• Career

How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (Free Template)

November 24, 2017

Are you using cover letters to your advantage?

When done well, a fantastic cover letter can “wow” a potential employer even more than an impressive resume.

Resumes are just a list of previous jobs and relevant skills. Cover letters are your chance to really shine — to show off your personality and what makes you special.

Before you’re even called for an interview, your cover letter will serve as your potential employer’s first impression of you. (So it had better be good!).

First, I’ll give you some advice on how to perfect your cover letter. Then, I’ll give you a FREE, easy, template for you to follow.

Keep It Short

Recruiters don’t have a lot of time on their hands to wade through pages and pages of text. Keep your cover letter short and sweet.

Three paragraphs is more than enough. If you go over half a page, you’re probably saying too much. Your cover letter should be read, from top to bottom, in 10-30 seconds.

Think of it as if you were talking to the employer directly. Would you babble on and on about yourself if you were introducing yourself to them in person? Probably not. You’d be succinct and give them a chance to breathe.

Jazz Up Those First Sentences

Let’s start with who you address your cover letter to…

If you don’t know the name of the person you’re writing to, then just leave that part blank. Skip the greeting and get right to the intro.

That might sound weird, but, having no greeting is better than having a bad greeting. Nothing says “I don’t really care” like writing “Dear Sir/Madam” at the top of your cover letter. Or the ever-boring “To Whom It May Concern.”

Next up: Don’t start off your cover letter with “My name is Blah and I’m applying for Blabbity.” Sooooooooo boring. Everyone makes this mistake at least once in their careers when applying for a job — and it makes them look very inexperienced. The last thing you want is for your first sentence to make you look green.

Try jazzing it up a bit. Take a look at this:

Standard: My name is Lauren and I’m applying for the Head Editor position at 133T because I’m great at editing.

Jazzed Up: I heard you’re looking for killer editing skills! Look no further. As the Head Editor of 133T, I would use my 16+ years of experience to dazzle your readers and increase your search engine traffic.

See the difference? One is bland and doesn’t really say much. It has no personality and barely gives any information.

The second one not only shows off a bit of my personality, it also states what I can do for the company. Which brings me to my next point…

Don’t Keep the Focus on Yourself

If you’re repeatedly using the word “I” in your cover letter, you’re probably doing it wrong.

A cover letter shouldn’t be “I’m so great,” “I did this,” “I want to work for you because…”

Your focus should be 1/3 on yourself and 2/3 on what you can do FOR the company you’re applying for. Use the word “you” as much as you can without seeming like a used car salesman.

Statements like “I want to work for your company because it would be a great opportunity” just makes the recruiter think “Okay. It’s a great opportunity for YOU — but what’s in it for ME?”

Instead, focus on how you can help the company if you were the one they choose to hire. Say things like “Increased productivity, enhanced motivation, and double your sales are all things you can expect if you hire me as your new manager.”

This is even more effective if you can back up your statements with proof. If you’ve had previous experience helping companies in similar ways, be sure to mention it. For example: “At my last managerial position, I increased my boss’ profits by 25% in my first two months of work.”

Don’t Rewrite Your Resume

Your potential employer already has a copy of your resume — you don’t need to rewrite it as a cover letter.

Rather than talking about your previous jobs (resume stuff), focus on new things that haven’t been covered before. Or, if you’ve written down a list of skills on your resume, you can elaborate on a few of those that are most relevant to the position.

Since your cover letter is so short, stick to the things that really jump off the page and “wow” readers.

If your cover letter starts to look like a long list of achievements with no focus on the company you’re applying for, you’re doing it wrong. Remember: your cover letter should highlight what you can do FOR the company you’re applying for — it’s not a half-sheet of paper dedicated to bragging about why you’re great.

Do Your Research

Is the company you’re applying for extremely formal? Or are they laid-back?

Your cover letter should reflect the tone of the company you’re applying for. If you’re applying for someplace that’s a bit uptight, you’ll want to skip your anecdote about how you once ate three large pizzas in one sitting.

Or, if the company is more casual, you don’t want to come across as too “stiff.” You’ll want to joke around a bit and show the more fun side of your personality.

Do your research beforehand and write in the tone that best suits the place you’re applying for. (Note: this is another good reason that cover letters should always be hand-tailored for every place you apply to).

Give Them the Option to Read More

This is a tricky one. You’ll have to use your best judgement to decide if this tip is right for you.

In most cases, it’s a good idea to include a link to your website after your signature. That way, potential employers can click on your website link and learn more about you if they choose to.

This is especially important for writers, artists, photographers, and anyone else with an online portfolio or samples page.

If you’re a marketer, linking to your branding page can also be extremely helpful.

Again, you’ll have to use your best judgement. If you’re applying to be the manager for an aircraft refurbishing company and your website is filled with erotic Doctor Who fan fiction… It probably won’t impress your potential employer. In fact, it’s likely to confuse them! It’s just not relevant.

Format and Proofread

Always, always proofread your work.

I was sent a resume the other day that said “Here are a list of my qualifications.” It should have said “Here is a list of my qualifications.” It was a simple grammatical error, but my brain couldn’t stop clinging onto it, even as I read the rest of her letter. (Side note: don’t list your qualifications — that’s what your resume is for!).

If it helps, get a second pair of eyes to look over your cover letter before you hit “send.”

As for formatting, we recommend you send your cover letter as a PDF. Nearly everyone with a computer can open a PDF with no issues. That’s not always the case with Google Docs or .docx files. You don’t want them to not read your cover letter simply because they couldn’t convert it!

You should also be mindful of what you name your file as. We highly recommend you put your name as part of the file name. Example: LaurenTharp_CoverLetter.pdf

This way, your cover letter (and your resume!) won’t get lost in the digital pile. The recruiter can easily find and refer back to your letter with ease.

FREE Template

Alright. Now that you’ve got the basics down, here’s what you really came here for: the free template!

Here’s how your cover letter should look…

Your Name
Your Address
City, State, Zip
Your Phone Number
Your Professional Email

Date

Employer Name
Title
Company
Address
City, State, Zip Code

Personalized Greeting (or no greeting!)

PARAGRAPH 1: Wow them with your opening sentence! Come up with a creative hook that reels them into reading the rest of your letter. Briefly mention the position you’re applying for (in case they have several positions open), but don’t rehash their job ad. They already know what the position is — you don’t need to describe it to them.

PARAGRAPH 2: Next up, get into your skills and qualifications for the position. But keep the focus on THEM and how you can help THEM if they hired you. Really sell them on why you’re perfect for the position.

PARAGRAPH 3: Wrap up your letter with a “thank you.” Let the potential employer know that you’re open to talking if they have any concerns/questions. If you plan on following up on your own (rather than waiting for the recruiter to follow up with you), this is also the paragraph where you can state how you intend to do that.

Sincerely,

Your Signature
Your printed name
Your Website (if relevant)

There you have it! Easy-peasy.

Use these tips and you’re pretty much guaranteed a call. Now all you have to worry about is what you’ll wear to the interview!

Did you like this article? Share it on Facebook and let us know! We’re always excited to hear from our readers.

Lauren Tharp is a freelance writer and the owner of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She's a proud member of the 133T team, working as their Head Writer and Head Editor, and is dedicated to helping YOU with your business and career.
  • Featured
  • Lifestyle

Work/Life Balance: 6 Steps to Survive and Thrive During the Holidays

November 20, 2017

Work/life balance is difficult to achieve normally. It’s even more difficult to achieve during the holiday season.

No matter what your religious or cultural background is, the winter months are filled with holidays. Whether you’re a Christian celebrating the birth of Christ, or a friendly atheist simply getting into the “spirit of giving” — it’s likely you have something planned with friends or family this coming month.

Even this very week, as Americans, we have holidays to celebrate. Whether it’s the Thanksgiving holiday or the “holidays” known as Black Friday or “the big game.” Food, family, football, and copious spending are on nearly everyone’s minds.

With all that going on, how are we supposed to focus on work?

Does having a successful career mean ignoring the holidays completely? Or, does celebrating properly mean forgoing your responsibilities?

Not at all! Work/life balance is primarily about balance. You really can do it all — you just need to adhere to the following steps:

1. Don’t Ignore the Holidays

The holidays are like hungry cats. If you try to ignore them, they’ll just meow louder (and probably claw up your thighs).

The more you try to forcefully ignore the holiday season, the more it will present itself to you. From holiday music on every radio station, to decorations in every store window, to the excitement of your friends and family as they get into the spirit.

Ignoring the holidays will ultimately make you feel frustrated and resentful. Two emotions not conducive to a happy home life (or a productive work life!).

Acknowledge the holidays.

Don’t feel guilty about getting into the spirit of the season. Decorate your home, buy presents, plan a menu, and do whatever you’ve gotta do.

Prioritize your time so that you can “steal” a few moments here and there to engage in holiday activities. Plan ahead and be realistic about the hours you can spare. If the holidays are important to you, you will find the time.

2. Keep Work at Work

Even with the holidays right around the corner, you’ll still need to get your work done. The trick to achieving a work/life balance during these months is keeping your work at work.

Stick to your work schedule, even if you work from home. Once your hours for the day are completed: you’re done.

Refrain from doing work-related tasks while you’re at home. Stay out of your work inboxes. This will be hard for you, I’m sure (it’s definitely difficult for me!); but you’ll have to trust that if your boss really needed you, he or she would call.

Once your work hours are completed, it’s time to be 100 percent present at home.

Just as you commit yourself 100 percent to your work during your work hours, you need to commit yourself fully to your home life. Don’t feel guilty. Your friends, family, and self are immensely important — they deserve your dedication.

3. Plan Ahead

If you know that there are certain days where you’ll need to leave work early — or not show up at all — then you should let your employer know as soon as possible.

This may mean that you’ll have to work overtime on days leading up to the holidays you’ve requested off. This is fine. It’s a good compromise. Just remember Step #2 and keep your work at work. Even if your hours are longer than usual, you can still leave work behind at the end of the day.

On a positive note: the overtime hours will give you more financial strength when it comes to conquering your shopping list.

4. Learn to Say “No”

This is an essential skill for maintaining a proper work/life balance.

While it might be easy to say “no” to your boss or co-workers when they try to heap extra work on you (“No thanks!”); it can be a little harder to say “no” to friends and family.

Trying to be everything to everyone will ultimately exhaust you and potentially ruin the holiday season for you.

Do you really have to bake cookies for church? Or host every holiday event? Or attend your neighbor’s son’s preschool play?

If you want to maintain your work/life balance, it’s important to pick and choose — both at home and at work. Value your time and guard it as the precious commodity it truly is.

You do NOT have to say “yes” to every opportunity that’s presented to you.

5. Don’t Expect Perfection

I’ll let you in on a secret: perfectionists hardly ever achieve work/life balance.

I have severe OCD. Before I was medicated, work/life balance was an impossible dream. Among other things, my mental illness gave me highly perfectionist tendencies. If everything wasn’t “perfect,” I’d throw a fit. (I once crumpled to the floor in a sobbing ball because my mashed potatoes were served on the right side of the plate instead of the left, where I thought they belonged).

Trying to achieve perfection for the first 29 years of my life was frustrating beyond belief. Take it from someone who knows: NOTHING will EVER be perfect.

Settle for “close enough.”

If you manage to get your house halfway decorated, but forget to vacuum… Close enough. At least half your house looks festive, and, hey, a little dust will just help build up your immune system.

If the feast you planned turns into a disaster (my father-in-law caught our oven on fire a few years ago attempting to bake an overly-large turkey!), and you have to order pizza… That’s okay. Who doesn’t love pizza? At least you and your loved ones are together.

If your weird autistic uncle (hi, Uncle Paul!) says something unintentionally rude to your new boyfriend… Let it slide. Everyone has strange family members. If your new beau is worth it, he’ll understand.

At one particularly memorable Christmas party I attended, a guest had an epileptic seizure in the kitchen, smashed his head on the hot stove as he crashed to the floor, and I was the only one sober enough to call 911. Definitely NOT perfect. However, the trauma brought everyone else closer together, made us appreciate that we were all in good health, and we were all happy to hear the next morning that the epileptic man had made a full recovery.

Use those “not perfect” moments as bonding experiences. Or, if they aren’t too serious: laughing points.

6. Keep Trying

Work/life balance means not taking yourself — or the world around you — too seriously. It means knowing that perfection will NEVER be achieved, and being okay with that.

That takes practice.

If you don’t manage to maintain a proper work/life balance this year, well, there’s always next year. Just keep trying.

Practice throughout the rest of the year by saying “no” to things you don’t have to do. Or by letting little “not perfect” things slide.

Prioritizing your time and leaving work at work are things you can do year-round.

If you continue to keep your work/life balance in mind throughout the year, by the time the holidays roll around again, you’ll be a pro!

For now: Enjoy yourself! You deserve it.

Lauren Tharp is a freelance writer and the owner of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She's a proud member of the 133T team, working as their Head Writer and Head Editor, and is dedicated to helping YOU with your business and career.
  • Culture

Video Games and Leadership: A Match Made in Heaven?

November 6, 2017

Video games and leadership might not seem like they go together, but I’m here to prove otherwise. Your sore thumbs are not in vain: you’re actually improving your business skills!

Whether you’re a veteran PC gamer or a survivor of the Console Wars, it’s likely that you’ve played more than your fair share of video games. And that’s a good thing if you want to be a better business leader.

Video games and leadership go hand-in-hand.

The first reason is simple: video games are good for your brain — and better brains make for better leaders.

How Video Games Improve Your Mind

Studies have shown that playing puzzle games for 10 minutes per day can “help train the brain’s hippocampus for things like remembering lost keys and recalling new names.”

This daily “training” can increase your brain’s memory functions and help you to solve puzzles outside of the games you play. But, of course, just like going to the gym, you have to keep playing in order to make the benefits “stick.” (You can’t do one push-up and expect to win the Olympics’ weightlifting competition!).

However, you don’t have to be a fan of Professor Layton or other “brain” games for video games to improve your thinking capacities.

In fact, Doctors C. Shawn Green and Aaron R. Seitz have noted that “action video games have been linked to improving attention skills, brain processing, and cognitive functions including low-level vision through high-level cognitive abilities. Many other types of games do not produce an equivalent impact on perception and cognition. Brain games typically embody few of the qualities of the commercial video games linked with cognitive improvement.”

Another study, published in American Psychologist, noted that these benefits are especially true when players engage in “shooters” and particularly “violent” games. (Tell that to your Mom the next time she complains about you playing Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty!).

In the same study, it was noted that “casual” games, like Angry Birds, were good for elevating mood levels. This is not to be taken lightly as a happy brain is a well-functioning brain. People perform better, in life and in business, when they’re in a good mood.

However, the real nitty-gritty studies revolve around role-playing games (RPGs). This is where the link between video games and leadership becomes much more obvious.

Researchers in the United Kingdom have discovered that strategic RPGs like Starcraft can quite literally make you smarter. By increasing your “brain flexibility” — a trait they described as “a cornerstone of human intelligence” — these games proved to help participants complete cognitive tasks with far greater ease than those who didn’t play.

In fact, the results were immensely apparent in the groups of individuals who had not previously played video games, and were simply playing them for the studies. Their brain functions spiked after having been exposed to these games. It was like a steroid shot to their minds.

These results included a group of individuals with dyslexia who vastly improved their test scores on reading and writing tests after having been exposed to gaming. As well as a group of elderly individuals who showed improved memory functions. (Is there anything video games can’t improve?!).

But what about the mother of them all? The games to end all games: MMORPGs…

MMORPG Video Games and Leadership

When it comes to video games and leadership, one type of game reigns supreme: the MMORPG.

Also known as Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, MMORPGs proved to up participants leadership skills when studied.

In a study performed over eight months by Seriosity — focusing on players of EverQuest, Eve Online, and World of Warcraft — clear leaders emerged. And they weren’t always who you’d expect.

MMORPGs have a “talent” for putting people in leadership positions who might normally be too reserved to step forward. By giving them a “safe” environment to shine, players were able to uncover their natural leadership abilities without any real world consequences if they failed.

In fact, many of the best leaders in MMORPGs had one thing in common: the ability to say “let’s try that again!” after a massive failure. The online gaming world allowed them to fail and try, try again — something many “real world” leaders are reluctant to do (even though this trait is often needed to succeed in business).

The implications of the study? “Getting the leadership environment right may be at least as important to an organization as choosing the right people to lead.”

In other words, by “gamifying” your business environment, you and other leaders on your team may more easily be able to thrive!

But how do you make a real world business more like an MMORPG? This is something that 133T and other great businesses have been exploring. The answers are more simple than you might imagine:

  • Offer incentives. These do not have to be monetary — just something to make your leaders, and employees, feel like they’re “winning.” Offer benchmarks and awards for tasks successfully completed.
  • Be transparent with information. In MMORPGs, everything is laid out for the player to see — from other players’ information to quest knowledge — so, in the real world, information should be easily accessed as well. Keep your leaders and team “in the loop” when it comes to what’s going on with your business.
  • Make work fun. Yes, of course, work still needs to be done… But that doesn’t mean it has to be dreary. A positive attitude goes a long way. Simply by coming into work each day with a smile, you can encourage your team leaders to perform better.

Management by Gaming (MBG) is taking the business world by storm, and it’s not hard to see why: it works.

Encouraging your leaders to play video games in their off hours is also encouraged. Here at 133T, every single staff member is also an avid gamer. I’ve been replaying Pokemon Sun and Fallout 4 in my off hours, for example.

We also like to play games together, when possible, and encourage other business teams to do the same. By finding an MMORPG that the entire team can agree on, you can not only become closer to your team members (it’s a great bonding exercise!), but you can evaluate who may be better suited for leadership roles down the road.

In conclusion, video games are fun, mentally stimulating, and have real world value. Don’t be afraid to play. And be sure to show off your sore thumbs with pride at your next conference meeting!

What video game are YOU playing right now? Share this article on Facebook and let us know — we’d love to hear from you!

Lauren Tharp is a freelance writer and the owner of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She's a proud member of the 133T team, working as their Head Writer and Head Editor, and is dedicated to helping YOU with your business and career.
  • Inside 133T

Want to Write for the 133T Blog?

October 16, 2017

We’re always looking for talented guest writers to contribute to 133T!

We post 2-4 guest posts from outside writers per month – would YOU like to be one of those writers?

133T’s audience is people looking for jobs and business owners trying to be BETTER business owners. So if you have any information for people who are job hunting (ex: 7 Things to NEVER Say During an Interview) or for business owners (tips on leadership skills, motivating workers, maintaining work/life balance, etc.), then we’d be interested to hear your ideas! (Feel free to look through the 133T blog for inspiration!).

We pay $50 per 800-1200 word post. If your draft is accepted, you’ll be paid upon publication.

How to Pitch

Write an e-mail to Lauren Tharp (me), 133T’s Head Editor, at ltharp@133t.com with the words “133T Pitch” as your subject line. (If you don’t include those words, I’ll assume you’re spam and not read your e-mail).

From there, suggest at least one headline designed to make 133T readers want to read your post.

Follow the headline with the opening lines you’d use in the post. No less than 30 words, no more than 60. You DON’T need to write a whole post (or even a whole introduction) before your pitch — we’d like to give you feedback on your idea BEFORE you write a full draft.

After the opening lines, give us no more than six points you’ll make in your post, and provide a one or two sentence summary of each point. (If you plan to make more than six points in your post, only tell me the MOST important six in your pitch.)

Then explain in no more than three sentences why this is a great post for 133T and why you’re the right person to write it.

If we like your pitch, you’ll be asked to send in a full draft. If your draft is accepted, you’ll be put into the 133T publication schedule and given your publication date (which is when you’ll be paid). Easy-peasy!

What You Can Expect from Us

In addition to getting paid $50 for your published post, we offer the following things:

You’ll be allowed to write an author bio about yourself to include with your post. This bio will include a picture of your beautiful/handsome face and any links you desire – this means you can promote your website and social media accounts to all of our readers!

We’ll be promoting your post on all of our social media accounts once it’s published. We want as many eyes on your writing as possible!

If you do a FANTASTIC job, you may also contact me (Lauren Tharp) after your post is published for a testimonial for your website about how great you are.

In other words, not only will you get paid for your work, you’ll also end up with a fabulous portfolio piece and plenty of exposure. Woo!

What We Expect from You

After your draft is accepted by 133T, we now own that piece of writing. It cannot be published anywhere else.

If you’d like to share it on your blog, you may only share the first three paragraphs, and then you must link to your finished post on OUR blog for your readers to view the entire piece.

We’d also love it if you could share the link to your completed article on YOUR social media accounts, if possible.

We also expect you to HAVE FUN and be proud of your work for us! If your post has been accepted, you’re now part of the 133T family and we love you. <3

Ready to Pitch?

Great! Follow the pitching guidelines outlined in the section above and shoot me an e-mail.

I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

Thank you in advance for contributing to 133T.

Lauren Tharp is a freelance writer and the owner of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She's a proud member of the 133T team, working as their Head Writer and Head Editor, and is dedicated to helping YOU with your business and career.
  • Lifestyle

8 Foods Proven to Increase Alertness

Caffeine addicts are going to hate me for this one, but there are MUCH better ways to increase alertness than your daily “fix.”

In fact, after a certain point, caffeine starts to decrease alertness and focus and side-effects start to rule the day. Once you go over the 400mg threshold (the amount in about two energy drinks), your body will start to experience:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Frequent urination or inability to control urination
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

Hmmm. I don’t know about YOU, but I certainly can’t concentrate when I’ve got a migraine — or any of those symptoms, for that matter!

This includes your daily dose of coffee that you’ve been using to increase alertness. After four cups, your body starts to experience “insomnia, nervousness and restlessness, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, increased heart and breathing rate, and other side effects. Consuming large amounts of coffee might also cause headache, anxiety, agitation, ringing in the ears, and irregular heartbeats.” Not to mention the fact that coffee users “may also become ‘dependent’ on coffee to the point that they develop withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop drinking it.” Yikes!!

So what SHOULD you be putting in your body to increase alertness/focus/concentration while working or living your life?

1. Water

Pretty much everything in your body runs on water, so it’s important you consume enough of it. How much water you drink and how well your brain functions are directly linked.

Water “gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory processes.” It has also been scientifically proven to help you “think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity.”

No matter what else you eat to increase alertness, make sure you ingest enough water. Eating well does nothing without proper hydration — water is essential for delivering nutrients to your brain.

2. Blueberries

Blueberries are known as a “super food” for a reason. They’re one of the rare foods that contains anti-oxidants — a little bit of natural wonder that stimulates blood flow and oxygen to your brain — which are proven to increase alertness, concentration, and memory after consumption.

In fact, one small handful of blueberries can give you a mental “boost” for up to five hours after you’ve eaten them. Not too shabby!

3. Avocados

One of my favorite foods ever! Not only do these green wonders taste absolutely delectable, they also enhance blood flow to your brain by way of their omega-3 fatty acids — which is perfect for when you want to increase alertness!

Another nifty thing about avocados? Despite their delicious creamy texture, they’re actually loaded with fiber. This means that they’ll keep you “regular” (if you know what I mean…) AND prevent you from getting hunger pangs by giving your stomach a nice “full” feeling after you eat them.

4. Fatty Fish

Avocados not your jam? No worries. You can also increase alertness in your brain by eating some fatty fish. Like avocados, fatty fish (like salmon, trout, herring, sardines, etc.) are filled with omega-3 fatty acids that increase blood flow to your brain and give your thought processes an instant boost.

Omega-3 fatty acids not only enhance your concentration, but they also help to stabilize your moods. So if you’re looking to be the even-keel employee or boss that everyone loves, it’s time to start stuffing your face with fatty fishies and avocados!

5. Dark Chocolate

We’re talking DARK chocolate here, NOT the overly-processed milky kind. The darker, the better!

Dark chocolate “contains magnesium, which helps you de-stress, and it also stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, which make you feel good and heighten your mood.” And when you feel good, you can concentrate better!

The trick is to ingest just a small bit of this wonder food. Don’t go overboard. Just a bite will do the trick.

6. Nuts

Nuts not only increase alertness in the short-term, they also aid your body in the long-term. In fact, nuts “are good sources of the antioxidant vitamin E, which is associated with less cognitive decline as you age.”

In the short-term, the amino acids and essential oils in a single handful of nuts will exponentially increase your focus. I like to keep a can of nuts in my desk drawer while I work!

7. Leafy Green Vegetables

All those vegetables that you turned your nose up to as a kid? Your mom was actually right about them: they’re GREAT for you!

Leafy green vegetables “are full of antioxidants and carotenoids, which boost your brain power, and help protect your brain.” They’re also “full of B-vitamins, which are proven to help your memory, focus, and overall brain health and power. They also contain folic acid, which improves your mental clarity.”

I don’t know about you, but improved mental clarity sounds pretty darn yummy to me!

8. Breakfast

No matter what you decide to eat, breakfast can help increase alertness and focus throughout the rest of your day. (Another thing your mom was right about: it really IS the most important meal of the day!).

This is especially true if you opt for eggs as a part of your first meal of the day. Egg yolks are loaded with choline, which release a chemical into your body that produces hormones related to happiness. And who doesn’t feel more alert when they’re happy, am I right?

Looking for more reading material to improve your eating habits? Check out our article on how eating well leads to thinking well!

Lauren Tharp is a freelance writer and the owner of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She's a proud member of the 133T team, working as their Head Writer and Head Editor, and is dedicated to helping YOU with your business and career.
  • Recruiter

Six Interview Questions Recruiters SHOULD Ask

October 2, 2017

The answers you receive are only as good as the questions you ask.

I signed up for a work permit in my early teens and hit the workforce as soon as I was able. I’ve been working for over half of my life. This means I’ve gone through the job interview process many, many times. When it comes to interview questions: I’ve heard ’em all.

Most applicants you’ll come across have similar stories to my own. They’ve been in and out of job interviews so many times, they practically have the formula memorized. They rattle off canned answers to the “usual” interview questions and could get through the process in their sleep.

But do you really want to hire an applicant who was only half-awake during your interview? I say we mix things up a bit — wake those applicants up!

To do this, it means bringing a different set of interview questions to the table. The following six questions are all great for activating an applicant’s mind, waking them up, and making them THINK about their replies to you.

Keep your standard questions, sure; but throw a couple of these babies into the mix and you’ll REALLY be cooking with gas:

1. If we gave you everything you’re asking for and you were happy here, what would it take for you to leave to another company?

When it comes to interview questions, this one really throws them for a loop — and will show you exactly where they stand.

I’ll give you a hint: the answer almost always boils down to love or money. Though some of the applicants’ answers may surprise you!

Many will end up saying that they’d leave you if they got a better monetary offer. This shows that they value money more than happiness. Their loyalty can be bought. This can be a good or a bad thing, depending on your views. On one hand, YOU could be the one to pay them more (are you a leader who gives out well-deserved promotions? Tell them so!); but, on the other hand, it could signal that they’re only looking to stay with you as a temporary gig until their next BIG high-paying gig comes along.

The second most common answer has to do with “love.” Some applicants will only leave for a job they truly love and believe in. I actually left another company to join 133T because I love and believe in 133T’s values and ultimate goal. Took a pay cut too! My happiness was worth more to me than money, and it took an extra special company to lure me away.

If their answer is “love”-based, now’s the time to reassert your mission statement and see how excited they get when you discuss your company’s goals. If they seem genuinely excited by what you’re about, then there’s a good chance they won’t leave you right away.

2. What was your favorite work-related success?

Toss this into your interview questions and you’ll get some great insight on what your candidate did in the past, and what they can potentially do for YOU.

For example, at one writing job I had, I managed to raise a company’s profits by 10 percent in one month. I’m pretty darn proud of that. Now, imagine what I could do for YOU, and your company, if I were hired. A 10 percent increase per month would mean you’d be doubling your profits in less than a year. Not too shabby!

Before I was a full-time freelance writer and editor, I worked in retail and food services. Some of my prouder moments involved dishing out great customer service and diffusing difficult situations. If your candidate’s answer is along those lines, it shows that they have good people skills that could be a valuable asset.

Use your candidate’s past to look into your company’s future with them. When it comes to interview questions, this one is a gem. It not only shows you what your candidate is capable of, but what they place the highest value on. Was their favorite success money related? People related? Was it something that improved the company culture, or just their own life?

Whatever their answer to this one is, really evaluate it. The insights you garner will be invaluable.

3. Why have you had so many jobs in such a short time?

Adding this to your list of interview questions may make your candidate uncomfortable, but it’s a good one to ask.

This question will help you tap into what motivates your potential employee, and will give you insight into why they might leave you in the future. It gives you a more in-depth picture of their job history, and what ultimately caused them to jump from employer to employer.

As a freelance writer, I take on several jobs per year. Projects start and end. I don’t usually leave until a project is well and truly over, but sometimes those projects only last a few weeks. However, if you had asked me this question in my youth (when I was working food services and retail), my answer would have been different.

In my past, I would stay at a company for about a year — sometimes longer — and then get bored and want something MORE out of life. None of my jobs offered me anything other than a paycheck. There was no deeper “meaning” to the work I was doing. So I kept seeking out something better.

If your applicant gets bored easily, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re offering a high-paced work environment with a grand ultimate goal to work towards, there’s a good chance they’ll be very happy with you. Boredom doesn’t always equal disloyalty.

However, if they chronically leave jobs because their boss “sucked,” that’s not a good sign. Any applicant who blames others — repeatedly — for their own actions isn’t a good choice.

4. How have you handled work disagreements in the past?

Adding this to your interview questions will show you how well your potential employee will mesh with your company’s culture. Your company is made up of people, and people sometimes get into disagreements. It’s part of human nature.

By asking your applicant how they handled disagreements in the past — either with a boss or a colleague — you can evaluate how well they’ll fit in with the other people on your staff.

As the leader, it’s your job to hire people who will mesh well with your team and play nice.

5. How do you like to be managed?

This is one of those interview questions that can rule someone out or in relatively quickly in the hiring process, depending on their answer.

If the job applicant’s answer to this question matches YOUR managing style, then place them in the “consider” pile. If their answer is wildly different from how you’d treat your employees, you can dismiss them right away.

6. Do you have any questions for me?

Even more important than the interview questions you ask your applicant are the questions they have for YOU. And they should, always, have questions for you.

The type of questions applicants ask vary wildly — and will give you enormous insight into where their personal concerns lie.

As a recruiter, have you used these interview questions before? What were your results? Share the article on Facebook and let us know — we’d love to hear from you!

Lauren Tharp is a freelance writer and the owner of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She's a proud member of the 133T team, working as their Head Writer and Head Editor, and is dedicated to helping YOU with your business and career.