Real Life Virtual Networking Advice

It’s now been more than a year since the first case of COVID-19 appeared in the United States. As the pandemic drags on, most everyone has had to make major changes in how they work and live. Many now work remotely to avoid close contact with others and prevent the spread of the virus.

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The job search has moved online as well for those who are looking for employment. Interviews are now virtual. One important aspect of the job search is networking, and that is now largely done remotely, as well. But networking in a digital environment is not quite the same as doing it face to face.

Here are some ideas on how to network virtually.

Where to network virtually.

Some career experts advise those looking for employment to devote most of their time to networking. Job candidates need to look for events online. When you fine one to participate in, introduce yourself in the chat area, let people know what kind of job you are interested in and in what area, and share your LinkedIn address.

Another way of networking virtually is to take a class online, one that relates to your career ambitions, and then network with the people and instructor in the class. Host an online coffee break, organize regular meetings with a few other people in the class, and follow the instructor on social media.

There are also many different conferences, podcasts and workshops available online in which you can take part. Some will offer breakout sessions with smaller groups where you can make contacts with other members. On your profile for the event, be sure to use your full name and include your LinkedIn address.

Who to network with.

One place to start is with former colleagues, even if you have not been in touch with them for a while. Acknowledge the lack of contact and express the desire to reconnect. However, initially, your focus should be on them – how they are doing, how their career is going.

You will not make a very good impression if you call the person out of the blue and ask if they can help you with your job search. You need to show good faith by offering ways to help them as well.

Another way to make connections is through LinkedIn. Look for people who publish frequently on this social media platform. They are likely to be willing to correspond with you, to talk to you about their interests and profession. After all, the reason they are writing is to increase their visibility and reputation.

You can find these people by simply doing a Google search for top influencers on LinkedIn. Before you reach out to the person, however, you need to do a little preparation. Read through their past blogs and other writings. Learn about their background and interests. Then follow them. All of this will lay the groundwork for the day when you do contact the person, raising the odds that you will be more successful.

Other people to consider are employees at companies where you would like to work and people who work in the profession or industry where you work or where you plan to work.

Another group of people to correspond with virtually are recruiters. They often know about positions that have not been advertised. They have developed relationships with people in various industries and will be able to give you insight into the jobs in which you’re interested, as well as the work environments at different companies.

If you reach out and don’t receive any response, don’t give up immediately. Try establishing contact two or three times before moving on.

Staying organized.

When networking virtually, it is important to keep good records. Using a spreadsheet can be a big help. On it, you can record all of the people you have contacted, or plan to contact, along with background information on each person. You should also note when you contacted each person and what form of communication was used (email, text, phone, etc.).

Your notes should also include information about what was discussed and any other details you consider relevant.

Whether you’re looking for short-term work or full-time employment, make sure you take a look at Helpmates’ current job and career opportunities. If you find one or more that sing to you, follow directions on the posting or contact the branch nearest you.

The Job Skills You’ll Need in 2021 and Beyond

The pace of change continues to accelerate in our society, led by technological progress and the accompanying economic growth. Growth and change will only continue to pick up speed into the future. In such an environment, what are the skills and abilities workers will need to navigate the world of work?

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The skills necessary for success in the 21st century, as identified by business leaders and academics, are all connected to what is known as “deeper learning” or “higher order thinking skills”. These are skills such as analytic reasoning, complex problem solving and teamwork. They put a premium on flexibility and adaptability. They differ from more traditional types of skills in that they are not as content or knowledge-based.

It will certainly come as no surprise to hear that skill sets related to digital literacy will be highly valued. So-called “soft skills” (such as being able to get along with others and communication skills) will become increasingly important as well. Here are some of the key skills for the 21st century.

Learning and Innovation Skills

  1. Critical thinking

This involves analyzing facts to reach a conclusion or form a judgment. It is based on a rational, logical, objective evaluation of evidence.

  1. Problem solving

This is the use of different methods or strategies to find solutions to problems. There are many different methods depending on the type of problem. Some of the more common problem-solving strategies include abstraction, brainstorming, hypothesis testing, root cause analysis, and divide and conquer.

  1. Communication

Communication skills encompass both written and oral expression. These skills are necessary to express thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively.

  1. Collaboration

This skill involves the ability to work with others. It requires empathy, listening, tolerance, and good communication. People with collaboration skills can handle difficult situations, accept feedback, work with people of different cultures and backgrounds, and influence and persuade others. They know how to work in a team-oriented environment.

Digital Literacy Skills

  1. Information literacy

This is the ability to determine when new information is needed, as well as the ability to locate the information, evaluate its validity and then use it effectively to understand an issue or solve a problem.

  1. Media literacy

This involves the ability to assess the information produced by different types of media for its truth value. Being media literate means a person can detect propaganda, censorship and bias in media information and the motivations behind these distortions.

  1. Information technology

Information technology covers a broad range of activities. Generally, it describes any entity that stores, retrieves, manipulates, or receives information electronically in a digital format. This covers everything related to computer technology and to areas such as robotics. The skills required to work in this area are considered hard skills: learned abilities that can be quantified.

Career Skills

  1. Leadership

Not everyone will be in a leadership position, but the kinds of skills leaders require will be highly valued by employers. These are skills that relate to decision making, managing and resolving conflict, delegating, giving clear and useful feedback, and project and task management.

  1. A solid work ethic

People with a strong work ethic are motivated, dependable, persistent, and resilient. They meet deadlines. They have a positive attitude and are results oriented. They focus on how to overcome obstacles rather than being overcome by them. They work to continually improve their skills and performance.

  1. Organizational and time management skills

When companies are always trying to do more with less – and do it more efficiently – they value employees with good time management skills. These are skills that involve prioritizing tasks, allocating time, planning, setting goals and creating strategies to meet them, and reviewing performance in order to determine how to improve it.

Whether you’ve been laid off in 2020 or are thinking of broadening your job and career horizons in 2021, the recruiters here at Helpmates are here for you. If you haven’t already, check out or current job opportunities and/or contact the branch nearest you to register with us.

Here’s to a happy 2021 for all of us!!!

5 Tips to Help Your Career Thrive During COVID-19

These are uncertain times. The pandemic has disrupted many careers. But whether the pandemic is a career stumbling block or opportunity depends on how you react to it.

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It certainly presents challenges, especially if you have been laid off. But that doesn’t mean you have to put your career on hold, attempting to just wait it out until the situation improves. There are still things you can do to move forward even now.

  1. Perform above and beyond

No surprise here. If you want to move ahead in your career, you have to perform well in your job. Without doing that, nothing else will work.

Don’t let the disruption affect your performance. Established routines may be in some disarray, but you cannot let that affect your focus and your goals. To stay on track, assess your situation, establish priorities and a plan of action. Don’t get sidetracked doing tasks that are unimportant or take on too many projects. Concentrate on the important stuff. Multitasking – trying to do more than one task at the same time – doesn’t work. In fact, it can really reduce productivity.

  1. Don’t be a perfectionist

While you want your work to be superior, you need to also be on guard against perfectionism. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, which can harm productivity. It can also lead to procrastination and wasting too much time on minor details. Stopping this behavior means realizing that doing something well does not mean it has to be flawless. One good rule of thumb to follow – treat the difficult task as though it were easy, and the easy task as though it were difficult.

  1. Advertise your achievements

Many think that if we work hard, our accomplishments will speak for themselves, and higher ups will notice our work. But it usually doesn’t happen. To advance in your career, you have to increase your exposure and sell yourself and your accomplishments.

Some of us naturally shy away from the idea of tooting our own horn, believing it gives the appearance of egotism or arrogance. But you need to get past this misguided conception. To get ahead, it is important to let others know what you can do and what you have accomplished.

One tip: every quarter, send your manager a report of the things you’ve accomplished in the last three months and how ongoing projects are progressing. These reports can come in very handy come your annual review.

  1. Network

This is essential if you want to move ahead in your career. It’s something you should be doing whether you are looking for a job or not. Making connections can help in many different ways – gaining new information and insights, learning about trends, learning about job opportunities.

You need to go beyond your immediate circle of colleagues and build relationships with people in other departments and in other companies. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn make this much easier to do.

  1. Lend a hand

One of the best ways to build goodwill and good relationships with others is to volunteer to help them. If you take the time to listen to others, try to understand their problems and offer solutions, you will develop a reputation as someone willing to go above and beyond, a team player and a problem solver.

You don’t have to sacrifice time for your own work to do this. You just need to be selective about what extra projects to take on.

  1. Keep growing

Growing in your career doesn’t just happen. In addition to doing the things mentioned above, you need to continually challenge yourself, to take on new and different projects to help you develop new abilities and skills. This may be uncomfortable. You may have to learn a lot of new information, ask people for help, and do things you are not used to, but the rewards will be worth it.

Whether you’re looking for a full-time career position, or a part-time, temporary opportunity, take a look at Helpmates’ current job opportunities and then follow directions to apply to the ones that interest you.

Overcoming the Overwhelm When Working at Home

The pandemic has caused a lot of upheaval in people’s lives. Many of us now work remotely, all the while trying to take precautions against the virus. We battle with a lot of anxiety and stress and even some disorientation. It’s a lot to get used to.

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Working from home also presents unique challenges. We need to overcome distractions from family and friends. Work time tends to bleed into personal and family time until it often feels like there is no boundary between the two. It is easy to feel that we’ve lost control.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, you need to examine the sources of stress in your life. Here are a few things you can do to cope, and here are even more tips.

  • Take breaks

When working, it is best to take a short break about once each hour. That is about the limit of time that our minds can focus intensely. If that doesn’t suit your routine, you should definitely take a break when you are feeling stressed or fatigued.

Do something physical during your break, such as taking a short walk, doing some quick callisthenic-type exercises, throwing some dirty laundry in the washer, or cutting up some vegetables for supper. This helps to get the blood flowing, delivering more oxygen to the brain, improving your mood and reducing stress.

  • Set benchmarks

Most of us procrastinate, at least some of the time. If a big project is due in two weeks, we wait until a week or so has gone by before starting to work on it. To eliminate this problem, try setting benchmark goals. Break down the project into smaller tasks and set deadlines for each of  them on the way to your final goal.

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself

We all make mistakes. When we do, often there is a feeling of embarrassment and inadequacy, especially among perfectionists. We scold ourselves for our poor performance and become angry and depressed. If you screw up, forgive yourself. Don’t take it too hard. Realize that everyone makes mistakes and experiences failure. Treat it as a learning experience and move on.

  • Make time for you

No matter how busy you are or what you have on your plate, you need to take care of yourself. If you don’t, your performance and productivity will suffer in the long run. Take time to exercise every day. Eat a healthy diet. Get seven to eight hours of sleep. Take time to interact with family and friends. You’ll feel better, have more energy and get more done. You may even want to try meditation. Research has shown that it can help you focus and lessen stress.

  • Reduce the “modern” type of “clutter”

If you stop and take the time to notice, you will be surprised at the amount of time wasted each day on frivolous activities. For example, how often do you check your email, Facebook, texts and Instagram? How much time do you spend reading blogs or diddling around YouTube?

These are time sinks. If you want to get more control of your life, cut back on the amount of time you waste on these activities.

  • Remember your purpose.

When things get chaotic and stressful, it’s easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Remember why you chose this profession and this job in the first place and the things you want to accomplish in your career. Look at your current situation as a step along the way.

  • Get organized

Believe it or not, just looking at a cluttered desk can increase your stress level. Studies have shown that people who are better organized are more productive and not as stressed out.

Is your current employer asking you to work from home 24/7? Sensing that your boss truly is asking too much and it’s time to find another position? Check out our current job opportunities and, if you find one or more of interest, follow application instructions.

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