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Mona Zhang

Mona is the editor of SocialTimes and social media coordinator at Mediabistro. She graduated from New York University with a degree in journalism and East Asian Studies. Before moving to NYC, she lived in Beijing, London, Madrid and Chicago.

Turn Your Boss Into Your Freelance Client With These Tips

Have you always dreamed of ditching the 9-to-5 in favor of being your own boss? Want to take the freelance plunge but the fear the lack of stability? If you needed any further convincing, a McKinsey Global Institute survey found that 58 percent of employers are planning on hiring more independent contractors in the next five years. But don’t go running for the door just yet – the best way to make a smooth transition is to build up your contacts and client list. And what better place to start than your current gig? In the latest Mediabistro feature, workplace experts give tips on how to turn your current boss into a freelance client:

Demonstrate how invaluable your services have been.
“The key is to present a business case to senior management and get their approval,” said Sherri Thomas, president of Career Coaching 360 and author of The Bounce Back. “I recently had a client who… found a business problem that the company needed to solve and she focused all her efforts on becoming an expert in that area to help solve it,” Thomas explained. “Eventually, she became the only person inside the company doing the type of work she was doing. She weighed her options, decided how she could add value to the organization by becoming a contractor, presented her business case to senior leaders and they were sold.” Having already earned the confidence of upper management, you may be better positioned than a replacement colleague assigned to take over your duties because higher ups are saving time and money on training.

For more, read How To Turn Your Boss Into Your Freelance Client.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

6 Tips for Landing Repeat Writing Assignments

As Sara Horowitz, founder of the Freelancers Union, once said, “One of the challenges for all freelancers, though, is it can be feast or famine.” Sometimes you could be raking in the assignments; at others, editors could be strangely silent when you want to hear from them the most.

In the latest Mediabistro feature, magazine veterans give tips on how to foster your relationships with editors to keep the assignments, and the paychecks, rolling in.

Read more in 6 Tips for Landing Repeat Writing Assignments.

ag_logo_medium.gifThe full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

How to Read Between the Lines of a Job Posting

Job seekers should always have their detective hats on: You never know what valuable insights you may glean from a job posting. Scrutinizing the language typically used on job boards can also offer useful information that will help you land and ace an interview. In the latest Mediabistro feature, job experts help you decipher and take advantage of the hidden signs. Check out an excerpt:

What Does “Other Duties as Assigned” Mean?

“Ending job posts with the line ‘other duties as assigned’ often means that the hiring manager doesn’t know exactly what he wants,” said Vance Crowe, CEO of Articulate Ventures, a St. Louis-based communications firm. “But these should be signals to job seekers that management will value your willingness to do the less desirable work.”

So, how do you sell yourself if the hiring manager is flexible about the duties? Get all the advice in How to Read Between the Lines of a Job Posting. [Mediabistro AvantGuild subscription required]

O‘s Adam Glassman on the Worst Thing You Can Do in a Job Interview

If only he had enough hours in a day. That’s the most challenging part of Adam Glassman‘s gig as creative director of O Magazine, a post where he’s constantly navigating the worlds of graphic design and fashion.

And, of course, working for Oprah means that you’ll always have more interested candidates than open positions to fill. In the latest installment of Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do? series, Glassman discusses the one thing that applicants do to sully their chances.

“First of all, I think everyone should do their homework. You need to know who you’re interviewing with — not just the human being, but also the publication,” he said. “And I can tell you numerous times people have come in and they’ve never picked up an issue of O Magazine. And I have to tell you something: that doesn’t fly. There are so few jobs out there right now for young people, and there are a lot of people looking for a job. The moment you say that to me, the interview is over, basically, in my mind.”

For more, read So What Do You Do, Adam Glassman, Creative Director at O Magazine?

How to Give Employees Feedback Without Damaging Morale

What are some good ways managers can practice the art of constructive criticism? In the latest Mediabistro feature, eBay’s former COO and other career experts weigh in with their tips. Here’s an excerpt:

Be prepared

Probably the easiest and most popular response to a manager’s complaint is “I didn’t know this was an issue.” Get ahead of that response by communicating your expectations early and by having regular, honest meetings with staffers.  Maynard Webb, eBay’s long-time COO and author of Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship, says regular check-ins make critiques less surprising and easier to accept. “I’ve often implemented informal weekly and formal quarterly check-ins in an effort to force a dialogue and prevent a big disconnect when employees find out they weren’t doing as well as their perception led them to believe,” Webb said.

For more, read How to Give Employees Feedback Without Killing Morale. [Mediabistro AvantGuild subscription required]

8 Warning Signs of a Bad Job Candidate

Prospective hires can be really savvy at hiding their weaknesses. But just because someone is good at getting a job, doesn’t mean he’ll be good at doing the job. Being able to weed out the weak applicants sooner can help save time, energy and resources down the line. In the latest Mediabistro feature, workplace experts give tips on how you can spot red flags quickly. Here’s one warning sign:

No. 3: Being Short on Details

Jon Tucker, senior strategist at Compete Marketing Group, an online marketing agency, cautions managers not to treat resumes as gospel. “Just because someone says they’re good at something on their resume doesn’t mean it’s true,” he said. “By conducting action-based interviews — where you have candidates go through real-life scenarios regarding tasks they performed — you can quickly weed out the best from the rest.”

“Hiring managers need to focus on the actual results someone achieved in a role and drill down on how they achieved them,” said Duffy. “If the person can’t answer with specifics, that’s a huge red flag.”

For more, read 8 Warning Signs of a Bad Job Candidate. [Mediabistro AvantGuild subscription required]

Why Bosses and Employees Should Never Be Friends

Whether you’re a seasoned manager or newly promoted, the boss/buddy line can be hard to detect. Of course you want to be liked by your employees, and striking the right interpersonal chord is important for everyone’s fulfillment. But being too friendly can erode your authority.

In the latest Mediabistro feature, workplace experts help clear up some murky waters when it comes to drawing the line between the personal and professional.  Here’s an excerpt:

1. Remember Who’s The Boss
“Attempting to be friends with your employees makes providing feedback and performance appraisals difficult and puts you at risk for claims of favoritism,” said Devora Zack, CEO of Only Connect Consulting, Inc. and author of Managing for People Who Hate Managing. “Your team needs a leader, not a buddy,” she said. “In the end, they’ll like you more when you focus less on being liked and more on offering guidance and support.”

For more, read How to Stay on the Right Side of the Boss/Buddy Line. [subscription required]

How To Reward Employees (Without Spending More)

Managers may think that all an employee wants is a promotion or a raise. But did you know that non-monetary rewards can be more effective motivators? In the latest Mediabistro feature, managers and workplace experts tell how you can reward your staff without expanding your budget. “Most studies show that employees don’t actually perform better for more pay, once they have enough to live fairly comfortably,” said career strategist and former HR consultant Mark R. Gerlach. “So rewarding them in more meaningful ways can lead to higher satisfaction.” So what are some of these more meaningful ways? Here’s an idea: Read more

7 Things Job Seekers Should Include in Social Media Profiles

Social media has revolutionized the way recruiters search for talent, which means job seekers need to make sure their profiles are tuned to perfection. After all, you never know when the right person will stumble across your LinkedIn page at the right time. In the latest Mediabistro feature, career experts and seasoned freelancers tell how to get the most out of social media profiles during the job search. One thing you can include is:

Charity work and professional affiliations

Even if it doesn’t relate to the media biz, fulfilling work you do outside of a paying job can be a great conversation starter. Plus, you never know if the person scoping out your profile knows someone involved in that organization. So, if you spend Sundays tutoring kids at the local community center or helping your child’s PTA organization, include it on your profile.

Likewise, listing professional groups you belong to is a good idea because it builds credibility. (It’s the perfect chance to list those organizations that you pay to belong to just so you can list them on your resume!)

Read more in What Job Seekers Should (and Shouldn’t) Include on Their Social Media Profiles. [subscription required]

5 Questions to Ask a Job Candidate’s References

“What do you want me to say about you?”

According to hiring consultant and trainer Nelson Scott, this is typically the first question people ask when they agree to be a reference. How then are managers supposed to get any useful information from them? In the latest Mediabistro feature, workplace experts give advice on how to interview a prospect’s cheerleaders. Below, an excerpt:

“If you were to give her one piece of career advice, what would it be?”

This hypothetical question was suggested by David Gaspin, talent acquisition manager for TheLadders.com, who advises focusing as much on imperfections as star qualities. Another example: “Under what conditions have you seen her struggle or get stressed out?”

Junge likes the idea of putting such questions in a mentoring context, rather than just asking for a candidate’s biggest flaws. “Everyone has weaknesses, but most references couch their real concerns,” he said. “Asking a reference where they would focus their coaching efforts gets to a similar place, but is far more likely to produce practical, actionable feedback.”

For more, read What to Ask a Job Candidate’s References. [subscription required]

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