5 Tips for Using LinkedIn to Further Your Career

Tailoring your LinkedIn profile and keeping it updated may seem like a daunting task, but maintaining an informative profile is an invaluable way to get noticed by potential recruiters, employers or collaborators. To help tackle this task, I’ve compiled some of the best tips for managing your profile so that you can utilize your LinkedIn in order to get noticed by potential connections and make a great first impression:

Connect with Recruiters
One of the best resources LinkedIn can offer is the option to connect with recruiters in your industry. When looking for a new job, proactively reach out to recruiters either by finding their contact info on their LinkedIn profile, or by sending them a connection request with a personalized message. Explain in your initial contact with a recruiter that you are looking for new roles and that you would love to connect to discuss potential opportunities.

Respond to Recruiters – Even if you are not looking for new opportunities
Even if you are currently happy in your current position, you should never ignore a recruiters request to discuss potential opportunities, or worse yet, give them a rude response. While you may have no intention of changing jobs currently, you never know what the future holds and you could find yourself looking for a job and wishing you had kept in touch with that recruiter who reached out to you. The best policy is always to answer politely and honestly – let them know that you would love to work with them in the future should your current job situation ever change. It’s a great way to start a relationship and have a head start should something change with your current job situation.

When reaching out to a connection on LinkedIn: Don’t neglect their contact policy
Whether you are sending a message to a recruiter, a potential employer, or someone you admire in your industry who you’d love to form a working relationship with, make sure you always check that person’s contact policy on their profile. While some people may accept messages on LinkedIn, a lot of people include email addresses to directly connect with them or may have specific instructions on how to best reach them. It’s best to check someone’s personal preferences on contacting them so you can show that you have paid attention to the details of their profile.

Editing your profile: Know how much information to include
It’s imperative to not post too much or too little to your LinkedIn. It’s great to include a concise personal summary to quickly recap your career so that anyone looking at your profile can quickly get a sense of your background. However, be sure to not be too superfluous- avoid writing an autobiography about yourself. It’s a fact that people lose interest quickly and you can lose your audience’s attention if you’re too lengthy. As far as your work experience goes, after including your company and title, it’s best to include a brief description of the responsibilities associated with your role – maybe one or two bullet points or an example of some clients you worked with. Think concise but informative; a snapshot of your career that won’t bore your potential connections.

If you want people to connect with you: Make your contact information readily available
If you are open to being contacted by recruiters, potential employers, or potential collaborators in order to further your career – it’s imperative that you include your contact information in your LinkedIn profile. Don’t leave it up to people having to search high and low for your contact information because that’s one way for a potential connection to become disinterested and give up on contacting you. Depending on your profession, if you have projects that showcase your work – it’s also helpful to include a link of any portfolio or personal website you may have in order to allow people to see the caliber of your work and encourage them to reach out to you.

While it may seem like an intimidating task to perfect and manage your LinkedIn profile, remembering these easy steps can help to keep your profile in tip top shape and help attract potential connections in your industry!

You Are Your Own Brand

my pickThis week’s post will touch on the importance of being your own brand ambassador at all times. This means maintaining a standard of professionalism, and being thoughtful about how you would like to be perceived. Although your work is a critical part of hiring decisions, personality, communication and presentation can be make-or-break factors.

What to wear

Deciding what to wear for an interview can be telling of whether or not you understand the company culture of where you are interviewing. You need to gauge for yourself what kind of company this is: is it a suited up environment? Is it a relaxed environment? However, no matter the dress code, you need to present yourself in a way that is representative of your unique style and aligns with the brand you are interviewing for. You should be polished, since it is above all else a professional encounter.

What to say

The best types of interviews are ones that flow easily like a conversation, and are focused on your skillset and strengths as a candidate for this role, and why you want to work for that company. This is a sign that the interview is going well. HOWEVER, do not let it get too casual! It will be tempting to start going off on complete tangents, or making jokes or comments that may not be interview appropriate. Stay away from these kinds of comments, if you feel at ease with your interviewer that’s great, but don’t get too comfortable! And remember, keep it professional, which means no bad-mouthing your previous employers. It doesn’t matter how negative your experience might have been, highlight the positive aspects of your experience there, and give a reason for leaving which has more to do with personal and career growth, NOT a reason which has to do with why you dislike your current employer.

The follow up

I cannot stress enough the importance of following up. It is something that is so quick and easy to do, but if you don’t do it, it can hurt the hiring manager’s impression of you, even if the interview went really well. It is always a good policy to include at least one concrete thing that you talked about during your interview in your thank you note. This shows that the conversation you had was memorable and meaningful to you. For more tips on the follow up, check out my colleague Rachel’s post “The Ultimate Thank You – Why Following Up Is Important.” My advice: send out the follow up thank you email as soon as possible, you want to show the hiring manager that you really want this, and it keeps you top of mind.

So remember, dress the part, talk the talk, and always always ALWAYS follow up!

How To Approach Being Given a Test Project

Thea8273As part of the interview process, clients will often include a test project to better evaluate a prospective candidate’s conceptual/strategic, executional and presentation/communication skills. It can be the defining factor in securing the position, and often times, justifying the salary one requests. How you handles this delicate time in the interview process is critical in either “making” or “breaking” the prospects for landing the job. Below is a brief checklist on “how-to” and “HOW NOT-TO” approach this segment of the interview process:


– Graciously accept the project and show your enthusiasm and excitement for tackling the creative objective at hand. Clients want to see that you are excited about their brand and feel the passion you have for your craft.

– Think strategically about what you are doing. Nothing irritates a client more than someone who does not demonstrate a higher-level of thinking when it comes to how their brand operates. This includes taking into account the competitive landscape and existing branding and marketing principles that already exist.


– The best way to show an employer that you do not want their job is to “pushback” in any regard to the deliverables of the project. Examples include: wanting to be paid, wanting an NDA signed so your work is not used and telling the client that the scope of the project is too large. While you might be 100% correct about all of these points, if you want the job, the project as it exists is mandatory. If you are not doing it, you have to realize that your peers and competitors for the role are. At worst, your competition will advance forward and you will be disqualified for the role. At best, it will definitely set you back in the employer’s mind, and give them a glimpse of both your disinterest in the opportunity or leave a “diva-like” impression. Not a good look.

In summary, if you want the job, my best advice after years of doing this is, put your best foot forward. Show your prospective employer that you are a strategic, teamplayer – at Every. Single. Stage. Of the interview process.

It’s All Relative – A Few Dating Truths That Apply to Job Searching

Very similar to dating, looking for a new job can be scary, taxing and sometimes pretty weird. It’s a two way street, involving more than one person’s personality, skills and presentation combined to potentially secure a long term relationship. In this blog I’ll discuss a few dating truths and tips that also apply to the job hunt – how to use them to your advantage and when to proceed with caution.

Look your best…
Just like you want to impress your date by showering, shaving and putting on some perfume, it’s important to look the part for the role you’re interviewing for. I’m not saying go to your meeting in a ball gown and stage makeup, but take extra time to wear a skirt and heels, or dig up that suit in the back of your closet. You want to look polished, well presented, and like someone that is pleasant to be around (this applies to general hygiene of course, but also in the way you dress yourself). Granted, all company cultures are different and if you’re aware of a super casual clothing environment, or your recruiter tells you ahead of time not to dress too formally, you should cloth yourself accordingly. Still, it’s never a bad idea to go the extra step and throw on those booties – looking cute never hurt anyone from landing the role!

When you listen to your date talk about their lifestyle, and the things they like to do, you wonder if you could see yourself joining them. This completely applies to job searching; you should go into every interview to not only hear, but really listen to what your interviewer is saying about the company, and ask yourself if you can see your personality and skills thriving there. It’s extremely important to listen just as much as you talk on a date, and this truth applies directly to interviewing.

In this digital age, it’s practically expected that you’ll look up your date beforehand. You want to see what they look like, what they do in their free time, and if you have any mutual friends. This truth applies to job searching quite possibly more than any of the others – doing research on a company beforehand is vital for a successful interview. You should thoroughly look up their clients, their company structure, and any recent business wins or press releases they’ve been involved in. Although sometimes frowned upon in the dating world, this truth in the job hunt is an absolute must! You should also mention this research during your meeting if it’s relevant to what you’re discussing, and feel free to flatter the company’s success or anything else you admire about them.

Be Honest
This truth is one that applies to dating in every aspect, as well as when you’re in an actual relationship. Being honest with your date about what you’re looking for in a relationship is super important, and being honest with your partner about your needs is essential for long lasting success. Similarly, being upfront with your potential employer about your experience, as well as what you’re looking for in your next role is a must. You should be clear about your goals, what you’d like to accomplish in your future and what kind of position you see yourself thriving in. It doesn’t help anyone when dating to lead the other person on to believe you want something you actually don’t (say you’re looking for a committed relationship, and they just want a casual fling), and this applies just the same when looking for a new job. There’s no point in lying about your capabilities if you’re not experienced in a certain realm, or saying you enjoy the type of work you actually hate. Eventually the truth will come out, and you’ll be much more embarrassed once you’ve been hired than if you were just honest in the first place. Be truthful about what you’re looking for from a job and company, as well as what kind of employee you are, and you’ll be sure to find the right match.

Sometimes No Means Maybe
Any smooth guy is familiar with this one – sometimes “no” really just means maybe. She won’t go out with you at first, but that doesn’t mean the chase is over: with a little finesse sprinkled with persistence, you know you can change her mind. This tactic completely applies to job searching, and should always be encouraged. Just because there are no open positions at your level, or the team is at capacity, does not mean things can’t or won’t change somewhere down the line. It’s always a good idea to follow up, and continue following up, until you get your foot in the door. Teams are always changing, budgets are shifting and recruitment needs change frequently. If you feel passionately about a role or even just a company in general, make it known that you remain interested (even if it becomes 6 months or a year later) and remain as tenacious as you can in your resolve.

Overall, it’s about finding that match that feels right, and more often than not it takes trial and error. Think about how many first dates you’ve had that never went anywhere – it’s still great experience (and sometimes a great story) and the same applies to interviews. Now go on and nab that dream job!

The Importance of Actually Answering the Interview Questions

my pickAnswer the question you were asked. Seems relatively straight forward, but in my experience, many candidates can’t seem to nail down this part of the interview. This skill is important to master, not doing so has the potential to hold back a perfectly qualified individual.

Very often I will ask a candidate a question, only to receive a long-winded, complicated, tangential answer which more often than not does not answer the original question. This presents an issue because a) it comes off as if you didn’t listen to the question or b) you are trying to obscure something else that might be the real answer. These are both pretty negative impressions to make on a hiring manager so you want to avoid both at all costs!

The best advice I can give you is:

Really listen to the question that is being asked of you, if you didn’t catch it the first time, it is better to ask the interviewer to repeat the question, than to guess at what they asked you and end up not actually answering the question.
Speak with intention. Be as concise as possible, at the same time as using the most meaningful and impactful language and formulations for your answers.
Be honest, but that doesn’t mean you need to share EVERYTHING, only share what will work in your favor of positioning yourself as a desirable candidate.
The last point that I made above about honesty is important. Never lie about experience or salary, but there is such a thing as being too honest. A hiring manager doesn’t need to know too many details about your personal life, they want to know why you want to work for them, and you should only share the motivations that involve your interest in their company and your career growth ambitions.

To sum up, short, sweet and to the point is the golden rule for answering the question you have been asked! Take your time to figure out what information the hiring manager is asking for, and answer honestly and eloquently. Now you can go and rock that interview!

Presenting Your Portfolio Part 3: Presentation

my pick
Hi! My name is Sophia, I am an Associate Search Consultant with The Melanie Andersen Agency. I work on all design and merchandising roles for our fashion and retail clients. I’m obsessed with all things fashion, and feel so privileged to play a role in the direction of the design and production of our clients’ products.

My favorite part of the interview process is looking at designers’ portfolios, so I created this 3 part blog series that gives some advice on how to maximize your chances of landing the interview. Resumes and portfolios should be the champions of your cause, not the Achilles’ heel for an otherwise talented designer. Last week, I gave a brief overview of what content to include in your portfolio. For the 3rd and final installment of this blog series, I offer up some advice on presentation which will give you a competitive edge and help ensure you knock ‘em dead!

So now that you have been able to painfully edit down your life’s work into what I’m sure seems like only a tiny sliver of what you have done and what you are capable of doing, it is time to present your portfolio to a hiring manager.

There are a few of things to keep in mind and to make sure you touch on when you are presenting your work:

Walk the hiring manager through your process, speak to your inspirations, your methods, etc.
Talk at the same time as turning (or swiping!) through the pages, if you talk too much without simultaneously moving through the portfolio, the hiring manager could get impatient.
Speak with intention, meaning don’t talk in circles, be really thoughtful about everything you say and let it be short, sweet and to the point.
My best advice for nailing down your presentation technique would be to practice with friends. Walk them through your portfolio as if you are on an interview. This will get you comfortable with telling your story and public speaking. Just remember you are talented, creative, and you deserve it!

Body Language: Secrets to Winning the Interview

Having great body language alone won’t land you your dream job, but it can certainly increase your chances of projecting a confident, smart, social and professional image which are incredibly important attributes to be remembered by. I’ve outlined 10 simple and easy tips below to keep you ahead of the game for interviewing and for life in general too!

1. Sit all the back in your seat: it shows confidence and that you are relaxed and ready, so try to avoid slouching as much as possible as it shows insecurity.

2. Instead of constant eye contact: instead, focus on your interviewers face. Eye contact is great, but it can be a little intense and uncomfortable at times so use it wisely.

3. Use hand gestures while speaking: this is a great trick if you’re really nervous and your hands are shaking.

4. Show your palms: it shows honesty and puts people at ease.

5. Plant your feet on the ground: don’t cross your legs, or ankles. Believe it or not, it is scientifically proven that we create the best thoughts with both feet on the floor… weird right?

6. Work on your walk: when your greeting your interviewer, make sure you walk directly towards them with your body pointing in their direction and with your neck elevated and shoulders pulled back; not like Naomi Campbell, but I think you get my point.

7. Don’t cross your arms: it shows disengagement and makes you look like you are closed off, and you want to always look open and inviting but not in a sexual way of course.

8. Nod your head while listening: it shows that you’re attentive, so even if you’re bored to death, it would be best to fake it.

9. Lean in: keeping your shoulders back and down, and your chest high demonstrates interest.

10. Smile: it shows that you’re friendly and approachable

Calling out of work –the do’s and don’ts!

DSC_0714Calling out of work has definitely become outdated and not as popular since we experienced the recession, however, it is now more frequent for employees to come into work when they really shouldn’t be. Taking the day off work may not always be an easy choice, but sometimes it’s the right one. So before you make your decision, consider the pros and cons and the impact that your absence might have on your colleagues and your company. We’ve constructed the top 5 reasons you SHOULD give your boss that call, and 5 reasons when you SHOULD NOT make the call.

Good Reasons

1) Contagious illnesses like the Flu or Common Cold: STAY HOME! A sick employee is usually not productive at work and poses a bigger threat to the company because you increase the risk of someone else getting sick. Don’t try to be Mel Gibson in Braveheart by proving your dedication to your work, you should dedicate yourself to your body and get better!

2) Mental Day: Sometimes We all get too caught up in what we’re doing and forget to take the time to unwind and relax. Overstress can lead to you burning out, physical illness, or worse…having a break-down. Take a yoga class, lay down or listen to the Zen Garden station on Pandora to cleanse your mind, body and spirit. Just make sure you don’t do this too frequently.

3) Severe Weather: Better stay home and be safe than risk the chance of not making back home.

4) Another Job Interview: Be discreet about it and try and make it in the morning or late afternoon, so you can come in late or leave early and don’t impact your current role and responsibilities.

5) Legal Court Dates: You have no choice!

Lame Reasons

1) A drunken night now: It happens to the best of us, but it’s not fair to the people who have to pick up your slack. Buy yourself a SmartWater, Gatorade, coffee, and 2 bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches and I promise you’ll bounce back to life.

2) Sports Events or Sample Sales: That’s just wrong, no matter how right you think it is!

3) Beach Day: When it’s beautiful out, the last place anyone wants to be is at work. However, we’re adults, not rebellious teenagers and we’re getting paid to work. There’s a time and place for everything.

4) Inconvenient Weather: of course it’s hard getting out of bed in the morning when it’s raining and looks like it’s the end of world outside. Get out of bed, play something happy and wear something cheerful to get your mind in a more positive state.

5) You hate your boss: Studies have shown that almost half of employees don’t like their managers, but it’s still not a valid reason to bail out of work. Either get a new job, or focus on your behavior rather than your managers.

How To Present Your Portfolio: Turning A Vulnerability Into A Strength.

my pickHi! My name is Sophia, I am an Associate Search Consultant with The Melanie Andersen Agency. I work on all design and merchandising roles for our fashion and retail clients. I’m obsessed with all things fashion, and feel so privileged to play a role in the direction of the design and production of our clients’ products.

My favorite part of the interview process is looking at designers’ portfolios, so I created this 3 part blog series that gives some advice on how to maximize your chances of landing the interview. Resumes and portfolios should be the champions of your cause, not the Achilles’ heel for an otherwise talented designer. Last week, I gave some pointers and general advice on what you should be aiming to achieve with the layout of your resume and portfolio. For Part 2 of the series, I have laid out some tips on the content you should include in your portfolio. Hope you find this helpful!

Part 2: Content

What to include in your portfolio is a question every designer struggles with. The best advice I can offer is it needs to be a balance between inspiration, work for your previous employers, and personal work.

Although there shouldn’t be too many inspiration or mood boards, including at least one is important, because it is an inside scoop on your thought process and how you curate ideas, themes, and color schemes, etc. That being said, your portfolio should be a showcase of your work, you don’t want there to be any confusion as to whether it is your work or inspiration you are including. When I am looking at portfolios, I like to see a mix of work you have produced for a company, as well as personal sketches and designs. It is important for a hiring manager to see how a designer operates with and without the constraints of the company they work for.

I would caution not to make the portfolio too big, as hiring managers are usually impatient and don’t have a lot of time to look at a huge portfolio, so include only the best. It is also important for you to have digital portfolio samples, a lot of clients ask to be sent pieces of a designer’s portfolio prior to agreeing to an interview. Also, you should be sure that the file is small enough to easily send via email.

Now that you have the insider tips for layout and content, be sure to check out the third and final installment of this blog series: Presentation!

The Importance of Showcasing Personal Work

2014-07-22 04.08.37My name is Nina Malek and I am an Associate Search Consultant on the Creative Team here at The Melanie Andersen Agency.

Whether you work as a creative or not, you can show off your skills and experience to your employers in a fun, creative way by simply creating a visually appealing resume. A visual resume will help you eliminate lengthy wording and ensure that it stays under one page. Here are some quick tips on how to create a resume that will make you stand out from the crowd.

1. Use a visually appealing font – Times New Roman is very outdated and will blend right into an employer’s pile of resumes, so try out different fonts and use something that is easy to read, but isn’t boring. Creating a logo for yourself with a pop of color will ensure that your name stands out and gives an employer a glimpse of your aesthetic and style. Even something as simple as using color can help guide a hiring manager through your resume.

2. Clean and to the point – Remember to use white space throughout the document wisely, leaving enough white space throughout the document to give a clean and easy-to-read look. A resume that feels TOO visually complicated or looks like it will take too long to read will often get put to the site. Remember not to muddle your resume with unnecessary items- try to stick to thebasics and most important points that you want your employer to remember you by!

3. Replace lengthy sentences with graphics – A great way to eliminate lengthy sentences and ensure that a potential employer will notice important information is to use charts, icons or graphs. Replace a sentence about your growth in revenues with a chart or narrate your skills with icons. A cool site to use to find and download these types of icons is The Noun Project.

4. Links – It is 2015 and Google exists, so providing links to all of your relevant social media accounts in the header section of your resume will allow the hiring manager to easily access this information. Providing easy access to your LinkedIn or relevant Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr pages if you don’t have a website is a great way to give a potential employer more insight in life. That said, remember to only link those sites that are appropriate, professional and current.