Returning To The Office = Uncertainty?

After months to a year of remote work, many have felt uncertain about returning to their office due to not wanting to pay for commuting expenses, waking up a few hours early to look for parking space, etc. We all know that WFH is cost effective, it reduces overhead and creates a happier work environment. But there are also some who feel excited and recharged to go back into the office, as there are those who are far more productive in a stimulating work environment rather than at home where there are always reasons to procrastinate/be distracted.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Some 43% of 1,046 remote workers surveyed by insurer Prudential in March said they’d be nervous about their job security if they stayed home while others returned to in-person. Yet the data indicates many of us really don’t want to go back, at least not every day. Nearly nine out of 10 workers in the same survey said they want to work from home at least once a week after the pandemic subsides; one in three said they wouldn’t work for a company that forced them to be on-site full-time.


How serious is your company about remote work?

Will staying home hurt your chances for promotion? Will leaders reverse course in a year, ordering you back? Tips on reading the risk, from professor Ashley Whillans:

Office downsizing: If your company is shedding real estate, that could be a sign that it’s committed to a flexible model of working.

Hiring from afar: Are new employees from around the country onboarding into fully remote roles? Or has the company been focusing on recruiting local talent in the past several months? If it’s the latter, executives might be switching gears.

Signals from the boss: Pay attention to what leaders are doing, not saying. “Do you see your bosses Zooming in from their offices?” Dr. Whillans asks.

Subtle perks: Is your company offering things like free lunch to those who come back? That’s a sign they want you there.

Should You Go Back to the Office? — Wall Street Journal Article

This can be a big thing to consider for employees who have relocated to another area to be closer to their family.

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Image via Entrepreneur

Here’s what others are saying:

  • “Any company that doesn’t offer a WFH option for positions that were able to be effectively executed in WFH mode during COVID lockdowns will lose significant amounts of talent. It makes no sense to impose draconian “be in the office” rules if productivity was not affected. Anecdotally many businesses found productivity went up! And if you factor in potential savings in office space, utilities, parking space, and so on, there’s even room for a 5-10% reduction in productivity and still being better off with a WFH model.”
  • “COVID fast-forwarded how we work by decades. It proved that working from home wasn’t just possible, it proved that it worked well. For myself, and many that I know, going back to an office is a deal-breaker.
    The biggest pro, for me, is it gives me back up to 2 hours per day that I would have otherwise wasted sitting in traffic. I can use that time to get a jump on the day, be more productive, or just get some extra rest when I need it. This alone has dramatically improved my quality of life.”
  • “If you desire to switch careers, now is the time.
    If you desire to go into business for yourself, now is the time.
    If you want to work for a company that has what you need, now is the time.
    If you want to go back into office to your old professional life, now is the time.
    Whatever you decide, now is the time to do it. Just approach it as a respected business partner on your way in… or on your way out.”
  • “It’s already happening in many ‘essential’ places.
    The fulfillment centers is where one can probably see that ‘Great Resignation’ taking place right now, as many workers are leaving these jobs for other opportunities, preferably ones with more favorable working conditions.
    Through the worst of this pandemic, many ‘essential employers out there only paid ‘lip service’ to combating COVID-19 at their workplace and I know one ‘essential’ employer out there in the Reno area where they initially undertook a response to alert all employees when they discovered new cases in their workforce blasting out voicemail to all employees, only to abandon it because people called in sick the next day.
    A lot of ‘essential’ employers out there treated their workforce as nothing more than ‘pawns’ in a chess game to the point that many workers got fed up and left when the next opportunities presented themselves… There’s only so much mandatory overtime people will put up with and so much abuse, like making people work in a Reno-area warehouse filled smile from California wildfires and doing nothing to monitor the air or even filter the inside air to clean out the smoke so it doesn’t irritate people’s eyes, throat and lungs as they work.”
  • “I haven’t worked in an office setting in almost a decade. WFH is way better. If you need to come into the office for an important meeting, that is one thing, but showing up everyday to sit in a designated place to do the same job in the same way you can from your home makes no sense. And if this pandemic has demonstrated one thing, it is that with the availability of Zoom and other digital interfaces, face to face sales is not really that crucial to the overall outcome of the sales process. The days of firm handshakes, 3 martini lunches and power ties are over. It doesn’t take any of that to close a deal. Offering a good service/product at a reasonable price and then DELIVERING are what makes a business/salesperson successful. Not showing up and knocking on doors. That is 20th century stuff and we’re living in a 21st century world.”
  • “Anyone quitting to prioritize their health should not be judged. There are great ways to earn a living these days without having to rely on this old paradigm of an in person 9-5 requirement.”
  • “There are a lot of unemployed people still. Particularly women (including older women), instead of countless articles focusing on how ’employed’ people don’t want to go back to the office (for understandable reasons in some cases) and nurturing of those workers, how about sending a little love to us unemployed folks?
    All I ever hear is how the unemployed ‘aren’t motivated to go back to work’ because of a $300 supplement, which barely helps me pay my health insurance. I’m ‘lazy’ because I don’t yet want to give up on my career as a C-Level Executive Assistant because no one wants to hire me for the job I’m qualified to do.
    And yet unemployed folks are being reasonable and justified in demanding they be able to do their work at home or else. (Again I’m not against this choice but with so many unemployed people maybe if you don’t want to go into the office, someone else will. Imagine how this all sounds to someone who is truly struggling to pay bills). How about my mental health and well-being? Trust me if you are an EA who doesn’t want to go back to the office, I’ll do that for you. And I loved working from home but if it’s not a choice, it’s not a choice.”
  • “If your job doesn’t require you to interface with the public, what’s the problem about working from home? I can take my work home, and only go in for meetings. I just need access to the cloud and the Microsoft Teams account. I can get access to email. Traveling to work is a cost.”
    • “I agree! It’s a mindset shift by many employers, though. People are used to physical oversight – in my honest opinion, if you don’t trust your employee, why hire them in the first place?”
  • “This is an interesting topic for those fortunate to work from home. It has been a rough year working from home but there are many positives, as well. Many companies didn’t do well in keeping company culture going during the pandemic. With jobs opening and potential flex environments, what could employers provide employees to get them to stay?”
  • “Companies that were mindful of company culture and the employee experience before the pandemic were more likely able to pivot when the pandemic hit. Companies that were/are less mindful of such things were already in a hole, and the pandemic deepened that hole. With that in mind, companies in the latter situation are going to need bigger overtures to keep employees.”
    • “An excellent point! Many organizations take their culture for granted.”
  • “I can’t get past the guy wearing a mask in his own home office. Beyond that, we are seeing people leaving positions for remote jobs, leaving the uncertainty of maybe staying remote versus a sure thing. It is worth it to some to bet on a new company versus betting on having to go back in the office. With that said, people need to work or will need to work once the government stops extending unemployment, so I think those companies who do better with office employees versus remote will do so, and other companies that have found equal to or greater success may opt for the remote.”
  • “I believe there is an impending great resignation on the horizon as everyone has been evaluating what is important to them over the past year. I also believe for those staying put, when you return to the office it will be like meeting your colleagues for the first time all over again. The people you knew and worked with are forever changed for their unique experience over the past year.
    Whether you decide to return to your current position’s office or decide to try something new, don’t forget every person experienced a life altering change in some way. Have some patience, and extend some grace. Even if you ‘know’ someone they have been fighting silent personal battles that shape who they are now. Conferences will be different, team meetings will be different, expect to learn together anew.”
  • “Existing employee can become a fast Exiting employee. What happens when they leave in droves? Honesty solicited should be both ways. If a company chooses to bury its head in the ground and not address the real reason why TALENT leaves, they will soon face the constant turnstile before it eternally known that the organization is toxic. That leads to wider gaps in consistency (in program and service) which throws off any possibility of higher level strategic planning and subsequent achievement right out the door. If your organization relies on human beings (particularly high performing ones) treat and value them as such.”
  • “Anytime I speak to someone who is ready to give in their notice I ask them two questions:
    1. Do you have a job lined up?
    2. If not, do you have 3-6 months of bills saved up in case the job search takes that long?
    I get it, you want to quit, you are tired and frustrated.
    Or you don’t want to commute 30+ minutes to work just to show a senior leader you are working.
    With the pandemic and people talking about ‘back to work’ because you know we have all been on vacation for the last year.
    You absolutely have the right to look for an all remote position. But don’t quit before you have a job.
    On average a job search can take few weeks to few months. Do you have that much money saved for bills? Or someone who can support you?
    Start with your job search. Still show up everyday at your job as if you don’t have any intention of leaving.”
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Image via PCMag

The Future is Hybrid

Image via The New Indian Express

Many working parents do attest that being able to work remotely or working from home was very labor-saving. They are able to dedicate time to work as well as be present for any schooling issues that their children are dealing with, on top of not having to deal with the stress of morning traffic. If they had a choice, they would prefer not to return to the office or in other words, the pre-pandemic Monday to Friday, 9-5 world.

However while there are many who praised working remotely/from home, there are many instances where employees miss/crave human interaction. There are some individuals who find that going into the office gets them out of their home. We all know that the thought of solely working from home full time would trigger mental health challenges as well.

Many employees are looking to a hybrid schedule — as it would be a nice middle ground for both companies and employees, especially where technology is available and accessible.

However, there are certain roles that make it impossible to work from home/remotely in the long term. Business domains, meeting clients, sales & marketing, human resources responsibilities, to name a few. Interaction can be hard if the client/candidate refuses to show their face on the Zoom camera, making it hard to make decisions without knowing their facial expressions.
Of course, you may be thinking it is possible through FaceTime but not everyone has an Apple device. Sales people don’t need to be in the office and HR has been working remotely for the past year.
Great, but have you ever thought about doing something and doing something well are two different things? Because it is very challenging to work with new grades in remote setup. Building trust and bonding is missing with the rest especially with new hires.

While it is completely understandable why so many folks desire to continue working remotely due to the convenience — it is functional, but far from optimal not only for the businesses but for all folks. Individuals who will continue to work remotely will find limited opportunities to grow in the firms as being out of sight, out of mind will have a new meaning. The interactions that happen on Zoom will never replace those that happen in a conference room or in the office, we all know that. There is concern for working parents where they will have a lot of time to tend to their kids and taking coffee breaks/bathroom breaks, but at difficult times like these, companies still seek ways to cut out those that they consider unproductive.

What we are seeing is a reflex reaction to the situation imposed upon us. There will always be some folks who perform better with greater flexibility, as well as those who need the structured environment. Just as those who enjoy the comfort of working in pajamas and those who feel more professional and productive in business casual. However, the reality is twofold. We have not yet seen the leveling out, which is a great argument for the hybrid environment. That being said, since adaption and adoption haven’t leveled out, there will be an ebb and flow. This may depend on developing new habits for productivity or even dependent upon what type of project/assignment is being worked on.

Employees are curious on how effective the hybrid model will be, since there will be those who get more face-to-face interactions with leadership may receive a natural competitive advantage for promotions. This raises a question — Will this create a divide? Where folks willing to go into the office, would volunteer to go in 5 days a week as a career development approach and the folks who prefers not to, will shift to companies with their entire workforce being remote?

The skills that we all have in our more traditional ways of working aren’t the same as the skills we need in a more flexible working environment. While many employers favored the positive impact location that independent work has had, they fear not being able to measure output the same (such as effective communication/engagement with internal staff).

A hybrid future is most likely, why? It can provide an excellent alternative for those who need flexibility, but also enjoy coming into the office. Of course many miss the human interaction, but not many miss the 1-2 hours of traffic, budgeting for gas, car repairs, etc. The next crucial step toward building a hybrid work environment will need to be led by leadership, where they empower their workers to have full autonomy over their own schedule. This is how companies will help more workers enjoy the flexibility that they deserve while providing them the support they need to make a successful transition.

Many individuals couldn’t work their ideal roles because employers didn’t offer flexibility. Moving forward, a blended approach is a great way to show flexibility — which empowers employees as there is a shared sense of trust and responsibility when employers allow employees to find a greater balance between work and life.
As work life will change, it opens up our freedom of choice. Some days/weeks, it will be better for our mental and emotional health to either be in the office or to work remotely. This is the best option to keep everyone happy, but also be ready to pivot again if necessary.

There are also pitfalls for hybrid future, meaning there will be less office space needed. As they are consolidating and closing locations in major cities worldwide, commercial real estate investors are showing desperation in demand, bellowing and pleading that there will be a return to the old ways.

What would be interesting, is to see the effect and hopeful reduction in the burnout that could happen when saying you do not have to take a full vacation (working remotely for a few days and not burning out on your Paid Time Off). Time will definitely tell, for those hoping to see the work/life balance become healthier with such flexibility.

How Zoom And Other Software Tools Are On The Rise in a Post-Pandemic World

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Image via TechJockey

As the world reopens, many companies have learned that online collaboration works at a lower cost. Moving forward, tech darlings such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex can replace certain in-person meetings in which everyone or half the group traveled. In other words, the future will be more of like a hybrid environment. Some meetings could happen on Zoom, while others will remain better off as in-person.

Many current WFH employees have questioned if conferences will offer options of in-person or virtual. More employees will have the opportunity to attend at a lower price or even at no cost if virtual is a choice. However, many have also complained about developing Zoom fatigue due to burnout/companies overusing or improperly using the software.

Some agreed that there should be adoption and continuation of e-signature platforms in the post-pandemic world. Depending upon circumstances, suggested tech darlings will still have a role to play but at the same time, usage will drop off dramatically if folks seek ways to engage face-to-face.

Firms have also invested a lot in work-from-home infrastructure and they see that employee productivity hasn’t suffered. Moreover, company costs are plummeting as there is no longer a need for real estate. NYC is already seeing a huge decline in office space — leading to its devalue of commercial space. If working from home or remote work will continue into the future, this leads to the reason — finances.
Along the same lines, business travel won’t be coming back anytime soon to the levels that it used to be pre-pandemic — due to financial reasons as well.
A Regional Director at a software company stated that in a way, we are all victims of our own success, because if we weren’t able to conduct business using remote tools and our company’s bottom lines were hurting, we’d all be back on the airplanes tomorrow!

The pandemic has ushered in an era that was always technologically viable for the past decade, but culturally not acceptable. Yesterday’s “office” is not what tomorrow’s “office” will be. Remote work and Zoom is here to stay as we move forward.

For many employees currently working remotely, Zoom fatigue is real however they do not have to face nightmare traffic or the fear of being a few minutes late due to a train delay because of a sick passenger. The quality of life that zero-commuting hours have provided is not something that many want to give up.
Productivity has turned out to much higher for certain folks on a Zoom call when they do not have to pay attention to the portion of the meeting that doesn’t apply to them.
In addition, Zoom’s turning on/off camera feature allows folks to gain control over their participation level while yesterday’s “office” meetings did not give them that option.

Let’s put it this way — face-to-face has mostly qualitative benefits. Zoom and other tech darlings have more quantitative benefits as you can put a cost savings on how many less miles you have traveled, how much less utilities are being spent, etc. Many companies that were opposed to remote work are now implementing it as a standard form of work.
Even in the event that the current generation of business leaders usher in the return to offices and lead to a drop off of Zoom and other tech darlings, tomorrow’s business leaders (not to mention — the one’s that are more tech savvy), won’t forget that they could accomplish a lot of their work remotely.
In other words, Zoom and other tech darlings may face a slight drop off in the short-term, but their long-term future is looking bright.

All in all, companies will need to balance cost with profitability. So far, we have mentioned that there are folks with both sides of the spectrum.
There are those who feel that they need to have everybody in a room for brainstorming future projects and can’t get what they need done via Zoom meetings.
Then there are those who say in-person group meetings were a waste of time, and they can get much more done with a quick Zoom meeting where folks can say their part and tune out/leave if there are parts of the meeting that they are not accountable for.
Additionally, while some folks enjoy commuting to work, they will not want to spend wasted hours in traffic, so having a flexible and hybrid schedule kind of option would be beneficial to both parties.

This also leads to a theory that some folks have believed that while there will be some companies that will continue to allow their employees to work remotely, they are hoping that the option will become part of a company’s “benefits” package. This could be part of the new market as many job seekers are seeking remote positions.
Many businesses found Zoom to be a huge asset to them as their customer pool has expanded globally instead of locally, which helped their business grow immensely during the pandemic.
Even if some companies reduce their usage of Zoom, there are families who have adopted that software to stay in touch with loved ones at a distance.

Eventually, a return to workplaces and classrooms will decrease the need for Zoom meetings. However, the pandemic also showed so many companies how to do business with minimal travel travel and office costs — and this learning will continue to drive the market in many ways.

Breaking Into the Tech Industry (Microsoft)

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Emily Chan is a Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations at Microsoft. In Emily’s role, she pipelines top engineering talent through various online sourcing methods (her favorite one being LinkedIn) and find these candidates a home at Microsoft.

During her free time, you can find Emily drinking coffee, buying (too many) plants, and working on a passion project called Sparkline! Sparkline (formerly CEO Mindsets) is an initiative that focuses on empowering students to secure their dream jobs and internships through practical resume, interview, and networking tips. Recently, they have been hosting different workshops on personal branding, LinkedIn, etc. at different colleges and it’s really great to have the opportunity to interact with their audience.

Sparkline is looking forward to expanding their reach to more colleges in the new year! If you’re interested in collaborating with them, feel free to reach out at hello@sparklineco.com and they’ll work together to bring your idea to life!

Emily Chan (Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations at Microsoft)

Now, we will delve deeper into the Q&A below where I have asked Emily to provide her input for those who are looking to pursue a career in tech or those who are interested in heading into tech. Emily is excited to share a bit about the tech industry and offer some insight for those who are interested in breaking into this dynamic industry!


What are the kinds of careers that Microsoft offers for those who are interested in applying for a tech role there? What are the specific digital skills needed?

Microsoft offers a lot of different kinds of careers in tech – some examples are software engineering, mechanical engineering, hardware engineering, etc. You name it, Microsoft probably has a role. I specifically focus on recruiting for software engineers. In terms of skills needed for it, most of my roles require working knowledge of an object-oriented language like Java, C++, or C# and experience working with highly available and scalable distributed systems. There aren’t too many hard requirements because we recognize everyone has a different story and we want to focus on hiring engineers with a growth mindset and good potential!


Last month, Microsoft announced that they want to help create millions of tech jobs in the UK. How do you think this will help shape the industry?

This is an amazing initiative that will not only boost the tech industry, but help the UK’s economy as well. Technology is the future and businesses will only be able to sustain themselves if they include tech in their business strategies. This initiative will not only help expand and accelerate the path into the tech industry but will also aid in creating a more diverse talent pipeline in tech.


Is training offered for those who are looking to pivot their career direction or those with zero experience in tech?

Although Microsoft offers extensive training for new employees to learn our tech stack, we do expect candidates to know the fundamentals of computer science and to have some experience working in tech.

If you are a recent graduate with no experience in tech, I encourage you to apply to our amazing internship programs! That’ll help you get your foot in the door for full time opportunities.

If you’re in the middle of your career looking to switch into tech, I recommend either 1) going back to school to learn the basic fundamentals of computer science and then applying for our internships/full time roles or 2) taking a coding boot camp and gaining some industry experience at smaller tech companies before applying to Microsoft. 


How do you get your foot in the door?

Network, network, network! LinkedIn is a great place to get in touch with people working at your dream companies. Do some research about them and reach out for a coffee chat to learn more about them, the role, and the company. Build and maintain that relationship and more often than not, they’ll be happy to give you a referral. 

One disclaimer I want to make for this is that you want to make sure you meet all the basic qualifications first! If you don’t, you can network all you want, but it’ll be very hard to land the role. This is because those are the basic skills you need to succeed in that role and companies are not going to bring a candidate into situations where they won’t succeed.


What should a job seeker be aware of when working at a tech company?

Be comfortable with ambiguity and be able to adapt quickly. Things are always changing whether it be a customer requirement or a new technology.


How does the job market look currently for tech?

More now than ever, the tech space is growing at an increasingly fast rate. Especially with the pandemic, everything has shifted to virtual and people are relying more and more on tech. Companies are working on innovative products to adjust to the modern workplace and modern society so there is such a high demand for good engineers in the tech industry. It’s a really exciting time to be in this space!


Technology is one of the top growing industries currently. How much has it grown compared to pre-pandemic? What are the most in-demand careers and skills right now?

As I discussed earlier, tech is in demand now more than ever. Everything is virtual now and even after the world goes back to “normal,” a lot of things will remain virtual.

I can’t speak for different companies since the tech stack varies, but overall, Microsoft looks for working knowledge of an object-oriented programming language and industry experience with highly available and scalable distributed systems.

Why Mock Interviews are Helpful and Even More Crucial Right Now

Image via Freepik
  • Eight months later, we are still at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Job seekers WILL appreciate the opportunity to hear the much needed feedback on their interviewing skills. It is certain that there are questions that job seekers had since the start of the pandemic, that they awaiting for. This is a good time for interviewers to schedule a virtual interview using platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, especially career experts and coaches to patiently and holistically give job seekers their answer and provide them with insight on the job prospects.
  • You have another person (such as a career expert) who can give you so much insights on how to answer behavioral or situational questions, how to outline your strengths/weaknesses by providing some good examples and key takeaways, how to be more structured in your answers, etc. You can use those tools and their constructive feedback to practice on — before going on your actual interviews, such as telling good examples or stories with answers and telling stories in a concise and easy way to digest.
  • Job seekers will be able to gain more perspective on what they had initially perceived as impediments, such as their employment gaps and lack of professional experience. With the interviewer’s feedback, not only will the job seeker be able to gain more confidence with what experience he/she already had, but he/she will also have a better understanding on how to present their strengths (plural here!) and weaknesses.
  • You can always practice with a professional (like a career coach or a friend/family member who is very well rounded with the interview processes) who is great at giving constructive feedback that’s also actionable! Job seekers would appreciate this as they would love to hear more of the in-depth perspective from their interviewer’s side on why some of their answers weren’t as successful. One of the areas that interviewees often get stuck on is where specifically they can pull back or delve deeper into… and this depends on the type of questions they are asked and how they formulate their answers.
  • Job seekers will find it very helpful in their answers to questions where they lack confidence in themselves. They will most definitely use their interviewer’s ideas going forward in their job search. (Note to interviewer: Make sure your input is valuable and gives meaning to the job seeker!)
  • Obviously, mock interviews offer job seekers/interviewees this opportunity to practice with their interview skills. It is definitely going to be a wonderful/life changing experience for them to learn more about the things that they should be doing and not be doing in the actual interviews. When they have someone to practice with, it allows interviewers to catch things and point out mistakes that the job seekers did not catch or notice — and this is where their suggestions come in handy for the job seeker’s interview and resume. And this begins with the interviewer’s patience in answering all of the interviewee’s questions and concerns to set them up for success.
  • Many job seekers need that guidance and help with acing their actual interviews! To make it as informative and helpful as possible to the job seeker, interviewers should take their time to explain where the interviewee did well, where he/she needed to improve, and provide some examples/situations of how to handle certain interview questions.
  • Mock interviews allow job seekers to learn something and walk away with new knowledge and tools to use for their future interviews (for example, they may learn a new way of answering questions when it comes to identifying a problem and being able to articulate how they solved it). In a nutshell, job seekers will gain that valuable experience which felt “real”. More importantly, it should help the interviewee self-reflect. Not only does it help improve the way the interviewees answer questions or ask questions, however it will allow the interviewer to provide excellent critique of their resumes and body language, as well as tone. This will certainly help job seekers with future prospects, boost their confidence/speech as it will allow them to prepare more professionally.

How do you know when you are in good shape to make a case for your candidacy with employers?

  • You’re thoughtful and well spoken about your experiences and skills.
  • You’re creative and solution-oriented and offered a great example of such an instance.
  • You’re succinct and articulate in framing your experiences.
  • You prepared a number of stories and situations from your previous experience to concisely demonstrate skills and capabilities that the interviewers will be looking for.
    • You developed a strong pitch outlining how your experiences and strengths match the role’s job description.
  • You did a wonderful job in walking through your past work experiences in showing concrete and numeric examples of how you succeeded by training your storytelling muscle, as well as getting into the nitty-gritty of your projects.
  • You focused not only on your soft skills, but you strongly infused your responses for your hard skills/technical abilities.
  • You discussed about your strengths and weaknesses.

Suggestions on how to be more ready and how you can improve:

  • When describing these scenarios to your interviewer during the mock interview, you could definitely insert just a touch of levity to the story so that it would resonate that much more with the prospective audience.
  • If applicable, you can emphasize your past leadership experiences more, where you have led teams. This is a hard to come by skill and you have one or more instances that you can speak to. Be more assertive in announcing this experience. If you add more humility, you could advocate more for yourself by calling this out. You can also highlight your listening skills as having developed when you were leading teams, but also highlight that team leadership.
  • When providing examples from your past experience/s, you should outline the challenge or problem that you have faced, and then key levers that you used to resolve it. This framework will help the interviewer understand the situation from the outset and ensure the main points are lost in the story.
    • With more preparation, you can select examples that better demonstrate the challenges that you have previously faced and how you overcame them.
      • For example, managing deadlines. This example can be shaped to show the actions that you implemented and how you established visual tracking of work to confirm on time completion rather than focusing on frustration at missed deadlines.
  • Show that confidence when providing examples of your experiences. You can practice to be more confident, and show that — that you own your attractive skill set to prospective employers.
    • An example can be, how you conducted data analysis. Expand on it by highlighting your achievements and accomplishments, and not just mentioning what you did.
    • Sometimes job seekers may dilute these examples or apologize to their interviewer for lack of complexity, however you should remain confident in your experiences and present them as such.
  • You may have great experiences and past roles that position you well for upcoming interviews, but you will need to refine the way you deliver the examples to better demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the role.
    • Example: You may have experience on building pages during your tenure at Deloitte, but this example can be enhanced to demonstrate your executive communication development and experience, your ability to summarize complex issues as well as outcomes from your analysis and modeling.
  • Using the STAR Method could help you build your base and hit home on the results of your past work experiences/projects.
    • Tying this in with the concrete and numerical examples into your responses for the behavioral questions, could really drive home your skills and successes.

NACE’s Career Readiness Tips: How To Prepare Yourself To Be More Career Ready

Today’s post will consist of very useful career readiness resources and tips from the National Association of Colleges and Employers because as I was reading their resource materials, I can similarly relate to the advice I have given job seekers.

Image via Center For Career and Experiential Education

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in partnership with University of North Carolina’s Career Services Center, there are 8 key competencies that every job seeker should possess as they are seeking employment:

Critical Thinking / Problem Solving and Creativity
☻ Exercises sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions and overcome problems
☻ Able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process
☻ Demonstrates originality and inventiveness

Oral and Written Communications
☻ Articulates thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization
☻ Possesses public speaking skills
☻ Able to express ideas to others
☻ Writes/edits effectively and clearly (e.g. memos, letters, and complex technical reports)

Teamwork/Collaboration
☻ Builds collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races,ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints
☻ Able to work within a team structure
☻ Can negotiate and manage conflict

Digital Technology/Technical Application
☻ Leverages existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals
☻ Demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies

Leadership
☻ Leverages the strengths of others to achieve common goals
☻ Uses interpersonal skills to coach and develop others
☻ Able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others
☻ Use empathetic skills to guide and motivate
☻ Organizes, prioritizes, and delegates work

Professionalism and Work Ethic
☻ Demonstrates personal accountability and effective work habits (e.g. punctuality, working productively with others,and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image.)
☻ Demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind
☻ Able to learn from his/her mistakes

Career Management
☻ Articulates personal skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals
☻ Identifies areas necessary for professional growth
☻ Able to navigate and explore job options, understands
☻ Takes the steps necessary to pursue opportunities
☻ Understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace

Global Perspective/Intercultural Fluency
☻ Values, respects, and learns from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions
☻ Demonstrates openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences

The Remote Work World For The Younger Generations

Image via Pinterest

Now that working from home is a safety measure for the nation, this is a good time to scale tools, resources and people. It is an opportunity to have good, quality work done versus policing when and where. Of course, this cannot be done in all sectors/industries but wherever possible, it should be considered.

This is the time to figure out how everyone, not just future generations but also older generations, experienced and inexperienced can thrive in this rapidly changing labor market. The economy is becoming flatter and stagnant, so that will account for slower growth in many organizations.

It is immensely challenging for new hires and job seekers to make connections, regardless of age. And this especially applies to folks who are left with increased childcare responsibilities due to COVID-19 mandated school closures. With this new structure of a global online presence, everything has to be scheduled and pre-planned, including opportunities needed to socialize.

Now, how will this affect the Generation Z? Young individuals typically like to socialize and enjoy being around other individuals. However, the remote learning is causing a massive isolation — leaving them feeling stranded and lost with no plans or road map to guide them. We are losing teenagers to increased depression and suicidal rates as this is affecting their mental health.

Generally, it is hard to fathom a majority of individuals at age, to thrive in the “new normal”. We are humans that are wired for connecting/interacting face-to-face. Young individuals are grown into a highly connected and social interactive environment. The fully shifted remote work and learning can create a regimented, limiting experience for all. Feeling less connected may drive self-initiative and self reliance further and faster.

However in a way, Generation Z’s are able to thrive during this time with their digital literacy as they have grown up surrounded by technology which shows that they are capable of and more equipped for remote work, networking and learning.

For 2020 graduates — they might be able to handle this new normal of remote and digital based working, but many do not have jobs yet and are still struggling to find them. But why? Remote work can present so many opportunities and open up roles for those who do not need to be locate in that specific region to work there. However, it seems that many employers are still hiring based on a candidate’s competencies, abilities and talents rather than where they are physically located. This poses a disadvantage for recent grads with limited to no experience, since this limits their options.

A Gen Z student (’97) who has recently graduated from Hunter College, City University of New York on May 2020 says, “Upon my graduation, I recently enrolled into this program called COOP in which it is geared toward finding employment for people, and I have recognized that it is more difficult now to find a job than it might have been before. A lot of places have let their employees go, and/or started hiring freezes as well as promotional freezes. Other than that, you also have the consequence of having to do everything from home and I don’t personally live in the most ideal environment for working from home, as I imagine that this is the same for many others too.”

He argues that this remote work option is affecting him and individuals his age because they are hiring selectively based on experience/skills. “A lot of organizations will recognize that they don’t actually need as much office space as they currently have, so many places will be inclined to keep the WFH model or at least offer it as an alternative. This means you can apply to more jobs now than you might have been able to before since you won’t be limited geographically. However, this also creates more competition for every job seeker out there because we want to take this opportunity to be challenged and learn something new — but the job descriptions say otherwise. It seems like they do not want to welcome this opportunity to recent grads like us.”

The job search process has been increasingly overwhelming and stressful for young generations, however don’t lose motivation, or quit. Job seekers often give up easily. Remember why you started in the first place. Your purpose in life is to find your purpose. Stay patient and trust the journey that you’re taking. You will eventually get a job.


Your age doesn’t matter. It’s your energy and determination.

Cordia Harrington, Founder and CEO of The Bakery Cos

Going forward, employers need to implement new ways to reduce the risk of digital overwhelm and effective onboarding for new hires. They should provide a framework for remote work to help the younger generations adapt to the environment. This has to be taught instead of expecting them to find their own rhythm and process — and to do this, the employer needs to invest in those supportive tools, channels and a structured plan in place to enhance collaboration and communication.

Finding Purpose Outside of Work

Image via General & Medical

Work-life balance is essential for many employers in ensuring that their employees do their best work and live more optimistic lives. Every employee wants to work for an employer that shares the same values as them, but they also want to work for employers who believe in taking care of their employees first. Some employers offer benefits such as dedicated ‘decompress’ time, remote working arrangement, summer time off, family days and parental leave, shift rotations between team members, and flex time. However, not all employers offer those. So we must know how to balance our work and life.

If we forget the purpose that drives us outside the office, we can never fully leverage our strength in the office. Tapping into that energy can take you on an unexpected career track as well. We do more for our employers when we work strategically in terms of caring for the parts of ourselves that don’t always appear to be related to the work at hand.

For those who are working tirelessly, especially since many of us are working from home right now, do not forget this — you are not your job. You are not married to your job. This is where you ought to find purpose outside of the work you do. Set boundaries for yourself so that you can freely give to others. Tap into your gifts, talents and passions. Everyone have hobbies that make the world a better place. Life is like an onion that has many layers. We are all multi-dimensional and find purpose, big and small in different ways.

This COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated this to many of us — that our worth is not attached to a title, a company or a building. We must learn that our life is multifaceted and evolving at each moment. We are more than work. The goal is a purpose driven life where you have to find the right balance, and this includes family/friends, travel, education, experiences, careers, etc.

There are folks who lose themselves and get trapped by a salary, and not many get to use the gifts that they have. Not everyone has that luxury of working in a field that they are passionate about. Most individuals work in jobs that they don’t get pleasure or happiness out of.

And there are folks who begin to discover this purpose once they enjoy the work they do. If you love helping others, and let’s say your profession is in HR. If talent management, talent acquisition or recruiting allows you to do that, then it has enabled you to put this effect on the lives of those that you work with. You fall in love with those times where you feel that what you are doing is a reflection of the values you want to influence in the world. Finding true purpose is not often easy, but once found it is like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Whether you are one of the two above, this serves as a reminder that it is important for all to zone out sometimes, take breather, catch up on self-care, travel and just do things where you do not have to worry about work all the time. “Maintaining a work-life balance is very important, not just for your physical and mental health but for productivity as well, both personally and professionally”, according to General & Medical. But at the same time, always find purpose and decide for yourself what place is the most inspiring to focus in the moment that you are in.

How The COVID-19 Pandemic Will Affect Millennial and Generation Z Job Seekers And What They Should Do

Image via Dribbble

Research has shown that the Millennial and Generation Z’s who have just graduated at the end of 2019, during 2020, or in the next coming years, will be facing high unemployment rates which can affect the U.S. economy in the long-run.

Image via Bloomberg

According to Bloomberg, economists say the longer that young people are forced to delay their careers, the worse their prospects will be in the future to hold a job, accumulate wealth, or even get married or start a family.

Long periods of unemployment, or working part-time gigs or temporarily in jobs outside their desired fields, can jeopardize young professionals’ future salary increases and opportunities for them to build key relationships.

For college students and recent graduates, choosing a major based on availability of jobs is a recipe for an unsatisfying life. Instead, search for something you truly enjoy, something you find exciting, and the job will come, in due time.

Image via Shutterstock

Some of you are thinking that graduating in this global health and economic crisis may have delayed your career growth, however it is definitely not a career death sentence. Take as much time as you need to chase your dreams! Everyone you know may be interested in finance, STEM, healthcare, etc. but follow your own roadmap because these paths are certainly not for everybody. It may take you a month, 6 months or 1 year after graduation to find a job amid the pandemic. Many companies have resumed their hiring and have pivoted new ways in doing so. In addition, a lot of companies are hiring workers to work from home as well, which can be a new way of reducing unemployment.


Advice and Tips For Recent Graduates

  • You should definitely continue to explore your interests, values and motivators if you did not spend as much time in the exploration process before your graduation. Through networking and pivoting, chances are you may find roles that weren’t even on your radar and; potential opportunities — that are even better than the ones that you have initially considered.
  • You want to actively connect on LinkedIn with everyone from your college community — students, classmates, recent graduates, professors, mentors, connections from your school internships, career advisors, and career centers! The best chance of success is typically from a referral.
    • Take full advantage of your college career center. Even though you have graduated, you are still part of their alumni network!
    • Take full advantage of employment centers/workforce providers that are located in your area!
      • The services that your college career center and workforce providers (non-profit based) offer are completely FREE in terms of resume critique, mock interviews, career advisement, mentorship, networking help, job placement assistance and referrals, and many more.
  • You want to actively connect on LinkedIn with your outside connections — former colleagues, friends, family members, neighbors! Set up virtual appointments on Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Meet, Slack, and virtual happy hour, etc. You want to inform everyone that you are currently job searching and let them know what kinds of jobs you are looking for. They may know of someone who is hiring for what you are looking for and they may end up passing along a lead.
  • Do something different and take free courses that will get you out of your comfort zone. Whatever it is that you are doing, traveling, eating, cooking, working with animals/pets, people, your true passion unfolds.
    • If you can’t discover anything you like, you should consider volunteering although nobody likes to work for zero profit. At a time like this, putting your gifts, talents and skills to help a nonprofit organization really helps many folks figure out what their purposes are.
      • This will lead folks to reflect on their passions and realizing how this experience ignites them, as this is a way of connecting them to their future career paths. Not many think of this, however volunteer experience actually offers you the opportunity to lead, grow and evolve as an individual — whether it is impacting the lives of young people, helping the less fortunate or patients/elderly, will allow you to continue to pave your way forward.
      • Also, volunteer work opens many doors for you! There are individuals that I know who have volunteered throughout their whole life, which has led them into their current leadership roles.
  • Keep in mind that there are many companies that have IT, finance, project management, HR, marketing, public relations, etc. Just because the sector/industry for that position isn’t what you are ideally looking for, this is a good time to still apply to that potential employer. The point is to not overlook them!

We all know that 2020 is undoubtedly a financial and emotional struggle for many college graduates. Many students are struggling to find employment and has also lost their jobs due to the pandemic. This has increased financial stress for students who are paying bills; financially helping their parents/family; paying for their tuition (which resulted in 68% returning to their home, 22% staying off campus, 7% staying on campus, 3% went elsewhere), etc.

According to Student Loan Hero:

However, do not be afraid to ask for help. If you feel that you are struggling with food and housing insecurity, paying for online classes, paying your rent, there are many resources to help you. You may want to look into Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Unemployment Insurance and Emergency Financial Aid.


Additional Resources for NYC and U.S. Residents

  • If you live in the NYC area, there are free meals where meals can be picked up at all Meal Hubs 9:00am to 12:00pm, Monday through Friday. Meal Hubs will operate for children, families and adults.
  • If you live in the NYC area and you, or a friend or family member has a small business that has been impacted by COVID-19, they may want to seek assistance and guidance from NYC Small Business Services. You may apply for emergency loans, like the Paycheck Protection Program as well as requesting financing assistance.

The Pros and Cons of Permanently Working Remotely For Corporate/Tech Industries

Image via RescueTime

In this rapidly changing job market today, it seems that salaries are gravitating downwards due to the flexibility of allowing employees to work from home in the corporate world and tech industry. And with COVID-19 layoffs, this global pandemic has put downward pressure on pay.

Employees from software giants such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Twitter — were given the option to work freely from home forever, even when their offices open back up.

With this new Work From Home/Remote standard, employers have the freedom to hire from any geographic location that they desire to. This will heavily affect areas with high costs of living because they will not account for higher salaries. Basically, compensation will change drastically depending on where you live in the country as they will do regionally-based salaries. We can see that this is already impacting the tech industry, which will generate an approach to more supply because it opens up the competition significantly. In the long run, this method of compensation will drive down employee salaries. This will also result in mass migration because people will no longer be tied down to living where they work. If you think about it, working remotely versus going into an office will not only impact the salary, but also promotions and growth.

For example, companies in the Silicon Valley are lowering the salaries of employees based on where they relocate.

“Even a move within the state of California will result in lower pay: workers who decamp for San Diego or Los Angeles will take an 8% pay cut”, Bloomberg reports.

Business Insider

Many tech firms are cutting labor costs for employees who move to less expensive areas. This isn’t fair for other employees who get paid less for carrying the same job title and performing the same amount of work. This is where the cost of living brings out the factors for these companies. The factors of the economic principles of supply and demand come into play.


Pro #1. The employers that are incentivizing this “WFH permanently” option, are widening their talent pool within their area – which can be great for folks who are highly talented. So therefore, the ability for an employer to hire at a lower cost due to the larger talent pool might compress the wage for that particular position, but if it allows the candidate to apply and potentially earn that position at a salary that is higher than what’s available in their current geographic labor market, then their respective salary has increased. Let’s not forget that WFH is not a mandatory thing for everyone. This is optional as there is still people who still prefers to go to back to their workplace and cubicles.

Pro #2. WFH offers more flexibility. WFH if you want, come in if you want. As long as you get the work done, your company will benefit from happier employees, wider talent net, smaller buildings and so on. For some folks, they may have a dedicated office space in their home or studio where it makes them feel much more productive as it has given them greater freedom to have a healthier lifestyle with less stress, and to be able to take care of their children.

Pro #3. WFH also improves ecology and prevents the contamination of the spread that’s still going around. Yes, it is nice to have an opportunity to work from home as this reduces carbon footprint! This reduces time in the traffic as there will be less cars on the road, and you won’t have to feel dreadful about waking up early. Not having to commute or paying for a $20 lunch meal daily, saves you a lot. Working from home is a great idea for both employees and employers who can save on their biggest expense, which is real estate and payroll.

Pro #4. This is a big step to reduce unemployment. Think about certain populations who have been out of the workforce for so long. For example, there are individuals who have disabilities or chronic health issues that limit their work options. And individuals who had to take care of their children because they do not have anyone else to look after them. But they are ready to enter the working world again and are still in search of employment. If they have the skills to do so, all they need is to set up their dedicated work space and equipment at home. With an unemployment rate of 8.4%, there are far more potential workers who are available to bring their valuable assets to the right employer.

However, it is not possible to fully live without the face-to-face interactions. As the world and labor trends continue to change and adapt, this brings us to the cons.


Con #1. If employers are extending offers to anyone in the country versus the local area, the demand for talent may decrease. This is a huge disadvantage for job seekers that lack digital skills. Fewer and fewer opportunities are available to those lacking a baseline of technology access as well. Studies also show that for many employers, working from home from time to time will likely continue as the new normal once the pandemic subsides.

Con #2. This is something that nobody has ever thought about, but employers would need to consider the time zone difference if conference calls/team meetings/client calls are needed. This can result in burnouts since there is no micromanagement. So the key variable here is engagement, where employees should feel supported and valued even behind the screen. Leaders would need to be willing to invest in software and hardware to make it work and build realistic protocols and accountability measures to ensure the work is being done. And this would require change in the design of workflow, teams and functions, as well as clear communication of expectations.

Con #3. In the long run, this can negatively affect some of the younger generations who are beginning their careers as some are visual learners. If they do not get to interact with their team or colleagues, this can limit their development since they won’t have the opportunities to learn from others on a daily basis. We need the face-to-face interactions to stimulate our communication with both internal teams and with our clients.

Con #4. Many employees (support staff, office admin staff, security staff, transport staff, etc.) who can’t work from home will lose their employment. This goes for jobs in the hardest hit sectors (hospitality/retail) — they are becoming obsolete, such as administrative assistants, receptionists, sales associates, etc. And, what will happen to the office space once that is all gone?

Con #5. Concerns have also been raised about work/life balance — where working from home only works if your environment is adapted. In other words, not all folks live in a place that is suitable for working from home. For instance, not everyone will have access to good WiFi, office supplies, ink, technology, etc. How many companies are willing to cover for that? And if they do cover that, how are they going to pay for all of their employees? Stipends?

Con #6. Mental health. An employee’s health matters too to ensuring a productive workforce! If employees do not make time for their wellness, they will be forced to make time for their illness. It’s true. This is a hot topic that has been discussed since the beginning of the lock down because many employees prefer office interactions and collaborations. We are humans. We develop the positive energy from being around people and the relationships/interactions are definitely not the same when working from home. In many cases, in-person discussions make a bigger difference and building solid relationships is more effective when done face-to-face.

Con #7. As you draw the big picture in your head about living situations when permanently working from home, some individuals will have the idea of selling their current property just to move back to be with their families because they will save more costs on rent, utilities, electricity, gas, etc. It is a nice recourse that many of these employers are offering, however things may/will always change. What if the employer reverts their decision and decides to make their employees come in to the office permanently? Or for a specific project/collaboration? This could be a logistical disorder for some individuals who are affected by their living situations. Not many folks are willing to pay an arm and a leg to live in areas that they cannot afford.


All in all, existing gaps between the haves and have not’s may be further heightened and it’s not hard to imagine folks being passed up for positions just because they simply don’t have the infrastructure to work from home and prefer working in the office instead. This pandemic is going to have far reaching impacts to many of our cities. But also, in a positive way in that here is an opportunity to close the wage gap between have and have not’s.