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    What I Learned From Nearly a Year of Unemployment

    Most of us say we want more time in the day. Well, I spent about 11 months with just that, and I can honestly say it wasn’t for me. Like many people, I was unemployed for the better part of last year. The experience left me shaken. I lost my confidence and began questioning my talent, but I learned so much about how I lost myself in my previous job—or at least that’s what it seemed like.
    It’s something that can happen to anyone. Think about the last time you were at a party and met someone new (I know, I know it’s been quite a while). Likely, one of the first things they asked was, “What do you do?” The conversation probably continued with more questions about what your exact title is or how you spend your day and if you enjoy it. This is standard and polite chitchat in our society. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but it begs the question: Are we obsessed with our jobs?
    Imagine being asked that simple, innocent question about what you do for a living, except this time you don’t have an answer. You don’t have a job right now or, frankly, any prospects either. Just thinking about this situation sends a tidal wave of embarrassment, anger, and sadness rushing over me because I’ve been in this position before. 
    It’s not the other person’s fault, but this common question isn’t exactly crafted for someone standing in the unemployment line. It automatically assumes you’ll be able to confidently answer with your profession which, more often than not, is a large part of a first impression. I’ve also seen the look on someone’s face when you respond with “Oh, actually I’m looking for a job right now,” or “I work as a television news producer, but I’m currently in between jobs.” Their eyes momentarily get big, they try to stretch out a convincing smile, and all the while they’re internally telling themselves to “be cool, be cool,” despite being filled with instant regret.

    Source: Social Squares

    I’ve talked with a few other people who have either been fired before or walked away from a job on their own over the last couple of years. It’s interesting because we all have different stories about how we ended up with the label of “unemployed,” but we all mostly feel the same about the experience. It’s a mix of literally every single emotion you can imagine. I remember feeling embarrassed and powerless. I was angry it wasn’t my decision. I was happy I didn’t have to go back there, yet I was stressed about not having anywhere to go. Ultimately, I felt an overwhelming sadness that left me terrified. While I was overflowing with confusing and contradicting emotions, I somehow felt empty.

    I remember feeling embarrassed and powerless. I was angry it wasn’t my decision. I was happy I didn’t have to go back there, yet I was stressed about not having anywhere to go. Ultimately, I felt an overwhelming sadness that left me terrified. While I was overflowing with confusing and contradicting emotions, I somehow felt empty.

    Months later, I was babbling about my tangled mess of emotions to a close friend of mine. About a year before, she made the decision to step away from her decades-long career to protect her mental health. Leaving the (mostly) stable schedule and salary was her choice, but she struggled in the same ways I did. She shared with me something her therapist told her and honestly I think about these words every day. Her therapist described our emotional confusion as a form of grief. We were grieving the loss of who we were; our identities. 
    A study by the Pew Research Center in 2016 confirms this. The research shows 51 percent of Americans said their jobs are central to who they are and gives them a sense of identity. That number seems understandable and like not a big deal until 2020 rolls around. After all, we do spend a lot of time at work. But, according to USA Today, in November 2020, approximately 3.9 million Americans were experiencing longer-term unemployment, having been out of work for at least 27 weeks. 

    We were grieving the loss of who we were; our identities. 

    Source: Social Squares

    I’m not great at math, but Siri says that means almost 2 million people most likely feel like they lost themselves when they lost their jobs. That’s on top of the depression, anxiety, and other psychological effects that already can accompany being unemployed for longer than six months. Take it from me: sleeping in because you really don’t have anything to do isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 
    The idea of grieving the loss of my identity along with my job was groundbreaking for me, and it helped during the days that felt like an eternity. The fact is, I didn’t know how to spend my time. When I was working, there were never enough hours in the day. Suddenly I had all the time in the world, but I struggled to fill it. I tried to make working out my new thing. I told myself I’d read more. I entertained starting to paint again. But none of it felt right or felt like me. Also, each thing would only fill about an hour or two of a day… and then what? I now think who we are is how we spend our time. That’s why we have talented bakers, aspiring artists, and avid readers. I couldn’t get myself to fit into any of those categories; my 9-to-5 had consumed me. The majority of my friends were people I met at work. When we hung out, that’s what we’d talk about. So when it was taken away, I felt my identity was too.

    Take it from me: sleeping in because you really don’t have anything to do isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    I know I can’t be alone. Many people love what they do for a living. Whether it’s the salary, the schedule, your coworkers, or the fulfillment you get from your work, there’s some reason you chose your profession or—at least—why you choose to stay. There’s a fine line between loving your job and allowing it to become an obsession. I definitely dove headfirst into the latter without even realizing it. Consequently, I learned firsthand how soul-crushing unemployment can be, especially during a pandemic, when so many businesses are struggling and so few companies are looking to hire someone new.
    I can now say I’m one of the lucky ones who managed to find a job toward the end of 2020. As I settle into working from home (and meeting my new coworkers over Zoom), I have to remind myself that I am more than my job title. Don’t get me wrong—I once again love what I do, I’m proud of my work, and I strive to be great at it. But at the end of the day, I’m the only one who cares about that. It took me almost 11 months of unemployment to realize my biggest issue wasn’t the fact that I didn’t have a job, it was that I thought I needed one to have value. For me, that theory was debunked when I looked at the people around me. I still had friends who cared about my thoughts and opinions, a fiancé who supported me on the good and bad days, and a family who encouraged me to keep my chin up through it all. These friendships and relationships aren’t contingent on my job status. Like I said, I’m one of the lucky ones.

    My 9-to-5 had consumed me. The majority of my friends were people I met at work. When we hung out, that’s what we’d talk about. So when it was taken away, I felt my identity was too.

    Source: Colorjoy Stock

    While last year was difficult for so many reasons, my time of unemployment has made me more aware than ever of how I spend my time off the clock. I do things that keep me grounded and happy, no matter how simple—like enjoying a cup of coffee on the couch every morning, doing an online pilates class or going on the occasional run, and ending my day with an episode or two of whatever show I’m watching at the time. It turns out I didn’t need to pick up a new hobby to have a healthier relationship with work.

    It took me almost 11 months of unemployment to realize my biggest issue wasn’t the fact that I didn’t have a job, it was that I thought I needed one to have value.

    If you’re unemployed right now, just know that no matter how difficult it gets, this time is temporary and you will rebound. I encourage you to use your free time to find and do things that take your mind off the stress. If that means getting out of your comfort zone and trying something new every day, great! If you’re more like I was and you only have the energy to lay on the couch some days, that’s OK too. The important thing is to never equate your value as a person to your employment. Whether you see it yet or not, you have so many other talents and qualities that make you who you are… with or without a professional email account. More

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    How to Admit You’re Overwhelmed at Work

    Feeling stressed at work is the worst, but it happens to the best of us. Though you may worry about looking incompetent in front of your boss or disappointing your colleagues, it’s better for your sanity — and your career — to fess up in order to get some help. Here are eight ways to actually let someone know you’re overwhelmed at work, instead of pretending to be “fine,” so you can bounce back like the productive, confident person you already are.

    1. Don’t play the “I’m so busy!” game.
    Admit it: there’s a weird sense of satisfaction in claiming to be “sooooo busy.” It makes you feel important and needed; however, it’s completely unsustainable. Falling into the busy trap will not only make you sick, tired, irritable, and less productive, but also doesn’t allow you to figure out a solution to feeling overwhelmed at work.
    Instead, think through your daily to-dos and fess up some honest answers to important questions: are your priorities straight?  What never seems to get checked off your list (and do you even need to accomplish it)? What should be delegated to a team member? Taking an assessment of how you’re truly spending your time is a helpful first step is deciphering what actions will affect change.

    2. Admit what you don’t know.
    In my first job out of college, I remember spending hours on a project, filled with dread. Why? I had said yes to the assignment, but wasn’t entirely sure how to do the work itself. I wanted to be the type of employee who could breezily problem-solve on my own, and I also hoped to appear more than proficient (aka, impress my team).
    Don’t do this. It’s okay to admit what you don’t know! I mean, there’s a huge difference between shrugging at your manager in a “not my problem, man” kind of way and saying, “I’ve never done this before, but I’m excited to try! Can you help me get started?” Asking for more knowledge is a good thing, and owning up to where you could benefit from reinforcements saves you time and energy in the long run.

    3. Vent to a trusted colleague.
    When you’re freaking out at work, sometimes it helps to just get it out of your system with someone you trust, and then move on. In fact, almost every time I pause from a panic session to grab a coworker and say, “I need five minutes to vent!” I end up feeling better, and more clear-minded afterwards.
    It’s also nice to ground yourself in reality. Talking through a problem, even if you’re not looking for a solution, can allow you to stop jumping from task to task. If anything, literally show your schedule to someone and say, “I’m stressed and need to spend less time in meetings to meet that deadline. Is there anything I could pass on this week?”

    4. Get feedback from someone you don’t normally work with.
    Whenever I get stuck on a project, I ask somebody outside of my team (or industry, or even company, if possible) for input. It is easy to spend SO much time on a creative endeavor, and then realize you can’t even see where you’re trying to go anymore.
    Besides, there’s no reason to try to be an isolated genius. All the best work usually involves multiple rounds of edits and full team insights before going to print or production. So cut yourself some slack, and stop assuming you have to be the hero at work and solve every single dilemma or master every single assignment.

    5. Stop saying yes to more.
    Once, a boss of mine told me, “It’s great that you can turnaround work so quickly when people ask. But make sure you’re doing the right work first.” Yikes. He wasn’t wrong, though. I used to think it was optimal to be the go-to person, always willing to help or step in. Of course, this isn’t always a bad thing, but can easily set you up for failure, because if you’re the person who can be relied on “to help” all the time… you’ll be the person relied on to help all the time.
    More isn’t better — it’s just more, and that can easily be the source of your stress at work. If you’re overwhelmed, you need to refine, not add on. So for every well-meaning coworker who is like, “Hey, do you have 5 minutes to…” give yourself permission to politely decline. Say, “I’d love to help, but I need to focus on XYZ. Did you ask so-and-so?” Ask yourself if somebody else can do that same work, or if you’re the right person to help at that given moment. Or just flat-out learn how to say no: “That’s not going to line up with my priorities this month, but let’s talk about how we can get the work done.”

    6. Figure out what’s temporary and what’s not.
    A friend of mine is a news anchor, and a few times a year, she knows her schedule will be absolutely bananas due to ratings months. Because she can anticipate the overload, she can mentally prep, and since it’s that way for her entire team, it feels much more doable to survive. She also knows it’s just the industry, and not her fault, which helps her keep a cool head.
    If you’re in that boat, take solace in the fact that you’re not alone; in fact, you may be relieved to know you’re not the only person feeling overwhelmed. But if you ask around, and that’s not the case, it might be time to have a conversation with your supervisor.

    7. Take real breaks — and explain why.
    I know you want to look cool as a cucumber no matter what, but this  attitude can be to your detriment. For example, if your coworkers know you as someone who responds to email in 0.1 seconds flat, tell them you’re now batch-checking email at set times. If you can’t seem to make progress on a singular project, devote a day to it and go one hundred percent (okay, 95%) off the grid: shut off your phone, put on a cheery out of office response, and get in the zone. If you’re always waking up early, or staying late, or working weekends, see if you can cut back just a little bit.
    When people see you practicing self-care, they’ll (hopefully!) recognize what a good work-life balance looks like. When you’re intentional and outspoken about your own boundaries and need for breaks, you will be less likely to burn out, and you’ll manage your own energy much better.

    8. Propose a solution to your boss.
    If you can’t find a way to ease up on your own, you’ll eventually need to talk to your boss — which can be terrifying, because you want him or her to see you as a valuable asset who can consistently deliver and add value. The good news is that you can be all of those things and still need clarity or guidance.
    Instead of showing up unannounced and saying, “Hi, I’m drowning in work, help,” take a moment to think through some potential solutions with an attitude of fixing the problem. Look at your job description and consider where you’re outperforming versus falling behind. Ask yourself what seems daunting, where you struggle, what feels completely unmanageable — and the type of help that would make a difference, like more education, less responsibility, or better support. If it is clear you’ve thought through what needs to happen, with tangible examples, it’s likely the conversation will go more smoothly.
    Finally, keep a calm, positive, professional tone. You’re not weak to ask for help, and your boss may not have even realized you needed it. Focus on the fact that you care about your career growth, and remain committed to finding a solution that works for both of you. More

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    How to Follow Up on an Email Without Being a Pest

    You scan through each and every sentence of a perfectly crafted email one final time and then hit “send.” Whether it was a job application, request for a meeting, or just a simple question you need answered, there’s now nothing left to do but wait for a reply.
    Days tick by, and you’ve heard absolutely nothing. Understandably, you’re getting antsy for a response. But at the same time, you don’t want to seem like a total nag. So, what should you do?
    Following up is always encouraged. However, there’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pest. Here are six things to keep in mind to encourage a response without coming off as completely obnoxious in your follow-up email.

    1. Be realistic with expectations
    In 2021, it’s standard to feel constantly connected, and while that’s definitely helped make life more convenient, it’s also warped our perceptions of what a reasonable response time is. So before ever drafting a follow-up email, it’s important to pause first to think about your expectations. That message you sent days—or even a week—ago that’s still awaiting a response? You can check in on it without seeming overly eager. But, if you contacted someone mere hours ago and are shocked that he or she hasn’t gotten back to you yet? Well, you’re better off practicing a little patience and keeping that follow-up in “draft” for now.

    2. Be polite
    It can be frustrating to feel as though you constantly need to chase people down in order to get what you need; however, no matter how irritated you become, you shouldn’t let any of that hostility creep into your follow-up message.
    That means no snide remarks like, “I still haven’t heard anything from you,” or blatantly aggressive comments like, “I don’t understand why it’s taking you so long to get back to me about this.”
    Most of us don’t respond well to anger and finger pointing. So, even if it manages to get you a reply, it likely won’t be one that you like. So make an effort to be overly polite. And remember the old saying: “You catch more flies with honey.”

    3. Explain your reasoning
    We all get busy. And in those moments when it feels like your to-do list is out to get you, it’s tough to think of anyone’s workload besides your own. This is why it’s important to remind the recipient of why you’re following up—why exactly is their response needed? Of course, this explanation will vary depending on the specific item you’re checking in on. But, for the sake of simplicity, here’s an example. I often have to circle back with potential freelance clients to see if they’d like to move forward with a discussed project. They can be notoriously slow on responding with a decision, so often a line of my follow-up email looks like this:
    Please let me know whether you’d like to move forward with the project as discussed. Your firm answer will allow me to map out my workload for the coming weeks.
    This is a gentle assertion that my own schedule is hinging on their response. Oftentimes, being reminded that they aren’t operating in a vacuum is enough to inspire people to fire off a quick reply.

    Source: Social Squares

    4. Switch things up
    We all rely heavily on email. But, it’s definitely not the sole form of communication that exists. So if you haven’t had success with the written word, why not try a different method? No, you don’t need to send smoke signals or carrier pigeons. However, if you have a phone number for the person, why not give a phone call a try? Of course, you shouldn’t plan to bombard someone with an endless stream of emails and calls—that’s how you develop a reputation as a pest. However, if you’ve sent two messages and have yet to hear something, sometimes connecting in a more personal manner (such as via the phone) can get you the response you need.
    If you’d rather stick to email? You can switch things up there too. If you sent your previous email in the morning, try sending your second follow-up in the afternoon this time around. Sometimes your key to success is catching someone when they’re not absolutely swamped.

    5. Set a firm deadline
    There’s nothing that lights a fire quite like an approaching deadline. And while including a firm end date in your follow-up emails might seem a little direct and brash, it’s usually effective. Why? Well, it puts the ball back in your court and makes your expectation clear to the recipient. It illustrates that if you don’t hear back by the specified date, you’re moving on.
    What does this look like in practice? Let’s continue with the message I used with a hypothetical freelance client above. I’d just tack a simple line like this onto the end:
    If I haven’t heard from you by the end of this week, I’ll assume you’ve gone in a different direction.
    Whether you’re waiting on an answer from a client, a potential employer, or a co-worker, setting this firm deadline ensures you’re both on the same page—which is key for avoiding any further problems or miscommunication.

    6. Know when it’s time to call it quits
    The most important thing about using a deadline in your follow-up emails? Sticking to it. You don’t want to set an end date for your recipient, and then continue to contact them about the issue. Then your words and expectations will hold no merit. Why should they ever take you seriously? There comes a certain point when it’s clear you’re just not going to hear back from a person. So let go and move on. If you continue to pester someone, even after they’ve repeatedly (and blatantly) ignored you, you’ll only annoy the recipient and harm your own reputation in the process.
    There’s no denying it: not hearing back from someone can be annoying, irritating, and even stifle your own productivity. There’s nothing wrong with following up in order to get your hands on the information you need. However, you want to do so in a way that shows you’re persistent—and not a pest. Keep these six tips in mind, and you’re sure to walk the right side of that fine line.

    10 Email Mistakes You Should Always Avoid More

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    6 Ways to Actually Get More Freelance Work

    Whether you’re a full-time freelancer or just dipping your toe in, reaching your ideal clients can be a challenge. How do you find them? And how do you convert them once they land on your site or social media? 
    If you’re struggling with these questions, you’re not alone. I’ve been a part-time freelance graphic designer for almost 10 years now, and I’ve been through many ups and downs trying to find and engage my dream clients. Below are my top tips you can implement today to help reach the people who’ve been looking for you all along: from making your website work for you (with my platform of choice, Squarespace) to cultivating an email list to diversifying your revenue streams. 

    Whatever your idea is, launch it with Squarespace. Start your free website trial today and use code THEEVERYGIRL for 10% off when you’re ready to show the world.

    1. Clearly list services on your website
    Before you book any clients, you’ll want to have a good handle on what you’re actually offering. I’ve found that with thoughtfully structured and detailed service packages, I not only book more clients but the actual project runs so much smoother. 
    When considering how to present your services, the more specific you are up-front, the better. If you’re a copywriter, avoid listing “copywriting” and instead try determining different package tiers. What specific deliverables should the client expect at the end of the project? What is not included? The fun part about this is, it’s totally up to you! Brainstorm what you really love producing as a freelancer. If you’re a graphic designer, maybe you feel confident and excited about creating a branding suite for clients, but struggle with different elements, like packaging design or printed collateral. Reorganize your service package to highlight the elements you will deliver—logo, submark, alternate logos, color palette, etc.— and exclude printed collateral elements. Narrowing in on exactly what you want to offer helps you better serve your clients and prepares them for what to expect in the process of working with you. 
    Not sure what services to offer? Read this.
    Once you have your service packages mapped out, list them clearly and concisely on your website. Avoid industry jargon and have a friend read over the text before you hit publish to ensure potential clients that land on your site will fully understand what you’re offering. I love working with Squarespace for website design, because each template comes pre-loaded with layouts for different needs, including listing your services. It’s less overwhelming to add everything to your site when you don’t have to start from scratch. It’s also easy to add scheduling functionality to your site if you want to offer prospective clients a frictionless option to set up a consultation with you.

    2. Consider listing your prices on your website
    Speaking of detailing your services on your website, it’s also worth considering your pricing. There’s debate around whether or not it’s better to list your pricing upfront on your site or wait until a client inquires with you. I’m personally of the mind that listing your pricing will benefit you in the long run. 
    Remember that you want serious inquiries to reach out to you. It can be a big waste of time to constantly field inquiries for clients that aren’t ready to invest in your services. It’s scary to think about when you’re just starting out, but it’s important to remember that working for less than you are worth can be detrimental in the long run. Listing your prices upfront will also help you stick to your quotes when you start working directly with clients.
    If you’re unsure, group your services into tiers and price them accordingly or try listing out a pricing range for each service package. 
    READ: Everything You Need to Know About Pricing Your Services

    Source: Mathilde Langevin | Unsplash

    3. Establish expert status with blog posts
    A great way to utilize your website, even if you don’t have a ton of relevant previous work to display, is to publish evergreen blog posts. Evergreen content is content not tied to a specific season or time of the year, so it’s relevant to potential clients and readers, whenever they happen to land on your site. 
    Think about the questions clients ask you before you start working together (some that come to mind for me as a graphic designer are: “what is a submark and how will I use it in my brand identity?” or “what pages do I absolutely need on my website?”) and turn the answers into blog posts. The posts will give you something to promote on social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest as well as save you time in the long run because you’ll have a running educational hub to direct potential clients to, instead of answering each question individually. 
    Pro tip: When creating your blog posts in Squarespace, toggle off the “Show Date” option, so that your posts aren’t tagged with a specific publish date. That way, no matter when potential clients end up on your site, the evergreen content will look new and updated.

    4. Start an email list
    Clients frequently ask me if it’s okay to collect email address on their site, even if they aren’t planning to send out regular newsletters just yet. My answer: yes! Your email list can be a powerful tool for your service-based business, so make building it a priority. 
    The people who sign up for your list are your engaged core audience, who will want to be the first to know about new services you’re offering, new blog posts you’ve written, sales you’re running, and more. Even if you’re not at the place where you can regularly send out newsletters or updates via email, add an email box to your website so you can cultivate your list beforehand. This way, when you are ready to put focus behind your email marketing, you’re already have an audience. 
    Adding email collection to your Squarespace site is a breeze, simply select the newsletter icon and a pre-made sign-up box will be added. By default, your contacts will filter into your Squarespace email campaigns, keeping everything organized and in one easy-to-find place once you’re ready to start email marketing. 

    5. Show off your previous work, strategically 
    You don’t need 85 previous projects to create a compelling website that actually converts into new clients. You also don’t need to showcase every single project you’ve ever worked on. As a freelancer, I’ve worked on plenty of projects that were right at the time, but not right to showcase on my portfolio now. Some of them showcase services or offerings I no longer provide or don’t reflect the direction my work as taken recently. Be selective about what work you want to showcase and curate a few projects that speak to the clients you want to attract right now. 
    If you don’t have any client work you feel comfortable adding to your portfolio, try a self-initiated project for a faux dream client. Personal projects have been some of my favorite things to work on in the past and they make great showcase pieces for your portfolio or example projects for your evergreen blog posts. 
    READ: How to Build Your Portfolio When You Don’t Have Any Clients

    Source: Social Squares

    6. Try new revenue streams 
    As a service-based business, diversifying your revenue stream can relieve so much for the pressure of searching for and landing the right clients. When you have multiple sources of income coming in, you can afford to be selective with inquiries and only accept the clients you know you will work the best with. This will help you produce better results for your clients in the long run as well. Win, win. 
    I love the all-in-one nature of hosting my site on Squarespace, because I can list my services and cater to my freelance clients, while also hosting my online shop for my prints and custom portraits. Having that secondary source of income built directly into one website makes keeping track of everything a breeze (or at least, breezier). 
    I also love that Squarespace now offers Member Areas, which allow you to create membership tiers on your site. This would be so useful for hosting an online course or providing member-exclusive content such as downloadables and video resources. 

    If you’re a freelancer struggling to find and maintain consistent work, remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect. I struggled for a long time with publishing my own site or sharing my work on social media because I wanted everything to be in picture perfect shape before it could reach potential clients. What I didn’t realize was how this perfectionism was hindering me finding any clients or work in the first place. Start where you are. Launch your site and get your work out there and then refine and update as you go along. 

    Whatever your idea is, launch it with Squarespace. Start your free website trial today and use code THEEVERYGIRL for 10% off when you’re ready to show the world.

    This post is sponsored by Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    7 Bad Habits That Are Holding You Back at Work

    Do you want to take your career to the next level but are feeling a little stuck? These seven bad habits might be what are holding you back at work. No worries, though—it’s never too late to improve.

    1. You’re Overworking & Not Taking Time off for Self-Care
    What you do outside of the office is just as important as what you do in the office. In order to show up as your best and brightest self to work every day, self-care needs to be a top priority—and we’re talking quality self-care. Sitting on the couch scrolling through Instagram doesn’t count. Find a self-care routine that feels really good for you. You can start a morning meditation practice, exercise, go for nature walks, laugh, play, take bubble baths—do whatever you need to do to feel refueled when you show up at work every day. This alone will make a huge impact on your performance at work.

    2. Your Job Just Isn’t the Right Fit
    Of course, not every job you’ll have in your life is going to be one you love with all your heart. Especially when you’re climbing the corporate ladder or job searching in a pandemic, some jobs might simply be a way to pay the bills, and for a while, that’s OK.
    But sometimes, a job can be soul-sucking because it just isn’t the right fit. Whether it’s because of the company environment or the work you’re doing, if you’re not happy, it can be hard to ever really feel accomplished at your job. If this is the case, starting a job search when you feel like you’re ready to move on might be your best bet. 

    Source: @kateogata

    3. You’re Not Truly Believing in Yourself
    It really sucks to admit this, but a lot of the time, the only thing holding us back from the career success we really desire is ourselves. You might doubt your abilities and not believe you can take your career to the next level. That’s where feeding your mind with powerful, uplifting content comes in. From my experience, once I fell into the rabbit hole of reading personal development books and listening to podcasts, my career completely transformed. I went from being an intern to a full-time freelance writer in a matter of months. The power of the mind is absolutely mind-blowing, so use it to your advantage.

    4. You’re Not Asking for What You Want
    In life and in the workplace, we tend to not ask for what we really want because we don’t want to come off as pushy or bossy or we’re afraid of what other people might think. This bad habit is absolutely holding us back from the success we truly desire. How are people supposed to know what we want if we don’t ask for it? You can’t wait for really awesome career opportunities to fall into your lap; you have to be proactive and voice what you want. If you know you deserve a raise, ask for it. If you want to be considered for the promotion, ask for it. If you have too much on your plate and need help, ask for it. You never know where one simple ask might lead you and your career.

    5. You’re Keeping Yourself Small
    According to this Forbes article, men are confident enough to apply for a job even if they only meet 60% of the qualifications. Women, on the other hand, won’t apply for a job unless they feel they meet 100% of the qualifications. This statistic is wild and brings me to realize that we’re the ones underestimating ourselves by not going after for the jobs that we truly want because we feel unqualified. So the next time you see a job listing that you like, apply for it, and don’t worry about how much you fit the qualifications. At the end of the day, most qualifications are things that can be quickly learned, and what really counts is if you have the confidence to get the job done. If you have that, you’re golden.

    Source: Danielle Moss

    6. You Complain Too Much
    It’s almost impossible to always be satisfied with every single thing about your job. There’s bound to be things that bug you or that you simply don’t feel excited to do, but when you begin to vocalize your complaints, that’s when you start to hold yourself back from thriving at work. The employees that get promoted are the ones who are go-getters and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Try to focus on finding a solution to the problem instead of pondering over it or complaining about it.

    7. You’re Not Managing Your Time Wisely
    There are so many little parts of a job that need to get done every day, and often times, they’re not your actual job. It could be things like responding to emails, sorting paperwork, organizing files, etc. And by the time you get back to your desk to actually get the important things done, you’re physically and mentally exhausted from the million other things you’ve already done that day. In order to really excel and shine at work, focus instead on getting the important things done first (ideally before lunch time) and leave the little things for later in the day. More

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    The 9 Most Common Email Mistakes—And How to Recover When You’ve Made One

    When it comes to workplace catastrophes, a horrible email mistake sent to the big boss might trump them all. A spelling error, misused word, or God forbid an email sent to the wrong person can make you look unprofessional, and if it’s bad enough, can even put your job in jeopardy.
    Sending an email that was supposed to go to a friend to a superior—or worse, your whole office after accidentally clicking “reply all”—can leave you frantically looking up the cheapest tickets to another country, sifting through name ideas to give yourself for your new identity.
    Whether you’re emailing back and forth with a potential employer or with the boss you’ve known for years, a certain degree of etiquette is required. Here are the most common professional email mistakes to look out for before you make the mistake yourself—and how to mend the mistakes you do make. (You’re not the first person to do it and certainly won’t be the last.)

    1. Sending a misdirected email
    Depending on the content, a misdirected email can range from slightly embarrassing to job-ending.
    As hard as it is to remain calm and panic-free, stay calm and gauge the situation. Is it something slightly embarrassing, like talking about happy hour plans to someone who wasn’t on the invite list, or is it a worst-case scenario, like sending an email about your boss to your entire office?
    Gauge the situation and develop a plan of action for damage control. As hard as it can be to not go and immediately apologize to everyone who got the email, hold off. Things get lost in people’s inboxes all the time (and things can take a while for people to open) so don’t draw more attention to it than necessary.
    However, you should immediately apologize if you sent it to a boss. Rather than sending out a mass apology email, seek out your boss and give them an in-person apology. Let them know that the email wasn’t intended for them and you’ll be more careful in the future. Once you do this, assess if more damage control needs to be done. If your boss accepts your apology, move on and try not to dwell on it—everyone makes mistakes, and you can’t undo it no matter how much you want to. (But it’s a good rule of thumb to never send emails bashing anyone on your team, no matter who it is really intended for.) If the email you sent contained confidential info for someone who wasn’t meant to see it, make sure to alert your HR immediately.

    2. Not having a clear, concise subject line
    While you might be in the habit of sending emails with no subject line or informal ones to the coworkers you’re friends with, make sure that when you’re sending an important email that the subject line gives them a look into the contents — if it’s about an invoice, make the subject line “June Invoice”; if it’s about a project, title it with the name of the project and a short explanation of the update.
    Having a clear subject line is not only more professional, but it makes the receiver of your email more likely to pay attention to it.

    3. Being too informal
    Obviously, some offices are more formal than others. If you’re starting a new job, start off on the formal side and adjust accordingly based on how people are emailing you. Once you get a feel of how people communicate with each other, try to fit the mold — nobody wants super formal emails in a casual setting or vice versa.

    4. Using your personal email address
    Once you get your work email address, make sure to stick exclusively to that. When you’re going back and forth with your boss or a PR contact, you don’t want to accidentally send it from [email protected]

    5. Not including a signature block
    Signing your emails with just your name isn’t technically wrong, but having a professional signature with your first and last name, contact info, job position, and if possible, your company’s logo is more professional and will make it easier for people to seek you out if they need to.

    6. Going overboard with the exclamation points
    This is a huge problem for females and is something we discuss frequently in our office. Women can be paranoid that not ending a sentence with an exclamation point can sound off as rude or critical (guilty), but that isn’t the case — and using too many exclamation points can have the reverse effect and make you come off as unprofessional.

    7. Forgetting to proofread
    Before you hit send on any work-related email, reread the contents and triple check who you’re sending it to and whether or not you hit “reply all.” Even when you’re in a rush, try to give it a quick scan to avoid any catastrophes or embarrassing moments.

    8. Frequent Grammar Mistakes
    In work emails, it’s common to reuse the same words and sayings over and over. Make sure you don’t fall victim to these common errors.

    Follow-up vs. follow up
    I have sat and debated this countless times before sending an email to someone I just interviewed with, convinced that if I chose the wrong one, I’d blow my shot at the job. While that almost definitely isn’t the case, this is a good one to know.
    Follow-up is a noun and adjective. Hyphenate when used before a noun.
    I sent her a follow-up email.
    Follow up is a verb.
    I contacted the manager to see if I could follow up.

    Email subject: Follow-up to interview
    Hi XXX,
    It was great chatting with you yesterday. I just wanted to follow up…

    9. Relying on these words and phrases
    There are certain words that are fine in real life but come off as harsh or unprofessional when they’re used via email. Try to avoid using these phrases.

    “Sorry to bother you” — in a work-related scenario, you aren’t bothering them! It’s your job to communicate with your superiors and co-workers, so this isn’t necessary.
    “Let’s touch base” — this is overused in corporate settings. Try to swap out for something else, especially if you’re looking for your boss to pencil you into their busy schedule.
    “I think” — if you know something, don’t assert yourself less by stating it with “I think” before it. Take away the safety net and continue your sentence without this.
    “Hey” — once you’ve honed in on your office culture, it’s totally fine to use this in casual emails (I can’t even count how many times I use it a day in our office). But until then, don’t begin your email with “hey ___” and address them more formally.

    A Copy Editor’s Nightmare: The 15 Most Common Writing Mistakes I See More

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    5 Reasons Why Your Career Does Not Define Your Identity

    For as long as I can remember, I’ve always associated my self-worth in conjunction with my job. Whether it was because of how our society views certain positions or because of my pride, I made sure to work hard enough to get a job that I (and my mom) would be proud to identify with. To say “I work for [employer]…” or “I am a [job title]…” made my heart fill with excitement. So when I finally accepted my dream position that was far from the involvement of serving tables, I felt like I earned the right to let those words slip off my tongue to show the world that I did, I made it. But even when my dream scenario came to fruition, I eventually realized that I was no longer in love with the job, which thus resulted in a life-changing moment.
    I was eventually let go from the company that I was only holding onto because of its status. While I felt burnt out and lacked the enthusiasm to work for them, I didn’t listen to my gut and decided to hold onto the position because I loved how I felt accepted by others when I’d mention my position in conversations. It was an addiction I wasn’t willing to let go. I felt like my identity was closely tied to this job, and if I’d lose it, then I was a nobody and I would have no proof of all my hard work. However, when I was let go, a new high took over: relief. While one part of me wanted to hold on to something that wasn’t making me happy for prideful reasons, a weight was lifted off my shoulders because I was finally following my truth.
    For most people, this experience would tear them apart: if they’re let go from a job, it means they’re incompetent and their self-worth has taken a nosedive into the pools of hell (yes, I’m being dramatic). However, while it did hurt a little to receive the news, I was more hurt that I didn’t initially follow my heart and, instead, allowed someone else to control my fate. I soon realized that my self-worth isn’t defined by a nice-sounding job, it’s defined by my values, my truth, and what happens beyond the typical nine-to-five timeframe. Yes, it was nice to be associated with a well-known company and, not going to lie, sometimes I miss that “accepted” feeling. But deep down I know that my career doesn’t define my identity, because the only approval I need is my own.
    If you can relate to any of this, here are five reasons why you shouldn’t define yourself by your career or job — because, honestly, your self-love is totally worth way more than that paycheck or job title. 

    1. Because having a well-known job isn’t your only success.
    Working for a renowned company does look good on your resume, but it’s not the only thing that you should consider to be successful. Success can be rarely measured by someone’s job or wealth. The true definition of success derives from the ability to do something that you truly love, to be able to care for others, to overcome your greatest fears, or to find blissful happiness. One person’s definition of success could look completely different than someone else’s. And that’s totally okay. Because in the end, you should always aim to be yourself and not replicate what you believe to be considered successful just because of someone else’s journey.

    2. Because your truths and values are the only things you should be defined by.
    Wouldn’t it be lovely to not be judged based on your profession? Immediately when we meet someone new, we want to know their name and what they do for a living. Why? Isn’t there another way to define a person? Yes, it’s great to know what they’re passionate about, but shouldn’t we just ask them that upfront?
    Your identity should be defined by what you love, what you dream of, what you value, and who you cherish. Think about it: Your true friends and family don’t care about what kind of job you have or how much you make. All they care about is your happiness. Treat yourself as you would want your friends to treat you, because you should value your happiness before any job, paycheck, or boss. Period.

    3. Because most jobs are a temporary state and can change at any moment.
    While life is known to be filled with uncertainty, most of us believe we have complete control over our circumstances. Today you may identify yourself as a hardworking architect, but four years from now, you may want to be a dairy farmer, milking cows for a living. You just never know what kind of experiences you may go through and how they’ll change you. Essentially, nothing is permanent. Life is full of surprises, and there are more things that make an impact in your life than your career.

    4. Because this is something you do and not something you are.
    Whether you work as a cashier for a store or as an illustrator for an advertising company, these are things you do — they don’t define you as a person. There are plenty of ways to identify yourself, especially if you’re not in love with your job. For instance, in addition to your career, you could also be known as a mother, a lover of puppies, a video game enthusiast — anything you admire or hold value to is a part of you and your identity. At the end of the day, you should be known for the things you love to do and be, not for the type of positions you’ve held.

    5. Because other people won’t remember you by the job you have, but by how you make them feel.
    How you decide to treat others and express yourself is glued to your identity way more than your jobs ever will be. When other people talk or think about you, the thought of your career might come up, but your personality and character will resonate with them more. You’re on this earth for so many other reasons aside from having a job. Maybe you’re meant to help someone else through their own journey, or to make a difference in your town and inspire others to do the same. You’re doing yourself an injustice if you only identify yourself by your career. Try to open your world and help others to do the same. The more we realize we’re more than our jobs, the happier we all may be.

    Quarter Life Crisis or Comparison Trap? What to Remember When You Feel Lost More

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    So You’ve Decided To Quit Your Job—Here’s How To Do It Like a Pro

    There’s nothing like some good old-fashioned anxiety when you have to confront someone about something. It only gets worse when that “someone” is your boss and that “something” is quitting your job. 
    I don’t blame you—it isn’t fun. Maybe you’ve never done it before, maybe you’re leaving after a short amount of time, maybe you have no clue how to leave on a positive note when you hate everyone and everything about your job… the list goes on. The good news is, you have this amazing chapter of your life ahead of you to look forward to, and you are in control of this situation. So with your head held high, embrace this position, and let your team witness your professional beauty and grace.
    With some help from the experts, I’ve found that there’s a simple and effective formula to go about this process smoothly in a way to make everyone happy. Here are my tips on how to quit your job so professionally and artfully that you’d consider adding it as a skill to your resume.

    At what point should I notify my manager? 
    We’ve all heard about the famous “two weeks notice” (no, not the Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant movie—we’re not trying to replicate that situation here). Two weeks is generally an ample amount of time to begin a transition period for many employees shifting out of their current roles. 
    However, it doesn’t hurt to give an earlier notice (of maybe three to four weeks instead), especially if your role is more senior with higher-level duties that need some extra time to hand over to others. It’s also important that you don’t notify your boss too far in advance—you don’t want to awkwardly linger and waste anyone’s time (including your own!).

    What’s the best way to tell my manager “I want to quit?”
    Most HR professionals agree that a face-to-face meeting is the best way to go in this scenario. Krystal Yates, an HR consultant turned career coach, advised that this in-person conversation is the best route, but things (like geographic restrictions) can often come in the way of that. “If in-person isn’t an option, a phone call is the next best way,” Yates said. “A written resignation should be a last resort and used as the primary form of resignation only if all other avenues are unavailable.”
    It is important to note that if there is serious negative history between you and your manager, it is OK to take this conversation to their superior or an HR representative.
    Aside from being professionally courteous, a formal letter is needed for HR. Jodi RR Smith, a nationally recognized etiquette consultant said, “A resignation letter needs only three pieces of information: 1. Your last day. 2. Contact email, address, and phone number. 3. Your signature.” Keep it short and sweet!

    So how do I approach this conversation?
    You’ve set up that meeting with your boss and now are biting your nails in anticipation of having to have this conversation. You might be overcome with anxiety (if you’re anything like me and hate confrontation in any shape or form), but I’ll have you know that there is a simple, pain-free way to go about this.
    The first thing to remember is to keep your emotions at bay. Yes, you might have some grudges, and yes, you might want to burst out in tears—but remember that this conversation will be the beginning of the end to this part of your life, and there are far better things to come. “As an employee, come in prepared with what you’re going to say and be confident in your decision,” Natalie Morgan, the director of HR at CareerPlug, said. There are undoubtedly going to be emotions on both sides of the table, and staying calm and collected is essential.
    Smith emphasized that it’s super important to keep your wits about you. She said to make sure you “don’t yell at anyone, destroy company property, or disparage the organization to the media or to the clients,” since what you ultimately do reflects on you. Though these all sound like common sense, sometimes our emotions can get the best of us, so it’s important to try to keep ourselves a few steps ahead of them.

    Source: rodnae productions | pexels

    Should I tell my boss why I’m leaving?
    While you don’t want to say too much, you also don’t want to leave your manager questioning the reason for your departure. Morgan noted that “a resignation conversation isn’t a time to present a laundry list of grievances, but [most managers] do expect to know a general reason. You’ve gotten an opportunity at your dream job. Your role has changed and no longer feels in line with your career goals. You want to move into a new industry. You didn’t feel you were a good fit with the company culture and vision.” Again, the key is to keep it brief, honest, and professional.
    Many companies offer an exit interview, and those situations are great for voicing more candid feedback.

    How should I involve my team and coworkers in this? 
    Oftentimes, we become best friends with some of our coworkers (à la Lorelai and Sookie) and want to tell them about everything first. This is understandable, since many of us feel like we have that one trusted confidant, but it’s important to still be cautious when dealing with something big like this. 
    Adam Calli, an HR consultant and founder of Arc Human Capital, noted that things can and do go wrong. It’s important to not divulge too much information about your upcoming resignation to your coworkers (especially while you are still waiting to finalize an offer from your new company), since people can often let details accidentally slip up in work gossip. Trust me, that’s not the way you want your boss finding out you’re quitting.
    “Be patient and keep it to yourself,” Calli added. “You can tell them as soon as you give your official notice to your company, even if that means walking from your boss’s office directly to your friends’ desks!”
    Once the information is out in the open with everyone, it’s important to show your gratitude for your managers, coworkers, and team as a whole. Maybe these were some of your favorite people—maybe not. But, remember that the way you end your time in this role is what everyone is going to recall the most. It’s truly a small world out there! With the internet and social media, you don’t who will keep in touch, stay connected, and keep tabs on you and when, how, and where you might run into someone! 

    What will those last couple weeks look like?
    Ideally, your manager will inform the rest of your team about you leaving shortly after you hand in your notice. This will begin your transition period. Your coworkers might have a hard time with your departure emotionally because they’ll miss you, or professionally because they’re taking on your workload—so it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep this process as smooth as possible. 
    “Wrap up projects, communicate what is still outstanding, and offer suggestions for coverage if appropriate. It’s ultimately your manager’s and the company’s responsibility to make a plan here, but act in good faith and get the ball rolling where you can,” Morgan advised. The golden rule, of course, is to treat everyone how you would hope to be treated—if it were you taking on your former role, wouldn’t you want things to be in place and be squeaky clean? 
    When your last day of work arrives, treat it as a checklist you need to mark things off of:

    Clean out your desk (disinfectant wipes and all!).
    Make sure you have turned in any company devices.
    Make rounds to talk to all the people you’ve worked with, and thank them for their help.
    Meet with your manager one last time to say your final goodbyes and express gratitude.
    Attend your exit interview (if there is one scheduled).
    Start connecting with your now-former coworkers on LinkedIn!

    When is a good time to ask for a reference?
    It can be an awkward situation wanting to leave your job, but then also wanting your boss to write down nice things about you for future jobs. Honestly though, so many people leave their positions every day and want a reference or letter or recommendation—it’s completely fair! You worked hard and most definitely deserve to be recognized for that, and should be able to show future employers how great of a catch you are. But as always, it’s all about the timing.
    Morgan recommended saving asking for a reference until your last day, either during an exit interview or your final meeting with your manager. Make sure you communicate your gratitude for this position and opportunities you’ve received, and reiterate what you’ve learned from them. This way, you’ll be parting on good terms, and it’s going to feel easier to ask if they’d be open to writing a letter of recommendation or being a reference for you in the future. 
    Waiting until the end will help your manager will see how well you handled this whole process, and it will add a whole layer to your character that they can refer back to when writing a recommendation. Your grace will speak for itself!

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