Caroline Dowd-Higgins Career Coach • Author • Speaker Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:56:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Try Something Scary in Your Career Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:56:16 +0000 Staying in the safe and expected zone won’t lead to opportunity or promotion. Try something beyond your comfort zone in your career to grow!

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Your Working Life with Carla Freburg Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:49:19 +0000 Carla Freburg, Sales Manager with Vendor Services Group at Balboa Capital helps small business owners navigate loans and financing.

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Propel Your Career Forward by Looking for ‘Extra Headroom’ Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:45:05 +0000 Career advice from disruptive innovators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders.

By Laura Deck, guest blogger

Wait. I know what you’re thinking. You’ve heard all the salient career advice and most of it just rehashes what has been offered before. A recent Google search for “career development advice” yielded 38,700,000 hits, so there is no shortage of wisdom out there. One way to get it would be to pore through all the online expertise, assuming you had the stamina. Another way is to meet some experts face-to-face and listen.

A few weeks ago I did just that. The Automattic Lounge at WordPress in San Francisco was the site of a lively event hosted by the Indiana University Alumni Association. The program featured a panel of disruptive innovators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders who shared their career advice with the crowd.

After a welcome by Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, moderator Caroline Dowd-Higgins, Director of IUAA Career and Professional Development, introduced the panelists:

  • Tony Conrad – founder, and partner, True Ventures
  • Valerie Grubb – head of Val Grubb & Associates; former senior executive at Oxygen Media and NBC Universal
  • David Krane – general partner, Google Ventures
  • Deborah Collins Stephens – executive in residence at IUAA; executive coach; author

The panelists agreed that the new normal of our economy requires constant reinvention and rule breaking to stay on top of the game and find that “extra headroom.” They offered the following advice to help you get there.

An entrepreneurial mindset is critical whether you are an entrepreneur or not.

Most business problems are ill-structured and require creative approaches to solve them. It’s critical to apply interdisciplinary expertise to all problems; for example, don’t just assign engineers to solve engineering problems. Innovation starts from looking for extra headroom in existing technologies and asking how to make them better (See: nest and uber). Don’t assume all the work has been done; there are always more opportunities. Sometimes innovations are simple, like two recent Indiegogo campaigns for bike helmets with built-in LED lights and self-locking bicycles.

Keep your career relevant by identifying and addressing your blind spots.

Surround yourself with a personal Board of Directors who can tactfully point out your blind spots, whether they are technical knowledge, interpersonal skills, or a less-than-professional image. Add a dose of honesty and periodic self-reflection to proactively identify any deficiencies in your brand. One panelist believes that everyone should learn to code because every aspect of society is impacted by technology, and you can’t escape it.

Don’t walk the tightrope without a safety net.

Failure and mistakes happen for many reasons – you lose sight of priorities, you ignore your “gut,” you scale too fast or not fast enough, you misread people, and many more. You can’t always prevent awful things from happening, but surrounding yourself with people who will catch you when you fall is a good insurance policy.

Control your career destiny through storytelling.

Everyone has an inspiring story about their uniqueness that they take pride in. Hiring managers want to hear the context of your story beyond your highlight reel of accomplishments. Be prepared to explain the how and why behind what makes you special.

The DNA of your team determines its outcome.

In Silicon Valley, it’s about authorship – what are you and your team creating? Surround yourself with people who are good listeners, can see around corners, show interest in others’ ideas, and are not afraid to fail. Adopt this authorship mindset no matter where your career path takes you.

Whether you want to start a business, transition to a new career, or invent the next big thing, first try looking for “extra headroom” in the opportunities around you. Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.

Watch the video of this power career wisdom panel for free by registering via this link.

Laura Deck is a freelance writer, editor and program manager living in the San Francisco Bay Area.


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How Can I Help You? Sat, 21 Mar 2015 18:38:26 +0000 Great leaders develop by helping others. The most important question you can ask is “How Can I Help You?” Join the movement to pay it forward and you will benefit in the process.

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How to Ace The Video Job Interview Sat, 21 Mar 2015 18:31:18 +0000 More and more HR mangers use the Internet to interview job candidates nowadays. In fact, more than 63 percent, that’s 6 in 10 human resources managers say their company often conducts employment interviews via video, according to a survey by OfficeTeam. Mounting pressure on HR mangers to reduce recruitment costs, growing popularity of technological devices with built-in camera and finally, improvement in Internet speed means that this trend will only go in one direction. If you are invited to take part in a video chat job interview, here are practical steps you can take to increase your chances of success.

Pick The Right Time and Place – Unlike face-to-face interviews where the interviewer controls the scene, this time it is up to you. The interviewer will see the background behind you, as well as the immediate surrounding to your left and right. Pick a location for the interview in which the background is fitting the occasion. Furthermore, it is important that the area is well lit and that background noise is muted. Most job candidates will opt to conduct the video interview at home. If you do so, temporarily stage the background behind you and to your sides. Close the door so family members (two or four legged) won’t interfere.

Download and Install On Time – Traditionally, you will receive an email confirmation from the HR manager or recruiter confirming the time of the interview. This email will also include details of the video chat software to be used. If you are asked to download and install software, do so well ahead of time. 5 min before the interview is meant to commence isn’t the right time. You will agree, running late to an online job interview will undoubtedly reflect poorly on you.

Setup a Backup Device – Most video chat software is cross device and cross platform, meaning that you are able to install it on your Desktop, Notebook, Smartphone, and iPad. Configuring two devices is a smart fallback strategy incase your default device is inactive (battery depletion, software glitch, etc.). It will impress the recruiter, as it will show that you plan well ahead for different scenarios.

Brand Yourself Professionally – Certain software, most common of which is Skype and Google Hangouts, require you to create a username. It also gives you the opportunity to upload a profile picture to appear along side your name. Think carefully about the username you select and the picture you are uploading, as both are transparent to the person calling you. For username, consider a variation of your first, middle and last name, as opposed to a nickname. While profile picture isn’t mandatory, you should use this feature to help establish rapport with the interviewer. Business like headshot will do as your profile picture.

Test Your Device and Yourself – Once the software has been installed and your account is active, you should make sure everything is working before the interview starts. Test your device’s speaker, microphone and your comfort level of handling the software by attending a mock interview. Ask a friend, family member, or a work colleague (you trust) to video phone you and ask a number of standard interview questions. Not only will this step help ensure smooth running when it counts, it will do wonders to your self-confidence in terms of using the software.

Dress Head to Toe – You will do well to dress head to toe precisely as you would for a face-to-face interview. It is tempting to address from the waist line up thinking that the interviewer will only see part of your person, however if you move or even under certain settings, the webcam will often capture a wider image of the room (and you). Basic tips that will help:

  • Pick an outfit that you feel comfortable in, preferably contemporary one
  • Conservative is a safer option if you are unsure
  • For management or executive positions, you cannot go wrong with a suit but dress according to your job level
  • Visit the employ’s social media profiles for hints on their dress code

During The Interview – It is important to make eye contact with the interviewer. Do this by looking straight at the webcam, rather than looking around. You might find it easier to drag the video chat window nearer the webcam so you are ‘forced’ in a way to make eye contact. Do not knock on your table, play with your pen, type on your keyboard or do anything that might generate sounds to the other side. If you do, you might come across disinterested.

If the video chat is interrupted check that your Internet connection is working by attempting to connect using another device. If the Internet is working, you may want to close and open the video chat software. You may also try to use your backup device if you followed point 3 of this guide. Failing that, email or call the interviewer, list the steps you have taken to resolve the problem and suggest that you continue by phone. It is important that you come across as a problem solver and that you don’t miss your interview opportunity, hence if the interview cannot continue by video chat, at least you may still get a chance to impress over the phone.

Good luck!

This is a guest post from The Carling Partnership, an international search and selection company in the drinks and brewing jobs sectors. The Carling Partnership works across different sectors from cider production jobs to sales jobs in the wine industry. If you are exploring career opportunities – check them out!



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Your Working Life with Graeme Cowan Sat, 21 Mar 2015 18:30:15 +0000 Graeme Cowan is the author of Back from the Brink: True Stories and Practical Help for Overcoming Depression and Bipolar Disorder.

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Salary: 7 Tips To Help You Ask for What You Want Fri, 13 Mar 2015 19:28:30 +0000 Salary negotiation…it’s right up there with root canals and tax audits in the minds of many.

There’s no doubt, it can be challenging to be in the negotiating “hot seat”. In a recent study conducted by, 31,000 people were surveyed about salary negotiation, and over half responded that they had never asked for a raise. The most common reasons given for not negotiating included: feeling “uncomfortable”; and feeling afraid of being perceived as “too pushy”.

Avoiding the “Money Talk”

The findings are not surprising. While my clients are thrilled at the prospect of a job offer or potential raise – when faced with “the money conversation” – a fair number would just as soon skip right past that part of the process.

Advocating for a higher salary can be a scary proposition – and it’s understandable! Unless you’re in a career that requires regular negotiation (ie: attorney, arbitrator, agent), it’s uncharted territory. Add to that a need to be thought of as “nice”, “helpful” or as someone who doesn’t “rock the boat”, and many of us think it’s safer to just take what’s offered.

You’ve Got To Ask!

In their book, Ask For It!, authors Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever encourage women to build their negotiating muscles since women lag behind men in terms of salary and benefits. The authors report that women are regularly leaving money on the table in negotiations, in many cases, simply because they’re not asking for it. Babcock and Laschever drive the point home with sobering statistics – including one study that estimates that a woman stands to lose $500,000 or more by the age of 60 if she doesn’t start negotiating her salary as early as her first job – since future raises and salaries build upon each other.

The Guide is an excellent resource if you’re looking to determine your professional worth and how much you should be paid. It also offers a Salary Negotiation Guide with expert advice on how to build your negotiating muscles. Here are 7 tips compiled from the guide to help you ask for what you’re worth:

  • Reframe your approach. “Conversations leading to agreement” is a good way to think of negotiation.
  • Know what you’re worth. Get a handle on what a willing buyer will pay – gender notwithstanding – for the services you offer.
  • Have your back-up data and counter-offers ready, then have a friend or family member role-play with you – so you’ll be more prepared and comfortable in the actual meeting.
  • Start the conversation with questions. Find out your bargaining partner’s needs, desires, fears, preferences and priorities. These diagnostic questions can significantly improve the outcome of negotiations.
  •  Answer Needs By Offering Benefits. Let your negotiation partner know how you can meet needs – backed up by solid data – before asking for anything for yourself.
  • Frame proposals as mutually beneficial. Use objective metrics like “market value” rather than subjective ones like “what I believe I deserve”.
  • Let them disclose a number. Always let the hiring manager share salary ranges first, or an offer post interview. Never accept the first offer.

When you consider that a conversation – sometimes no more than five minutes in length – can affect total dollars earned over the course of your entire career, it’s well worth working through any fear and discomfort you might have with the negotiation process.

Know your value, strategize and practice. By putting your “nice girl” image aside and game-face on in salary negotiations, you’re more likely to get what you want…because you asked for it!

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Your Working Life with Amy Friedman Fri, 13 Mar 2015 16:38:26 +0000 Amy Friedman is a pioneer among a new generation of women business owners and founded Partners in Human Resources International.

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What Are You Really Proud of in Your Career? Sat, 07 Mar 2015 20:50:08 +0000 Always have something on your resume that you are really proud of. Be at the ready to talk about your best accomplishments.

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Your Working Life with Alannah Moore Sat, 07 Mar 2015 20:42:49 +0000 Alannah Moore discusses her book: Create Your Own Online Store in a Weekend.

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