Posts

Out-of-Office Templates for the Holidays That You Can Copy and Paste Now

You’ve been busy planning out your tasks, tying up loose ends, and working ahead to ensure you can actually disconnect, recharge, and relax over your holiday break.

When you’ve finally powered your way through that seemingly endless to-do list and are ready to check out of work mode once and for all, there’s one final thing you need to take care of: setting your out-of-office response. 

But, what exactly should you say in that automated message of yours?

Whether you’re looking for something strait-laced and formal or over-the-top festive, here are six different holiday out of office messages you can use that are perfectly suited to you and your company.

For the Person Who Works in a Traditional Office

Hello,

Thank you for your email, I’m currently out of the office until [date].

I’ll reply to your message promptly when I return. But, if you require immediate assistance, please send an email to [Contact Name] at [contact email] in my absence.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season,

[Your Name]

For the Person Who Wants to Keep it Friendly, But Professional

Hello,

Thank you for your email. I’m currently out of the office until [date] to celebrate the holiday with my loved ones—without my phone in front of my face.

I’ll be sure to reply to your message when I wade through my inbox upon my return. If your message is time-sensitive, please send an email to [Contact Name] at [contact email].

Sending wishes for a happy holiday season,

[Your Name]

For the Person Who Keeps Things Festive

Season’s greetings!

It’s my favorite time of year, which means I’m currently out of the office chugging mugs of cocoa, stuffing my face with cookies, and attempting to fulfill my life-long goal of memorizing every single line of [your favorite holiday movie.]

I’ll be back in front of my computer on [date] and will respond to your message at that time. If you need immediate assistance, please send an email to [Contact Name] at [contact email] so that the other elves in this workshop can help you out.

Happy ho-ho-holidays!

[Your Name]

For the Person Who Will Be Checking Emails

Hello,

I’m out of the office until [date].

However, I will be taking periodic breaks from binge-watching everything I’ve missed to check my email [once per day/every evening/occasionally] while I’m away.

If this matter isn’t time-sensitive, rest assured that I’ll respond when I’m back in the office. But, if this is an urgent request, please resend any messages that require my immediate attention with a subject line of “URGENT: [Original Subject]”.

All the best,

[Your Name]

Whether you prefer to stick with something simple or have a little fun with your holiday out-of-office message, it’s important that you always make sure to at least include the basics: your return date and an alternative contact people can reach out to for urgent matters. Then, all that’s left to do is turn it on before you abandon your desk.


Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you if you have any questions about potential out-of-office emails or big career changes. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IYP-Logo.png

Expert Ellen Pao Gives Her Best Tips On: How to Spot a Company That Cares About Diversity

A lot of companies talk about diversity and inclusion, but how do you vet if they walk the talk?

Ellen Pao has experienced this firsthand: When she was considering a role at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, her future boss’s pitch to her included the fact that it “was one of the few VC firms with women, and he wanted to bring even more onboard; diversity was important to him,” she wrote in her memoir, Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change. She took the job. But several years later, she sued the firm for gender discrimination.

These days, Pao is the CEO of Project Include, a nonprofit organization influencing tech startups to include more diversity which leads to improved teams, more innovation, and increased financial returns. These are her tips on finding a company where diversity and inclusion are more than just talk—and where you can thrive.

1. Check Out Who’s in Charge and How the Company Presents Itself

It’s easy to say you’re working on diversity and inclusion, but if those words aren’t backed up with evidence, they don’t mean much. So, look at who’s in charge, Pao says. Are there all kinds of people in leadership and on the board? Or do they all look the same? If the executives and investors are a homogenous group, it “indicates a lack of attention to important areas of inclusion.”

Then look at the company as a whole and its employees across all levels. “Go to the company website and look for diversity on the team,” Pao says. “Are there people on the team or in the photos on the website from different racial backgrounds?… Do they talk about diversity and inclusion anywhere on the website?”

2. Look at Their Track Record

One of the best indicators of what a company and culture are like in the present is what they were like in the past. So do your research on the company’s history. “You can do searches on Google for the company name and ‘harassment,’ the company name and ‘racism,’ the company name and ‘lawsuit,’” Pao says, “and see what kind of controversies they may have been involved in and see if you feel comfortable with how they’ve handled it.”

3. Ask the Right Questions

You can come right out and ask about diversity and inclusion in your interview, Pao says. “Like, ‘How do you think about diversity and inclusion?’ or ‘How is diversity and inclusion part of your company culture?’”

You will want to dig deeper than that once you know they want to hire you. “After you get the offer, ask them to tell you about a hard situation involving diversity and inclusion and how they addressed it,” Pao says. “No matter how well-intentioned and how inclusive their values, there will be some hard conversations and issues that come up. And the biggest thing is not hiding issues but addressing and resolving them in a transparent way.”

In other words, you shouldn’t expect that a company has never encountered any problems. Instead, you’re trying to gauge how your prospective leaders and colleagues react to those problems and talk about them. “That question can show whether the company is committed to having uncomfortable conversations and resolving issues or whether they kick the can down the road and try not to deal with it right away,” Pao says.

No list of questions and clues can capture everything about how a company handles diversity and inclusion. It can be hard to tell whether a company is truly committed in exactly the ways you find meaningful before you start working there. That said, we always encourage you to think of creative questions, such as these, to dig deeper and vet the company before you make a commitment to them. With this attitude and this information, you can learn a lot more than you may have thought.

Need more tips on vetting prospective employers? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IYP-Logo.png

6 Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox—According to People Who Get 100+ Emails a Day

Between sifting through spam, crafting the right responses, and keeping tabs on the messages that require follow-up, staying on top of your inbox can feel like a job in itself. That’s why the Ignite Your Potential coaches curated a list of tips from professionals who have figured out the secret to efficient, organized inboxes—despite getting hundreds of emails a day.

1. Only Keep Emails Requiring Immediate Action in Your Inbox

No emails in your inbox might be too lofty an aim, but by being ruthless about which messages get to take up real estate in your inbox, you can get pretty darn close.

“Most days, my email inbox has fewer than 25 messages in it. This is intentional. I want to be able to open my inbox and immediately see what is most urgent and requiring a response,” says Leigh Ann Newman, a senior program manager at an international government consulting firm. “This habit pushes me to take action on items in an extremely timely manner.”

2. Create a “Waiting Folder” for Action-Pending Emails

So, where do emails go if not your inbox? Create a “waiting folder” for emails that require action from someone else before you can respond. “This is a huge time-saver,” says Darcy Miller, a workplace expert and founder of Pin and Pivot, who for many years was barraged with more than 150 emails a day. “That way those emails aren’t junking up your inbox, and it’s a great place to look each day or week to remind you of what projects are still pending.”

She learned this trick the hard way when, during the first year of her first job, she couldn’t find an email attachment she needed. “I spent half of a day looking for that email, among the thousands of emails that were in my inbox at the time,” she says. “I vowed from that moment on, I would take control of my inbox!”

3. Make Subfolders or Labels Your New BFF

Across the board, inbox mavens recommend creating an easy-to-decode subfolder or label system. Nate Masterson, CEO of Maple Holistics, estimates he gets upwards of 250 emails some days, so organization is paramount. “Email labels are your friend,” he advises. “Use them to group together important email chains, so when you need to look at something for reference, you can do so easily.”

4. Don’t Let Junk Mail Languish in Your Inbox

Feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole with promotional emails? Be swift with the unsubscribe button. Davis Siksnans, CEO and Founder of Printful, uses a three-strike rule for promotional emails and newsletters. The third time he deletes a newsletter or promo email from a specific sender, he unsubscribes from the list.

5. Set Aside Time Blocks for Checking Email

You probably wouldn’t leave your schedule open for meetings of unspecified times and lengths around the clock, so why give email free rein to intrude on your day?

“I don’t leave my email open all day long; I set specific times during the day to go through each email and thoughtfully respond, archive, or save for later. This way I don’t multitask, and I can get through all my emails more quickly because I am actually focused on the task at hand,” says David Mitroff, a business consultant. “I recommend that people start out with three different half-hour blocks a day to read through and respond to their emails and keep their inbox closed the rest of the day and adjust as necessary from there.”

6. Squeeze in Mindless Email Tasks During Downtime

Ensure email accounts are effectively synced to your phone and use idle moments to do quick inbox clean-up. “Lots of the messages I receive don’t require direct action,” says Ben Taylor, founder of HomeworkingClub.com. “Spam can be deleted, other things can be filed, and you can deal with plenty of these just while you’re in a two-minute supermarket queue.”

Wanting to know other organization tips to keep your inbox in optimal shape? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IYP-Logo.png

Tips for Work Travel

Below are the Ignite Your Potential coaches pointers for making “the bag drag” a bit easier. Know that you can never guarantee a “restful” journey, but these tips will help you feel more polished when you get there.

Dress

To state the obvious, get a few no-brainers, no-wrinkle, all-purpose work outfits down cold, so you don’t have to think about what to pack (especially for relatively short trips). Invest in a large silk scarf or cashmere wrap. It’ll serve as a travel blanket first and foremost, but make sure it’s also polished enough to function as a compact layer for meetings. (It’s impossible to escape the tyranny of male-biased air conditioning, no matter your destination.)

Pack

Bring a carry-on only, ever. End of discussion. (And even if you have a bag that fits the carry-on dimensions, be sure to check weight limits on international flights. Another tip is to bring an extra tote bag in there, in case there’s space to cram your nonessentials in the overhead bin at the last minute (and give yourself some extra leg-room). Also, make sure that the bag at your feet stands up on some sort of base; you don’t want a shapeless laptop bag dumping your belongings all over the aisle.

Self-Care

Pack a sheet mask or two for your final destination to help restore moisture at night. Hey, it’s a spa trip! Bonus: Put some rose water in a travel-sized spray bottle and use it to freshen up your face and/or underarms after a flight or long day.

To (help) avoid getting sick, take Emergen-C before and immediately after a flight. And—this is where it gets a little socially awkward—always clean the tray table, arms, and entertainment screen of your seat with a travel-friendly pack of disinfecting wipes.

Need more tips on how to successfully travel for work? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IYP-Logo.png

4 Ways to Find The Answer to “What Should I Do With My Life?”

What should I do with my life?

Unlike so many other questions you have about your career, this one’s not quite as easy to Google.

The good news is, you’re not alone—in fact, we guarantee that everyone has pondered their career path, finding their passion, or what they’re meant to be doing at some point. And luckily, many of them are willing to share their advice. If you’re at a loss for what steps to take next, read on for the best pieces of advice from a Quora thread on this topic.

1. Talk to People

“Meet or call at least 50 people. They can be your friends, relatives, friends of friends/references. Call them up, schedule a meeting, go see them and interact with them on what they are doing. Don’t expect anything, don’t ask them to find you a job, don’t ask them to give you a job. Just talk and meet and have a normal conversation.” – Gaurav Munjal

You’d be surprised at how much you can learn just listening to other people talk. If you take the time to really listen, you’ll get insight into people’s motivations, hopes, dreams, and ambitions. And when you piece all that together, you can learn how others got to where they are today—and if that’s a path you want to be on, too.

2. Get Started

“My suggestion is to do something. Even if it isn’t quite the right thing, it is nevertheless a movement that can give you an opportunity to experience. You can spend a lot of time taking tests and getting evaluations for what you might be suited for; ideas always sound good on paper. But words don’t match experience, so acting on something is your best choice.” – Kathleen Grace

Regardless of what you generally want to do, it never hurts to start building something. Start creating a portfolio, launch a career newsletter, or learn how content creating works. There are so many things you can do for your career—even if you don’t know what you want to do.

3. Gather Inspiration From Others

“Walk into your local bookshop and go straight to the autobiography section. Buy three books from across different industries, societies, and cultures. Focus on biographies that document great and successful people’s early lives, before they were great. Read them before bed. Wake up in the morning and write down 10 things you could do differently that day. Do some of them. Do this the next day. And then do it again.” – David Ball

What better way to get started than by learning how others reached their goals? Keep in mind as you’re reading that these people weren’t born knowing what they wanted to do either.

7. Enjoy Not Knowing

“Enjoy the meanderings, the soul-searching, the loves lost, the time wasted. All of it will add up to a complex and very unique ‘you.’ The more you appreciate right now, the more the future will become a fantastic reality. Don’t pressure yourself to be in the future.” -James Altucher

You know how math problems always seem impossible when you first look at them, but then, after taking a break, the answer feels so obvious? Figuring out what you want to do with your life is kind of like that.

By focusing on other less-pressing matters, the obvious answer will come to you when you’re least expecting it.

Just remember that you don’t have to have it all figured out. And that even when you do, you might change the course a few times. So don’t worry about having all the answers—just thinking about it is a good start.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you answer the age-old question, “What should I do with my life?”. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IYP-Logo.png


Taking Constructive Criticism Like a Champ

Some people can graciously accept constructive criticism while others may struggle and feel overly sensitive.

Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, we might over-react with defensiveness or anger and attack the person giving feedback. But the truth is, we need to get over it. We live and work in collaboration with others and intellectually we know there’s value in constructive criticism—how else would we identify areas of improvement? It helps us maintain relationships and be more successful in everything we do.

So how do you learn to take constructive criticism? The next time you receive useful feedback from your manager or a peer, use this three-step process to handle the encounter with tact and grace.

1. Don’t Express Your First Reaction

When someone is giving you feedback before you do anything—stop. Try not to react at all! You’ll have at least three seconds to stop your reaction. While three seconds seems insignificant, it’s ample time for your brain to process the situation. At that moment, you can halt a dismissive facial expression and remind yourself to stay calm.

2. Remember the Benefit of Receiving Feedback

Now, you have a few seconds to quickly remind yourself of the benefits of receiving constructive criticism. To improve your skills, leadership capabilities, and to help you meet the expectations that your stakeholders, manager, colleagues, and direct reports have of you. If you find this step challenging in the moment, get in the habit of reminding yourself of this before you step into a meeting or 1:1. Practice poker face with the person who is delivering the feedback. It can be challenging to receive a different opinion from a co-worker, peer, or someone that you don’t fully respect, but remember: Useful information can come from flawed sources.

3. Say Thank You

Next, look the person in the eye and thank them for sharing feedback with you. Don’t gloss over this—be intentional and say, “I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about this with me.”

Expressing appreciation does not have to mean you’re agreeing with the assessment, but it does show that you’re acknowledging the effort your colleague took to evaluate you and share his or her thoughts.

Constructive criticism is often the only way we learn about our weaknesses—without it we can’t improve. When we’re defensive, instead of accepting and gracious, we run the risk of missing out on this important insight. Remember, feedback is not easy to give and it’s certainly not always easy to receive, but being able to be receptive will help you now and in the long run.

Need more tips on how to take criticism like a champ? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IYP-Logo.png

Why You Need a Professional Headshot

Many professionals assume a headshot is something you upload to your LinkedIn profile and then never touch again. That assumption is wrong! 

Your headshot will come in handy throughout your career. It will grace the “About Us” page on your company’s website, be sent to new coworkers so people can easily recognize you, and be asked for by event organizers to advertise your speaking engagements.

Maybe you’re thinking: Speaking engagements? Please, I am never going to need a professional headshot in my career. 

If so, you need a reframe. Our Ignite Your Potential career coaches can point out countless blurry or inappropriate LinkedIn profile pictures (or no photo at all) that affect whether or not people reach out and collaborate. 

A headshot is useful for many professional situations:

  • Your Email Account
  • Your Email Signature
  • Your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram 
  • Your Website or Portfolio
  • Your Posts or Bylines
  • Your Company Bio

Convinced? Great, now it’s time to take one. And the good news is, it’s really easy.

Step 1: Pick out a shirt that you feel confident in (Tip: Avoid busy patterns or anything you would not wear to Grandma’s Sunday dinner).

Step 2: Find a plain, but ideally interesting backdrop (Tip: Avoid posing in front of windows or busy backgrounds unless you’re a lighting and photography editing pro.)

Step 3: If you’re a woman, you might consider makeup. Even if you don’t usually wear it. Without it you may look a little faded out in a photo. Time to smile and take the photo.

Step 4: Save it and use it for everything.

Whether a friend takes the shot or you hire a professional photographer—it is up to you. But whatever you do, make sure you have one handy—and update it every couple of years. It can costs you very little to make and will save you from having to scrounge through old Facebook albums and crop an adult beverage out of your hand.

Need more tips when it comes to professional headshots? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IYP-Logo.png

15 Better Get-to-Know-You Questions for Your Co-Workers

Maybe you’re brand new on your team, or maybe, you’ve been around for a while, but you really don’t know all that much about the people you work with. Either way, it’s time to pull out some get-to-know-you questions. First, because it’s more fun to work with people you feel bonded to, but second, it’s an excellent strategy to be connected to the people who see your work closely. You will all end up being part of a career network that will last your entire career. In other words, connecting with the people around you is both a better way to enjoy your work and also a more sophisticated career strategy. Throw a couple of these prompts out and get ready to bond with your colleagues on a whole new level.

Strictly Business

1.What do you do at [Company] and when and where can we find synergy?

2.What’s a professional skill you’re currently working on?

3. What’s your go-to productivity trick?

4. Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?

5. What was your first job?

A Little More Personal

6. If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something what would it be?

7. If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?

8. How do you turn things around when you’re having a bad day?

9. What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

10. What’s something you’ve done, but will never do again?

Just for Fun

11. Are you a dog person or a cat person (or neither)?

12. Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?

13. If you could choose a name for yourself, what would it be?

14. If you could only eat one item for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

15. If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

It can be tough to think of questions that go beyond, “What did you do this weekend?” or “It’s a little cold in here today, isn’t it?” Bookmark this list to foster a reputation as the co-worker who can always get an awesome conversation started.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you create a better team environment. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IYP-Logo.png

How to Make Your Commute So Much Better

At some point during your daily commute, you have likely experienced all five stages of grief. And while traffic is inevitable, it’s important to remember your morning commute doesn’t have to be a never-ending sequence of white-knuckling your steering wheel or squeezing yourself onto a full subway car. 

Here are a few ways to make your commute not only more bearable, but even enjoyable, whether you’re driving, biking, carpooling, or taking the train.

Drive Your Way to a Better You

Podcasts and audiobooks make the morning and evening commute worth living. Audible has over 425,000 books for you to choose from—you could be driving in your car every second for the rest of your life and you would never run out of books to enjoy.

Have you wanted to learn another language, but never seem to have the time? There are thousands of books that will help you get a leg up on all kinds of languages, whether you’re just starting out, or you want a refresher course for the Spanish you took in college. 

Practice Self-Care

One of the best things about taking the bus to work is that you can let yourself go—just promise that you won’t take your shoes off.

Sure, if you have the elbow room, you could open your laptop and get some work done by catching up on email, but it’s also an excellent time to de-clutter your mind. Step up your self-care regimen by unplugging your brain and starting a meditation practice.

Meet New People

What if there was a way to meet new people while driving to work AND get access to the glory that is the carpool lane? Sure, Waze can make your commute a little smoother by crowdsourcing your traffic trouble spots in real-time, but you can also use their carpool app to find coworkers or other passengers to share a ride with.

Not only are you eliminating congestion from the highway, but you’re also connecting with your fellow travelers. Plus, by taking other cars off the road, you’re producing less carbon and pollution, all while saving money on gas and tolls.

The time you spend commuting to work doesn’t have to be time wasted. Crack open an audiobook, find a little Zen, or make a new friend. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you find ways to improve and hack your life. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IYP-Logo.png

What to Do When You Hate Your Boss but Love Your Job

What do you do when you hate your boss but love your job? It’s not an easy situation to navigate—but what’s the alternative? Quitting and taking a gamble that everything else will line up?

Yes, having a boss you hate is a big reason that people start job searching, but it’s not the only way to handle the problem. If getting a new gig isn’t something you want to consider, then follow our Ignite Your Potential coaches’ tips on how to deal with the imperfect scenario: great job, nightmare boss.

1. Take a Good Look

Figure out exactly what it is about your boss that’s problematic and determine if there’s anything you can change or address. If there’s nothing (and that’s possible), maybe you could adjust the way you react to her behavior so you don’t escalate situations. For example, if she’s constantly emailing you at odd hours, expecting immediate responses, it’s up to you to gently set guidelines for your response rate—rather than responding snappily.

2. Remind Yourself

Why You Love Your JobMake a list of all of the things about your position that you dig. Write down everything from unlimited coffee to being able to work closely with the talented website developer. Nothing’s too small for this list! And if you are really, sincerely passionate about your position, this should be the easy part.Once you have your list, you can go on doing your work and rejoice in the fact that there is so much that you appreciate and value. Does it make sense to leave all that behind because of a bad boss?

3. Get Some Support

If you think your boss may be a narcissist or even if it’s not quite that bad but you could use some advice fordealing with someone very difficult, Nina Brown has the book for you, “Working With the Self-Absorbed: How to Handle Narcissistic Personalities on the Job.”

4. Wait it Out

If you’ve examined the situation thoroughly and concluded that there’s nothing wrong with anything you’re doing and your boss is, indeed, a really awful person, trust that you’re not the only one who sees it. No matter how much praise is bestowed on them now, it’s probable that, at some point in the future, someone else will take stock of what’s happening, and eventually they will be talked to.

But honestly, if the love-my-job-hate-my-boss situation doesn’t improve over time, you might have to move on. You deserve to work with people who bring out the best in you—so don’t let a great job keep you from working with an awesome boss. Somewhere out there is a position that will provide you with awesome responsibilities and a manager you’ll love.

Do you need more advice on how to deal with a nightmare boss? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you figure it out. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.