5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Productivity at Work

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Productivity at Work

You spend only a certain amount of time in the office. It would be a bad idea if your concentration is spiraling, not being able to focus on one task. You would end up missing deadlines or rushing to meet them.

Are there times when you find yourself mindlessly clicking away on your office computer browser? Alright, so you start every day with a To-Do list, but you soon find yourself becoming distracted on tasks that are the least of your priorities, or just, simply, procrastinating. Keep in mind that you are only in the office for a certain period of time during the day, so it is important to make the most out of it.

Being productive at work isn’t exactly hard; you just need to know how to increase your output. That is, you either work hard and redouble your efforts or you work smart. The latter is preferable especially in time constraints and that means, it is required that you learn how to manage your timetable.

So how do you get your focus on and get some work done? Here is the list of five easy ways to improve your productivity at work:

1: Set Your Schedules

You might say ‘Isn’t this the same as a To-Do List? You know those things don’t work for me.’ Do not assume that setting your schedules and your to-do list are the same. While the to-do list enumerates what you have to do for the day, it does not always mean that you can effectively manage your time.

Think of it as a time table on what are the tasks you should be doing by the hour. The problem with To-Do Lists is that they can be counterproductive: these lists enumerate what you have to do, but not give you the appropriate time. You cannot focus one task at hand, but instead your focus would shift to the rest of the projects you have to finish.

The human brain is a muscle and it can only really focus for 25 minutes. You may notice as time progresses, your attention and focus shifts elsewhere, like for example, the rest of the projects and what can you to finish them within the day. A time table keeps track of what you should achieve or what you are able to finish within a designated time. Finished or not, proceed to the next task. This will help you increase your productivity level and get the results that you need.

Also make sure to establish a contingency plan. There are factors such as your personal life can get in the way of your schedules.

2: Have A Routine

After you have established a schedule, it is time to establish a routine. For example, what time will you answer all your emails? What time would you be doing these sheets? What time should you take a break?

Routines may sound bland, but they can actually make you more productive. You have set your concentration and your focus on a designated field or topic. Even checking your emails, which category do you check first, sets your brain to kickstart the concentration it needs. Routines actually help you condition for your day.

3: Stretch and Take a Break

Think you can get more work done by sitting on that chair until the end of your shift? Think again.

According to Dr. James Levine, sitting for a prolonged period of time can actually increase cholesterol levels and excess waistline fat, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and also the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Simply put: sitting for long periods of time is harmful. Spending a few hours in the gym during the weekend is not enough to deter these health risks. In a study conducted by Stockholm University doing exercise at work helps increase in productivity levels. Learn how to manage your energy and stress levels. Try taking a break after every hour to get up and stretch. One of such workplace exercise is, instead of sitting down during meetings, walk laps with your colleagues. It helps circulation and improve stamina after a long day sitting down.

4: Do Not Procrastinate

You have set a schedule and a routine for each of your task, but that does not mean that you will have that “I’ll do it tomorrow instead’ attitude. That is no longer time management; that is called procrastinating.

You only stay in the workplace for a certain period of time, so learn how much work you can do it that shift. Making time and learning how to manage your tasks, helps you increase your productivity levels, and helps you minimize your distractions. Discipline yourself to not put off tasks to the next day. Learn to do them now efficiently.

5: Do Not Stop Learning and Improving

Being productive is a learning process. It is not just about making timetables or routines, but it builds your character on how to discipline yourself to overcome any obstacle. Improving your productivity and your schedules may not remain the same; it is about overcoming challenges and hardships, avoiding bad habits, and finding ways to achieve your goals efficiently. Always keep your mind open, accept challenges, appreciate your success and even your failures.

Improving your productivity at work is not at all hard to learn. Always remember to work hard and to work smart.

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Market Yourself: How to use a marketing strategy in your job search

How to Use a Marketing Strategy in Your Job Search | RYD Career Blog

I’ve been soaking up some Lynda.com and am currently studying digital marketing. As I was learning about business marketing strategies, it hit me that there’s huge crossover into conducting a productive job search. I mean, what is a job search but an effort to market yourself?

Posting a resume online with the hopes of getting a job is about the same as opening an online store and crossing your fingers that someone will stumble across it and buy your stuff…and applying to only online job ads is like just yelling, "BUY MY STUFF!!" on Facebook.

The Solution? Strategy. You need to develop strategies just as you would if you were creating a new business and marketing it. This is how I translated a Marketing Strategy to a Search Strategy:
Creating your strategy will force you to understand who you are, what you want, and what you have to offer at a deeper level, and it will help you to customize your materials and presentation for each aspect of your search by understanding what is most relevant to the company’s needs.

How to Use a Marketing Strategy in Your Job Search table

Most importantly, building your strategy will help you to plan your search, measure your efforts, and lead you to success. 

I’m barely scratching the surface when it comes to marketing (the above is definitely just a starting point), and I’m hopeful to find more crossover as I dig in. Do you use marketing techniques in your search? What’s your strategy?

Check out these resume tips before you create your “marketing materials”

The 6 Second Rule: How to get your resume into the yes pile

The 6 Second Rule: How to get your resume into the yes pile | RYD Blog

There’s been a little research on how recruiters view resumes that shows that you get about 6 seconds before you’re tossed into the yes, no, or maybe pile. I hear a lot of disgruntlement about this point (and you’re completely allowed to be frustrated by it), but here’s the deal: when recruiters get 100+ resumes for a position that needed to be filled yesterday, we don’t have much choice…and if you’re going to apply to a job rather than relying solely on networking, this is the reality. So how do you deal?

First, you realize that the 6 second rule only covers the initial scan. Does this person have relevant experience? Are they at the right career level? Do they have the required degrees and certifications? Anything alarming? Are they worth further review?

This is not the final review. It’s not even close. BUT, you can’t get to the final review without first passing this test. These three tips will help you get into the yes pile.

A place for everything and everything in its place. If we have to hunt for the basics, chances are you’ll land in the no pile. While you want your resume to stand out from the rest, there is a standard format and order. You should start with your contact information, move on to summary, skills, and experience, and, unless you’re a recent grad, your education should go last (without relevant professional experience, highlight the education and put it after skills).

Negative space. Does your resume look like a book? Is it margin-to-margin words? A resume that’s written like a book has a needle-in-a-haystack effect on the eyes and we can’t see the important information. You want it to be more needle-on-an-empty-table. Avoid heavy paragraphs and opt for 1-2 line bullet notes where possible.

Put it on display. Please, please customize your resume for the position. Whatever experience is most relevant to the position should be listed first. If your bullet about an impressive accomplishment directly related to the position is in the middle/end of the chunk, it will almost certainly be missed.

These three tips are easy to implement and will help your resume get through the first 6 seconds of its battle. Once you’ve passed this, you can be assured that it will be carefully reviewed…so hopefully the rest of the content is good!


Get Your Recruiter to Fight FOR You Instead of WITH You

Get Your Recruiter to Fight FOR You Instead of WITH You | RYD

There are great recruiters and horrendous recruiters. There are recruiters who will hustle for you any day, any time to help you land a great opportunity and there are recruiters who will lie, misrepresent, and waste your time. Unfortunately, it’s up to you find the good ones and you will find that they can be your biggest cheerleader who will open doors you didn’t even imagine…but it takes some effort on your part, too. So, how do you build a strong relationship with your recruiter and create an advocate for yourself?

Be present

From the moment you connect with a recruiter, you need to show them that you are in the game. We are evaluating you from our first communication – your professionalism, interpersonal skills, communication skills. If you are lackadaisical in your response or our conversation about yourself and the position, we’ll probably take a pass because we question your interest level.

When you receive a call, text, or email from us, respond! If we ask for additional materials (resume revisions, thank you notes for clients, etc.), give us a realistic timeline and then deliver. Being present throughout the process demonstrates interest and reliability. These are musts if you want us to fight for you. 

Help us help you

Realize that if you’ve found a good recruiter, we want to help you. It’s the squeals of joy when we tell someone they’re getting an offer for their dream job that drive us, and nothing makes us happier than a candidate who is thrilled about their new career and a client that is gaining a tremendous asset.

So if we ask you for additional details or resume revisions, it’s with your best interest in mind. If we give you advice for attire or interview technique, follow it...we know the client. If we volunteer to do mock interviews with you, take us up on the offer!!

Be honest 

If you’ve found a good recruiter, they will be honest with you about everything. Return the favor. Not totally sold on the position? Tell us and tell us why. Have a spouse who might hold up accepting an offer or relocating? Tell us. Have other interviews going on and offers coming down the pipe? TELL US! The more we know, the better we can manage the situation before it becomes a situation.

Realize we’re people, too

Recruiters, no matter how good they may be, are human. We will occasionally drop the ball or have to reschedule. We have families at home whom we’d like to spend time with. Try to be understanding when we apologize profusely for missing something (I promise, we’re kicking ourselves harder than you ever could). And no matter your schedule, please don’t demand that we make ourselves available during evenings and weekends. If you politely explain extenuating circumstances that prevent you from speaking during normal business hours (including lunch), we will offer to make ourselves available during the evening or weekend with no ill will. Just treat us like people, because, well, we are.

We’re ready to be in your corner.

Mind the Gap: Dealing with Breaks in Employment

Mind the Gap: Dealing with Breaks in Employment | Reach Your Destination

Written by Stephanie Swilley. Also posted on LinkedIn

During my days as an agency recruiter, I had more than one client decide that all resumes had to list month as well as year in the employment dates...and any break in employment over 6 months had to be explained on the resume. This happened to coincide directly with the recession and skyrocketing unemployment rates, leading to some interesting discussions.

Sometimes a break in employment is a personal choice: time off to travel and recharge, staying home with kids.

Sometimes a break in employment is beyond your control: personal illness, family illness, struggling job market.

Whatever the cause, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact as well as present the time away in the best light possible. A break in employment doesn't have to be a death sentence for your career.

1. Before we get too far along, I've told you before and I'll tell you again: do NOT lie about it. Do not alter the dates of your employment. Do not create fake employment. Do not pretend you were doing independent contracting if you weren't. No lies. Period.

2. During your break in employment, take steps to keep your skills and knowledge current. Go back to school and/or get new certifications. It looks much better to have "January 2015 - December 2015: Grad School" than "January 2015 - December 2015: Unemployed" on your resume.

3. Get out there and stay active in your industry, even if you aren't being paid for it. Do pro bono/volunteer work, take on active roles in industry organizations or LinkedIn groups, write articles in your area of expertise. Stay active. Just like any continuing education, this experience can be listed on your resume in place of "unemployed." You fill a gap while expanding your skills, comfort zone, AND your professional network.

4. Arrange some as-needed consulting work. You can have a drastically reduced workload while keeping current in your industry and making some extra money. It's like option #3, but better. Key point: keep it legitimate. Make sure there are reputable references with whom an employer can verify this work.

5. Consider trying something new. Always wanted to start your own company? Give it a shot. Been thinking about changing industries? Do your research and see if you can intern somewhere. Maybe you'll change your path. Even if you ultimately come back to your original career, pursuing something out of your industry is far better than sitting around watching Game of Thrones (at least, it looks much better on your resume and sounds better to the employer). Added bonus: you'll come back with a unique perspective and added skillset that could be highly desirable by the right employer.

When you're ready to start your job search, let Reach Your Destination help you craft an accurate, compelling resume. We will not only make sure your resume reads well and is appealing to the eye, but we also have the expertise to make your time away reflect as an added bonus rather than a problem.

Have you dealt with large breaks in employment? How did you handle the gap?

*For more tips like these, follow Reach Your Destination on Facebook and LinkedIn.

*For new career opportunities, connect with our sister company TDM & Associates.

Is your resume failing you?

Is your resume failing you? | Reach Your Destination

In today's day, it is unfortunately the norm for a candidate to apply to an opening and never hear back. When you never hear why you are no longer being considered, it can be quite difficult to address the problems to improve your chances in the future. Take a look at these common reasons that resumes are rejected...how many apply to your resume? Do you know? 

Reasons Resumes Are Rejected:

  1. Poorly prepared, organized, and hard to read resumes and cover letters.
  2. Use of improper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  3. Career objectives incompatible with current or future openings.
  4. Salary objectives incompatible with the organization's compensation guidelines.
  5. Education and/or experience incompatible with requirements.
  6. Work history contains too many jobs within a period of time.
  7. Gaps in work history.
  8. Lack of U.S. Citizenship or permanent residency status.
  9. Incompatible geographical requirements.

What the Resume Reader Wants:

The resume reader is looking for certain information on the resume to determine whether the resume can be retained and considered for present or future positions. The following questions reflect some of the information the reader is considering while reviewing your resume:

  1. Does the candidate have the length of experience necessary in the areas required to meet the prerequisites of the position?
  2. Does the candidate fall short in the critical areas of experience required?
  3. Does the candidate's technical knowledge meet requirements?
  4. Does the candidate have the management or leadership skills required for this assignment?
  5. Does this candidate appear to have achieved a good record of accomplishments and career growth?
  6. How does this candidate measure up to other internal and external candidates?
  7. Overall, does this candidate meet all or most of the criteria required for this assignment?

If you are sending your resume into a never-ending black hole, it might be time to look at professional help from a skilled Resume Writer. They can guide you on how to avoid/deal with any of the pitfalls and how to structure your resume so the reader can easily and accurately find everything they're looking for. 

What pitfalls are you currently struggling with?


Social Media Profiles: What Does Yours Say About You?

A Tech fan through and through, Jim was geared up for the Georgia vs Georgia Tech game. A handful of his college buddies came over to watch the game and relive the old days (with improvements). Instead of Bud Light, they each have a bottle of their favorite craft beer. They're in Jim's man-cave basement, kicked back in La-Z-Boys, and watching the game on his 50" LCD...no more sitting around a 19" tube TV in metal folding chairs for them.

As the game progresses, empty bottles start to accumulate. The game is going well for Tech and the guys take to their smartphones during a break. With a little too much social lubrication, Jim's Facebook feed is flinging insults at UGA grads (who will only end up working at McDonalds, surely) and he is sharing links to www.walmartacademy.com (which redirects to UGA's homepage). All in the spirit of fun, healthy competition...of course.


What Jim didn't consider was that the hiring manager he was interviewing with was a UGA graduate...and, like 93% of hiring managers, checks the social media profiles of every candidate prior to making a final hiring decision.

As demonstrated in the 2014 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey, social media has a very real role in the hiring process, and it's not a role you can afford to ignore. The impression your profile gives has the potential to make you look like a quality employee...or a hiring mistake to avoid at all costs. So, how do you put your social media to work for you all while remaining authentic?

Check your privacy settings; check them often. Keep your privacy settings to friends only and you shouldn't have to worry about anyone seeing your posts/pictures unless they already know and (probably) accept you for who you are.
Since Facebook's privacy settings seem to change on a whim, err on the safe side and try to limit your posts to updates and pictures you'd be okay showing your grandma. Jobvite's survey shows that recruiters and hiring managers reconsider hiring decisions negatively over illegal drug references (83%) and sexual posts (70%).

Think before you tweet. Once your tweet makes its way to the internet, it's there. You can edit, delete, whatever...the original can always resurface.
It's a common belief that spelling, grammar, and punctuation are unimportant in social media, but the 66% of hiring managers and recruiters who have negatively reconsidered a hiring decision beg to differ.
Other things to avoid or handle with care: politics, alcohol, guns, and profanity.

LinkedIn isn't just a source for checking out a candidate's "personality"; 79% of recruiters have made a hire through LinkedIn. Keep it honest; keep it professional.
Let Facebook be the home of all your personal and/or controversial content. LinkedIn should be reserved for professional, business-related content.
Give your LinkedIn profile the care and attention it deserves. This is often your first impression with a recruiter or hiring manager - make it as positive as possible. 65% of hiring managers/recruiters have positively reconsidered a hiring decision based on listed volunteer and charitable work.

You might decide that you wouldn't want to work for someone who decides your merit based on your political affiliations and that's fine. Just make an educated decision.

With new services such as Cyber Dust and Xpire on the horizon, the situation will surely change. For now: lock it down, exercise good sense, and keep it classy. And if you want to make the most of your LinkedIn profile, Reach Your Destination can help you do so!

What about you? Has social media ever cost you a job?

Resume Myths: Does the Bell Still Ring for You?

If you have young children (or even if you don't) you may be familiar with The Polar Express - the story of sleigh bells that only ring for those who truly believe. And while believing in Santa, his reindeer, and his magic sleigh seems to be natural to outgrow, there are some myths about resumes that people can't seem to stop believing.

The One Page Resume
Perhaps in the days of working for one to two companies during your entire career the one page resume was possible. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that workers born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 11.3 jobs between the ages of 18 and 46. Trying to fit all of this experience into one page results in cramped formatting, an underwhelming lack of information, or unintelligible shorthand.

Set the One Page Rule aside; two or more pages are fine, provided that they are warranted. Make your top priority the content in the resume, but keep in mind that information need only be included if it is relevant. Short, sweet, and to the point.

Including Your Complete Street Address
It's almost 2015 and I know we've all been warned of the perils of sharing too much private information online, especially with social media. Posting everything someone could need to find you on a job board isn't necessarily any safer. Protect yourself and just list city/state or metropolitan area (ie: Greater Chicago Area). If you're applying directly to the client through a portal, you can include your complete address at your discretion, but do consider that you could be faced with discrimination based on your neighborhood.

The Objective
We know what your objective is: to get a job. Save yourself the headache of figuring out how to write an objective in a way that doesn't just say "to get a job" and replace the objective with a summary. As recruiters or hiring managers, we would like to think that your objective is to get the job you applied for, so just skip telling us this and tell us why you should be considered for the job instead.

Include Your Entire Work History
Working as a server in college probably isn't relevant to being a Project Manager 20 years later, so just leave it off. In general, stick to your relevant work history and, unless called for, keep the experience to the most recent 10-15 years. If you really want to include everything to demonstrate that you come from a specific background, just list company/title/date for the early experience.

No Gaps Allowed
While it would be great to be able to avoid gaps in employment all together, sometimes they just happen. Don't panic and definitely don't go into elaborate detail defending your lack of employment. Just have one job end June 2004 and the next begin February 2005. The client or recruiter will probably ask for information regarding the gaps during an interview, and that's when you can calmly (and not defensively) explain your situation if you choose.

That said, if you find yourself actively in one of these gaps, try to turn it into something. Go back to school, do some volunteer work, get a certification. All of these things can be listed on your resume and magically close that gap.

Everyone Lies on Their Resume
Please, please just don't. As I already mentioned, it's almost 2015; anyone can check if you're lying...and they will. Don't lie about dates of employment to cover a gap or for any other reason - the client will almost certainly run an employment verification check and if there are discrepancies, they will likely withdraw their offer. Don't lie about education - the client can and will verify any and all listed degrees and certifications. If you lied about them, your offer will be withdrawn even if the degree/certification wasn't even necessary for the position. And last - but certainly not least - don't lie about responsibilities and experience. It's a small world out there and it's easier than you might think for a prospective employer to find your current or former colleagues and learn what you actually did.

In short, don't lie. Honestly and trustworthiness are far more important to a prospective employer than whether or not you speak Dutch...and if speaking Dutch is that important they would definitely have discovered that lie anyway!!

Include Your GPA
Unless you are a recent grad with no work history, don't include your GPA. And unless you have a minimum of a 3.9, don't include your GPA. At best, your GPA will make no difference whatsoever. At worst, it will hurt your chances. Just leave it off.

References Available Upon Request
This goes without saying. If you are trying to get a job, your references should always be available upon request. And they should be professional references - not personal.

Cover Letter Not Required
Although something like only 18% of recruiters/hiring managers actually read cover letters, they still need to be included with every application. Even if the cover letter is never read, a customized cover letter speaks to your commitment and interest in the position and demonstrates the kind of thorough work you would do on the job. If the cover letter IS read, you are immediately set apart from those who didn't provide one and have the opportunity to directly sell your skills and experience in a way that is most relevant to the position to which you are applying. Not submitting a cover letter is just wasting an opportunity to sell yourself.

Let's silence these bells and replace them will bells that ring with the belief that 2015 will bring new, exciting careers!

Written by: Stephanie Swilley. Also posted on LinkedIn.