I love New York

Over the last few weeks I did a little traveling around New York State for work.  Can you believe how gorgeous New York is?  It’s easy to forget after months of snow and sub-zero temps, or super-heated sweaty summers, but if you have a chance to take a NY road trip in the Fall…DO IT!

Driving through the Adirondacks is especially awesome.  Not only are the giant trees turning beautiful colors, the air smells fantabulous. Yankee Candle has nothing on the fresh air of Adirondack Park!

Here’ s a few photos from my adventures…

I’ll be driving to NYC this weekend for New York Comic Con (yeah nerds)! I’ll be sure to share some more photos.  Cheers!

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4 Tips For a Smooth Job Transition

career changeAs many of you know, I recently changed jobs and moved to a new city.  Changing jobs can be tough, even for “experts”, but I’ve learned a few things over the last month or two you might find helpful.

Here’s a few of my tips for making a smooth career transition…

1. Be confident and patient.  You may not know everyone or everything right off the bat, but they hired you for a reason.  Don’t forget that reason.  Learning a new environment, organizational structure and culture takes time.  Nobody expects you to move mountains on day two.  If they do….more confidence, less patience 😉

2. Listen.  Take in as much information as you can.  Educate yourself and take notes.  Eventually the pieces will start to come together and things will make a lot more sense if you can put them in some context.  Also, you don’t have to do all the talking to look confident.  People will appreciate your input and expertise more when you know where they are coming from.

Changing-careers_433. Stay organized.  Perhaps you’re coming in at a slow time.  Or maybe you walked right into chaos.  Either way, identify your priorities and create an agenda.  Maybe nobody is telling you what you need to do, or maybe you have a million things to do and don’t know where to start.  Regardless, you need to take your job into your own hands and organization will help guide you.

4. Bring candy! My former coworker and good friend gave me a bag of peanut butter cups as a parting gift…not for me, but for my new coworkers!  Genius.  Bring some goodies to your new job, one week in.  The goodies will help you meet (and remember) new people, plus who doesn’t like the person who brought candy?

What tips do you have for a smooth career change?

Are You Moving? Don’t Use UHaul

For those of you who don’t personally know me, you may have been wondering where I’ve been the past month!  I recently got a job as the Coordinator of Recruitment Communications and Admissions Services for the Graduate School at the University at Buffalo (sorry that title is a mouthful)!  So, over the last few weeks I’ve been apartment hunting, packing my life away, moving from Rochester to Buffalo and starting and new job.  Although I miss my friends and former colleagues back in Rochester (very much), I’m excited about this new opportunity and I’m ready to explore a new city!

ed-moving-boxes_480I cannot even begin to tell you how crazy the last few weeks have been.  My boyfriend and I are still in the process of unpacking, but thankfully I think most of the chaos is behind us now.  The worst of it was when, the day before we were scheduled to move, our moving truck changed the date and time on us!

U-SuckI had reserved a UHaul truck a couple of weeks prior for last Saturday afternoon.  The plan was to pick up the truck and pack my apartment and a few large pieces of furniture from my parents’ house on Saturday night. We coordinated this plan with three different families and friends that were helping us move (I was moving my stuff from two places in Rochester and my boyfriend was moving his stuff from two places in Lockport). The plan was to wake up and drive the already loaded truck Sunday morning and get unpacked in Buffalo early so that my boyfriend could use the truck to get his move done.

Turns out all of this was just wishful thinking…

UHaul called me Friday to inform me that no trucks were available on Saturday at all.  The only truck they had available in “the entire Western New York area” was on Sunday at 1pm and it was two sizes larger (and much less fuel-efficient) than the truck I requested.  I immediately started scrambling to call any and all other moving truck options but it was pointless. Nobody was available on such short notice!  After a lot of arguing with UHaul reps both on Twitter and over the phone, I surrendered and was forced to take the Sunday reservation.  We rearranged everyones schedule at the last-minute (which made for a lot of grumpy movers)!

By the time we were done unpacking and getting everything moved into our new place in Buffalo it was after 11pm!  My poor family had to make the hour and a half drive back to Rochester after that and work the next day!  It was a bit crazy and super stressful but with the help of our amazing families and friends we got it done.

Later that week, I contacted UHaul to get my “$50 Reservation Guarantee” refund since they totally screwed us over at the last minute and didn’t have my equipment on the day I had requested.  After all that craziness, a $50 dollar refund (which they promise on their website) is the LEAST they could do right?  UHaul “customer service” doesn’t seem to think so.  Apparently their guarantee only applies after you confirm your reservation 48 hours prior!

WhhhhhaaaaaattttttTF?UHaul

What this means is say you book a UHaul truck 2 months prior to your moving date.  UHaul can call you the day before to “confirm” your reservation for a completely different date, time, truck and/or pickup location…and once you agree to that, you don’t get a $50 refund.  This is UHaul’s way of trying to make you feel like it’s safe to book with them, when really there is no guarantee at all.

My advice? DON’T EVER USE UHAUL!no_uhaul-thumb

I’m really not sure what other companies are better out there, but I’m sure it’s worth spending the extra money for an organization that actually guarantees reservations or at least notifies you of any changes more than a day in advance.

Normally I’m not one to bitch and complain about these things…my bitterness towards UHaul probably wouldn’t have lasted long had I received my rightful $50. But as it turns out, I’m not the only one UHaul has upset.  Their customer service (or perhaps how they run their business in general) is so bad, there’s a website called dontuseuhaul.com and another called uhaul-Sucks.com.  The sites are dedicated to persuading people not to choose UHaul by sharing horror stories similar to mine.

If you don’t believe me, just check out the @UHaul_Cares Twitter handle to see how poorly things are going.  The vast majority of tweets @UHaul_Cares receives are complaints just like mine.  Via twitter they are kind enough to apologize, but still no problems are ever solved.

uhaul-1UHaul, for their own sake, needs to start paying attention to what their customers are saying.

4 Not-So-Great Resume Trends

hiringI recently had the opportunity to play HR Manager at my current job.  As an assistant to the HR Manager for many years, I was excited to step up and help out my organization while my manager was out on leave for a few months.  I couldn’t wait to sift through resumes and see what had changed and what trends had emerged since I was last in the job market. Although I see plenty of resumes in my role, it is usually further along in the hiring process.  In the past, I never had time or much reason to read them.  Now that I’ve had this rare opportunity to see the entire hiring process from beginning to end, I’ve never been more shocked.  Here’s a couple of “trends” I noticed…

1. No address listed.  I know we live in a digital world and all, but in my opinion there is still a need for addresses on resumes.  Why?  So I know where you live! Correct me if I’m wrong here, but I think it’s helpful for employers to know your physical location, even if all communication is through phone and email.  If an applicant needs to fly in from somewhere or drive a thousand miles to get to an interview, it may be easier for everyone to do a video or phone conference first.  If things progress, an address also helps with travel accommodations and scheduling.

2. Vague objectives.

“Objective: To obtain a position where I can utilize my work experience and education to improve the company’s operation.”

NOOOOOoooooo.  Ugh, c’mon people!  This is so boring.  I can tell by reading the very first line in your resume that you took no extra time applying.  In my head I’m thinking, “I bet they sent this exact same resume to 100 other places.”  It takes two seconds to write a real objective or goal that actually applies to the position you’re applying for, so get specific.  Or, leave the objective out altogether and just tell me about yourself and why I should like you if you have a lot of positions to apply to.  This is the first thing employers will read so whatever you write, make it good. HR experts, please chime in here and tell me your thoughts on this.ability-to-smell-fear-cartoon-sm

3. No cover letter. I know, cover letters are a pain.  They take time.  But let me tell you, the people who write one are going to get my attention.  I know how long I’ve spent writing them in the past, so I appreciate anyone who takes the time to write me one.  This is not to say you won’t get beat out by someone who has better experience and no cover letter, but it definitely ups your chances.  In my limited experience, the majority of applicants don’t submit cover letters. Writing one could make all the difference.

Get-Hired-Fast-Social-Media-Job-Search4. Stalking.  This HR experience was the first time I saw the full picture from the employer’s perspective.  It was also amidst an era of social media.  A little following up is always a good thing but don’t cross that line. The line will be different with every employer.  As an applicant, it is your job to figure it out and stay on your side.  Once you cross it, there is almost no going back.  One recommendation I will make is to contact only one person, two at the very most if you don’t hear anything at all.  Don’t email me, call two other people and connect with someone else on LinkedIn within 24 hours of an interview.  I hate to break it to ya, but employees talk to each other and sooner or later we’ll realize you’ve contacted all of us multiple times and that’s just crazy.  If you decide to engage via social media, don’t choose them all!  Just pick one medium and one person and be patient.

Ok HR experts, what are your thoughts?  What resume trends have you seen emerge over the last few years?

5 Networking Tips for Noobs

Networking is such an important part of life.  It helps you makes friends, learn new areas and land great jobs.  It also helps boost confidence and, if done properly, will make you actually appear interesting to others!  The problem so many people face is finding the courage to get out there and do it.

Networking-for-latino-mbas-LAM-Social-Club1I have been part of Rochester Young Professionals (RYP), a networking group in Rochester, NY for about a year now. “Rochester Young Professionals is a group that coordinates, collaborates, and promotes events around Rochester that are either, social, volunteer, or informational” (RYP, About Us).  Over the last year I kept tabs on RYP activities, but never managed to make it to any events until yesterday.  I’ve attended plenty of events in the past, but never one that was meant specifically for professional networking. I have to admit, part of why I wanted to go was just to check out a cool new bistro downtown.  I had no idea what to expect, but I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised!  I attended the event with my good friend/roommate and her co-worker.  The three of us were a little shy at first, but after we realized everyone else was in the same boat (and after a glass of wine), we dove right into the scene and met a handful of really great people.  After my first professional networking experience (in true non-expert fashion), I can confidently offer up the following tips for others who may be thinking about going to a networking event:

1. Look nice.  Personally, I would suggest going business casual.  I know every company has different dress codes and many people attend these events right after work, but don’t look like a slob!  Even if your employer thinks that’s peachy, other people will judge you first based on your looks (we all do it, don’t pretend you don’t). Put your best foot forward. One man who attended wore a flannel shirt, gym shorts and a lot of accessories.  I remember him quite well, but not for the right reasons.

2. Go with friends.  One reason it took me so long to attend one of RYP’s events, aside from being short on time, was that I didn’t feel like I had anyone to go with.  I was completely surprised to find out that my roomie has been wanting to attend an event for as long as I have.  All this time I was LIVING with a friend who wanted to go, and I didn’t even know it!  Don’t be afraid to ask your close friends or coworkers to go.  At least tell them about the drink specials and fancy places first before mentioning the networking bit ;).  I would recommend going with a group of three.  Four people is too many and you’ll end up just talking amongst yourselves instead of meeting new people. Two might feel a little awkward during the times you’re not talking to anyone else.  Three is just right! With three people, you don’t look like losers while still remaining approachable to outsiders.

3. Know why you’re there.  Try to go with a purpose in mind.  Are you there to advance your career or are you just looking for new friends?  Knowing why you’re there will help you ask better questions and make connections that are more valuable to you.  A salesperson trying to connect with potential customers will need different questions to ask than a person who is just looking to make friends.  We ran into one salesperson who clearly wasn’t prepared and came off very “sales-ey.”  Had he asked the right questions, he would have realized that I wasn’t interested sooner and moved on to better candidates.  Don’t worry though, these events aren’t littered with salespeople by any means!

awkward3-300x3004. Know when to leave the conversation. You know that awkward moment when you run out of things to say or can’t find anything in common?  That’s your queue to leave! You don’t have to talk to someone for 10-20 minutes to make a good connection.  Sometimes the best connections only require a 2-3 minute convo.  One gentleman we spoke with yesterday stuck around for a solid 10 minutes for NO REASON.  It was really obvious he didn’t know what else to talk about.  Maybe he came alone and didn’t want to walk away only to stand by himself, I don’t know (this is why you go with friends), but he just lingered.  It made things really awkward and it wasn’t until I bumped into someone else that he made his exit.  When you feel that awkwardness approaching, simply say it was nice to meet you and bow out. Don’t stand around in silence like a weirdo!  Honestly people.

5. Follow up! Take note of the people you connected with and follow up with them on LinkedIn or via email.  You don’t need to do this with everyone (you stalker), but I recommend following up with important connections a day or two after the event just saying how nice it was to meet he/she.  This lovely little act will do one very important thing, if nothing else: it will keep a written record of people’s names and how you met them! I guarantee a week after the event you’ll forget that person’s name unless you had some magical moment.  On LinkedIn it’s important to limit connections to people you actually know and have met face-to-face.  In the event that you need that connection down the road (to help land a new job, for example) you’ll be able to recall that person and say, “Oh, I met Dave through Rochester Young Professionals and bla bla bla…”

Oh social media, how I love thee.  Just don’t forget to stay human.  Networking events are for face-to-face interaction, so if you begin attending just to boost your virtual connections you’ll turn into a big annoying robot.

My friends and I plan on attending more of these events, now that we’ve gotten the first one over with.  I had a blast and it helped get me out of my comfort zone, which is always helpful when trying to ditch being dull!

What networking groups do you belong to?  Please feel free to share your networking tips!

What You Don’t Know About Gamers

So here’s something I find interesting: gamers.  Why do I find them so interesting?  Well, as a marketer, the gamer demographic is just fascinating to me.  Of the top 1000 YouTube channels, 20% are gaming channels.  Gaming channels are the most popular category on YouTube, second only to music.  What is interesting to me about gamers is their power, the way they communicate and disseminate information, and how they coordinate things.gamerEvolution

The gamers I know are always the first to know about everything and they are super quick to spread information.  Gamers are so powerful that they often start major trends and influence pop culture.  Where do you think “rofl, “ftw” and “noob” came from? Let it be said that I am not much of a gamer.  As much as I love to play games, I can never play the same one for long and often find myself slightly outside this social circle.  However, over the last year or so, I worked on a marketing plan for a local gaming store and was quite surprised by what I discovered in my research.

Cartman from Family Guy playing WOW Many people, when thinking of gamers, envision a lazy overweight slobbish kid, vedging out in his parent’s basement, playing Call of Duty into the wee hours of the night.  I’m not saying those people aren’t out there (they are), but this perception is not representative of the typical gamer.  Here’s a few things you may not know about gamers:

  • They are very social.  Whenever major tragedies happen, I swear there’s always someone who says, “he always kept to himself, didn’t have many friends…just played video games all day.  I never thought he’d murder 12,000 people…”  I know this is a hot button issue with many, but if violent video gaming always led to violence, then we’d all be dead.  Gamers can be extremely social!  Have you ever watched people play WOW?  MMO players will coordinate raids (and whatever else those nerds do) with dozens of people from all over the world at the same time.  It’s just insane.  There are tons of other genres of gaming that also involve heavy socialization. Take role-playing gamers.  RPG events happen weekly here in Rochester where hundreds of people meet up (in person) to play Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-OH!  All of a sudden those basement gamers aren’t looking so lonely and anti-social right?social-gamers
  • Their skills are valuable.  Oh, you didn’t think all those hours of hard “work” would pay off?  Gamers have a very unique set of skills (que Liam Neeson voice).  They get things done efficiently.  They work great as part of a team and independently.  They are often leaders and they are always strategists.  Gamification plays a huge part in marketing plan strategies.  With the influx of mobile technology, gamification is becoming a more popular way to attract and retain customers.  It’s usually based around rewards programs or promotions (I can’t tell you how hard I’ve worked to achieve gold status on my Starbucks app).  Wouldn’t it be great to have people who know how to achieve your company’s business objectives using a game that’s actually fun to play?  Click here for some excellent examples of how valuable gamification can be.

So…the next time you start to stereotype gamers, I hope you’ll keep these tidbits in mind.

May the 4th be with you.

4 Ways to Boost Your Confidence and Cool

We’ve all had days when we feel on top of the world.  Days when you feel super smart or super funny.  The last time I really felt this way was in January, when I had to give my final presentation to my client, marking the completion of my master’s program.

The presentation was only 30 minutes.  I have presented many times before and for longer periods of time, so I didn’t expect to be nervous this time.  But this time I was presenting my marketing plan to someone who might actually use it!  A complete 50-page strategic plan for a small business, which I had worked on for over a year to construct.  A plan I worked my ass off to create…something I really believed in.  I was shaking like a leaf!  I was so nervous and scared.   I was afraid I’d forget everything I had practiced and worked so hard for…or worse, I’d get through it only to find out it was a terrible marketing plan!  Naturally, I was doubting myself and feeling dull, but I presented the plan and it all paid off!

I owned that presentation!  I kicked some serious ass…and the second I finished speaking, before anyone even responded, I knew I had it in the bag.  I was already smiling and on top of the world!  When the Q&A portion of my presentation began, I rocked every answer.  I had research to support my statements and confidence to stand behind my work and my ideas.  I felt AMAZING and my audience knew it.  I walked out of that conference room and literally did a Mary Tyler Moore jump into the air, followed by several fist pumps…followed by celebratory beers and “woohoos” with my classmates!

mary-tyler-moore-opening-credits

Then there’s those days when you realize you’ve been spelling one word wrong all your life.  Or the day you find out you’ve completely misunderstood something everyone else understands.  How can I be a kick-ass marketing professional/rock star presenter one day, and not know that the phrase “for all intents and purposes” is not said, “for all intensive purposes” the next!??  Intensive purposes? Really Holly?  It doesn’t even make sense, how could I not know this?!  Ugh.

It’s dull days like these that really kill my confidence, but I always manage to pick myself up.  Here are few things that help me forget how completely stupid and boring I can be:

Pinterest Homepage
My Pinterest Homepage

1. Join Pinterest.  If you aren’t on Pinterest, I highly recommend it.  Pinterest is a virtual pin-board where you pin up pictures and ideas you love and share them with friends.  You can pin things you’ve tried, things you’d like to do, places you want to go, how you wish you looked, funny jokes, cute shoes to buy and what your dream home will look like.  It’s just a fantastic house of thoughts and ideas.  At first, it takes a while to fill up your pin-boards, but over time it becomes a collage of dreams!  It may be depressing for some to look at a bunch of stuff they may never have or see places they may never go, but personally, I think it’s inspiring.  It makes me want to make my dreams a reality and reminds me how cool I can be.   Plus, it’s super easy, fun to use and totally free!

2. Update your resume.  I know, I know…it feels like work.  It is.  I usually dread it…but I also dreaded that presentation and look how that ended up!  How often do you really take a look at your skills and education and brag about your accomplishments?  When you complete a resume, it feels good.  I may not have found out about “all intents and purposes” until a few years ago, but I look pretty darn good on paper!  If you focus on all your best qualities and think about all the things you can do, you’ll probably surprise yourself.

f893d9649b4211e28a5622000a1fbe35_5
The nerdy stuff I do and fun places I’ve been 🙂

3. Create a memory box.  Now don’t go all hoarder on me or anything, but take all the weird stuff you save (ticket stubs, wristbands, menus, event passes, etc.) and put them all in one decorative place.  About a year ago I was cleaning my room and found a nice picture frame I had never used.  While cleaning up, I started to compile all of these mementos and put them in the frame (I really just wanted to use the frame for something and couldn’t bring myself to just throw all those tickets away).  My memory box grew and grew.  Now it’s my favorite piece of art and whenever I’m feeling dull or stupid, I can look at it and think of all the cool and smart things I’ve done.  Sounds a little hokey, but it really does help!  How many people can say they’ve been to a Star Wars convention, honestly?

4. Give yourself some credit!  Give yourself a silent pat on the back.  Think of all those times you showed someone else how to do something or made your friends laugh.  You can’t be a complete moron when your seasoned coworker still can’t even figure out the copy machine.  You’ve been working here 30 years and you still haven’t gotten it down!?  Yikes.

What do you do to boost your confidence?