In Essays on
May 29, 2017

Why Your Day Job Doesn’t Have to Kill Your Creativity

Ignore the millennial myths. Here’s how people throughout history have proven that having a day job can inform and even inspire your creativity.

 

How many times this week did you think, feel, or say: “I wish I had more time?”

 

Time, or our lack of it, is a modern-day obsession, amiright? We all wish we had more of it, we wish we had more control of it and we wish our need to make money didn’t take so much of it.

 

Because if we had more time, THEN we would write that book, go on that trip, start that project. Of course we would. If only we had more time.

 

And it kind of makes sense.

 

Day jobs can be, well, draining. The bored, miserable people you see on the commuter train are a testament to exactly that. It’s so easy to feel like your life is just a series of sleep, work, repeat. Damn.

 

But what if you decided to start viewing your day job as an enabler rather than a constrainer?

 

What if your lack of time is, in fact, a mindset?

 

What if it isn’t your day job that’s holding you back, it’s you?

 

T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land while working as a banker, because he liked the fact his creative pursuits weren’t being strained by the need to make a living. Kurt Vonnegut got published while working as a car dealer. Lewis Carroll was actually a full-time mathematician called Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. J. R. R. Tolkien spent his whole life working in academia. Lord of the Rings was his side hustle.

 

Kate White, who is my favourite modern-day example, was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and, in her spare time, penned seven (yes, SEVEN) NYT best-selling thrillers. If that isn’t proof that a demanding day job can actually give you a greater mental flow, I don’t know what is.

 

And what about those who create because, not in spite of their day job?

 

Charles Bukowski wrote brilliant prose about everyday, dead-end characters because he was a postman. Charlotte Bronte created the harsh worlds of Jane Eyre and Villette because of her day job as a governess.

 

That’s right. Day jobs can even inform and inspire a creative project. Because your day job doesn’t kill your creativity. You do.

 

And if those badasses made magic during their stolen moments? Then so can I, and so can you.

 

I’m not out here saying it’s easy. It’s not. Being more mindful of your time and setting boundaries with your day job is hard. But it’s possible, if you really want it to be.

 

It’s possible to add 30 minutes of exercise to your day because it really does give you more energy. It’s possible to wake up 30 minutes earlier so you can give your writing your best mind, not your overflowing email inbox. It’s possible to say no to things you didn’t really want to attend anyway. It’s possible to be mindful of where your mental energy is going and take some of it back for yourself. It’s possible.

 

Your day job can only define or constrain you if you allow it to.

 


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In Lists on
May 29, 2017

23 Questions to Ask Instead Of “So, What Do You Do?”

Let’s invite people to tell their stories, not their resumes. Here are 23 alternative questions to “so, what do you do?” 

 

  1. What creative projects are you working on right now?
  2. If money were no object, how would you spend your time?
  3. What do you think the future looks like for you?
  4. Who was your childhood hero?
  5. Who is your modern-day hero?
  6. Who did you want to be when you grew up?
  7. What’s the best thing that happened to you this year?
  8. What’s the last photo you took? 
  9. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?
  10. What’s the nicest thing anyone has done for you?
  11. What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done for someone?
  12. What are you most looking forward to?
  13. If you were in power for a day, how would you try and improve your country?
  14. How do you feel your life has worked out so far?
  15. What habit or improvement are you working on?
  16. What’s been playing on your mind lately? 
  17. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?
  18. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?
  19. If you were on death row, what would be your last ever meal?
  20. What charitable or philanthropic cause are you passionate about?
  21. Who is your favourite author or recording artist?
  22. What’s the last film that truly made an impression on you?
  23. If you had to give a TED talk tomorrow, what would it be about?

 


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In Interviews on
May 22, 2017

A Conversation with ‘These Dividing Walls’ Author Fran Cooper

Fran Cooper grew up in London before reading English at Cambridge and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She spent three years living in Paris, and is now based in London with her fiancé and their three-legged cat. Having heard her discuss her first novel, These Dividing Walls, at a recent reading, I’m so inspired by her curiosity, tenacity and the interesting life she’s lived so far. Here, we discuss juggling writing a book with a full-time job, the importance of mentorship and more.


Many people feel that writing a book with a day job is a near-impossible feat. What advice can you give anyone struggling with exactly that? How was it for you, and what did the experience of writing your book with limited time teach you along the way? 

Well, full disclosure, when I wrote These Dividing Walls I was studying, not working full-time, so I had it much easier than many people. I’m in the process of editing my second book now, which I have written while working, and it was hard!

It’s hard to turn on creativity just because it’s Saturday and you’re not in the office and it’s the only time you have. But my number one bit of advice to anyone trying it is “little and often”. At the beginning, I’d despair at how slow my progress was – a finished manuscript felt so far away! But if you do a little every week, it adds up and suddenly you find yourself with something almost book-length.

And don’t pressure yourself into never going out, or never seeing friends, or working every evening. There are times when you’ll be too tired to write or you just need to go out and enjoy yourself, and in my experience the writing is better for it when you do get to your desk again.


You recently shared the importance of a mentor when it came to writing your book. Can you share a little about that experience, and how the mentorship programme worked? 

Absolutely. I was really lucky to be accepted onto The Womentoring Project (you can find them on Twitter) when it started in 2014. I applied to work with Lisa O’Donnell and she was just wonderful. She’d published two books by then and was working on a third, and it was transformative for me to have the advice of someone who actually knew how it all worked.

With the best will in the world, advice from people who don’t know about agents, publishers, synopses, pitches etc isn’t always that useful. Lisa read my work. She encouraged me to take a leap of faith and start writing a novel rather than just short stories. And she explained to me how submitting works:

In brief, write a novel; edit it until you’re pretty happy; research an agent WHOSE TASTE MATCHES YOUR WORK; follow their submission guidelines, and don’t sound insane in your cover letter). 


These Dividing Walls is described as “successfully walking the fine line between meticulous storytelling and a politically relevant message”. How did you find a wonderful balance between the two? 

Wow, that’s a lovely description. I didn’t actually start out to write a “politically relevant” novel at all! But I was living in Paris, and I wanted to show a different side of the city than the clichés we’re all so familiar with. I wanted to write something that felt real to me – that was true to the place I was living in. A lot of the protests and political elements in the book are things I really came across – I was quite surprised at the end to stand back and see how political it had become.

The best advice I can give is to write something that you care about. You spend a lot of time with your book and your characters, and it must be very hard if you’re writing about people and things that don’t make you feel very much.

Feel as much as possible. If you feel something, it seems to me that other people might too.


How did your own relationship with the city of Paris evolve and change through writing These Dividing Walls?

When I started These Dividing Walls I was still living in Paris so it was easy to just absorb everything that I saw around me. We moved to London in 2015, and much of the book was written in London that summer. I tried not to be too nostalgic about the city, not to fall into the trap of only making it beautiful. It is beautiful, of course it is, but it’s complex too, and difficult and riven with many of the same problems we find everywhere today. So I tried to remember all those things, to keep true to that version of the city. It’s been so nice to hear from readers who know Paris and who feel the book’s captured some of that complexity.


These Dividing Walls explores the intriguing idea that, in modern life, we live in such close proximity to others without ever getting to know them. Out of curiosity, has the book inspired you to get to know your neighbours better?

Haha, erm, not entirely. We have some very nice upstairs neighbours in London, but it’s such a busy city, everyone’s hustling, and it’s not always easy to strike up a friendship with the people who see you taking the rubbish out in your pyjamas! We are good friends with the people who live next door, though!


Lastly, what is some of the best writing advice you’ve been given? And what is the best writing advice you, as a published author now, can give? 🙂 

The best writing advice in some ways is the most obvious. Just write. Just get on and do it, and stick with it, and you do get there, eventually you get there.

The best advice I can give about publishing are two bits of advice that were given to me: 1) don’t sound insane in your cover letter (I know I’ve said that already, but you do hear about some humdingers. Agents are people too! And they’re much more likely to read your work if you sound nice and normal!) and 2) don’t submit to agents until you’ve finished your manuscript and you’ve done as much as you can with it.

If someone replies saying they love the first five chapters and want to read the rest, you don’t want to leave them hanging six months while you actually finish the thing!


Follow Fran Cooper on Twitter @FranWhitCoop

In Lists on
May 21, 2017

10 Career Commandments For Ambitious Creatives Everywhere

Every company has a list of “company values”, right? A manifesto, of sorts, that we, the employees, are all supposed to adhere to. But how often is it that we set our own manifestos? Where is the manifesto guiding our own creative careers? Inspired by the brilliant Ash Ambirge, here are 10 career commandments for ambitious and creative people everywhere. 

 

1. Thou shall not give work all of your time and energy.

Haven’t you heard? Working all the hours is officially unsexy. Busy isn’t a badge of honour, and your self-worth isn’t based on how hard you hustle. Studies show people who work less are more likely to get a raise or bonus than those who overwork. Make work revolve around your life, not the other way round.

 

2. Thou shall not limit your potential because society has taught you to.

As a woman, as an ethnic minority, as someone from a working-class background, or otherwise. Show up everywhere like you deserve to be there. Because you do.

 

3. Thou shall save your f*cks for the things that really matter.

You should give a f*ck. You really should. But only for the things that set your soul on fire. The competitive co-worker? That comment your boss made? The annoying email you received? Stop paying mental overtime to it. Save your f*cks for magical sh*t.

 

4. Thou shall not succumb to imposter syndrome.

Because even the best paid people in the game suffer from it, and we’re ALL making it up as we go along. Seriously. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

 

5. Thou shall always make decisions based on curiosity, NOT fear.

Because you should do what you said you wanted to do, before you got all tired and busy and life happened… you really should.

 

 6. Thou shall never stop learning.

Ever. Your mind is your life’s work, your ultimate project. Always be a work in progress.

 

7. Thou shall do things before you are ready.

Because great things never came from comfort zones. And if you’re wait for the “right time”, you’ll be waiting forever. Fact.

 

8. Thou shall ask for help and help others.

Take the ego out of your work. Because when we help each other shine, we all shine brighter.

 

9. Thou shall believe in your future self.

Because you attract what you believe you’re worth.

 

10. Thou shall pay attention to what you pay attention to.

Because THAT? That’s your calling.

In Guest Posts on
May 17, 2017

Why Side Hustles Are Good for Your Soul

I’ve always believed that side hustles are good for the soul, and nobody proves that more than my friend Carleanne O’Donoghue. Through her involvement with the super inspiring Books on the Underground project (yes, the one with Emma Watson!), she has turned her pain into something positive. Here’s her story…


 

I’m so interested in your side hustle, Books on the Underground. How did it all begin, and how has it felt to see the project grow and get global attention?! Particularly while juggling a day job?

I’d been looking to push myself into doing more of the stuff that interests me, and to meet new people. I loved the Books on the Underground movement and saw they had a book club, so I tweeted them to see if they needed an extra pair of hands. It turns out they did, and I met Cordelia, manager of Books on the Underground, and was given my book fairy wing there and then along with two other girls!

As time went on, the movement got bigger and more book fairies appeared, each of us distributing up to 200 books between us a day on the Tube.

Then, we managed to partner up with Our Shared Shelf and Emma Watson to drop copies of Mom & Me & Mom on the Underground over a couple of days and it was a HUGE success. Our following on Instagram and Twitter grew massively and the story was hugely reported in the media.

We also started receiving a lot of requests from other people around the world who wanted to set up a similar scheme, but maybe didn’t have as much public transport so Cordelia came up with this idea of The Book Fairies and sharing books with people in any location, anywhere in the world. Emma Watson got involved in the launch and on International Women’s Day 2017, we launched.

That day, we distributed 1200 books in 26 countries, and gained 50k Instagram followers in only 2 and a half months. We gave away 40,000 stickers for free to people in over 100 across the globe (today, we’ve sent stickers to 195 countries). Getting global attention was crazy!  I honestly can’t explain how crazy and weird it was to watch these books we’d spent hours packing, being distributed and found in places as far as America and Australia.

We are lucky that people tend to understand we all have full-time jobs, but we make the effort to get out onto the tube before and after work and at lunch if we can. I work right by a tube station so it’s not much effort for me to pop out on my way to Pret with a tote bag full of books, jump on the northern line for a stop, sprinkle some fairy dust and then circle back to the office.

My bosses love the fact I do it, so they’re very understanding and don’t mind that I stack the place up with boxes and boxes full of books from publishers. Right now, I can’t fit my legs under my desk!


That is such an incredible story! You are quite literally putting good out there into the world, sprinkling creativity wherever you go.

Yes, I love it! I try to remain as anonymous as I can when I do it, but I’ve had a few people chase me down tube trains and platforms to tell me how amazing the scheme is, or that I had just made their day, which is always very lovely to hear.


How have your side hustles, particularly your work with Books on the Underground, contributed to your overall wellbeing and even your mental health?

This is probably the most open I have been about this, but right now I am having a bit of a struggle with my mental health. In November, I lost somebody who was very dear to me and I can quite honestly say that I haven’t felt the same since. It was like, all of a sudden, the lights had been turned off. I had no idea where I was going, but I was expected to just keep on going.

At first, it was fine and I carried on just doing the same things I’d usually do, dropping books and updating the BOTU website. The other Fairies were all so lovely and supportive.

Since this has all happened, we have become this amazing family and being a part of something that brings joy to so many people is a great reminder that there is good out there, even when life can seem so cruel at times.

It sounds like a cliche, but it’s true.

The smallest things can really make all the difference, which is also why I’ve recently joined the volunteering team at the MediCinema at Guys Hospital in London Bridge. I basically spent my Thursday evening wheeling people up and down from the wards to the cinema so they could watch a film in a comfy chair and it made such a huge difference to both my day and theirs. I like feeling like I have contributed to somebody’s day, even just a little bit.

A lot of the time you can’t tell whether somebody’s had a great one, or a terrible one, but you can bet that after finding a Book from the Book Fairies or if they have had a couple of hours off of the ward down at the MediCinema, you’ve made an impression and given somebody at least one thing to smile about that day.

I should add that I went back to work a couple of days after this huge loss, and I lost all enthusiasm.

Doing the Book Fairies and Books on the Underground stuff were the only things I felt that contributed to improving my mood and making me feel a little less gloomy.


What you’ve just shared is so honest and important. Thank you. Having suffered with depression, I know how hard it can be. This topic reminds me of that fantastic Maya Angelou quote, “you can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have”. And I think the same applies to kindness. What advice can you give to anyone who feels stuck in a rut? How can a side hustle help?

Just do something that makes you happy, even if it’s for five minutes. There are so many things you can do that don’t have to take up a lot of time, on your own terms.

For example, Postcrossing is another thing that has really helped. Basically, you register on the site, press a button and it generates an address and an ID you write a postcard to this person, include the ID, they register it when they receive it and then you get a postcard back from somebody else somewhere in the world.

Sometimes I will just send a bunch of postcards off and forget about them and then come home to a load of postcards on the map from amazing places like India, Taiwan, across Europe and America.

Side hustles don’t have to take up a lot of time, or make you any money – they just have to make you happy. For me, making other people happy makes me happy. It’s just all about finding what works for you and what you enjoy doing.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have a job we LOVE and want to live and breathe. You may not be able to necessarily control what goes on 9-5, but you can spend those remaining 16 hours doing what does truly make you happy.

My life is by no means a big happy fairytale, but getting involved in these projects really helps me see the beauty in things when I’m feeling low.

In Essays on
May 14, 2017

A No-Bullshit Guide to Making More Money (Without Burning Out)

So many smart women I know are settling. For unfulfilling opportunities. For jobs they actually kind of hate. And for less money than they’re worth. Maybe you’re one of them. A few years ago, I was, too, spending years in jobs that paid me little and took a lot.

But then something shifted in me. I realised that my time WAS worth more. Much more, thank ya very much. So, I started approaching my relationship with money in a whole new way. And guess what? I’ve been happier ever since. While I’m not saying more money is the key to more happiness (spoiler alert: it totally isn’t), it helps. Without sounding totally Wall Street: money really is power.

Allow me to introduce realistic, no-bullshit ways you can start making more money without working yourself into the ground. Here’s to making more money without burning out.



Know your worth

The first step to upping your money game is accepting that you DESERVE more money. It may sound strange… because who doesn’t want more money for books and shoes, right?! But actually, if you dig deeper, you may find that you’re stopping yourself from believing you deserve more money (without even realising it).

In fact, MANY of us (me included!) are held back by inherited ideas from our parents or our upbringings, something Jen Sincero describes brilliantly in her book, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of WealthBut you deserve as much money as you want, and then some. Repeat after me:

It’s ok to like money. It’s ok to want more money. I can totally make more money.

Because you can.


Research, research, research

Playing the corporate game? Check Glassdoor for other salaries at your company and beyond. (And, FYI, if you work for a small company, you can still check out industry standards.) Doing the influencer thing? Start here. Writing skills to pay the bills? Who Pays Writers, an anonymous crowd-sourced list, has got you covered.

Oh, and politely ask people. Seriously. Ask your friends IRL, email people you follow online and everyone in-between. You’ll be surprised by how open people are, if you’re willing to start the conversation from a genuine place.


Plan ahead before the rest

Ok, so your company gives promotions and pay rises once a year. But, for the love of god, DON’T wait until your annual review to start discussions! Planning ahead, when it comes to being paid more, is everything

This is a piece of advice I wish I’d heard years ago: You need to be asking your boss what you can expect SIX months before the formal process begins. Yes, SIX! They may not have the answer on the spot, but they’ll be aware that you want more for yourself. They’re not mind readers, after all. Here’s exactly how to play it:

In your next 1–1, say the following:

I wanted to check in about my progress, and make sure I’m on track for a pay rise at the end of the year?” Pause. Breathe, girl, breathe. “As you know, I’ve done <INSERT YOUR EXTRA RESPONSIBILITIES/GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS HERE> and I want to make sure that will be reflected when my pay is reviewed.

Back your case up with facts and evidence of everything you’ve taken on. Come armed with industry research and other job adverts similar to yours, but with higher salaries. Get on your manager’s radar before the rest of the team. Because if you don’t start fighting your corner early, who will?


Don’t accept the first offer. Ever. 

Don’t ever accept a job without a polite conversation about your salary. EVER. You may think negotiating is awkward, but do you know what’s even more awkward? Being in the same job 18 months later, being paid a salary that you actively chose not to negotiate. Not negotiating is saying no to yourself.

Remember: Once you accept a job, you give up the strongest chance you’ll ever have to get a higher salary. Nothing else, apart from that first contract, is a given. Pro tip: Negotiating actually shows you have self-respect and know your worth. Don’t be too grateful.


Ask

A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

This Jay Z quote has been guiding me throughout my whole adult life. In work, in love, and most certainly when it comes to my money. Let it guide you, too.

In Interviews on
May 9, 2017

Meet Scott Raven, the 25-Year-Old Running For Parliament

25-year-old Scott Raven is tired of UK politics. He’s tired of not having a voice. And he’s tired of the way the system currently works. But instead of just complaining about it online, like so many of us do, he’s taking action in the biggest way possible: he’s running for parliament as an independent candidate for Buckingham.

As soon as I heard Scott’s story, I was inspired by his bravery and tenacity. Here, we talk about what drives him, what’s surprised him so far, and how you can make a difference in your community, too.

 


Q: Can you start by introducing yourself, what you do and what drives you to do what you do?

A: My name is Scott Raven and I am an independent Member of Parliament (MP) candidate for Buckingham. I am a Politics teacher at a local school/college and I used to work for a charity called Global Classrooms. I live in a beautiful village in Buckinghamshire, England and I am 25 years old.

In terms of what drives me – I could talk for days! It really comes down to the love I have for the democratic process, which is something that we should all be incredibly grateful for. I am running as an MP in my local area because I strongly believe the people of Buckingham deserve a decent choice when electing a representative for Parliament. The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, is currently our MP, which means he must remain impartial and does not get to vote on Parliamentary decisions our behalf. Therefore, the people of Buckingham have no say on what happens on a national level.

 

Q: What made you stop being an observer and start being an active participant?

A: I have always been a proactive person. If something needs doing, I’ll do it.

By throwing yourself into different situations you get opportunity to learn from that new experience.

When it comes to politics, I believe that politics is everybody’s job, not somebody else’s. We all have a duty to step up and try to make society better.

 

Q: What is one of the biggest things you’ve learned so far from engaging with the public on a political level? What’s surprised you?

A: I am surprised by how interested people are. There is a lot of apathy and frustration towards politicians at the moment. However, the people I have spoken to seem interested and engaged which has been a really positive thing for me to experience. Voter turnout in Buckingham is around 70% which is above the national average, so luckily I am dealing with some very switched on people. I have also learnt that oftentimes people are quick to criticise, but they don’t take the time to hear the positive actions politicians have taken to help the community. I know some politicians ruin it for the rest of us, but most of us are genuinely trying to help people as much as we can!

 

Q: Do you agree that in order to fully understand the political climate, we need to embrace and understand both sides of the argument?

A: Absolutely. Let’s use the Brexit referendum as an example here. As someone who voted to remain in the EU, I think it’s vital now to come together as a nation to tackle this monumental operation. Most people who voted to leave did so in order to break away from a political union with Europe, and most of the people who voted to remain wanted to stay in a cultural, social, economic and academic union with Europe. Now, we need to find a way to leave the political union but maintaining a close relationship with Europe. A relationship which fosters growth and unity but remains separate from the political process. This can be achieved only if we work together.  

 

Q: What made you run as an independent candidate? For anyone who isn’t familiar with the process, could you outline how it works?

A: Becoming a candidate is fairly simple, all it takes is time and support. To become a good candidate, you need to be deeply driven to help the people you are running to represent. I chose to run as an independent candidate because major political parties do not run against the speaker of the House.

I have also started to doubt party politics as a viable means of representation in general.

From what I have seen, running as a party candidate will get you a lot more support to begin with but once you’re on the inside, party politics becomes a bigger priority than your constituents – and nothing should be bigger than the people who elected you to represent them. As an independent, I am free of this chain of command, free to be ‘whipped’ only by the people I represent!

 

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to make a difference, but feels insignificant and hopeless? How can they start making their own impact, however small? How can they get started?

A: I have 3 pieces of advice for this:

1) Start by learning. The most logical foundation before you start anything is to gain some prior knowledge. Read up about politics, follow the news, learn who your local candidates are and gain an awareness of what issues there are in your local area.

2) VOTE. It is so simple. It takes 5 minutes and it will make a huge difference. If 30% more 18-25 year olds would have voted in the Brexit referendum, there would have been a ‘remain’ majority. The younger generation out-number the old for the first time in human history – we can make a difference if we get out there and vote.

3) Litter on your road? Stop expecting others to do it and go pick it up. A neighbour has lost a dog? Help them put up flyers. Get a taste of what it is like to help people, even when no-one is watching. It takes time, but you can become a well-respected member of your household, street, village, town or city. Lastly, look at how you can improve the world around you, even if it’s a little bit.

 


Support Scott’s campaign today by visiting his website and following his Facebook page.

In Guest Posts on
May 8, 2017

How to Recognise and *Recover* From Burnout and Depression

Exactly one year ago, I sat alone in the stairwell at my office, and cried.

While that period of my life is a bit of a blur, I remember that moment clearly. It was the moment I knew something was deeply wrong. I had no motivation left for my work, and things were out of control. I felt like a failure and had no clue how to fix it.

It’s taken me a year to recover from burnout and to be ready to write this article. I’ve learned a lot over the last year about myself, my values, and building a balanced life and I hope some of those lessons might benefit others in the same situation.

So, sit back! This post is a long one.


Read more

In Guest Posts on
May 5, 2017

5 Resume Tricks to Help You Impress Any Employer

Do you rarely hear back from recruiters even though you’re a great match for the job? Maybe your resume isn’t doing your skills justice. In this post, guest blogger and resume pro Laura Slingo reveals five tricks that will help you impress any employer.

 

1. Always include a standout career summary

If you really want to impress an employer with your resume, you should replace your career objective with a career summary.

Career objectives might give a potential employer a good idea of where you’d like to head in your career, but that’s not going to land you the job. Instead, you need to develop a career summary and craft your elevator pitch.

In your career summary, include a quick round-up of what you’re great at, what you’re passionate about, and why you’re qualified. That way you’ll show your prospective employer exactly what you can bring to the table, and why hiring you will bring the company success.

 

2. Customize your resume to every job

If you’re including a generic resume with your job application, you’re not going to impress anyone. Even if you have all the skills required for the job, unless you customize your resume to highlight your relevant abilities, you aren’t going to stand out.

Therefore, with every application, skim the job description and ensure your resume mirrors words and phrases from the “skills required” section. This makes it obvious to the employer that you’re a match for the role.

Don’t forget about your soft skills, such as communication, time management, and teamwork, either. Mentioning these skills will work in your favor as they can be transferred to every job and so chances are your prospective employer will value them, too. Again, be sure to mention them in the same context as the job description to really stand out.

 

3. Bullet points are your best friend

It’s not just the content of your resume that’s important when applying for a job; it’s the look of it, too. If your resume is stuffed with dense paragraphs, a recruiter may not have the time and patience to muddle through to see if you’re a good match vacancy. Therefore, in order to impress a potential employer and increase your chances of an interview, you need to include bullet points. It’s all about the formatting!

Bullet points break your resume down into digestible sections, making it easier for employers to identify key abilities. In your employment history section, feel free to include a summary sentence to explain each position, but your skills, responsibilities and achievements should be bulleted. The same goes for your education section, honors and achievements, and hobbies and interests sections.

 

4. Showcase what you have achieved

When bullet pointing your abilities, don’t just list your duties and the skills you’ve developed; showcase your results and achievements, too. Don’t just tell the employer you’re a motivated person, tell them why.

Ways to showcase your achievements include referencing specifics in your performance, targets you’ve met or exceeded, and perhaps sales you’ve made or contributed to. And don’t forget to include specific numbers where possible. Therefore, by adding some explanation and proof to the qualifications and competencies you’ve listed, your claims become much more credible.

 

5. Make it flawless

In order to seriously impress a potential employer, you need to ensure your resume is flawless: Kardashian style. Not only does this mean that your resume must look the part, but it must read as a polished piece, and you must be confident that you’ve completed it to the best of your ability and be proud to submit it.

So, in order to ensure your resume is flawless, use a clean font, such as Calibri or Ariel, and ensure it has clearly divided sections and bold headings throughout. Also, ensure that you proofread it at least three times over. Top tip: read your resume aloud; you’ll be able to spot errors your eyes may have missed.

With these five tricks, you’ll be sure to create an outstanding resume guaranteed to impress any employer. Above anything, remember to highlight your relevant skills and achievements, and you’re onto a winner. You’ve got this!

 


About the author: Laura Slingo is Digital Copywriter for the fastest-growing US job board, Resume Library. For more expert advice on job searches, careers, and the workplace, visit their Career Advice pages.

In Interviews on
May 1, 2017

A Conversation with Project Consent Founder, Sara Li

After struggling with anxiety and depression, 17-year-old Sara Li had the idea for Project Consent.

It all began as a simple Instagram page that invited people to write the word “NO” on them to symbolise the fight against sexual assault. Fast forward to today, and Project Consent is a global, non-profit movement that serves as a community for survivors of sexual assault, driven to make a difference and change the narrative around consent.

Sara has a staff of 40+ people, contributes to MTV, Elite Daily and Thought Catalog, and was one of the leading partners in the White House’s “It’s On Us” campaign.. She is a hugely inspiration example of what happens when turn your pain into motivation.

Here, Sara and I have a candid conversation about creating positivity in today’s climate, the pressure of being a public figure at a young age and more. 


 

Hi Sara! Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and why you do what you do? What drives you?

Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m a sophomore at the University of Kansas where I’m studying Strategic Communications and Creative Writing. I’m the director of Project Consent, a sexual assault awareness and prevention program that I started in 2014. I’m also a writer; I freelance op-eds and short stories.

I would say that I’m driven by optimism. I believe in better days and good people and I want to be part of that.

 

I’m seriously impressed by your career trajectory so far. You started Project Consent when you were just 17. Can you talk about the moment you decided to stop being an observer, and start using your voice? What was the catalyst? How did you turn your pain into motivation?

Thank you, that’s really sweet to say! It’s been a wild ride. I’ve always had a strong personality — which is just a polite way of saying I’m headstrong, but in an effective, over-achiever kind of way. It’s strange to be applauded for…standing up for what’s right? I don’t know, I think about this a lot. Whether you’re 17 or 70, anyone can be a good person.

I think it’s important for people to know that none of this was planned. Even when Project Consent first began, I never thought that I’d ever go into the field of humanitarian work.

I don’t think I would’ve started a non-profit to combat sexual assault if it didn’t happen to me personally. Am I happy that it took something terrible to unlock that part of me? Absolutely not. But that’s the funny thing about choice: when it’s taken from you, you’re the only one who can take it back. There’s a lot of power in choosing to make something good out of something bad.

Something that’s helped me a lot is not making ‘victim’ a part of my identity. Everyone is a victim of something: abuse, depression, heartbreak, neglect, etc. I look at victimhood as a phase — an inevitable one because suffering is universal— because you do recover, eventually. And it doesn’t happen overnight, trust me. But I have worked too hard to be strong and capable and smart to just be a victim of someone else’s actions. Once I came to terms with that, I was able to move on and create something that I hoped would help others.

 

What have the pressures of being a public figure taught you? How has the experience shaped who you are and changed your perspective?

I don’t know what’s weirder: accepting that I’m a public figure or accepting that others think I’m a public figure.

I was 17 years old when a feature in NYLON put me on the map (or whatever you want to call it). My friends would make jokes like “Sara’s famous” and I’d laugh them off because I was a kid who knew I was a kid. I wasn’t in the mindset of thinking myself as a public figure and yeah, I miss that blissful ignorance. Your reputation is always bigger than you are, so it’s very surreal to have people assume that I am exactly the person they read or hear about. I would love to be the girl who can do anything and is always on top of it, but I’m not.

I think there’s a lot of people who can take being a public figure in stride. I just wasn’t ready. When you’re in your late teens and early 20s, you’re still trying to figure out who you are and what you’re capable of. When I hit my late teens and early 20s, I felt like everyone already had this idea of who I was before I did. It didn’t give me a lot of room to make mistakes, to be young and stupid, because I knew who I had to be. Now I’m afraid of disappointing other people as well because when you are a public figure, to whatever degree, you’re constantly wondering what people are thinking about you. I know the worst things that I think about myself, so I try not to go down that hole.

I’m been trying to embrace total transparency a lot more. There’s a lot of factors that I can’t control — half of what I say is edited out for clarity because I ramble so much — but I do try to be really, really honest about who I am. And if people don’t like me, then, well, I understand. I’m a work in progress. My progress is just more visible than most people’s.

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