Foliotek Blog

First Impressions

Do first impressions matter? Sounds like a "duh" kind of question. I'm sure you have heard a hundred times how "You need to make a good first impression." But seriously, does it matter? Can't you fumble the ball a few times and then make up for it with a touchdown later (sports, go sports!)? What if you are in an interview for a job? Can't you sway their negative first impression by overwhelming the hiring manager with content that blows their mind? If that were the case, it would be the exception to the rule, not the norm.

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15 Seconds or Less

Research has shown time and time again just how important the first impression is . In one side study done on a research project conducted by Frank Bernier, his graduate student, Tricia Prickett, decided to look at the first 15 seconds of video footage from people being interviewed by hiring managers. Tricia wanted to know if you could determine from the first 15 seconds of video whether or not the interviewing candidate would be offered the job.

We are talking about a knock on the door, a handshake, and a hello.

After studying almost 100 videos, Tricia discovered that after watching 15 seconds of video, people could predict with almost 90% accuracy the outcome of the interview. That's crazy. 15 seconds … game over.

Now I suppose you can look at it two ways, it's either crazy good, or crazy bad. I'll take the glass half full approach and say crazy good. And here's why.

Virtual Impressions

Because our world is currently focused on exposing our lives through visual content on the internet, think about how much time can be spent crafting your "virtual" first impression. You have an opportunity to plan and implement your first impression far more today than ever before. You can tweak your social profiles and various online projects to showcase who you are before you ever knock on the door and squeeze someone's hand. Imagine the feeling of going into an interview where someone has already formed their "first impression" and is now working internally to confirm their own opinion of you (we call this self-fulfilling prophecy … that's another post) based on your professional online presence.

It's time the world wide web starts to work for you.

If you are job hunting, make certain you are taking valuable time to tweak every place on the web where people could form a first impression of you. At Foliotek, we suggest you make use of our tools to help you build your online brand. This helps ensure that you are in control of your first 15 seconds.


GRIT and Intelligence

Why is it that some of the smartest people don’t succeed in finishing college? This is a question that has been a subject of research conducted by Dr. Angela Duckworth. She suggests that when it comes to achievement that one’s grit may in fact be more important than intelligence. In one of her studies, she found that the smarter students actually had less grit than their peers who had lower scores on an intelligence test.

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What are the characteristics that are most important in measuring one’s grit? According to Margaret M. Perlis’ article in Forbes online magazine, they are as follows: courage, conscientiousness, long term goals and endurance, resilience, and excellence. Other terms like tenacity and determination have also been used to describe essential elements of grit. The basic idea isn’t complicated, those who work harder are more successful in completing College and going on to successful careers.

As all parents do, I want my children to be successful. So this “Grit Concept” is very important to me. How can parents teach their children to have grit? As a teacher, I learned that students grasped concepts through various modes of learning. Thus, I suggest we teach our children to have grit by employing several strategies.

STRATEGY ONE

First, leading by example is a great place to start. Demonstrating determination and hard work to achieve one’s goals is the idea. Parents can do this by engaging their children in projects around the house, volunteer work, and professional endeavors.

STRATEGY TWO

Second, involving kids in the process of setting goals and planning action engages them in developing grit. When they work with their parents to set goals and work hard to achieve them, children are more likely to emulate this quality on their own. Another approach is to make hard work, perseverance, and resilience a regular topic of conversation. Some learn by seeing, some learn by hearing, most everyone can learn something by doing. Trying a variety of approaches and having the tenacity to stick to it will help to achieve the desired results.

Of course, encouraging children to take their studies seriously is a big part of instilling the right values. Asking them about their homework and helping them grasp concepts aids students in knowing what is expected. Encouraging them to explore academia to find their passions helps them take ownership of their own learning. With a lot of hard work, goal setting, and determination, I hope my sons will both pick the right field of study. I also expect that they will complete college and go onto productive careers in their chosen fields. They understand these expectations which is an important first step toward success.

To learn more about grit, check out Angela's TED talk below.

For additional information on GRIT: More Information on GRIT


How to Transform Ugly

So you’ve written your ID page introduction, and now you’re questioning whether or not it’s got what it takes to grab an employer’s attention. Perhaps you know your intro doesn’t make the cut, but you don’t know what to do next. If you can’t just sit down and write a super-awesome introduction from the beginning (like most of us!), write out what you can to start. Then read on to see how to take an introduction that is just downright ugly and transform it into something amazing.

Version 01. Let’s start with the ugly.

I am going to be an Architectural Engineer. I like colors and design. I am good at math. I travel a lot.

This ID Introduction has zero hook, but instead starts with a thesis. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the writer doesn’t elaborate other than stating characteristics of liking “colors and design” and being “good at math.” The sentences aren’t cohesive and don’t contribute to the whole. Although the introduction is simple, it is too simple and lacks any interest.

Helpful Hint: If your ID intro is currently ugly, the first step is to add in a little more information and sprinkle with detail.

Version 02. A bit better.

When I was little, I had a burnt pumpkin brick house. I told my mom that’s what it was. I like colors and design and see them everywhere I go. I’m excited to build new things all over the country.

While this introduction is better, it still isn’t very good. It has a short hook by beginning to tell the story, but this story is incomplete. Why is it important to know that the writer had a burnt pumpkin brick house? What is the relevance of this information and why do we need to know she told her mom this information? We can infer that the child told their mother the house color, but is it because her mother always burned pumpkin bread? There is no context to the information. A lot of people like colors and design, so why does this information set the writer apart? So she sees it wherever she goes … and? We are happy that she is excited about building, but why? What is she building? Why does she want to do this? Not only does this introduction leave the reader (or employer!) with a lot of questions, but it gives no thesis. We can only imagine what she wants to do with her life, but in an ID Introduction, we want to be straight forward.

Helpful Hint: To make your ID Intro great, tie it all together. Explain the hook and how it relates to your characteristics and thesis.

Version 03. Just right.

I first noticed that my childhood home was made of brick when I was five years old. At six, I told my mother that our house was Burnt Pumpkin Brick and not Red Brick. Since then, I have noticed details in color, line, and design everywhere I go. My attention to detail, passion for modern architecture, and desire to bring life to towns through design resonates deep. I am a future Architectural Engineer.

This ID Introduction has a hook that tells a story. The story isn’t random or irrelevant because it ties into the details this person was able to recognize at such a young age. The writer goes on to explain an admirable characteristic: her attention to detail. She explains that this attention to detail gives her a passion to create amazing architecture wherever she goes. She closes with a simple but straight forward goal: that she is going to be an architectural engineer. Her ID Intro is 404 characters. Could it be longer? Yes. Does it have to be? No. She gives us all of the components of a good introduction and doesn’t add any unnecessary ‘fluff’ in order to take up the whole page.
Hannah Stone Online Identity http://www.foliotek.me/hannahstone

Congratulations! You now know what it takes to write a good ID Introduction and how to transform your ugly introduction into a solid one. Want some more help?


Land Your Dream Job

Elon Musk Quote

Using Foliotek to Get Your Dream Job

Employers want to see more than just a list of your skills; they want to see evidence of your work. The combination of Foliotek’s Identity Page (ID Page) and Projects is a great way to create an online brand that can be used to market yourself to potential employers. On your ID Page, you can include all of the pertinent information from your resume (objective, work and school history, etc.), but this is only the first step. Take your brand to the next level and include projects to showcase artifacts and evidence that prove you can do everything listed on your resume. When creating your online identity, your introduction is the first thing employers will see. It needs to be a solid reflection of who you are and what makes you great.

Helpful Hint: Check out Foliotek for more information and how to get started.

What makes a solid introduction?

This is your chance to attract an employer by explaining what makes you unique. Think of it as your first impression; it needs to be upbeat, honest, and brief. It should be no more than 500 characters in length, including spaces. Don’t worry, the artifacts you include in your projects will provide all the details. To keep your introduction short, focus on a few genuine characteristics and follow the guidelines below to really wow a potential employer.

Helpful Hint: The above paragraph is 455 characters (or 3 ½ tweets!)

How do I write a solid introduction?

Hook

When you read a book or watch a pilot episode of a new TV series, you want to be captivated from the beginning. The same holds true for an employer searching for a new employee. Start your introduction with an interesting story that describes what makes you who you are today. You could even include a quote, interesting fact, or statistic and reveal how it relates to you. Whatever you do, make sure it is stimulating and will make the employer want to know more about you and what you can do.

Information

Explain your hook further. Describe how the story or quote from your hook is important to your life and provide a few personal attributes that prove you will make a good employee. Think about any skills you have that would translate into the work force. What about you shows your ability to lead or work well with others? How have you interacted with others in your community? How do you stay focused on a task when things go wrong?

Helpful Hint: Check out this article by Travis Bradberry on Forbes.com to see what makes a Truly Exceptional Employee:

Thesis

Finish your introduction with an authentic statement illustrating what you want out of life and why the path you are on will help you succeed. You’ve told your employer who you are and what makes you great. Now wrap it up, and in one sentence tell them what you will do with this greatness.

Musk, Elon. "We Are Looking for Hardcore Software Engineers. No Prior Experience with Cars Required. Please Include Code Sample or Link to Your Work." Twitter. Twitter, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 03 Dec. 2015.


Want a Job? Use Your Experiences

Getting a job isn't easy. Statistics show that half of all college graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed. You certainly don't want to be the person who owes Uncle Sam $100,000 big ones and is stuck selling sneakers at Shoe Carnival. You'll never move out of mom & dad's basement!!

So how do you find meaningful employment --- a career matching your passions and making use of your six figure education? It's not as hard as you think. You need two things. A digital brand (online identity) that acts as your virtual introduction and evidence that demonstrates your GRIT and Professional Skills as they pertain to your future employer.

Online Identity (virtual brand).

First, you need an online introduction. This is your opportunity to make that killer first impression. Sorry, but Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn just don't cut it. I'm not going to spend time detailing how to do this...just go here and create a free account. You'll be done in 10 minutes. Step two is where we'll focus our attention today.

Quote by Dan Schawbel

Showcase GRIT & Professional Skills.

Today employers are more interested in hearing about your past experiences than grilling you with traditional interview questions. Why? Because research has shown that past experiences are a great predictor of future behaviors. Because of this, it behooves the interviewer to hear about your past experiences as they pertain to the skills they want their employees to possess. To do this, they ask questions about what you have done. This way, they learn what you can do. This style of interview questioning is called "Behavioral Based Interviewing." It looks like this:

Instead of asking you: "What would your best friend say is your greatest strength?"

You'd be asked: "Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership?"

You see, the employer already knows what skills they desire in a new hire (in this case, leadership). They want you to prove you possess those skills based on your previous experiences. This means you need to be ready with stories from your previous experiences that demonstrate the GRIT and Professional Skills the hiring manger is looking for. How do you do this? It's pretty simple, but it takes some focused time.

Preparation

Before you do anything, read through some job postings and think about what type of skills the job you want requires and make a list. We’ll call this "List A." If you're feeling lazy, just check out this Burning-Glass report or use the suggestions below.

  • Communication Skills
  • Organizational Skills
  • Writing Skills
  • Intuition
  • Customer Service Skills
  • Base Technology Skills (Microsoft Word, Excel)
  • Problem Solving
  • Resilience
  • Planning
  • Research
  • Being Detail Oriented
  • Ability to Grow

Now that you have List A, hit the pause button on your life (I know, this is the hardest part, but remember $65,000/year is way better than $9/hour). Take some time and think back on the substantial experiences in your life and make another list, "List B." For me, this means closing my eyes and forcing my mind to travel back-in-time and relive various aspects of my life. Try tapping into a few of these helpful categories:

  • Big school projects
  • Extracurricular school activities
  • Volunteer experiences
  • Previous job/internship experiences
  • Social experiences
  • Family interactions

Execution

With those experiences in mind (List B), try to connect some GRIT and Professional Skills (List A) with how you demonstrated those skills in that experience (List B).

(List A) x (List B) = New Job

Repeat that process a few more times (3 - 7 should suffice). Now you're locked, loaded, and ready to nail your next interview.

But wait… stop the presses… you have to get to the interview first! AHHHH!!!

Hopefully you've already taken care of Building you're Online Identity. If you have, then simply tie these stories to your Online Identity and put a link on your resume. This one two punch puts you a step ahead of everyone else. Hiring managers will be impressed by your virtual introduction and the stories demonstrating the GRIT and Professional Skills they need. You'll certainly land the interview and ultimately that great, better paying job.

Now, go by your last pair of shoes with your employee discount and move out of Mom and Dad's basement. Welcome to productive citizenship.