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An example of Cloffice. Image by Haffele.

Cloffice: The latest work-from-home trend to transform your workspace

Home office has been a hot topic since March of 2020. Before, working from home was not always necessary and many got on just fine without a dedicated workspace. However, the rise of remote work in the past year has increased the demand for such a space. If you are one of the many longing for a personal workspace in your home, but think you do not have the room to accommodate such a space, let me introduce you to the cloffice. 

What is a cloffice?

A cloffice is essentially a closet transformed into an office space. This creative innovation is the perfect solution for those looking to have a dedicated workspace in their home but are tight on space. 

Many choose to transform guest bedroom closets or hall closets but you can even use a freestanding wardrobe such as in the photo below. 

cloffice, working from home,

Transform a freestanding wardrobe into your personal home office workspace. (Photo courtesy Häfele)

The cloffice is perfect for those who want a space separate from main living areas. The cloffice also allows you to hide your work from your daily life once you’re off the clock. Just close your closet doors to disconnect from work-life and get back into the groove of home-life. 

That disconnect is especially necessary nowadays as COVID-19 has forced us to blur the lines between our work-life-balance. According to an article by Forbes, having a dedicated workspace increases productivity and reduces temptations to indulge in other at-home distractions while working from home

Tips to build the cloffice of your dreams 

If you are struggling without a dedicated workspace at home, then hop on the trend! Below are some tips to help you transform your spare closet into the perfect, personal workspace to help you achieve more while working from home. 

cloffice, working from home,

Unleash your creativity and build your own personal cloffice. (Photo courtesy Häfele)

Furnishings

Most important, of course, is your desk and chair as these will be where you spend your working hours. A sturdy desk and an ergonomic chair will serve you best and keep you comfortable while you work, help you maintain good posture, and keep stubborn back-pain away. Another option is a standing desk which also has many benefits. Either way, choose furnishings that will best serve you. Make this space your own. 

Storage

In such a small space, storage is everything and every inch of space matters. Try not to clutter your workspace with large storage cabinets or containers. Keep it simple. Utilize shelves, built in closet storage, or small cubbies. If your goal is to be able to close your closet doors at the end of the workday, also be sure to keep all furnishings and storage compact. 

Electronics 

Electronics are another important area to consider. Your closet may not have outlets or plugs, but there are solutions. You can use extension cords and cable concealers to keep cables and wires tidy. Another solution for charging smaller electronics is to utilize USB charging ports. Once you have power running in your cloffice, add in your computer and other necessary electronics such as printers or scanners. 

Lighting 

Finally, consider your lighting source. Lighting is essential to productivity. Light can define your mood and impact your performance. Most closets do not have built-in light sources, so you will want to consider different solutions. You could add a desk-lamp, LED lights, or wall lights to your cloffice. Whichever option you choose, make sure it offers plenty of light so you can perform at your best. 

You might be interested: Is working remotely a pain? Tips to be more comfortable and productive

Once you have the essentials down, it’s time to decorate! Unleash your creativity and personalize your workspace. Add a touch of color or keep things minimal and go monochrome. The choice is yours. Remember, this space will be where you spend a bulk of your time during the workday, so make it a place that is inviting and positive. 

latinas in the workplace

How business leaders can spur diversity in the workplace 

A study conducted by The UPS Store identifies key strategies business leaders can utilize to drive diversity in the workplace.

The spotlight on inequality is driving increased dialogue and inspiring change on social and cultural levels, and the same is true of the business community.

According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, just 18% of businesses in the U.S. are minority-owned, even though minorities make up almost 40% of the population. However, a study conducted by The UPS Store, Inc. shows small businesses and their customers are also doing their part to promote inclusion and diversity.

Among small business owners with employees, 47% are actively trying to increase the diversity of their workforce, according to the survey. This momentum is particularly evident among younger small business owners, ages 18-45 (58%).

Strategies business leaders can use to continue promoting diversity in the workplace:

Communicating clearly about expectations

Set a policy of zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior and communicate it clearly throughout your business. Conduct a thorough audit of your typical communication channels to ensure your message is clear and consistent so there is no confusion about your expectations. This can include emails, signage and orientation materials. It’s important to recognize this won’t be a one-and-done exercise. Commit to issuing periodic reminders to reinforce your expectation for an inclusive culture.

Leading by example

Once your expectations have been defined, it’s up to you to demonstrate how they should be followed. This means taking stock of your business and any areas where you may not be upholding these standards. Ask for input from trusted advisors. You might even consider an audit by a third party to identify any discrepancies. Chances are, you’ll find at least one or two areas for improvement. Take swift and decisive action to make necessary changes, whether it means updating policies, modifying recruitment practices or other adjustments.

Creating programs that support minorities

One way businesses can turn intent into action is to create programs specifically designed to encourage minority participation. When it comes to inclusive ownership, franchising is leading compared to other industries, with nearly one-third (30.8%) of franchises being minority-owned compared to 18.8% of non-franchised businesses, according to an International Franchise Association study. One example is The UPS Store Minority Incentive Program, which provides eligible participants nearly $15,000 off the franchise fee for their first center.

This program, which applies to Asian, Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American franchisee candidates, is both an opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs and a solution meant to help consumers support minority-owned businesses. In addition, these new franchise owners will open a new store design with a focus on modern, tech-forward and open concept features. To learn more about the program and apply, visit theupsstorefranchise.com.*

Making training relevant for your business

The concept of diversity training isn’t new for many businesses, but it may be time to reassess your approach. Reciting a list of generic best practices to a senior leadership team does not constitute as training. Instead, consider creating a training session (or better yet, a series) that addresses the unique nuances of your business and culture. Work to incorporate principles of inclusion that relate to specific scenarios your staff may encounter and involve everyone at each level of the organization in the training.

Eliminating practices that exclude certain groups

Many traditional business practices completely overlook the good that can be gained from a more inclusive approach. In some cases, such as creating a time-off policy that accommodates holidays across different cultures, the benefits are in the form of employee morale. In other cases, such as flexible schedules for working parents, it may be the difference between successfully hiring the best candidate versus settling on someone who may not be the best fit for the position.

Implementing feedback systems

Learning better and doing better is an ongoing process, not a project to check off as completed. Part of refining your culture and creating a truly inclusive environment is enabling employees to report their concerns without fear of repercussions. Engaging your workforce, asking for input and genuinely listening may alert you to areas for improvement you never knew existed.

Creating a more inclusive workplace won’t happen overnight, but taking necessary steps can benefit your business as well as your workforce.

Leverage Consumer Support of Minority Business Owners

As the pandemic recedes, small business owners and entrepreneurs are still looking to receive support from their communities and peers.

A majority of consumers have committed within the past year to buy more products and services from small businesses, according to a survey by The UPS Store, Inc. In particular, consumers indicated plans to buy more from women-owned, Black-owned and veteran-owned businesses.

For entrepreneurial business leaders who aspire to own their own businesses, resources are available to help achieve that goal while providing consumers another avenue for supporting these types of businesses.

You might be interested: Latina Leaders share small business post-Covid recovery resources 

One example is The UPS Store Minority Incentive Program, which offers eligible participants approximately 50% off the franchise fee. The program provides individuals the opportunity to turn their dreams of small-business ownership into reality by offering established brand strength, world-class training programs and a strong network of successful, helpful franchisees.

*This information is not intended as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy a franchise. It is for informational and design purposes only. The UPS Store, Inc. will not offer you a franchise unless and until it has complied with the applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your state, as applicable, and provided you with a Franchise Disclosure Document. Franchise offerings are made by Franchise Disclosure Documents only.


Source: The UPS Store

imposter syndrome

Feeling like a fraud? It’s the imposter syndrome talking

Do you often feel like a fraud in the workplace? Are you convinced that you’re actually not as qualified or skilled as your co-workers and peers? Do you dismiss or downplay your achievements and criticize any praise you receive? If this sounds like you, then you might have the dreaded imposter syndrome. 

imposter syndrome

Are you suffering from imposter syndrome? (Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash)

You may have heard the term imposter syndrome in the workplace before but are unsure what it really means and if it applies to what you’re experiencing. Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon where successful people doubt their competence. It is characterized by a sense of inadequacy, the inability to internalize achievements, downplaying accomplishments, a self-critical inner voice, a reluctance to ask for help, and the fear of being “found out” or being exposed as inexperienced or untalented. Many who suffer from imposter syndrome have a tendency to explain away their accomplishments as being attributed to luck or good timing, downplaying their own role in the achievement. 

The term “imposter syndrome” was first described in the late 1970s by researchers Pauline Clance and Suzanne Ime, then referring to a pattern of inadequacy observed among female graduate students. In this original study, successful women reported feelings of “intellectual phoniness,” as if they “lucked out,” or tricked someone into believing they were smart and qualified. 

In the years since this research, further studies have confirmed that imposter syndrome in the workplace and academic environments is more common than you may think. In 2014, a study found that imposter syndrome was the top fear of executives around the world. Additionally, it’s reported that 70% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their career. 

The unfortunate irony is that the further you advance in your career, the more likely you’ll feel like a fraud. And dealing with imposter syndrome long-term can end up affecting your productivity and performance, giving fuel to those negative thoughts. Many who suffer with imposter syndrome end up turning down new opportunities out of fear of failure and they can fail to start or finish projects because they dread the negative feedback they believe they will receive. Some people will even avoid getting feedback all together or begin to doubt and second guess their decisions on projects. Others may also begin to overwork themselves to the point of burnout in an effort to “prove” their worth. 

None of these outcomes are good, so what can you do to silence that negative voice in your head and overcome imposter syndrome in the workplace? The key is to rewire your mind. 

You might be interested: Capable women suffer the impostor Syndrome, are you one of them?

imposter syndrome

It’s time to silence the imposter in your head. (Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash)

5 Tips to overcome imposter syndrome in the workplace 

It’s all in your head. No, literally. When it comes to dealing with imposter syndrome, mindset is everything. If you’re going to silence that negative little voice in your head, you need to start learning new ways to think and speak to yourself. If another voice is talking, then there’s no room for that negative one to get a word in, right?

Figure out what’s making you doubt – The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is to figure out what’s making you doubt yourself. Is it new responsibilities? A promotion? A new, unfamiliar task or project? Once you identify the thing that’s making you doubt, you can begin to rethink your beliefs surrounding the topic. If you think your new promotion was undeserved or the result of luck, start listing your skills and rationalize all the different reasons you’re the right person for the job. 

Reframe your story – Following the previous tip, once you start thinking about your skills, you can begin to reframe your story. Pay attention to the language you use to describe yourself, your journey, and accomplishments. Switch out negative or doubtful words for positive ones. Spend some time to sit down and write out your story. How did you get to where you are today? Pretend you’re writing the bio to a memoir or resume. Let all your achievements shine and build up your self confidence. 

Seek outside reassurance – If you’re struggling to think positively about yourself and your skills, seek outside reassurance. Build a network and community of trusted individuals who know you personally and can vouch for your accomplishments. When you’re feeling down, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in that negative voice in your head. To bring you out of that gloomy mindset, it can help to just talk to someone else. Air out your feelings and remember you’re not alone. So many people struggle with imposter syndrome. My confiding in someone else, they can help you identify those negative, irrational feelings and reassure you of your strengths and skills. 

Keep track of your accomplishments – Again, mindset is everything. When you get caught up in the negative spiral, all your accomplishments or successes become shadowed by doubt. It may be helpful in these moments to have a list or “bank” of your accomplishments handy to reel you in and bring you back out of that doubtful mentality. Some people create vision boards of their goals and keep track of their accomplishments and wins–both big and small. Celebrating your successes is a great way to remind yourself that you are skilled and capable. Others keep lists of their skills and accomplishments nearby to remind themselves that they are not a fraud. You can even keep a journal or document where you note positive feedback you have received from your boss, clients, or coworkers. 

Build up your knowledge – Lastly, the best way to tune out the imposter’s voice of doubt is to build up your knowledge. The more you know about your field or industry, the more of an expert you become. If you’re feeling inadequate or unworthy of your success, keep learning! You can’t be a fraud or imposter if you’re an expert. 

Imposter syndrome doesn’t have to rule your life. It’s time to tune out that negative voice in your head and be proud of your successes and achievements. You got this!

resume, office, laptop, writing

Beat the bots with these ATS-friendly resume tips in 2021 

With advancing technologies moving us further into the digital landscape, the world of job hiring is always changing. Gone are the days when your #1 goal as an applicant was to simply WOW the hiring manager or recruiters. Now, there are a few extra hurdles to get through in the form of AI technology. Many companies now use software known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter through resumes, narrowing down applicants before they are even seen by human eyes. Because of this, it is now crucial to tailor your resume to these systems, so you have the best chance of making it through to the next round in the hiring process. 

Below are some key resume tips to help you beat the bots and create an ATS-friendly resume in 2021 that will get your resume through the automated process and into human hands so you can get that interview! 

resume, office, laptop, writing

Try these ATS-friendly resume tips to beat the bots in 2021. (Photo credit: @homajob on Unsplash.)

7 ATS-friendly resume tips in 2021 to get the job

Keywords are key! 

One of the top resume tips in 2021 is keywords, keywords, keywords! When you’re trying to impress a bot, keywords are crucial. The ATS software will be scanning for keywords relevant to the job to see if you are the right fit. Many of these keywords may appear in the job description itself, so it’s important to have a resume tailored to each specific job. One general resume just isn’t going to cut it anymore. 

Some keywords the ATS may be scanning for could include hard skills such as “experience with spreadsheets” or “proficient in Adobe Photoshop.” Others may be spoken languages, certificates or licenses. In a profession such as teaching, the ATS may search for the required certifications that prove you can legally teach at an institution. The same is true for positions in the medical field or science where proper licenses are needed to practice.  

If you’re unsure which keywords to use for the job you are applying for, first scan the job description. Note the top requirements and job responsibilities. These are likely to be some of the target keywords. The job title itself may also be a keyword. You can also use sites like Jobscan and Skillsyncer to help you identify more keywords.

Just make sure the keywords you use are in context. Dumping a bunch of keywords with no context on your resume to “cheat” the system won’t get you far in the long run. You may fool the bot, but your resume will quickly be discarded once it reaches human eyes. 

Objective statements are out, the resume summary is in! 

Many resumes even in recent years recommended opening with an objective statement. However, the resume summary has become more popular and preferred in recent years. Try replacing your objective statement with a fresh, impactful summary detailing some of your top skills and experience to quickly communicate who you are as an employee. This summary is also a great place to add in relevant keywords that will impress the digital eyes of the ATS software. 

Choose the right format and layout 

Just as important as your keywords is your format and layout. ATS software prefers certain layouts over others as they are easier for the bot to read. You may be tempted to create a flashy or unique resume design in hopes to stand out among the rest, but this may actually hurt your chances more than you think. Obscure fonts, colors, and creative layouts make it harder for the ATS software to scan your resume. Keep it simple and ATS-friendly with a black and white, clean layout and standardized fonts such as Calibri, Arial, and Times New Roman, 

In general, both the software and the recruiters themselves prefer simple, monochromatic layouts. According to data collected by Resume Lab in a 2021 study, 72% of recruiters think monochromatic resumes are best. Additionally, 77% of recruiters think two-column resumes are better than single-column ones. Finally, of the three resume formats–chronological, combination, and functional–ATS software prefers chronological or combination. These two formats best organize your work experience in an easy to read style from most recent to oldest. For those with a normal work history with no large gaps or career changes, chronological or combination is the way to go!  

Correctly label your sections 

In addition to keeping your layout clean and simple, using the proper headings for each section will greatly help you pass the ATS screening process. ATS software organizes your information based on common resume headings, such as “Work Experience,” “Education”, and “Skills.” You may think a creative or catchy heading will make you stand out but it will only confuse the system and potentially risk your chance at making it through the scanning process. 

In general, according to Resume Lab’s 2021 Study, the key “must-have” sections are: 

  • Contact information
  • Resume profile (summary or objective)
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Soft skills
  • Hard skills

Which brings us to our next tip…

Be sure to include both soft skills and hard skills 

Data shows that 76% of recruiters prefer the two types of skills separated from one another on a resume. ATS software will scan for these two sections and recruiters are also now looking to see two distinct sections when it comes to skills. If this is all new to you or you are unfamiliar with these terms, soft skills are non-technical skills related to how you work, communicate, and solve problems. Some examples include: teamwork, communication, adaptability, creativity, and time management. Hard skills, on the other hand, are technical skills specific to the job such as: graphic design, editing, computer coding, data analysis, web development, and marketing. 

For a well-rounded, ATS-friendly resume that will impress both digital and human eyes, be sure to include skills in both sections. 

You might be interested: 10 interview tips that will get you the job

Plug your LinkedIn profile 

Something many forget but apparently makes a big difference, is including a link to your LinkedIn profile in your contact information. According to Resume Lab, 96% of recruiters surveyed believe it is important to link to your profile in your resume. Including a link won’t hurt, and it may just give you that boost over the competition. 

Lastly, make sure you select the right file type 

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to make your resume ATS-friendly, is make sure it is in the right format for ATS software to scan. The standard accepted formats are .docx and .PDF and most of you are probably using these formats. However, many resume building tools and sites will often save resumes as image files such as .jpg or .png files which will not be readable by ATS software. This could automatically take you out of the running, so be sure to always save/download your resume in either .docx or .PDF format, which can easily be done using any Word Processor or Google Docs. Also be sure to check the job application to see if it lists a preferred format. 

Following these top 7 resume tips you will be able to create an ATS-friendly resume that will get you through the scanning process and one step close to landing your dream job! 

interview tips

10 Interview tips that will get you the job 

We’ve all been there. The nervous waiting, the stuttering responses, the awkward pauses, the sweaty palms just before that crucial handshake. Interviews are often anxiety ridden, nerve wracking, and downright stressful. But they don’t have to be! If you’re ready to land your dream job, then read on for these 10 interview tips that will get you the job!

interview tips

Top 10 interview tips to get you the job. (Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash)

Top 10 interview tips that will get you hired 

1. Research the company – Knowledge is power, as they say. The more knowledge you have the better equipped you will be to navigate any situation. This is also true when going for a job interview. Get to know the company, learn their values and mission statement. With the power of the internet and social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, it’s never been easier to find information. Use this to your advantage. The company will want to know why you are the right fit for them, so, tell them! Flex your knowledge of the company and relate it back to you and your story. 

2. Practice, practice, practice – As part of your research into the company, you will likely encounter what the company is looking for and what they value. Try to use your research to anticipate the types of questions they may ask during your interview and work on your responses. As we all know, practice makes perfect, and practicing your responses will also help ease your anxiety or nerves during the interview since you will already know what to say instead of working through your responses on the spot. If you can, enlisting the help of a friend or family member to conduct a mock interview will also allow you to stretch those muscles in preparation for your real interview. 

3. Develop your personal story – Another great interview tip many do not consider is to develop your story. As we mentioned previously, you want to establish a personal connection between yourself and the company. Use your knowledge of the company to tailor your story and brand to fit with their values and mission. An interviewer will likely ask you to tell them about yourself. “Who are you?” “What’s your story?” “Why are you the right fit for this company?” When preparing for your interview, evaluate your life and experiences. Ask yourself:

  • What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? 
  • What do you value in a company? 
  • What are your skills and what can you bring to a company? 
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? 
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years/What are your long-term goals?

Work through these questions and begin developing a story. Your story is everything, there is no one else like you! 

interview tips

Interview tips: Show up early and dress to impress! (Woman photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com)

4. Show up early and dress to impress – First impressions are crucial. We have been told over and over again that a good first impression can make all the difference. Arriving late or underdressed to an interview may send the message that you are irresponsible and not really interested or committed to the position. 

However, things may happen outside of your control such as traffic and public transportation delays. If something does arise, it’s crucial to reach out and contact the interviewer immediately to inform them of the delay. The interviewer will appreciate the notice as it will allow that person to attend to other duties or interview the next person in line until your arrival.

5. Stay calm and speak confidently and clearly – There is nothing worse for an applicant than doing everything necessary to get the interview and then blowing it because the anxiety was too much. The first step to staying calm is to breathe properly. Stress and anxiety often creates a shortness of breath, which leads to more anxiety and a jumble of words that can seriously impact your chance of getting hired. Focus on taking deep breaths. Write a reminder on your notepad to “breathe and relax.” Also speak with confidence. If you’ve been practicing, then you already know your story and answering whatever questions interviewers throw at you will be a breeze. Maintaining good posture will also help not only your non-verbal communication, but your verbal communication as well, by giving you more confidence when you speak. 

You might be interested: How to manage and prevent burnout in the workplace

6. Practice good non-verbal communication – Another often forgotten interview tip is practicing your non-verbal communication. Non-verbal communication is just as important as your verbal skills. Non-verbal communication is also often the first impression you give when entering an interview. Proper posture, good eye contact, and a firm handshake will help you make a great first impression, setting a solid foundation for your interview.

Interview tips: Practice good non-verbal communication. (Business photo created by yanalya – www.freepik.com)

7. Listen and connect with your interviewer – Really listening to your interviewer is extremely important. Asking frequently to repeat a question can give off the impression that you are not focused or interested. Your interviewer may also mention things such as their alma mater, their favorite restaurant, weekend plans, a favorite book, or other topics that can be opportunities to connect and establish some commonalities. By listening and taking these opportunities to engage, you make a better impression and increase your chances of getting hired. 

8. Answer each question fully – Each question asked is a chance to tell your story and really sell why you are the best person for the job. Each question is also a tool interviewers use to gauge your personality, behavior, and skills. When you don’t have an answer to a question or don’t answer it fully, you are providing less information to your interviewer, thus lessening your chances of getting the job. Instead, someone who gave full answers and spoke about themselves will have a leg up over you. So be sure to take every question as an opportunity to share your story, your thoughts, skills, and values. 

9. Ask questions – Many candidates answer, “No,” when asked if they have questions. This is the wrong answer. Just as answering the interviewer’s questions is important to showcase who you are and why you are the right fit, asking your own questions is equally important. Asking questions again shows your interest and commitment to the position. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. By asking questions, you not only demonstrate that you were listening and engaging, you also show interest and commitment to the position. 

10. Follow up after the interview – Lastly, this interview tip could give you a boost up and help you stand out among other candidates. Following up after an interview is a great way to show your interest in the position and appreciation for the opportunity. You can follow up by sending a thank-you note or email reiterating your interest in the position. Sending a personalized note to each person who interviewed you also adds an extra touch and helps foster a stronger connection. You can also use your follow up note to include any details you may have forgotten to mention in your interview.