The holidays are a fantastic time to get out of the house and do some networking. As the year comes to an end, you'll likely be able to attend a wide range of professional and personal social events in which you can reconnect with friends, family, classmates and colleagues. Don't miss out on these opportunities. Not only are such get togethers a great time to socialize and have some fun, but also a chance to network, especially if you're on the job hunt. Of course,  if you're shy or introverted, the idea of networking may fill you with an immediate sense of anxiety. However, you can't let a little fear prevent you from ceasing opportunities. This practice doesn't have to be nerve-wracking, here are five tips for networking if you're an introvert:

1. Dress to impress 
It's easy to feel confident when you dress the part. Make sure that when you attend a professional event, you take the time to clean up and look your best. If you're wearing clothes that don't fit well or that are worn out from lots of use, it may affect your confidence more than you realize. If you're planning on doing a lot of networking this holiday season, consider going out and investing in some new clothes so that you can enter the room feeling sharp. 

2. Be mindful of eating and drinking 
In general, networking events are a great place to get a free drink and some tasty snacks, but going overboard will likely end up working against you. It's no big deal if you need a cocktail to get loosened up, but if you're downing them all night it'll make it hard to follow the conversation or act appropriately. After all, most of us have had a night where we get embarrassingly drunk and regret it the next day. Try not to do this in a professional setting, as it will likely be detrimental to your job search. In regards to food, there's no problem taking what's offered, but don't stand next to buffet or lumber after servers to hawk hours d'oeuvres. Avoid eating too much when you're in the middle of a conversation, as you won't be able to participate while you're chewing.  

3. Practice talking about yourself 
You don't need to have a speech memorized, but you should be comfortable talking about yourself during networking events. Before you attend, come up with some talking points and practice your elevator pitch a few times so that you won't be put on the spot when you have to do it in person. If you have a friend who's going to the event with you, work on talking about yourself beforehand with him or her. 

4. Know when to take breaks 
Don't feel obligated to stay for the entire duration of a networking event or other social gathering. If meeting people wears you out, there's no reason to try and force yourself to remain social for the entire time. Take breaks to go outside and get some fresh air or leave when you start feeling socially fatigued. 

5. Never dismiss anyone 
Don't make the mistake of thinking anyone isn't worth talking to. It's common, perhaps particularly for young professionals, to beeline for the person in the room that may be able to help them out. Take your time and work the room, and don't brush people off that aren't directly related to your job hunt. After all, you never know how people are connected. 

No one is perfect, and whether we like it or not, we're all likely to a make a major mistake professionally at some point or other. However, you may also be making small day-to-day mistakes that affect your career without even realizing it. Major errors may cause temporary anxiety, but the little mistakes are somehow more insidious due to their chronic nature. On the bright side, quotidian issues may also be easier to remedy. Here are five such ways you may be hurting your career:

1. Multitasking
The working world has become increasingly fast-paced, and if you're prone to multitasking, it may actually be damaging your productivity in the long run. Numerous studies have suggested that multitasking decreases social awareness and the quality of one's work, so instead consider tackling one task at a time. That way, you'll be able to focus on the quality of a product rather than the quantity]. If you're the type of person who tries to send out emails while taking a conference call, dedicate yourself to accomplishing one project at a time throughout the day.

2. Having no clear career goals
While no one expects you to know exactly what you're going to do throughout the course of your career, having no specific goals or aspirations may be hurting you in the long-term. Without some type of plan, you're more likely to get sidetracked at a job that you don't find rewarding. Moreover, you may not be pushing yourself to reach certain benchmarks on a timeline, which may hold you back from the ultimate place you imagined yourself ending up.

3. Ignoring social media
If you're not on LinkedIn and Twitter yet, then you're missing out on a lot of networking opportunities. Furthermore, it's easy to activate your social media accounts and then just forget about them. However, your LinkedIn account isn't going to be particularly useful if your not active in your community and don't update it regularly.

4. Losing touch with those in your network
Although it's somewhat natural for people to fall out of contact every once and awhile, you never know when you'll need to rely on your past network to help you make a transition in your career. Whether you're looking for volunteer opportunities, a new job or trying to help out a friend, you may need to tap into your network for help. If you haven't spoken with those connections in a long time, you may find they're less engaged in your ventures.

5. Not taking risks
Sometimes it can be nerve-wracking to approach your boss and ask for a promotion or pitch a creative idea, but you'll never reap the rewards if you're unwilling to take a risk or two. Even if you're nervous about receiving less than favorable feedback, putting yourself out there is the only way to get noticed. What's more, you may be able to affect positive change in your company and your career if you're willing to step out of your comfort zone and make a difference.

As social media continues to become a more integral facet of the working world, job seekers can do well by knowing and utilizing best practices when using these platforms. Public forums such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn tend to be opinionated battlegrounds, and no matter how much advice is out there, professionals continue to make glaring mistakes. While your negative tweet may seem like nothing more than heated, momentary lack of discretion, it could be all the difference for hiring managers or recruiters considering calling you for an interview. Before you go out and start posting, consider these five tips for managing your social media while you're on the job hunt:

1. Keep it professional 
Sometimes it may seem difficult to figure out where the personal-professional line is on social media. After all, your Facebook profile and Twitter account are a place for you to interact with friends, but the fact is you're a knucklehead if you think iffy material won't affect your online presence. Avoid posting any vulgar or offensive comments, stay away from suggestive photos and don't rely on privacy settings to hide anything unsavory. Plain and simple, you absolutely should showcase your personality, but keep it professional. 

2. Make sure all of your information is up to date 
Recruiters, hiring managers and other professionals will expect your social media information to be current and accurate. If your latest promotion or publication isn't listed anywhere, then odds are these key players don't know it exists. What's more, outdated content may make it appear as if you don't have as much job experience as you do in actuality. 

3. Always do a self-edit 
Don't post first and ask questions later. Nothing looks sloppier than a person having to post additional edits to clarify previously published material. Before you hit send, read through what you've written two or three times to ensure that it is polished and free of spelling or grammatical errors. This practice will highlight your ability to pay attention to details. 

4. Know when to step away 
There's nothing wrong with going out and enjoying a night on the town, but it's a big problem if you wake up to a bunch of nasty tweets and Facebook comments the next morning. In general, avoid drinking and posting to social media, as the alcohol may cloud your better judgment. Also, know when to take a step back from heated arguments or other negative situations. Posting an inflammatory rant about a restaurant after an unsatisfactory meal may be therapeutic at the time, but it may turn off professionals on your social media channels. 

5. Be consistent 
While every once and a while you may need to take a break from the world – social media included – going off the grid for weeks at a time may negatively affect your personal branding. Networking requires consistent effort, and connecting with people on social media requires regular usage. 

When it comes to finding a new job, everyone has different opinions on how to network and make new connections. In many ways, networking is an individual art, but there are common misconceptions many professionals have about the practice. For job seekers, networking can be particularly stressful because there's an unspoken pressure to try and find a new gig. This stress can make networking seem forced or disingenuous, and perhaps causes some people a degree of anxiety. In general, networking – both online and in person – has been so emphasized for job seekers that the process can quickly become inorganic. When myths get perpetuated it only exacerbates the challenge many professionals face. Here are five myths to be aware of when you're networking:

Myth #1: You don't need to network if you're employed
People tend to reconnect with their network when they're on the job hunt, because there's an immediate need. However, you shouldn't only be networking when you're actively looking for a job. Whenever your at a professional event, conference, social gathering or other outing, you can meet people that strengthen your network more generally. After all, you never know when an unexpected opportunity may arise, or when you'll face an unexpected setback. Make networking a consistent priority, rather than a desperate need.

Myth #2: You can't learn to network
Some professionals may simply be convinced they're bad at networking. Sure, some people may seem naturally better at socializing and connecting with others, but if you're not comfortable with networking, it doesn't mean you can't learn. Like anything else, networking takes a fair amount of practice. As you advance in your career, ideally you'll become a networking pro. If you're just entering the workforce, start by mastering your elevator pitch and practice networking with people with which you are familiar.

Myth #3: It's all about how many people you know
Many young professionals make the mistake of focusing on quantity of contacts over quality. This sometimes is particularly apparent in regard to online social networking over platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. While it's great to know a lot of people in your industry and beyond, it won't amount to much if all of those relationships are superficial. Make sure you take the time to really connect with important people in your network and develop genuine, long-lasting relationships.

Myth #4: You only need to hand out business cards
If you just bought a fresh stack of crisp business cards, it may seem like a good idea to throw them out left and right. However, remember this is a two way street – that is, you should be receiving as many business cards as you hand out. What's more, it's important make sure you connect with people after the initial meeting. Once you've received his or her business card, you'll be able to use the contact information to send along an email or request to connect on LinkedIn.

Myth #5: You only need to network in your industry
While making contacts in your industry is extremely important, that doesn't mean you should put up a shield and neglect those in other professions. At the end of the day, the world's a small place and you never know how people are connected. Moreover, you never know when you may be looking for a new opportunity in a different field. In social settings, take the time to talk with those outside of your inner circle, even if you don't work with them directly.

When the end of the year is nearing, it's easy to decide to put your job search on hold, especially if you've been hunting for months on end. Sure the holidays are a good time to take a break and recharge your batteries, but they are also a fantastic time to look for a job. While this idea may seem counterintuitive, consider that many recruiters and hiring managers will likely not be traveling during this time and also may need to fill vacancies before the end of the year. Of course, it's also important to take some time to enjoy family festivities and relax, but save your break for the last few days of the year when most people are already out of the office. In the meantime, end the year strong by revamping your job search. Here are five reasons why:

1. Less competition 
Many job seekers put their search on pause during the last few weeks of the year, which means that you'll ideally be facing off against less competition. Moreover, this also means that recruiters and hiring managers will potentially be able to spend more time parsing your resume and cover letter. The fact is that online applications have in some ways made the job market increasingly competitive. Submission management systems make it possible for those hiring to sift through dozens if not hundreds of resumes and seek out the most qualified candidates. What's more, since anyone can access a company's website and search through job openings, there may be more applicants who become aware of the position and apply. 

2. Use holiday events to network 
A lot of social outings come along with the holiday season, making perfect opportunities to catch up with colleagues and network. While you don't want to promote yourself obnoxiously, don't be afraid to use these occasions to meet new people and talk about your industry. In many cases, your job hunt may even come up naturally in conversation.

3. Employers need to fill vacancies 
Most companies want to start the new year with a full head of steam. When employees come back from restful holidays, a company may have a lot it hopes to accomplish in the new year. To do so, hiring managers may need to fill vacancies before the the fourth quarter comes to a close. That way when the first quarter of the following year comes around, employers already have someone in place to take on a vacancy. In some cases, hiring managers may need to bring on someone before the year ends because the position has been open for months or to stay in accordance with the year's budget. 

4. It's easy to reconnect 
The holidays are a good time to reconnect with acquaintances from college, old colleagues and other various professionals. Sending a holiday card or email to get back in touch with these individuals may prove helpful in strengthening your network. Again, remember not to be overly solicitous.

5. There's time to catch up on social media 
When you're sitting around at home trying to avoid the cold, take the time to update and clean up your social media accounts. Similar to the way you would spring clean your home or apartment, consider going through your various profiles and removing any questionable content that may have accumulated throughout the year. Spend some time updating your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms that employers may screen when considering you for a position. Also, take a look at your overall online presence, and try and promote your positive content across the Internet. 

As you look to start job hunting and enter the workforce for the first time, there are a number of things to consider when applying for positions. Does the company seem like a good place to work? Is the pay sufficient? Does there seem to be room for growth? Are the benefits good? It's this last question that has changed most over the past ten years or so. While a number of progressive companies have been offering fantastic benefits for decades, technology has made it possible to alter the way we view the workplace. In fact, Silicon Valley is very much the home of jobs with wonder perks, and other companies across the nation have started to take notice. Here are five job benefits that are becoming increasingly popular:

1. Gym facilities
Many of us strive to have healthier lifestyles, but after a long day of work, a bus or train ride home, a quick snack and a change of clothes, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go to the gym. However, with fitness facilities directly in the office, you're already at the gym the moment you call it a day. The fact is, many businesses are starting to realize their employees can't work as well if they're in bad health. This benefit is definitely worth taking note of as you job hunt.

2. Napping areas
When you're exhausted it can seem impossible to get anything done. Many companies are realizing it's much better to give employees a little time to recharge their batteries rather than struggle to keep their eyes open in front of a computer screen. Whether it's couches, comfy chairs or a modern napping pod, this is a pretty awesome benefit.

3. Flexible scheduling
The age of the Internet has made it pretty simple for a wide range of professionals to work from home. However, what's even better is that many companies are doing away with the old 9 to 5 model and opting for performance-based measurements of a person's work. Some progressive tech companies have even done away with monitoring office hours or vacation time. Instead of worrying about how long their employees sit behind a desk, they focus on what the employee has accomplished. For those trying to balance work and school or other obligations, this benefit might make your life a lot more manageable.

4. Pet programs
No one wants to leave their dog at home all day locked in a kennel. Luckily, a lot of companies are realizing that it can make the office a lot more welcoming to have pets around. Now, instead of leaving your pet with no one around, you can bring them into work and watch them throughout the day. What's more, since other people will likely also bring in their pets, your pet will be able to make new friends.

5. Free food
A tray of mushy fruit and some stale doughnuts likely won't provide the sustenance needed to get you through a long afternoon of meetings and emails. Companies realize that it's impossible to get work done when you're starving. The best businesses have started providing meals and packing pantries full of snacks so that you don't lose focus when your stomach starts growling. In fact, some of the larger tech companies provide on campus cafeterias for their employees as part of their benefits package. 

Of course, on your job hunt, you can't expect every company to provide such robust benefits. However, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't make note of what perks come with each position.

In some ways, a phone interview can almost be more nerve-wracking than an in-person one. Most people are somewhat self-conscious about how they sound on the phone and without being able to read your interviewer's body language and facial expressions it can be hard to get a read on how the interview is going. There's also seemingly more anticipation leading up to the interview. Your phone is in front of you, maybe it's a minute or two past the scheduled time and it's easy to wonder about all the things that could potentially go wrong. What if the phone lines go down? What if the interviewer is held up in a meeting? However, a phone interview doesn't have to be a cause of anxiety. Here are five tips to help you nail your next one:

1. Find a quiet setting 
Seems obvious, right? Of course you don't want background noise from traffic, chatter or music during a phone interview. To avoid this, make sure you are taking the call in a quiet environment with reliable phone service. Consider every detail of where you will take the call. For example, you may frequent a small, quiet coffeehouse down the street from your apartment, but what happens if the barista turns on the espresso machine or steams some milk? Anticipate any possible interruption.

Furthermore, it's important to know when to take an impromptu interview and when to reschedule. If a hiring manager calls out of the blue and asks if you have time to chat, don't say yes if you're in the middle of something. Politely explain the situation and reschedule so that you have time to prepare and find a better setting for taking the call. 

2. Know the position thoroughly 
For most phone interviews, you'll have an adequate amount of time to research the company and review the job description. However, again it's important to be ready for an impromptu phone conversation. When you're job hunting, odds are you'll have several irons in the fire at any given point, so it's imperative not to mix them up. Make sure to keep track of every position to which you apply and that you're ready to have a basic conversation regarding any of them. 

3. Have your application materials in front of you 
If the phone interview has been scheduled in advance, be sure to have a copy of the job description, your resume, your cover letter and any other application materials on hand during your conversation. This way when the interviewer asks about an aspect of your resume or cover letter you can see exactly what he or she is referencing. Also, write down several questions you have about the position in advance, as most interviewers will leave time for you to voice your inquiries at the end of the interview. 

4. Avoid rambling 
Since you can't see the person on the other end of the line during a phone interview, it's natural to want to fill any gaps in conversation, which can lead to rambling. Be cognizant of how much time you are taking to answer each question, especially if a finite amount of time has been allotted for the interview. In many cases, recruiters and hiring managers have to stick to a pretty rigid schedule, and if you stick to one talking point for too long it may limit your time to address other questions and concerns. 

5. Exude confidence  
Confidence has a way of revealing itself over the phone. Even though the interviewer can't see you, any anxiety or nervousness will likely be inflected in your voice. Prepare for the interview thoroughly and then you'll be able to answer the phone confidently and professionally. 

Everyone has days where they walk into the office and just want to walk out. It's natural. Occasionally, work can seem overwhelming and tedious, and in those moments we tend to get distressed, irritable or uninterested. However, if these emotions are becoming a chronic part of your time at work, it may be time to consider looking for a new gig. At the end of the day, if your job isn't rewarding and you're unhappy, it's time to get out of there. Here are five reasons to consider parting with your current employer and taking your job hunt up a level:

1. You're stressed and unhealthy 
If your job is causing you an unhealthy amount of stress, it may be time to call it quits. Are the long hours at your desk leaving you fatigued and causing you to put on unwanted pounds? Are you losing sleep because you're thinking too much about work before bed? Maybe it's time to find a place of employment that puts more stock in your well-being. 

2. There's no room for advancement 
It shouldn't be too hard to identify if there's room for advancement in at your place of employment. If you've seen peers and superiors rise the ranks and you know you can do it too, then maybe it's worth sticking around. But if it's abundantly clear there's nothing more than lateral movement – or maybe no room to move at all – then you should start looking for a position with more opportunities for growth. After all, you can't climb the corporate ladder if it doesn't exist. 

3. You're not developing career skills 
The fact is some less-than-desirable employers are going to treat you like a robot. They will see you as a trained machine designed to accomplish a specific task, and show little interest in your skills outside of that. However, good businesses take advantage of their staff's distinct professional skills and  foster an environment in which their employees can flourish. If your job feels redundant and uninspiring, it may be a sign that you're not being challenged enough. In this case, start looking for positions that may more fully utilize your creative talents. 

4. You don't have respect for the company 
Sometimes, you may not realize that a company is unprofessional or unethical until you're deeply embedded in the day-to-day activities that occur there. If you've been working at a company and have come to realize that you don't respect its values, it's time to start job hunting right away. It's nearly inevitable that eventually your dissatisfaction with certain aspects of the business will come to light, and in the heat of the moment you could burn a bridge. Rather than allow pressure to build up, begin looking for positions with companies that seem to align more with your beliefs. 

5. You keep vowing to quit 
If you're just getting through work week to week and vowing that one of these days you're going to get out of there, then make good on your promise. If you're already considering quitting, it's probably only a matter of time before you go through with it. Again, don't wait for your frustration to boil over. If you erupt and quit your job without a plan, then the following period of unemployment will be equally if not more stressful, as well as financially draining. Instead, double down on your job hunting efforts, and imagine how nice it will be to professionally put in your two weeks once you have been offered a new position.

It's only natural that sometimes you're going to feel ready for the next step in your career. In fact, you should be considering where your career is headed all the time. Whether you're simply looking for a change of scenery or a big promotion, it's important to be able to negotiate the terms and value of your work. For example, if you interview for a contract or consultancy position, you'll need to be prepared to lay out your terms during an interview. If you've been working your butt off for an internal promotion, you'll need tangible evidence of why you deserve it over your colleagues. All in all, there's an art to negotiating what you're worth, and though it can take years of time and practice, here are five tips to get you started:

1. Do your research 
At the end of the day, there's no excuse for not having some idea of what others are making in positions comparable to your own. This information is listed on a wide range of locations across the Web, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com and Salary.com, among others. Learn how your salary compares to your peers across the industry, and also have an idea of the average salary for those in the position for which you are gunning. 

2. Know what you're asking for 
If you're sitting down with your boss to discuss your performance and hoping to get rewarded for your hard work, be prepared to explain exactly what you are asking for. Do you want a raise or are you looking for benefits? Do you feel you've earned extra vacation days? Is the change in title most important? Be able to discuss in detail why you believe you have earned more responsibility or specific perks. 

3. Show off your worth 
It's dangerous to enter a negotiation feeling undervalued without concrete evidence to support your claim. In the case of an interview, having tangible examples of your past work may make the difference when negotiating pay. If you're vying for a promotion, having firm proof of how you have gone above and beyond during your time with the company may be pivotal. Remember that you'll need to demonstrate consistency. Showcasing your worth means going that extra step on a daily basis. 

4. Keep the conversation going 
If a negotiation gets put on hold, make sure you actively work to keep it going without being too pushy. Establish what was accomplished during a discussion and reiterate it clearly to those involved before tabling the negotiations for later. Also, make sure to take notes on what was discussed so that you may refer back to it. If you bring up the subject with your boss several times and are brushed aside, it may be a sign that you should start looking elsewhere to continue your career development. Stagnant jobs with no room for advancement can quickly become unrewarding, and you should consider moving on to a new company if it seems you're stuck in one place. 

5. Leave room for compromise 
You can't walk in and expect that all of your demands are going to be met unquestioned. Remember that a negotiation requires wiggle room on both ends. Don't bow out right away and accept a low offer, but also be prepared to get pushback on your terms. Rather than say no to a specific offer, ask for more information about your boss's thought process and what they see for your future with the company. 

If you're looking to find your first job and break into your career, the entire job hunting process might seem new and complicated. It can be challenging to know exactly where to look for jobs and how to make contact with key hiring personnel. In many cases, simply finding open positions that you're passionate about may be a challenge. However, this is partially because many of the most desirable job openings never make it to major job boards. Rather than spend time digging through dozens of outdated posts, use niche job boards and other strategies to locate the position of your dreams. This can be a confusing concept for many novice job seekers, because sending out resumes on the Internet feels like action. While filling out applications for hours may seem like progress, it is often a fruitless venture. In fact, when you apply to unadvertised positions, there is often a better possibility of getting an interview. Here are five tips for seeking out unadvertised position openings:

1. Use your network 
A majority of jobs are found through networking. At the end of the day, you likely have friends and acquaintances with common interests, some of which may work in the same industry you're hoping to enter. It's important to identify people in your network that can inform you of unadvertised job openings and may be able to introduce you to recruiters and hiring managers in your industry. Attend networking events and meet a wide range of people to help ensure you remain abreast of new job openings.

2. Create a list of desirable companies 
The companies you dream of working for might not post listings on large job boards. In many cases, companies that receive lots of applicants and job inquiries may only post openings on industry-specific job boards or on their own websites. This makes it easy for them to identify who is taking the time to seek out their company specifically. Create a list of 10 or 20 businesses at which you would love to work. This list will give you a resource to refer back to at anytime, and then you can go through and browse the job listings on each company's website individually. 

3. Be active on social media 
It's easy to set up social media accounts and update them occasionally. However, it can be a bit more challenging to regularly post and exchange information via these platforms. Using forums such as LinkedIn and Twitter to actively engage with other users, share news and showcase thought leadership can attract recruiters and potential employers. In particular, recruiters are generally active on these websites to scout out talent and find candidates to fill positions. If you use these sites passively, you'll potentially get looked over by these key hiring professionals. 

4. Get out of the house 
It might seem logical to sit down at your desk and dedicate yourself to several hours of filling out applications. Yet, isolating yourself means you're not interacting with other professionals and potentially missing out on networking opportunities. While at times it may be important to sit down and fill out paperwork, don't rest your entire job search on submitting resumes online. 

5. Volunteer and find other projects 
Seeking out volunteer opportunities or professional side projects can be beneficial to your job search. Not only do these ventures allow you do more networking, but they also  give you a chance to demonstrate your professional skills and work ethic. 

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