, opt for a clean layout. A recent study from the job site Ladders found that resumes with so-called F-pattern and E-pattern layouts, which mimic how our eyes tend to scan web pages, hold a recruiter’s attention for longer than those aligned down the center, or from right to left.

There is no one specific “best” font for resumes. You should use the same font style throughout, Leavy-Detrick says, but play with different weights and sizes to draw a recruiter’s eye to key parts of your resume. Sans serif fonts usually work best — Franklin Gothic, Calibri, and Avenir (the last of which we used for the attached template) are three of Leavy-Detrick’s favorites.

[2] Make Your Resume Stand Out

If you’re applying for an investment banking job, a hot-pink resume probably won’t do you any favors. But subtle pops of color, like the orange used here, will work for just about everyone.

“It’s very minimal, and gives a bit of a design element,” Leavy-Detrick says.

If you do use color, “Use it sparingly,” she warns. “Stick to one color, and one color that’s going to print well.”

[3] Add a Skills Section in Your Resume

Lead with the good stuff. The top of your resume should include “critical keywords and a quick snapshot of your core strengths,” Leavy-Detrick says.

Hard skills, tangible attributes that can easily be measured, take precedence here, so highlight them accordingly. If you’re in a tech-driven field, software and programming expertise is what employers want to see on your resume. If you’re in a creative industry, design and communication skills might be your best bet.

[4] Make a Resume That Shows Impact

To prove you’re worth a hiring manager’s time, highlight recent examples of what you bring to the table. Statistics that build upon your skills section are most impactful — bonus points if they show a track record of growth, revenue, and profitability, Leavy-Detrick says.

If you’re drawing a blank, she suggests adding resume skills that can help solve a “problem area” for the company you’re applying to.

“Impact doesn’t always have to be measured by metrics,” she says. “Cultural improvements, special projects, customer growth … anything that showed success can work.”

[5] What to Leave Off a Resume

Be discerning with the content—don’t list salary requirements, use tables or columns, or tick off every job you’ve ever had. The same goes for social media profiles. Unless your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s probably best to leave those off your resume.

“Only include them if they add value in some way,” Leavy-Detrick says. “If you have zero followers, you may not want to advertise that.”

Continue on to Yahoo MONEY to read the complete article.