Career Over Coffee: Career Girl Daily Contributor Rashina Gajjar

career over coffee RashinaGajjar

There are a few people you encounter along your career path that when you grab a cup of coffee and start chatting, you don’t want it to end. Career Girl Daily Contributor and freelance writer, Rashina Gajjar, is one of those people. Her career advice is thorough and optimistic for anyone who feels it’s too late to change paths.

Q: Briefly describe your background. 

Hello! I’m Rashina Gajjar, and I currently work as a copywriter, contributor for Career Girl Daily, digital strategist, and editor-in-chief of Globe Of Love Magazine – an online website dedicated to helping millennials find success on their own terms.

I founded Globe Of Love in August of 2014 and it was then that I fell in love with the power of digital marketing and its ability to harness a community of people with a common purpose.

Six months later, I joined Luxembourg’s largest digital communications agency as an assistant content manager, and I was subsequently hired as a copywriter for their international accounts.

I’m now a freelancer in content management and digital marketing, working with small to multi-national companies to improve their content management and digital strategy.

Q: You currently write for Career Girl Daily, what is your advice for people looking to break into the freelance writer’s market?

My number one tip would be to practice. Practice until you feel comfortable with your tone. When you send an article to an editor, you want them to know straight away that you mean business.

Double check your grammar and spelling, and check the form and flow of your ideas. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking people will be interested in reading just because you’ve managed to overcome your inhibitions and write something.

Write freely and edit harshly. When you go back over your article, ask yourself: does this make my article more interesting? Is it funny, or useful? If not, it may be worth cutting it out.

The next step is to get your name out there. You can start with a recruiter like 24 Seven and browse their freelance positions.

The main thing here is to wait until you have written pieces that you absolutely love before sending them in for review. Once this happens, you’ll start to notice your freelance work will come in more and more frequently.

Q: Content Managers, Digital Marketing Managers, and Social Media Managers are the hottest jobs right now, what are the most important skills one needs to have in order to land a job in this field?

A lot of the time people think that to be a Social Media Manager you have to be uber ‘switched on’ and live and breathe memes. This just isn’t true!

When I first started working in digital marketing, I was probably the most analog person out of all of my friends. You may feel initially disconnected from the world of digital marketing, but that does NOT mean you aren’t well equipped to handle it and learn to harness your strengths.

Having a natural flair for language is important, since (and especially with Twitter) you’re going to have to fit words into very tiny character limits and make them as compelling and convincing as possible.

I also think it’s crucial to be hard-working and willing to learn. Technology is always changing and you’re going to have to keep up with lots of new techniques and best practices. Being hard-working will help you stay on top of the new changes in technology and implement them in your use of content and social media.

Another thing I would suggest is to read widely around digital marketing and content management (some good websites are Hubspot’s blog and Quicksprout). This will help with your understanding of marketing, but it will also help when you’re stuck on content to relay and need to find something relevant fast.

Q: How can someone use the experience they do have to find a career in an unrelated field? For example, people trying to get into Marketing with experience in Engineering?

Play to your strengths. If you have a degree in Engineering, you’ll probably be used to working pretty hard to learn and apply new concepts, so transfer those skills over to marketing! Digital marketing and content management are all about being able to write, learn, and work hard to build up your reach across the internet.

Another thing I would strongly suggest is to start a blog. Don’t just content yourself with starting a blog for the sake of it, as people can tell if you aren’t putting a lot of effort in. Choose a topic you’re passionate about and work hard to spread your message across the internet.

Many of the people you’re up against will have either worked in the industry or run their own blogs, so you’ll need to level the playing field. Make sure that you’re using relevant social media channels, posting regularly, and building up your engagement and overall reach.

Q: Who is your professional role model and why?

I would say that my current professional role model is Charlotte, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Your Coffee Break Magazine. I write for her magazine on a monthly basis and I really admire how she’s forged a path for herself within the fashion industry. She’s truly made a career out of what she loves doing, and when you take a look at her wonderful website, this radiates from the inside out.

 

Are you trying to break into the digital marketing space? Browse and apply to our relevant job openings now! 

Written by: Brittany Johnston

How to Build a Professional Network You’ll Actually Use

how to build a professional network you'll actually use

Networking is perceived as the gateway to long-lasting professional relationships that will help you get to where you want to go. As the saying goes,

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

With this in mind, you may frantically RSVP to all career events, LinkedIn invitations, and professional development networks in hopes you’ll make the right connection that will take you to where you want to go in your career.

The professional network you think you’re forming is actually a superficial exchange between two people trying to get ahead; we’re all guilty of this. That’s not to say you won’t ever make authentic connections at networking events. In fact, I’ve made a few good friends from rubbing elbows at all types of occasions.

Let it happen naturally

Think about how many times we push our business cards into the hands of every last person at a networking event only to wake up the next with an empty inbox. Don’t limit yourself to forming professional relationships in expected places like events, seminars, mixers, etc.

Think of places outside of the ordinary to form connections to people like the subway, gym, and waiting in line. Personally, I have made 2 very valuable connections on the subway. I’ve also referred an additional 5 people looking for new jobs to 24 Seven.

I may not have exchanged business cards with 20 people at a premier event, but I’ve created meaningful connections in a natural way that won’t leave me questioning whether or not I should follow-up.

I am confident that these connections will be there if I ever need them and likewise, I will always be there for them if they ever need me.

Treat everyone the same

The last thing you want to do is treat the Founder of a hip startup differently than you treat his assistant. Fancy titles should not affect how you network. For all you know, the assistant you’re tempted to brush off could be the Founder’s right-hand man, in which case you ought to treat him with the same respect you would anyone else. Treating everyone equally isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the kind thing to do. When you’re kind to everyone, people will be attracted to you. That in itself is a great way to grow your professional network.

Be authentic

When you’re extending your professional circle, you want to be as authentic as possible. Networking is similar to finding a culture match in that if the two parties don’t mesh, there’s no point in continuing the conversation. You don’t want to create a falsified personality in hopes it gets you ahead. Your true self will be revealed in due time.

Instead of trying to mask yourself, show who you are right off the bat. Don’t compromise your own values or beliefs just because the other person feels differently than you do. Authenticity is one of the keys to career success.

Offer something of value

If you want to build a professional network you’ll actually use, take into consideration what you can offer the other person. A professional network is a two-way street and it should be beneficial to both people involved.

Offering a service for free, lending a helping hand, or providing valuable insight to your professional network could even land you a full-time job or an opportunity of a lifetime.

 

What are your networking tips? Tell us in the comments!

Written by: Brittany Johnston

4 Freelancing Myths You Should Know About

freelancing myths

Freelancing is one of the hottest topics to date on the job front. According to Forbes, by 2020 an estimated 50% of workers will be freelancing in some capacity. Since our Salary Survey revealed that the most in-demand jobs are Digital & Interactive, Design & Creative, and Sales, more employees may be looking into freelance gigs sooner than we think.

Before you jump ship, it’s important to understand what you’re getting yourself into with a career as a freelancer. More money, freedom, and growth potential are just some perks associated with life as a freelancer. However, not everything that glitters is gold so let’s crack the 4 myths about freelancing right now.

Myth 1: Business comes to you

According to our resident freelancer, Natasha Lopoukhine, a common misconception is “You hang up your shingle, and business just rolls in,” which is far from the truth. Like any other job, as a freelancer you have to work hard to climb the ranks and incorporate new business into your clientele base. Freelancing may be even more challenging than a permanent position since freelancers are the only ones in control of “marketing themselves and prospecting” says Natasha.

As a freelancer you don’t just deliver the final product and your work is done. You must actively seek new work and ensure that all your clients are happy. This is an ongoing process since the majority of freelance work comes through referrals.

If you want to avoid the uncertainty and inconsistency you can “work with a company like 24 Seven where they find the gigs for you”. Once you get acquainted with a freelance management team like we have here at 24 Seven, the idea of finding your next gig is less daunting.

Myth 2: No benefits

One of the myths that leaves non-freelancers skeptical is that it is assumed you don’t get benefits. Natasha puts that rumor to rest by stating, “Well the ACA (Obamacare) has made this less of an issue”. The assumption freelancers don’t receive benefits can be a deal breaker for employees looking to make the switch from 9-5 to freelance. Many workers considering freelance may also be looking to start a family if they haven’t already and not having benefits is quite a drawback. Luckily times are changing and who knows what the future holds. If Forbes’ prediction is right, by the year 2020 50% of the population will be freelancing.

Natasha also states that, “if you work with a recruiting company like 24 Seven, you can get health benefits through them” since our freelancing positions typically include some degree of benefits, (apply to a freelance position and find out today). As you can see the idea that freelancers don’t receive benefits isn’t always the case.

Myth 3: Clients pay in a timely manner

Natasha argues that clients don’t see your invoice how you see your invoice, “…as your paycheck. Nope – companies usually take, at the earliest, 30 days to pay an invoice”. Ouch! Not to mention, “the hard reality is that it’s more like 60-120 days”. And this doesn’t solely apply to smaller companies whose cash flow at the time doesn’t match the project’s total, this can happen with big corporations as well.

Natasha does leave us with a silver lining to the inconvenience,  “If you work with a company like 24 Seven, you can count on regular paychecks – as you’re technically a 24 Seven employee”. If you are considering freelancing as a career, it would be wise to plan ahead financially so that you’re not living paycheck to paycheck since it’s not set in stone when you will actually receive compensation.

Myth 4: It’s a lonely lifestyle

Some people perceive working from home as lonely because it appears you don’t get as much social interaction as you would in an office. Natasha says, “Yes, self-employment and working from your home can feel isolating, but today there are lots of shared workspaces available (for a fee) and free spaces where freelancers congregate” like libraries, coffee shops, and cafes.   

In fact, freelancing is a great way to extend your professional network by connecting with other freelancers in your area since “there are more freelancers than ever” according to Natasha and our 2016  Salary Survey. The beauty about freelancing is you have the freedom to choose.

Some freelancers choose to work from home, others prefer to come in to the office. Freelancing does not have to mean that you’re exclusive to working remotely. “Some clients prefer their contractors to work on site.  Again, 24 Seven has remote and on-site freelance jobs, to suit your preference,” says Natasha, which puts to rest the idea that freelancing is lonely lifestyle.

 

Are you a freelancer? If so, do these myths hold true? Tell us in the comments.

Written by: Brittany Johnston

How to Find the Best Company Culture

how to find the best company culture

Company culture has always been a hot topic, but recently the conversation surrounding the ideal culture has shifted. With Millennials paving the way in seeking more meaningful work, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the most important factors of culture. Workers are now leaving their jobs if they feel unsatisfied and looking for opportunities where they feel they can make a real difference. Some employees are even sacrificing higher pay for team compatibility and a pleasant work environment; which makes sense, if you’re going to spend the majority of your time/life working, wouldn’t you rather be apart of a company whose culture matches your own. However, before you find the best company culture for you, you need to know what you’re looking for.

What is company culture?

Company culture is the atmosphere or “vibe” of the office including the people you will work with and the policies in place. For example, some trendy startup companies may have an open floor plan where everyone sits at one big table, working collaboratively. Some companies may offer perks such as free meals, casual office attire, and schooling, gym memberships, etc.

More traditional, corporate companies have cubicles for entry to mid-level workers and offices for management. Jeans are typically only acceptable on Fridays and your office hours are the standard 9-5 (or 6 if you’re in NYC). There’s more structure here and there is a hierarchy that only time will reveal as you climb the ranks of the corporate ladder. There are also companies that are a hybrid of startups and large corporations. You may find a company that has the perks of a startup but operates like a well-oiled corporate machine.

Company culture goes beyond what’s on the surface affecting way people interact with one another and the way management conducts itself. Past the fun snacks and happy hours, are the people who work there encouraging, energetic, and innovative? Or are they negative, complacent, and unmotivated? Is there room for a little play or is it a more serious atmosphere?

A company that actively hires inspiring people is going to encourage a stimulating and creative atmosphere. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, describes the Facebook culture as a casual work environment with an open door policy and motivational posters hung along the walls. In fact, the door is so open that Facebook employees are encouraged to speak up if they disagree with anyone in management, including Mark Zuckerberg.

Discover what you want

The first step to uncovering the company culture that’s best for you is by determining what you want to achieve. Do you want to have slow and steady growth within a company or do you want to hit the ground running? Do you prefer people who are compassionate or do you keep business and emotion separate? Do you like competition or collaboration?

Whatever your choice, it’s important you stick to your values first and foremost because culture impacts your engagement, job loyalty, and burnout resistance. This is the time to be picky and take your time in making an educated decision because your life depends on it. There is nothing worse than being blind-sided by free snacks and standing desks only to realize your leaders don’t have your best interests at heart.

Do your research

When 24 Seven recruiters want to gain insight into the way a company operates, they turn to Glassdoor.  Using Glassdoor you are able to uncover both former and current employee’s opinions of the companies they’ve worked for. There’s no better judge of an organization than someone who has actually worked there, and on Glassdoor you’ll see it all, the good, the bad and the ugly. 24 Seven is proud to have a 4.1 gold star rating. You could say we have a knack for finding the right cultural match!

When a company truly puts its employees first, it will show in any online review so long as your do your research. Better to find out what you’re getting yourself into early on, rather than 3 months down the line after you’ve already accepted the job offer.

Work with a recruiter

A sure way to get a job at a company whose culture is a perfect match for you is by working with a recruiter. Recruiters are highly trained professional matchmakers if you will. They form extremely close-knit professional relationships with both their clients (companies) and candidates.

An informal conversation with a candidate, is all a recruiter needs to determine the type of environment in which he/she would thrive. The process works in the other direction as well, recruiters have been working with most of their clients for years so they’re able to give you an honest perspective of a company’s culture. It’s a recruiters goal to make both parties happy at the end of the day.

Have you found a company culture that works for you? If not, browse our recent job openings and apply today!

Written by: Brittany Johnston

4 Most Common Questions Recruiters Ask & How to Answer Them

most common questions recruiters ask

Interviews are almost as nerve-racking as quitting your job. It’s uncomfortable to be analyzed for what seems like an eternity. However, with the right preparation and practice, interviewing will become much easier in due time.

As we all know practice makes perfect and a great way to practice interviewing is by meeting with a recruiter. Recruiters act as a buffer between you and the company you’re applying to work for. The initial interview with your recruiter can be instrumental because it is the perfect opportunity to refine the way you talk about yourself and your professional experience. At the same time, you want the recruiter to be able to capture your true essence and professional preferences so you want to avoid sounding rehearsed.

You’ll know an interview was a success is when you can walk out knowing you did your best to give a full picture of both your personality and professional experience.

Why did you leave your last position?

When you go into the agency, a recruiter will ask you this question only if you’re currently unemployed. If you’re still in your current role the recruiter may ask “Why are you seeking other job opportunities?”. Regardless of the wording, according to our Junior Freelance Account Manager, Sofia Alfaro, the best answer is an honest answer.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should use this as an opportunity to express your frustrations with the company and complain about how poorly you were treated, even if it is true.  This is an opportunity to speak honestly about what you want in a new job.

Remember, you want to find a job that you truly enjoy doing and it’s up to the recruiter to make that happen. The more upfront you are about your job expectations, including the people you want to work with and the type of environment you want to work in, the faster your recruiter will be able to place you in a position that makes you happy.

What do you feel are your strengths?

This is probably the most dreaded interview question of all, “Tell me your strengths and weaknesses”. You can answer this question many ways, but whatever you do, do not panic and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. Humor is a great ice breaker. You could say something like, “Well, where should I start?!”.  This is a good segway into your true strengths. We all have them so don’t be shy and make sure you don’t leave any out when talking with your recruiter.

As far as your weaknesses go, if the question arises, now is the time to be pretty transparent because this helps your recruiter find roles that match your strengths and avoid your weaknesses.

The bottom line here is that your recruiter wants to place you in an environment where you thrive and you’re able to bet on your strengths to achieve professional success.

Tell me about your favorite aspects of your job.

Deciding on the career your want to pursue is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life. That’s not to say you won’t change paths at some point, but being able to identify your likes and dislikes in a professional setting makes things easier down the line. So spend some time thinking about what makes you happy at work.

If you’re someone who thrives in a fast-paced environment your recruiter will likely set you up with a start-up company. If you like something more traditional and predictable, a corporate role might be best for you. Either way, this is a question that requires a confident answer because the more confident you are in what you like, the more confident your recruiter will be in setting up interviews for roles that match your preferences and skill set.

What is your current salary? What is your desired hourly rate?

Money is a sensitive subject to discuss but when it comes to getting a new job, negotiating your salary is inevitable. It’s important for your recruiter to know where you currently stand on the salary spectrum and what your desired salary is because this will limit or expand your job opportunities. Recruiters don’t want to put you in a position where you are underpaid.

Your experience level, previous salary, and current job responsibilities all play a factor in determining what you should be getting paid. So before you jump the gun and shout “I want $100,000!”, you may want to critically analyze how much you’re actually worth. That’s not to say you’re not worth $100,000 because you very well might be, it just helps when you can back up your salary desires with proof of concept.

 

After speaking with multiple top recruiters at 24 Seven we came to a consensus that an honest answer is the best answer for any question. So be honest, be humble, and be prepared and you will know exactly how to answer any question that’s thrown at you.

 

What questions has your recruiter asked you? Share with us in the comments. 

Written by: Brittany Johnston

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