Artisan Blog

Your First "Real" Job Interview

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Although you probably have had jobs during your high school and college years, if you are graduating from college in the next few weeks, you may be having your first “real” job interview in the near future. We hope our job search tips for graduates helped you land that interview. Here are our tips for your first time sitting across the desk from a hiring manager in your field:

Do some research--You might think you are done with research after you throw your mortarboard in the air, but all that work at school was preparing you for the research you need to do throughout your career. Look up that company you are interviewing with next week on LinkedIn and read everything on their website. Know their mission and everything you can learn about their culture.

Get a great outfit--You might be reading articles about how everyone these days has tattoos and wears jeans to work, but that hiring manager isn’t your friend yet. Dress up more than absolutely necessary and keep your individual style down to an accessory that shows your personality. You will have a better idea of what is acceptable at the company after your interview and may be able to be more casual at your second interview. Bide your time.

Practice--Can't say it too many times! Don’t just think about your answers to typical interview questions, practice them out loud with a trusted friend. You need to know how to keep your answers to a good length, know your stories well enough to keep eye contact while you are talking, and get some feedback. If you have some options for “What is your greatest accomplishment?” or “Tell me about yourself,” a mock interview is the perfect place to give them each a tryout.

Everyone gets nervous before interviews, even those more experienced than you. If you know you are as prepared as possible, you will get into the zone quickly and be able to establish a real connection with the hiring manager and maybe it won’t take you too long to land the perfect first job after graduation.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Fun in Freelancing

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, May 07, 2014

There are lots of positives about being a freelance creative, but one that often gets overlooked is the fun of starting something new in a new place more often than people with permanent jobs. If you can look beyond the anxiety inherent in lots of “first days,” you can appreciate the great things about new starts:

Make connections--Like to make new friends and network? Short-term freelance jobs let you meet new people often and show them what you can do. You can never meet too many people, especially in your field.

Learn something new--Every project has unique challenges. Embrace them and you can keep learning throughout your career.

Explore neighborhoods--When you work in the same place for a long time, you can get comfortable, but you can also get bored. Ask one of your new friends to walk around with you on your lunch breaks for a few days. You never know what you might find.

Discovering a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or park isn’t the only perk to that walk. We came across a study from Stanford University this week that showed that “walking boosts creative inspiration” by as much as 60%. 

So, when you start that new freelance gig, don’t be shy about walking around on breaks or at lunch. Ask your co-workers for the best places in the area to eat or read. Find outdoor spaces you’ve never seen before. You might find yourself an expert on parts of your city no one you know has ever seen, and you might also find it makes you more creative and more successful.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

5 Job Search Tips for Graduates

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Getting graduation announcements in the mail these days? All of those newly-minted diploma holders are about to enter the workforce in droves and the job search environment is still in a tenuous recovery. Here are some of our tips for landing that first job after graduation:

Think long-term: Your short-term goal is to get a job, but don’t neglect to think about where you want to be next year, five or even ten years from now. You can’t make a solid plan, but you can figure out some routes and take your first steps along one or more of them.

Get in touch: Now is when you should be connecting with friends you made in classes ahead of yours in college or graduate students who have moved out of academia and adding them to your network, not to mention letting anyone you worked with as an intern during school know that you are ready for the job market.

Set up informational interviews: Ask your parents’ friends and colleagues and anyone else you can think of. They really are a way into the hidden job market.

Keep learning: Yes, you just finished school, but your education doesn’t end there. Read the latest books in your field, take a class. Whatever you learn now will make a great interview topic.

Practice interviewing: Most likely, you’ve never taken a course called Job Interviewing 101. Get together with other recent graduate friends and do some mock interviews, critique each other’s stories and get into the zone. Here are some great questions for practice.

If your job search takes longer than you would like, you're not alone. Find a non-profit organization you are passionate about and offer your skills as a volunteer. Volunteering keeps you busy, keeps your skills up-to-date, gives you great networking opportunities, provides you with stories to tell about your summer, and may even lead to a paying job.

Congratulations on a great achievement! Now get out there!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Freelancing and Sick Days

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Illness comes upon us all on occasion. No matter how we eat or exercise or how many times a day we wash our hands, we get sick. But for freelancers, getting sick has an added bonus: no paid sick days.

Many freelancers will work on days they would take off if they worked in corporate jobs. Missed deadlines and unhappy clients are bad for business. Here are our tips for working when you’re under the weather, without missing part of your paycheck:

Don’t push yourself--Today is not the day to tackle a big project that isn’t urgent, even if you planned to. Your best work may be unattainable and you might end up having to do things over again later. Take it easy, slow and steady.

Let your clients know--If you get to the point where you really have to stop for the day and rest, communicate that. Most people are understanding--they’ve been there, too.

Keep it simple--Make a list of what really needs to be done today and another of what can be done tomorrow. Stick to today’s list.

Put it off--If there is flexibility about when your work gets done, put it off for a couple of days until you feel better. Working on Saturday may not be the most fun, but if it means you can take a nap on Thursday, that might be the best thing.

Do you work through illness or take time off? Let us know in the comments!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Coming in Second

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Does coming in second feel like failure? It shouldn’t--but sometimes it does. Psychology Today recently wrote about how people react to getting a Silver Medal in the Olympics and I spent last weekend in Nashville, Tennessee with over a hundred teenage performers who ended the weekend as First Runners Up with remarkable nonchalance. There are many people, however, who torment themselves with the “what ifs” and have a hard time with just missing that brass ring.

It happens in job searches and at work, where we can be a hiring manager’s second choice or be second in line for that promotion. Coming in second can feel like failure--so close and yet so far.

What many of us do when we come close to winning is imagine what would have happened if we had done something differently. Psychology Today calls it “counterfactual thinking.” The “what if” scenarios imagined by Third Place winners are generally positive, but those of the Second Place finishers are more negative, even though they were clearly almost at the very top of their field.

Counterfactual thinking can be helpful after a near miss since it helps us come up with alternative behaviors or better choices we might make next time out. Perhaps it was one of your interview questions or answers that made the difference, or something about your presentation which was was less than stellar.

The trick is to make sure you also think about what definitely worked in your favor. Don’t forget to praise yourself for that story you told exactly the way you wanted to, the research you did about the company that surprised the hiring manager, and the relationships you started building with the people you met. It is all too easy to focus on the mistakes you think you may have made, rather than the things you did well.

The high school students I was with last weekend know that they did as amazing a performance as they could possibly have done and their First Runner Up was not because they didn’t do their very best work, so they can be proud regardless of their placement. They have no regrets. There is no shame in coming in second. Making the choice to see it as a top-tier finish will set you up well for your next opportunity to shine.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

(Of course, the photo is from a competition where they were Grand Champions!)

Spring Cleaning Your LinkedIn Profile

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Spring is here even in colder climates and it’s time to clean out your LinkedIn Profile as well as your closet. You should be revising your resume every quarter, listing new accomplishments and adding job responsibilities, volunteer experience and of course proofreading again. Your LinkedIn Profile could probably also use a fresh eye.

Summary

Make sure your summary reflects what you are passionate about now, not what you were doing last year. If your focus has changed, it’s time to rewrite.

Files

LinkedIn lets us add files, photos and videos so if you have some more current writing samples or other work product, post it now.

Experience

Freelancers have probably worked for new clients in the last few months. Make sure you add those clients to your experience on LinkedIn and your resume.

Skills

Added anything to your skillset this winter? Add it to your list. When you add skills to your list, your connections can give you new endorsements. And if you haven’t learned anything new lately, go do that!

Connections

Take a few minutes to send invitations to the people you’ve met over the winter. They will be happy to have some fresh faces in their connections, too.

Landing a new job isn’t the only time to revise your LinkedIn Profile, and it is easy to let it get stale. Open the windows and shake out the dust!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Reflections: Competition

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It’s competition season all over: for actors and others in the entertainment industry, for Olympians across the globe, and even close to home as show choirs on the west coast have a contest almost every weekend for the next few months. With so many vying for honors, we have been struck with the different ways we can handle competition as creative entrepreneurs.

Oscar Style

“It’s an honor to be nominated.” But the nominees do a lot of branding and marketing to try to get more votes. The ones who sit back and let the chips fall where they may are more likely to go home emptyhanded unless their work is truly stellar.

On the other hand, they never say their competitors’ work is worse than theirs and they seem to generally get along on a personal level. After all, the actor you mocked could be across the table read from you in a month or two. And you hope he will because that means you’re working.

As creatives, we need to pay attention to personal branding and marketing and keep it positive, too. You never know whom your next client might--or might not--be.

High School Style

Teenagers can be mean, but I’m around literally hundreds of kids in active competition in the performing arts, and they surprise me all the time. They support and encourage each other. What they don’t like is injustice, for themselves or their competitors.

They’ll fight for points, but equally for the deserved points of others. They love to win but they cheer (almost) as loud for other groups. They know that the most important thing in a competition is to do their very best every single time and leave the rest of it to the judges.

We all live in a sometimes unjust world where the rules seem to change while the game is still being played. All we can do is our best work and keep our cool and hope things turn out well more often than not.

Olympic Style

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.” The Olympic Creed says it all. My favorite stories from the Olympics are not the Gold Medals, the perfect scores. My favorites are when the athletes stop and help each other. Wait for an injured athlete to catch up. Share water. The struggle is the same for everyone. Some will win, some will lose. Being human and struggling together is what makes competition a worthy endeavor.

As part of a team, and between teams, we can help each other over the finish line. Mentor, network, give advice. You might be the one who needs an arm around your shoulder next time.

Competition is exciting--it stirs the blood, motivates us and offers the potential for tangible rewards. If we rely on the quality of our own work, the energy and commitment we put into it and sometimes even the kindness of others, we can all succeed.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Leadership Lessons from Presidents

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Not all of our mentors have to be here in the room, having lunch or networking with us. If we are open to learning, we can find mentors anywhere, even in history. This Presidents’ Week, we thought we would get a little mentoring from some past US Presidents. Turns out they have a lot to teach us about leadership.

Team Building

Abraham Lincoln is well-known for creating a “team of rivals,” making sure that not everyone around him agreed with him. Instead of choosing those he knew shared his views, he chose the very best in their field, whether they agreed with him or not. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall in some of those cabinet meetings, but there is no doubt that there was some great brainstorming going on in the Lincoln White House.

“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” --Abraham Lincoln

Taking Risks

I’m sure there are Presidents who didn’t take many risks, but funny, I can’t remember which. Whether in bold initiatives, controversial foreign policy or changing the direction of the country, real leaders are memorable for what they try to do, what they are passionate about, what they make others want to join them in trying to accomplish. Playing it safe is not on their list of qualities.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly …” 
--Theodore Roosevelt

Being Present

With important and sometimes lifechanging decisions to be made at any moment, Presidents have needed to be able to focus on what is going on right now, deal with it, and move on to the next thing. Leaders are fully present, listening, processing and making choices. Right now, I feel lucky that the choices I have to make are not life or death.

“Come now, let us reason together.” --Lyndon Johnson

Never Giving Up

Throughout history, some people have run around saying “It can’t be done! It will be the end of the world! Too much too fast! We’re not ready!” Great leaders don’t pay attention to naysayers or the fearful. Change is inevitable, though often uncomfortable. Some will always need to be gentled into it, but leaders are right up front, ready and willing--and persistent.

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” 
--John F. Kennedy

Leadership is difficult and sometimes unpleasant. But when the risks are worthy, when decisions are made with intelligence and expert advice, when the moment is right and we are determined, we can be leaders that everyone will remember.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” --John Quincy Adams

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

Loving the Freelance Life

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

As it becomes more common--and easier--to choose the freelance lifestyle, more workers are finding out why their freelance colleagues love it as much as they do. They might even be getting a little jealous. Why do we love freelancing?

  • Entrepreneurship--Freelancing is the simplest way to run your own business. It’s just you, but you are the boss. Enjoy it.
  • Flexibility--To be a successful freelancer, you must be disciplined about getting everything done well and on time, but when and how you tackle your work is up to you.
  • Giving back--My personal favorite thing about freelancing is being able to make time to volunteer for my favorite organizations, even during typical working hours--when they need me most because so many other volunteers have to be at the office.
  • Control--Most jobs require you to accomplish a variety of tasks, some of which you love and some of which you most definitely do not. Ideally, freelancing allows you to choose projects you are passionate about and pass on the ones you are not.
  • Diversity--As a freelance writer, I get to vary the topics I am writing about from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. It’s never boring!
  • Building Relationships--Freelancers meet new people frequently by necessity. The perfect networking opportunity is a freelance gig at a new company. Not only can you bond with the people you work with, you can demonstrate your skills and get referrals for more freelance work in the future.
Sure, there moments when I wish I had someone just tell me what to do and let me do it, check everything off a list, shut off the lights and go home. Only moments, though. Then I look around and remember how grateful I am to have a life that works for me, my family, my soul.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

The Active Voice

Wendy Stackhouse - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

To those of us who pay a great deal of attention to grammar, the passive voice is at least correct. It doesn’t make our antennae go up. In fact, it probably makes our antennae go down, but not necessarily in the right way. It makes us stop paying attention.

The same can be said for hiring managers. Or rather--hiring managers might say the same.

The first sentence above is in the passive voice and the second in the active voice. Do they sound different to you?

In a job interview situation, you want to sound like a great prospect--maybe even the perfect candidate. Many people have trouble speaking of themselves and their accomplishments in the active voice. After all, you don’t want to start every sentence with “I” or sound like you are bragging. But you will never land that great new job if you cannot talk about your accomplishments as yours (or your team’s). Here are some examples of passive voice and a more active voice alternative:

Over 1000 PR packages were produced and delivered in a three day period.
Okay, but what did you do? What was your contribution? Glad to hear it. So what?

My team of 5 produced and delivered over 1000 PR packages in less than 72 hours.
Sounds like you managed a team to a challenging goal! Congratulations!


A new website was designed and launched ahead of schedule and under budget.
That’s nice. What were you responsible for on that project?

Designed and launched new company website 2 weeks ahead of schedule and 10% below budgeted cost.
I like that one--active voice and numbers. Great resume bullet point!


Facebook engagement went up 35%.
Okay.

My goal was to increase engagement 20%. I posted original content daily, which increased engagement on Facebook by 35% in 3 months.
Exceeded expectations. Great work!

Most of us are more comfortable using passive voice in our interactions. We eschew talking about our own accomplishments and skills in an active way. However, a job interview is not the place for self-effacing language. If you are the right candidate--and a great fit for the role--make sure the hiring manager knows it and knows you know it, too. Tell them what you did and why.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative

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