How to Avoid Burnout at Work: 7 Strategies from HubSpot’s Manager of Culture

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Doesn’t it seem like we don’t go a day without hearing about employee burnout — mostly what a problem it is?

In a survey conducted last year by Morar Consulting, 95% of human resources professionals blamed the loss of good employees on job burnout. Headlines call it a “crisis.” Type the words “employee burnout” into the Google search bar, and one of the autocomplete phrases likely ends with, “is becoming a huge problem.” And yet, despite all the research pointing to how bad it is — for reasons ranging from physical health to how much employers lose on turnover because of it — it continues to be a huge problem.

But what are you supposed to do about it?

Many of us recognize these patterns in friends and family, but rarely ask that question of ourselves or, sometimes, our employees. So many people are afraid to take time for themselves until it’s too late and we reach — you guessed it — burnout status. Download our free guide here for more interviewing and screening tips to build  your team.

That’s why I decided to enlist the help of an expert: HubSpot’s Manager of Culture and Experience, Tamara Lilian. I asked her about the many ways her team goes above and beyond to prevent employee burnout here — and, perhaps even more important, how employees and employers everywhere can put them into practice in their own environments.

So, what did we learn? Read on to find out — or listen to our interview with Lilian by pressing “play” below.

How to Avoid Burnout at Work

For Employers and Managers

1) Learn how to recognize signs of burnout.

This tip applies more to individual managers than it does to employers as a whole. When workloads are at a peak for everyone, and there’s plenty of stress to go around, it can be difficult to remember to observe what — and how — others around us are doing. And when it comes to signs of burnout, it’s often difficult for people to recognize them even within themselves.

That’s why it’s so important for managers to be able to recognize them — and take the necessary actions to address and resolve them. And while that can be tough for new managers, Lilian says, with some knowledge and information, it’s certainly not impossible.

“We’re stepping up our manager training, and we’re working on trainings to support them with their teams,” she explains. That includes things like knowing how to manage workloads in a way that mitigates burnout before it even happens, as well as supporting employees during their time off.

Actionably, what does that mean? To start, if you have people on your team who are particularly overeager to tackle things, recognize that it’s a great attitude to have, but check in regularly to make sure that person isn’t biting off more than she can chew. That way, you’re working to manage her workload in a way that prevents burnout.

And while employees should also be encouraged to take time off when they need it, make sure they know that they should truly be offline during their times out of the office. For that reason, it’s fair to request as much advanced notice as necessary, so you can work together to make sure there’s a support system in place at the office that can allow that person to fully disconnect.

2) Set the tone with a company (or team) culture code.

Here at HubSpot, we have a Culture Code, a document created to represent our people, culture, and values. It was written by CTO and Co-founder Dharmesh Shah with the mentality that, to build the best company, he would build it much like an engineer builds a product with code.

But the keys here are the three aforementioned things that the Culture Code was built to support: people, culture, and values. And no matter how big or small your team or company, you can still build a “code” guide the way your team operates. In fact, there are a few things from HubSpot’s own that can be applied to a number of environments, says Lilian. These are things like:

Transparency

“We share everything internally, from executive leadership meeting decks, to finances, to board meetings,” Lilian explains. “That creates trust, which in turn makes people feel valued.”

One easy way to add more transparency to your team or company culture is to always add context to major changes or decisions, especially when they impact the things your employees work on. If there’s a sudden pivot, explain why, and acknowledge that it’s sudden.

Trust

“Speaking of trust,” says Lilian, “in the Culture Code, we have a three-word policy: use good judgment. There’s no employee handbook you receive on Day One, because we put an enormous amount of trust in our employees.”

Showing that you trust your employees can manifest itself in a number of ways, but a big one is to stop micromanaging. Autonomy is also a big part of our culture here at HubSpot — which means that while managers are encouraged to maintain strong communication and be available for help whenever it’s needed, they trust us to get our work done on time, ask for help when we need it, and keep them updated on projects.

In other words, employees are given a large degree of control over their own work, which has been shown to correlate with both higher productivity and overall wellness. It also allows employees the freedom to independently discover the ways in which their work contributes to an organization’s overall success, which can lead to a greater willingness to ask questions — instead of being afraid of looking like they don’t know something. Being able to obtain that information without being judged for it can encourage creativity, too, as transparent, comprehensive answers can encourage new ideas.

People > Perks

“Sure, the free beer, being able to bring your dog to work, and having a gym on-site are cool,” says Lilian. “But that’s not what keeps people here. Keeping people motivated, challenged, and welcomed with an inclusive work environment is what keeps people here.”

That said, as you begin to build your team, remember that perks don’t go unappreciated. Free coffee is great for most of us, let alone free beer. But also think about the things for which the novelty isn’t quite as likely to wear off — things like the engaging work that Lilian referred to. If your team isn’t producing quality work, don’t assume that it’s due to laziness. The issue could just be a lack of interest. Have a conversation with employees about that to find out what’s making them lose interest, and together, figure out how to make it more engaging.

3) Lead by example.

Riddle me this: If you never see your boss take a vacation, how good are you going to feel about taking one? Probably not great — you wouldn’t be mirroring the example set by your manager to never take time off.

“You have to lead by example,” says Lilian. “For example, our CEO, Brian Halligan, just took his one-month sabbatical. If he can take that time off, then others definitely can.”

In the end, leading by the example of taking time off when you need it ends up benefitting everyone. Not only will it permit you the time you need to disconnect and recharge — which boosts productivity — but also, you’re showing your team that it’s an important thing to do.

They say that actions speak louder than words, but this tip partially goes back to the idea of knowing when to recognize burnout. Don’t just take time off — encourage it, too. If you’re planning to take some time off and realize that it’s been a while since your employees have, bring that up in your next conversation. Even if that person responds that she’s too busy to take time off, discuss the importance of breaks and that you’re ready to work with her to make sure all bases are covered while she’s out.

For Employees

4) Use the resources made available to you.

And while we’re on the topic of the old “I don’t have time” excuse, when it comes to taking care of yourself, “you need to make the time,” says Lilian.

She points to the the Healthy@HubSpot program, which includes things like on-site fitness classes, a kitchen full of healthy snacks — including fresh fruit and vegetables — and standing desks. And while not every workplace will have the budget for these types of resources, it’s important to take advantage of those that are available.

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For example, maybe your workplace has a nice outdoor area. Weather permitting, don’t let it go to waste — eat lunch there, or sit there for five minutes when you’re feeling particularly stressed (more on that later).

Sometimes, though, taking advantage of what’s made available to you comes down to your colleagues. “It sound so simple, but just grabbing coffee with someone you work with can have an impact,” says Lilian, “or turning a meeting into a ‘walking meeting’ outside.”

She also encourages making time to do these things with people who you don’t necessarily work with regularly. “Getting to know folks from other parts of the business can benefit the quality of your work,” she explains, by gaining more neutral and fresh insights or ideas.

5) Get away from your desk.

I’ll never forget a quote I once read from Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport in the article “25 Ways to Practice Self-Care”:

I know what you’re thinking. The time to take care of yourself is when you have time to take care of yourself. Bright-and-early Saturday morning yoga. Sunday afternoon hike. But that’s not where my head’s at. I’m talking 3:18 p.m. on a Tuesday. When you’re sitting at your desk, ready to throttle your boss. Or quietly seething that your colleague got credit for something that your colleague totally didn’t do. That’s when you need to get up and walk away. And go do something. Anything. On such days, I head out for a coffee. Not because I need a coffee, but because I need to get out. I wander down to this little joint in a giant office complex on the Hudson River. And, then, instead of walking back to the office, I park it on a bench. And I just sit there. Breathing actual nonrecycled office-building air. Watching the ferries pull up to the dock. Because sometimes doing a better job means not doing your job at all.”

In other words, when you’re starting to feel like you might lose it — whether it’s the result of a frustrating project or a co-worker’s annoying whistling — step away. Now.

Lilian emphasizes the importance of getting away from your desk — even if it means doing your work somewhere else. “Results matter more than hours, or where we produce them. You can actually see this in the HubSpot offices, as we create ‘nomad desks’ where folks can work from in addition to their main desk,” she explains. “But we have plenty of collaborative workspaces to grab a seat at any time, if you need a change of environment or feel more creative or inspired in a different area.”

6) Take the time you need — with good judgment.

This practice falls along the lines of taking advantages of the resources made available to you. If you have paid time off — use it!

According to Project: Time Off’s 2016 State of American Vacation, the use of paid vacation has been dwindling among U.S.employees since 2000. In fact, last year, 55% of them didn’t even use all of their vacation days, with an average of .2 days taken off per employee.

I don’t know about you, but those numbers make me sad. If you’ve read the text leading up to this point, then you already know that taking time off can aid productivity. But if the refresh-and-renew benefit isn’t your thing, think of it this way: “By giving up this time off, Americans are effectively volunteering hundreds of millions of days of free work for their employers,” writes the Project: Time Off report, “which results in $61.4 billion in forfeited benefits.”

Okay, so maybe you’re worried about leaving your team in a lurch by taking time off. You’re in luck — there’s a fairly simple solution for that. “This goes back to using good judgment,” Lilian explains. “If you’re looking to take a week’s vacation with your family, make sure your team is set up for success while you are gone.”

Not sure how to start? Here are two key points:

  • Let your team know when you’ll be out of the office as far in advance as possible. My colleague, Sophia Bernazzani, uses the rule of one week notice for every day that you’ll be out of the office — so if you’ll be off for ten business days, let your colleagues and manager know about it ten weeks before you leave.
  • Be prepared to hustle before you leave in order to get ahead on the time you’ll be out. Not only will you be minimizing the amount of extra work your colleagues have to share in your absence, but also, you’ll (hopefully) be returning to that much less to catch up on when you return.
  • Make sure which regularly-occurring tasks you’ll be out for. For example, let’s say you and a colleague take turns doing something each month, like compiling a monthly performance report. If you’re going to be away during the time when it’s normally your turn, work with a colleague to rearrange the schedule so that she doesn’t have to unexpectedly take it on.

7) Don’t check in during your time off — and don’t feel bad about it.

Part of the point of working so hard before you leave for your vacation is to make sure you can completely step away during your time off. And yes — a lot of people “do a significant amount of work while on vacation,” Robert Blendon, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professor told NPR. “So they’re taking their stress along with them wherever they go.”

The point of a vacation is to leave your stress behind, or at least to try your best to detach from it, so you can feel rested when you get back to work. Keeping that source of stress present during your time off is like going to the dentist with one cavity and leaving with four. It defeats the purpose of why you went there.

So please — don’t come back to work with four cavities. Disconnect when you’re away, and get the rest you need.

They Say It Takes a Village

Remember, preventing job burnout requires efforts from both managers and employees. The latter can’t be afraid to ask for the things they need to be well and do the best work they can — but their supervisors also have to create an environment where it’s not discouraged. Start making some of these incremental changes, and you’ll be well on your way to your own healthy workplace.

How does your team prevent job burnout? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: How to Avoid Burnout at Work: 7 Strategies from HubSpot’s Manager of Culture
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

6 Phrases to Demonstrate Active Listening — at Work, or Elsewhere

A few weeks ago, I had an alarming revelation: I’m a crappy listener.

That came to light when someone important to me pointed out that I don’t seem to have any interest in what he does for work. “Your eyes just glaze over whenever I talk about my job,” he told me.

I couldn’t deny that. And it wasn’t limited to him — whenever someone spoke to me about something that I found less than fascinating, I had a tendency to tune it out. In reality, I could learn to appreciate my friend’s line of work, for example, if I learned to listen actively.

It’s an imperative skill — at work, and in your personal life. After all, if you’re never paying attention to what your boss, your significant other, or your kids are saying to you, how are they supposed to take you seriously? How can you expect them to come to you for advice, or with important information? When you don’t listen, you set the precedent that you can’t be trusted to absorb what matters to other people. Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

That’s why it’s imperative to learn how to listen actively. It’s one thing to sit and make eye contact with the person speaking to you. But are you really absorbing what they’re saying? And moreover, are you responding in a way that communicates that you’re actually listening — and that you have something worthwhile to say in return? 

There are a few key phrases out there to demonstrate that you’re listening actively. And it’s true — you’re not going to care about every conversation that someone initiates with you. But even if the topic isn’t important to you, the person sharing it might be. Read on to learn how to pay better attention, and how to show that you’re doing so.

How We Listen

The Process

To listen, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to hear what someone has said and understand that it is serious, important, or true.”

It’s that second part of the definition that stands out to me — especially when it comes to active listening. It’s the genuine absorption of what someone is saying to us that reinforces and communicates how seriously we’re taking it, or appreciate its importance.

Of course, there are many reasons to listen. It helps us to satisfy different physiological goals. We listen to alter our moods, stay alert, and figure stuff out — in humans, that’s been the case for pretty much as long as we’ve existed. The process starts when we receive auditory stimuli. Then, our brains have to interpret that stimulus. That’s enhanced by other senses — like sight — which help us better interpret what we’re hearing. That’s important. When someone is sharing information with us, our non-verbal reaction also communicates to that person how actively we’re listening.

Once we receive and interpret auditory signals, we follow a series of steps that consist of recalling, evaluating, and responding to the information we consume:

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Source: Matthew Edward Dyson

All three of those steps are imperative to active listening. Numerous studies have discovered how listening triggers a widespread network of activity throughout the entire brain — and it’s why auditory stimuli is often strongly linked to memory.

When We Don’t Listen

Of course, we have to be paying attention in order to be able to recall, evaluate, and respond to what someone tells us. And even if we are, how we respond can send a variety of signals back to our conversational counterpart. Statements like, “I see,” or, “Cool,” for example, aren’t exactly active phrases. Rather, they exhibit a state of passive listening that communicates we hear the person, but probably don’t care.

And that’s not how anyone — let alone important people in your life, like your family or your boss — wants to be treated. Even if your significant other is telling you about his day, responding with something like, “Mm-hmm” doesn’t exactly send the message that you have great concern for what’s being said.

And even then, our intentions might be good. According to a coaching presentation created by Viorica Milea, there are many non-malicious explanations behind why we don’t listen. These are things like distractions, which abound in today’s device-centric world, and our tendency to start thinking ahead while the person is still talking — what Milea calls “judging,” which happens when we’ve preemptively “made assumptions” about what the person is going to say.

The Mutual Benefit of Active Listening

That’s why active listening is good for both parties in a conversation. It benefits the person speaking by helping to insure that she’s actually being heard. But it also benefits the listener — learning to put distractions and preemptive judgments (well-intended or not) aside will not only prevent you from missing important details, but also, can help teach you how to tune out unnecessary interruptions while focusing on other important tasks.

Practicing the incorporation of these phrases into conversations is a great way to get started. When someone is speaking to you, keep these in mind — if you feel your attention start to drift, or a notification appears on your phone, or you begin thinking ahead, come back to your mental inventory of these phrases to demonstrate and execute active listening.

6 Phrases to Demonstrate Active Listening

1) “Do you mean … ?”

Why

Sometimes, it seems like life is one long game of Telephone. Even if we interpreted something one way, the person who said it may have meant it completely differently.

That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re getting the full story from the person you’re listening to, and understanding it correctly. By asking for clarification, you’re not only encouraging more details from someone who might be timid about bringing something up, but also, you’re making sure you actually heard a statement as it was intended.

Alternatives

  • “I’m not sure I understand.”
  • “Could you tell me a bit more about that?”

2) “It sounds like … ”

Why

This phrase is another one that helps to provide clarification by demonstrating your empathy. But be careful with this one, and make sure you’re not telling your counterpart how she feels, but rather, phrasing it as an expression of how you interpret her emotions.

I have a tough time admitting when I’m upset about something, especially in a professional setting. But my manager happens to excel at active listening, and is very good at reading what I’m not saying in a conversation — and responding in kind. When I was disappointed about the outcome of a project, for example, I didn’t exactly say so, but she said, “It sounds like you’re feeling a little defeated.” I was, and having her say that to me out loud helped me take a proactive approach to the project moving forward.

Alternatives

  • “What I’m hearing is … “
  • “You seem a bit … ”

3) “Really?”

Why

This phrase is one that Milea helps to demonstrate encouragement during a conversation. It reminds the person speaking that you’re paying attention by encouraging them to elaborate on something they’ve said to you.

Alternatives

  • “When?”
  • “How?”
  • “You’re kidding.”

4) “I’ve noticed that … ”

Why

Here’s another term that shows how much attention you’re paying. By pointing out your observations about someone’s behavior or tendencies while she’s speaking, you’re not only fully absorbing her words — you’re also taking the non-verbal communication into consideration.

Instructors at the University of Central Florida use the example of, “I’ve just been noticing that when you talk about your conclusions, you smile. That makes me think you’re comfortable with the direction.” Making sure you know what someone means isn’t limited to the spoken word — you want to clarify what nonverbal behavior could indicate, too.

5) “Let me make sure I’ve got this right.”

Why

Another method of active listening is checking in with your counterpart to summarize what you’ve heard them say thus far. By repeating back something to the person you’re listening to, you’re not only demonstrating that you’ve been paying attention, but also, you’re further ensuring that you understand what the person actually means, and that you heard her correctly.

Alternatives

  • “These are the main points I’ve heard you make so far.”
  • “Let’s make sure I’m hearing you correctly.”
  • “Let’s pause to make sure we’re on the same page.”

6) “I’m sorry. That really sucks.”

Why

I joke about this one with my colleagues a lot. It goes back to the big idea of empathy and those occasions when, for just a moment, you want to have a pity party, rather than receiving proactive advice. Of course, you’re ready for that advice eventually, but not right away.

That’s why, when someone is sharing his frustrations with you, one of the most impactful things you can do is verbally acknowledge how crummy the situation is. Rather than invalidating the person’s emotions by immediately launching into suggestions for what she should do, you’re pausing to provide empathy, and to allow the person to work through what’s bothering him.

Alternatives

  • “I’m sorry you’re going through that.”
  • “What a crappy situation to be in. I’m sorry.”
  • “That’s rough. How can I help?”

Listen Carefully

We get it. You’ve got enough on your plate. There’s always a deadline, and there’s always somewhere you need to be. It can be hard to genuinely pay attention, especially when you’ve got a long to-do list that’s occupying your mental energy.

But as we’ve mentioned, active listening doesn’t just benefit your conversational counterpart — you also stand to gain from it. From making sure you don’t miss important details, to exercising focus for any important task, putting these phrases into practice can help you become a proactive, empathetic listener.

What are your go-to phrases to demonstrate active listening? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Write a Resume: The Ultimate Checklist of Resume Tips

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I can’t think of many tasks people dread more than writing a resume. There are so many little things you need to add, rephrase, check, double-check, triple-check … and yet, somehow, your resume still goes out with your name as Corey Wainwrite from HubStop. It’s anxiety-inducing.

So, I did what I do when I’m anxious. I made a list about all the little stuff you need to do when you’re writing and editing a resume.

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Check it out — and we wish you the best of luck with your job search.

The Ultimate Resume Checklist

I’ve divided all the must-do tasks into four sections and did my best to order them chronologically. Some could probably exist in more than one section or be completed in a different order, so I’ve ordered items where I thought they most naturally fit during the resume-writing process.

Is Your Resume Professional? Things to Check:

Is your email address professional? (e.g. sara@gmail.com vs. sarabear@gmail.com)

Is your email address from a professional domain, like Gmail? (Outdated domains can be a red flag for tech-savvy companies.)

Does your resume align with your LinkedIn profile? (Hiring managers will likely review both, in tandem.)

Have you included links to social profiles, portfolios, and a personal website, if relevant?

Have you audited your social profiles to ensure no unprofessional content is available?

If you’ve listed the hiring manager’s name, have you customized any communications that address him or her?

If you’re sending your resume as a Google Doc, have you granted the recipient the proper permissions to view it (or opened up permissions to everyone)?

Is Your Resume Well-Written? Things to Check:

Have you included your basic contact information — including your name, address, email address, and phone number?

Are you writing in a tone that matches that of the company to which you’re applying? (For instance, while still writing professionally, you might use a different tone when applying to work at a new tech startup versus an established analyst firm.)

Have you customized your resume for the specific job you’re applying to? (Highlight work experience and skills that are relevant to the position — don’t just write down everything you’ve ever done professionally.)

Do you have a clear objective at the top of your resume that is company-focused, not applicant-focused? (If not, that’s okay — but in lieu of it, do include a “Key Skills” section that summarizes who you are and what you can offer the company.)

Have you included both accomplishments and responsibilities under each job? (Both should be easy to ascertain when scanning your resume.)

Have you used metrics where possible to better illustrate your success?

Do you illustrate career progression? Is it clear that you were promoted, gained additional responsibility, or switched jobs laterally to acquire more skills?

Have you listed not only the names of companies, but a short description of what each company does?

Have you included your tenure at each company?

Have you included relevant information about your education?

Have you added anything that points to your personality or interests outside of work?

Does your unique value proposition shine through? (E.g., something that makes you stand out from other applicants, or highlights that you’re uniquely qualified for the position.)

If relevant for the position, have you included links to a portfolio or samples of your work?

Have you included reference names and contact information, or simply, “references available upon request”? (Both are okay — just be sure to use at least one to indicate that you even have references.)

Is Your Resume Properly Formatted & Designed? Things to Check:

Have you used some sort of template so the layout of your resume is visually appealing and easy to read?

Is your resume too creative? (For instance, if you’re applying for a creative position and have formatted your resume as an infographic … is it really simple enough to read, or is it best to save that creativity for your portfolio?)

Have you selected a clear, easy-to-read font?

Have you made use of common formatting conventions that makes content easier to read, such as bullet points and header text?

Has your formatting remained consistent across all positions? (For example, if you’ve bolded job titles, are all job titles indeed bolded?)

Are your margins even?

Are all items properly aligned? (For example, if you’ve right-aligned dates, are they all lining up in tandem with one another?)

Are all links you’ve included clickable?

Have you converted your resume to a format that allows all recipients to read it as intended, without downloading specific fonts or needing special software? (A PDF format is recommended.)

Is Your Resume Edited & Polished? Things to Check:

Have you included keywords in your resume? (If you’re submitting to an automated system, it might be critical to getting past filters. Be sure your resume directly reflects some of the software and skills mentioned in the job description.)

Have you edited it for brevity? (Try to keep your resume to about one page per ten years of job experience, if possible.)

Have you removed irrelevant job experiences?

Are sections of your resume in the order that best highlights your skills and what you have to offer the employer? (For instance, if you’re a recent graduate with internships in different fields, you might separate your most relevant experience from “other” experience, instead of ordering everything by date.)

Have you edited out generic action verbs for more specific ones?

Have you made use of a thesaurus to prevent monotony?

Have you found more professional alternatives to unprofessional-sounding terms?

Are your special skills all truly special? (While speaking a foreign language is indeed noteworthy, these days, it might be redundant to mention that you’re proficient in Microsoft Word or capable of using email.)

Have you done a sweep for annoying jargon or business babble? (Everything should be clearly articulated, so it’s easy for the hiring manager to quickly understand what you do.)

Is everything 100% true? (If you write that you’re fluent in a foreign language on your resume, you should be prepared to speak that language during your interview. If you say you like baking, you should be ready to answer which dishes you like to bake.)

Have you conducted spelling grammar checks?

Finally, have you asked a friend who hasn’t read your resume before to provide a final glance for errors, inconsistencies, or confusing phrasing?

If you’ve gotten this far and checked every box, you should be ready to send that resume in.

P.S. We’re hiring.

Do you have any other resume must-haves? Share with us in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Source: How to Write a Resume: The Ultimate Checklist of Resume Tips
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Get Promoted: Impress Your Boss by Doing These 7 Things

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I once made a really big hiring mistake.

After a series of promising interviews, I took on an intern whose level of professionalism, performance, and overall demeanor quickly took a turn for the worse. I discussed it with my supervisor, we agreed that it was in everyone’s best interests not to move forward with the internship.

However, when we sat her down to talk, she countered our concerns about her performance by saying, “But … I was driving all the way from [insert desolate location here] to get here every day.”

I recall staring at her blankly. Since when does the length of your commute warrant special praise? Boost your resume and join 30,000 marketers by getting inbound  marketing-certified for free from HubSpot. Get started here. 

We all wake up every morning, brush our teeth (hopefully), and make our way to work. However, the simple truth is that the act of “showing up” isn’t enough to propel career advancement. The most successful people earn the attention and respect of their bosses by proving they’re an asset to the team. So if you’ve ever entertained the thought of how to get promoted — or, at least, how to impress your boss — we’ve identified a few things every boss would love to see you doing.

How to Get Promoted With 7 Great Behaviors

1) Take ownership.

At HubSpot, we’ve been known to “fire” our best people.

No, that wasn’t a typo.

Here’s how it works: If you have a great idea — and you can prove that it actually delivers — you will be fired from your day job to own and grow that idea. After all, that’s what happened to HubSpot’s former VP of Sales, Pete Caputa. The story goes, according to CEO Brian Halligan speaking to Inc:

In 2008, one of our sales reps came to me with an idea that he believed could revolutionize HubSpot. At the time, we sold our software directly to consumers. But the rep, Pete Caputa, thought HubSpot should have a reseller channel in order to expand the business model. Basically, he wanted to sell our core product to third parties, who would then turn around and sell the product to their customers.”

Halligan was far from sold on the idea, but he decided to give Caputa an opportunity to prove himself. “If you want to do it so bad, start doing it nights and weekends and show us this will work,” he said.

Not long after accepting the challenge, Caputa was, in fact, encouraged to leave his day job here to grow what is now HubSpot’s Agency Partner Program.

Our point: Don’t be afraid to bring big ideas to the table. That’s the type of behavior that good bosses love to see because it illustrates your ability to solve problems for the business (and customers) on a high level. And while it’s easy to solve problems that specifically pertain to you and your reports, the goal is to identify and solve problems that influence the grand scheme of things. Think like a founder, and your boss will take note.

2) Support your colleagues.

Depending on your industry, getting ahead at work might sometimes feel like a dog-eat-dog type of situation. And while the old saying goes, “Nice guys finish last,” there is actually an opportunity for self-advancement through the act of helping others. Not to mention, if your boss catches you in the act, it can highlight your ability to be remarkably helpful: a trait almost every good boss cares about.

But don’t just take it from me. Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, also has something to say about it:

The more I help out, the more successful I become. But I measure success in what it has done for the people around me. That is the real accolade.”

In this book, Grant dives into the idea that in the workplace, people can be divided into three categories: takers, matchers, and givers.

  • Takers are known to, well, take from other people.
  • Matchers are more apt to make even exchanges.
  • Givers separate themselves from the rest by doing good without expectations for reciprocation.

Grant goes on to provide examples of successful givers throughout history, such as U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, venture capitalist David Hornik, and businessman Jon Huntsman, Sr. So do yourself a favor and dig into their accomplishments a bit — we have a hunch that it’ll inspire you to rethink the potential benefits of lending a helping hand.

3) Measure and report.

Not long ago, I swore I saw a notable actor from the TV show “Lost” on my flight.

I excitedly texted my friend to tell him, to which he replied, “Send pictures, or it didn’t happen.”

That request got me thinking about our innate desire to “see it to believe it.” If my own friend wouldn’t believe my claims without photo evidence, why would my boss simply take my word for it when it comes time to talk about my performance?

The simple truth: Most bosses are busy, leaving little time for them to investigate whether or not you’re accomplishing what you’re supposed to be accomplishing. If you’re not vocal (and visual) about your performance, you run the risk of going unnoticed. That’s why supervisors love to see employees who not only measure their efforts but also report on them. Clear, specific, goal-oriented reports serve as one of the most effective ways to communicate your progress and prove to your boss that you’re capable of taking on more.

In terms of what to include in these reports, focus on ROI. While vanity metrics like social media views might be worth noting for yourself, your boss wants to see how your efforts are specifically influencing the bottom line.

“Don’t just report on what you crossed off your to-do list, report on what those activities achieved. So often, young staff want to prove that they’re working,” explains HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson. “We know you’re working. We see it and are proud of you for it. Prove not that you’re working, but that what you are doing is working.”

4) Be proactive, not reactive.

“My kids will have chocolate dripping from their mouths, and I’ll say, ‘Did you just eat chocolate?'” Peter Bregman, author of Four Seconds, once recounted for HBR’s IdeaCast. “And they’ll be like, ‘No, I didn’t just eat chocolate.'”

What in the world does that have to do with impressing your boss? Well, it’s a silly, yet accurate example of how you sound when you’re being reactive — and maybe even a little defensive — rather than proactive. Not a situation you’d want to be caught in with your boss, right?

From a psychological perspective, we react to avoid punishment. It’s a direct result of the stimulation that our amygdala — a subcortical brain structure that is linked to both fear responses and pleasure — experiences when we’re caught off-guard. And while it’s unrealistic to assume that you’ll never be faced with a quick decision in front of your boss, proactive employees aim to control situations by causing things to happen, rather than waiting to respond after things happen.

What does that look like, though? Well, aside from taking steps to plan ahead and anticipate “what-ifs,” Bregman encourages people to pause for four seconds before responding to something. That way, you’re allowing yourself a moment to process the situation you’ve been faced with, which can help you strategically and intentionally choose the words that you’re going to say — instead of instinctively saying something that you don’t mean.

5) Make more with less.

Part of being a noteworthy employee is being able to adapt to the industry and company changes that, eventually, will come your way. Let’s say, for example, that your company runs into an unplanned expense, or an important member of the team unexpectedly gives her two weeks notice. That could certainly throw a wrench in your budget and bandwidth, couldn’t it?

Some employees might see these events as a huge setback — one that serves as an excuse for falling short on goals. But the most successful people find a way to do more with less — and the really successful people find a way to do better with less.

Take that hypothetical budgeting issue. If it forces you to reduce or reallocate funds for freelancers, don’t use it as an excuse to allow content production to come to a halt. Instead, consider what you can do to turn the situation around. Maybe you work toward creating one strong piece of content on your own, like an ebook, that can be repurposed as separate blog articles to fill your editorial calendar until the budget gets back to a healthy level. Or, what about reaching out to a co-marketing partner to join forces on a piece of content that benefits you both?

Another great way to demonstrate your ability to do more with less would be to scale back the average time of your meetings. According to the book Time Talent Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag & Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power, “the average organization spends 15% of its collective time in meetings.” That plays into the belief that simply working longer hours is comparable to doing more with less when really, it’s all about making better use of your time. Cutting your meeting time in half will force you to get to the point quicker — and leave you with extra time to allocate toward other projects and tasks.

Remember: Excuses don’t promote career advancement. Solutions do.

6) Welcome feedback.

I have a confession to make. I hate it when I don’t have the answer for something. I want to think I know everything — so when I’m faced with the reality that I don’t, admitting so is a bitter pill to swallow. But being able to do so is a big part of getting ahead.

That’s one reason why it can be so helpful to welcome third-party feedback when we need to know what we’re missing — like when you’ve worked on a long-term project, and you start to see any progress through rose-colored glasses. At that stage, it’s most helpful to invite an outsider in to poke holes in your approach. What’s working? What’s missing? What is needed to take this project from good to great?

According to Gallup, the most engaged employees are the ones who meet with their managers at least once a week — which suggests that both positive and negative feedback, as well as overall effective communication, plays an instrumental role in the way we perceive goals. Asking for that kind of time with your manager is a reasonable request, if you make it count. Make sure that you’re prepared to handle whatever feedback comes your way. While positive feedback is often pretty easy to accept, negative feedback can come as a challenge for many but is often the most valuable.

To ensure that you make the most out of constructive criticism, take note of the following tips:

  • Listen. Sure, it’s easy to tune someone out when you’re not particularly thrilled with what they are saying, but that doesn’t make it right. Give the person the respect she deserves by listening to what she has to say, before you interject.
  • Ask clarifying questions. If you don’t understand the point someone is trying to make, don’t hesitate to ask him to elaborate. Following up with questions will help to ensure that you both walk away on the same page.
  • Consider the source. All feedback is not created equal. While getting some honest feedback from a co-worker who knows little about your project may help you to identify weak spots, it’s important that you focus on the feedback coming from those to whom you report. In other words, give attention and energy where they’re due most.

7) Smile.

We hate to sound like a bunch of “Pollyannas,” but trust us: No supervisor wants to walk into an office and see a team of people that look like they are suffering through a dental appointment. Not only is it detrimental to company morale, but it also sends a signal that there’s something wrong with his management. If there is, that’s an important conversation to have — but not by going around looking like someone just asked you to spend the day watching paint dry.

At work (and at home), it’s important to try to focus on the positive, no matter what’s on your plate. According to a 2010 study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, it pays to be positive — literally. Not only did it find that optimistically inclined MBA students have an easier time finding jobs compared to their peers, but also, they saw a 5-10% increase in the probability of being promoted over their pessimistic peers.

Note to Self: Keep On and Smile On

Research like the study cited above taps into the idea that success can correlate with an ability to stay positive, even when completing overwhelming tasks.

And really, those findings align with many of the behaviors we’ve covered here. Even when something happens at work to upset us, proactively addressing it is more likely to be productive than reactively sulking and wallowing in it.

It may sound cliche, but beneath most of these tips is the foundation of a good attitude. So the next time something at the office bums you out — or you’re searching for the best way to progress in your career — revisit this list to see what you can actively do about it.

What are your best tips on how to get promoted? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Source: How to Get Promoted: Impress Your Boss by Doing These 7 Things
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

10 Jobs Artificial Intelligence Will Replace (and 10 That Are Safe)

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The other day at work, my colleague, HubSpot Marketing Director Ryan Bonnici, sent around a link on Slack — to a website called “Will Robots Take My Job?”

We were thrilled to learn marketing managers had only a 1.4% chance of our jobs being automated or replaced by robots and artificial intelligence. And although I breathed a sigh of relief that writing has only a 3.8% chance of being automated, it made me think about job roles that weren’t so lucky.

If you think job disruption by AI is limited to the assembly lines, think again: AI is doing a better job than humans at some aspects of sales and marketing, too.

Artificial Intelligence Disruption is Already Happening

AI can analyze sales calls far faster than any sales manager could — in fact, it would take 9 years of nonstop sales call analysis for a human being to compete, and that’s if they didn’t take vacation or sleep. And AI is already being used to develop marketers’ content strategies and email marketing playbooks — it’s only a matter of time before it plays a bigger role in the process.

HubSpot co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah has a more positive outlook on the future of AI — in fact, he thinks bots and AI will make us better at our jobs and more secure in our careers, not the other way around.

The truth probably lies halfway between these camps — in many cases, AI will serve to make our jobs easier and will make us more effective and data-driven. But the fact remains that some jobs will be replaced by machines — it’s the essence of any industrial or technological revolution. The good news is; some jobs won’t be strictly replaced — they just might be adjusted to account for new technologies’ “careers.”

Based on the landmark 2013 study that inspired “Will Robots Take My Job?” we’ve rounded up some of the marketing and sales roles most likely to be replaced by robots, bots, and AI in the next few years. This study analyzes the likely probability that a job will be replaced by automation and computerization — based primarily on the level of routine a job has and the specialized training and social intelligence required to complete it. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of what your life could look like in a few years.

10 Careers AI Will Replace (and 10 That Are Safe)

Most Likely to Be Replaced

1) Telemarketers

Likelihood: 99%

Why: You probably already receive robo-calls on behalf of various products and services, and career growth in the telemarketing space is expected to decline by 3% by the year 2024. This is largely in part because of the requirements to be successful: Unlike other sales roles, telemarketers don’t require a high level of social, or emotional, intelligence to be successful. Think about it — are you likely to purchase from a telemarketer? Conversion rates for direct telephone sales are typically less than 10%, making this role a ripe opportunity to be automated.

2) Bookkeeping clerks

Likelihood: 98%

Why: Jobs in this role are expected to decline 8% by 2024, and it’s no surprise why — most bookkeeping is becoming automated, if it hasn’t been already. QuickBooks, FreshBooks, and Microsoft Office already offer software that does the bookkeeping for you that’s much more affordable than a person’s salary, so it’s no surprise this job has such a high probability.

3) Compensation and Benefits Managers

Likelihood: 96%

Why: This one is surprising because the job growth is supposed to increase 7% by 2024. But just because there’s demand doesn’t make you safe from automation. As companies grow in size — especially across multinational markets — a human and paper-based system can present more hurdles, time delays, and costs. Automated benefits systems can save time and effort for providing benefits to large numbers of employees, and companies like Ultipro and Workday are already being widely adopted.

4) Receptionists

Likelihood: 96%

Why: Pam predicted this back on The Office, but in case you’re not a fan, automated phone and scheduling systems can replace a lot of the traditional receptionist role — especially at modern technology companies that don’t have office-wide phone systems or multinational corporations.

5) Couriers

Likelihood: 94%

Why: Couriers and delivery people are already being replaced by drones and robots, so it’s only a matter of time until this space is dominated by automation altogether. At the same time, this space is expected to grow by 5% by 2024, so it might not happen as quickly as you think.

6) Proofreaders

Likelihood: 84%

Why: Proofreading software is everywhere — and we use it a lot here at HubSpot. From Microsoft Word’s simple spelling and grammar check to Grammarly and Hemingway App, there are a lot of technologies out there that make it easy to self-check your own writing.

7) Computer Support Specialists

Likelihood: 65%

Why: The field is projected to grow 12% by 2024, but with so much content on the internet with instructions, step-by-step guides, and hacks out there, it’s no surprise companies will rely more heavily on bots and automation to answer support questions from employees and customers in the future.

8) Market Research Analysts

Likelihood: 61%

Why: Market research analysts play an incredibly important role in the development of messaging, content, and products, but automated AI and surveys can compile this information more and more easily. GrowthBot, for example, can conduct market research on nearby businesses and competitors with a simple Slack command.

9) Advertising Salespeople

Likelihood: 54%

Why: As advertising shifts away from print and TV and towards web and social media landscapes, people simply don’t need to be managing those sales for marketers who want to buy ad space. More social media platforms are making it easy for people to buy space through free application program interfaces (APIs) and self-serve ad marketplaces to remove the salesperson and make it faster and easier for users to make money — and that’s reflected in the projected 3% decline in the industry.

10) Retail Salespeople

Likelihood: 92%

Why: If you’ve visited a mall, car dealership, or furniture store lately, you might not have been assisted by a salesperson at all from start to finish. Companies are democratizing the shopping experience with features like self-checkout, and the modern buyer is much more internet-savvy and more likely to do internet research and make a buying decision on their own.

Most Likely to Be Safe (For Now)

1) Human Resources Managers

Likelihood: 0.55%

Why Not: It’s kind of in the name — but your company’s Human Resources department will likely always need a human at the helm to manage interpersonal conflict with the help of non-cognitive and reasoning skills. The field is projected to grow 9% by 2024 as companies grow and need more robust structures for supporting and helping employees.

2) Sales Managers

Likelihood: 1.3%

Why Not: Sales managers need a high level of emotional intelligence to hit their quotas each month, network and collaborate with customers, and motivate and encourage the larger sales team. Managers also have to analyze data and interpret trends, and the high levels of intelligence required — plus the constant need to adapt to new situations — makes this role safe from automation.

3) Marketing Managers

Likelihood: 1.4%

Why Not: Marketing managers have to interpret data, monitor trends, oversee campaigns, and create content. They also have to nimbly adapt and respond to changes and feedback from the rest of the company and customers, making this another human-forward career AI isn’t quite ready to replicate.

4) Public Relations Managers

Likelihood: 1.5%

Why Not: Successful PR managers rely on a network of relationships and contacts to procure press placements and buzz for the companies they represent, making this another completely safe role. PR managers who have to raise awareness around an issue or mission need a particularly human touch to raise funds or get people to participate in a campaign, too — and jobs are expected to grow 7% by 2024.

5) Chief Executives

Likelihood: 1.5%

Why Not: It’s nearly impossible to automate leadership — after all, it’s hard enough to teach it. Chief executives have to inform broad strategy, represent companies’ missions and objectives, and motivate huge teams of people working for them. Companies may answer to stakeholders and boards of directors, who likely wouldn’t want a robot giving them an earnings report, either.

6) Event Planners

Likelihood: 3.7%

Why Not: Event planning is a growing field, and if you ask anyone on our events team here at HubSpot, whether you’re planning an event for employees, customers, or an industry event with tens of thousands of attendees, the planning process has many, many moving parts involved. Planners have to coordinate and negotiate with vendors, contractors, and freelancers to make things come together, and the organizational and people skills involved will make this another near-impossible role to automate.

7) Writers

Likelihood: 3.8%

Why Not: (I breathed a sigh of relief on this one.) Writers have to ideate, create, and produce original written material. AIs can do some of this with title suggestions, writing prompts, and automated social media messages, but blog posts, books, movies, and plays will likely be written by humans for the foreseeable future.

8) Software Developers

Likelihood: 4.2%

Why Not: Software engineering and development is hard enough for human beings to do, and the time and skill investment needed to create applications, software, and websites will be tough to replicate — especially since developers need to execute perfectly to create great products for customers. The field is expected to grow by 19% by 2024, so if you’re a software developer, you’re sitting pretty for now.

9) Editors

Likelihood: 5.5%

Why Not: While some of the load can be lifted from editors with the automated proofreading technology mentioned previously, editors have to review writers’ submission for clarity, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and originality. While there is some software that can spot-check for clarity and scan for plagiarism, the editor role must be carried out by a human in order to read work as another human would.

10) Graphic Designers

Likelihood: 8.2%

Why Not: Although there are some AIs taking small (and somewhat creepy) steps in the graphic design space, graphic design is both artistic and technical, making it an ideal role for a human being to carry out. Like writing, all work needs to be original and created to the client’s wishes, so graphic design needs to be created with a human artist and editor all-in-one.

To learn more about how you can keep working with AI to improve your work and optimize efficiency, read our research report here.

What jobs do you think will be replaced by AI? Share with us in the comments below.

AI Research Report

Source: 10 Jobs Artificial Intelligence Will Replace (and 10 That Are Safe)
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Emotional Intelligence Test: What's Your Emotional IQ? [Quiz]

emotional intelligence test blog (1).pngThere’s been a lot of chatter lately about the power of emotional intelligence. And it’s not undeserved — multiple studies have shown there’s a significant correlation between emotional intelligence and workplace success.

People with high emotional intelligence levels are even more likely to succeed than those with higher IQs or more work experience.

So what exactly is emotional intelligence? And, more importantly, how can you measure it?

Click here to take The Emotional Intelligence Test →

What is Emotional Intelligence?

In short, people with high emotional intelligence have an deep awareness of their own emotions — and the emotions of others — and they can use this information to guide their thinking and actions.

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, there are five main components of emotional intelligence, these are:

1) Self-awareness

Self-awareness is understanding yourself and your effect on others. Self-aware individuals know their abilities and play to their strengths, can admit to their mistakes, and can laugh at themselves when they make a mistake.

2) Self-management

Self-management is controlling disruptive impulses and thinking before acting. People who have good self-management are able to take a step back when they feel they are becoming overwhelmed with emotion. This prevents them from doing or saying things they might regret later.

3) Motivation

Emotionally intelligent people are constantly challenging themselves, and are driven by their passion, rather than status or money. They also remain optimistic about their future, even when their situation can sometimes be tough.

4) Empathy

Empathetic people don’t just listen to what people say, they try to understand more about what’s being said. Empathic people consider other people’s feelings when making decisions. Empathic people can gain knowledge through body language and other nonverbal cues.

5) Social Communication

People who have well-developed social communication skills can express their emotions to others appropriately and really listen to other people when they express theirs. They also seek feedback and give constructive feedback to others when needed. People with strong social communication skills are valuable because they are able to manage relationships effectively to move people forward towards a common goal.

The Emotional Intelligence Test: Take the Quiz

Emotional intelligence isn’t a fixed trait — it’s something everyone can improve with time and perseverance.

If you’re interested in developing your emotional intelligence, take our short emotional intelligence test below, which will show you how emotionally intelligent you are, and give you five actionable strategies you can use improve it.

Disclaimer: Bare in mind that this test isn’t a comprehensive scientific assessment — it’s just a fun way to get a gauge of your emotional intelligence levels and start becomming more emotionally intelligent. 

Are you on mobile? Click here to take the Emotional Intelligence Test →
 

 

What do you think: Does emotional intelligence play a part in success? What other skills do you think help with business success? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

8 of the Top Marketing Challenges Marketers Face Today [New Data]

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Every marketer faces different challenges. Although we typically share similar goals, some teams are stuck on hiring top talent, while others are having trouble finding the right technology for their needs.

Whatever the case may be, there’s always at least one area that you can stand to improve. In other words, there’s always room to optimize the various components of your strategy and turn your marketing into an even more effective revenue generator.

Curious about what kinds of obstacles other marketers are up against?

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We polled thousands of marketers on the challenges they face, as well as the tactics they’ve used to meet those challenges head-on. Here are some of the most common challenges marketers reported struggling with … and their solutions.

The Most Common Marketing Problems We Face, According to the 2017 State of Inbound Report

According to our report, generating traffic and leads and proving ROI are the leading challenges marketers face. Here’s a look at this year’s data:

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Image Credit: The 2017 State of Inbound Report

Let’s go through each of these top challenges and how marketers can address them.

1) Generating Traffic and Leads

Why It’s a Challenge

Generating enough traffic and leads was the top marketing challenge, according to the 2017 State of Inbound report. We started asking this question with this answer as a new option last year — and we’re glad we did.

Clearly, marketers are struggling with producing enough demand for their content. And as the years progress and competition stiffens, this will only become truer. With so many options of platforms for marketers to publish their content and even more ways to promote it, it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts.

What Can You Do?

When it comes to creating content that produces enough traffic and leads, marketers should ask themselves two questions: Are you truly creating high-quality content — the type of content people would pay for? And, do you know the type of content your audience actually wants?

For example, HubSpot Research has found that 43% of consumers want to see more video from marketers in the future, while only 29% want to see more blog posts. To learn more about how the way people are reading and interacting with content is changing, check out this HubSpot Research report.

Once you know you’re creating the type of content your audience wants, the focus shifts to promoting it in a way that makes your audience take notice. More than ever before, people are being flooded with content. Consumers don’t have to use a search engine to find answers. Instead, articles fill their news feed or buzz in their pocket via mobile notification.

Needless to say, the content promotion playbook is not the same as it was five years ago. To make sure your traffic and lead numbers continue to rise, check out this comprehensive guide to content promotion.

2) Providing the ROI of Your Marketing Activities

Why It’s a Challenge

Measuring the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing activities has remained a top marketing challenge year-over-year. But, it also continues to be a vital way for marketers to understand the effectiveness of each particular marketing campaign, piece of content, etc.

Plus, proving ROI often goes hand-in-hand with making an argument to increase budget: No ROI tracking, no demonstrable ROI. No ROI, no budget.

But tracking the ROI of every single marketing activity isn’t always easy, especially if you don’t have two-way communication between your marketing activities and sales reports.

What Can You Do?

When it comes to providing ROI, there’s a strong case to be made for dedicating time and resources to establishing links between marketing activities and sales results. This means using both marketing software (like HubSpot) and a CRM solution (like HubSpot’s free CRM), and then tying them together to close the loop between your marketing and sales efforts with a service-level agreement (SLA). That way, you can directly see how many leads and customers are generated through your marketing activities.

We’ve found there’s no better combination than having an SLA and doing inbound marketing. According to this year’s report, inbound organizations with SLAs are 3X more likely to rate their marketing strategy as effective compared to outbound organizations with misaligned marketing and sales teams.

(Use this ROI calculator to simulate the potential ROI you could realize by conducting inbound marketing.)

3) Securing Enough Budget

Why It’s a Challenge

Securing more budget is a pressing challenge for marketing globally. And often, getting more budget is easier said than done — especially for smaller organizations that aren’t working with sizable nor flexible marketing spend.

But the key to securing more money for your team might not be that complex. Here’s what you can do.

What Can You Do?

The key to unlocking budget lies in being able to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts. According to our report, organizations that can calculate ROI are more likely to receive higher budgets.

Again, success with inbound marketing also plays a large role in driving higher budgets. Effective strategies obviously produce results, and our data shows those who feel confident in their marketing strategy are more than 2X as likely to get higher budgets for their marketing teams. But remember, inbound marketing is a long game. If you get off to a slow start, you shouldn’t back off — in fact, you might consider doubling down.

4) Managing Your Website

Why It’s a Challenge

Managing a website was the fourth biggest challenge for marketers in 2017. And chances are, your website’s performance is high on your list of priorities. It’s an asset that works around the clock to draw in visitors, convert them, and help you hit your goals, after all.

Issues with website management include a variety of different factors, from writing and optimizing the content to designing beautiful webpages. Here are a few things marketers can do to deal with this challenge.

What Can You Do?

First, read this report to see how your website stacks up against over 1 million other websites. It also includes a deep analysis on the four most critical elements of website performance and design, from average load time and website securityww to mobile friendliness and SEO.

If your primary challenge with managing a website has to do with the skills and resources you have available, you aren’t alone. This is especially true for small companies who don’t have all the talent in-house required to cover content, optimization, design, and back-end website management.

One solution? Hire freelancers and agency partners. To find freelancers, we recommend:

  • Tapping into your personal and professional network by posting on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social networks with a description of what you’re looking for.
  • Browsing freelance writers and designers based on their portfolios and areas of interest. For writers, check out Zerys and Contently. For designers, check out Behance & Elance.
  • Browsing HubSpot’s Services Marketplace, which lists a wide variety of designers from partner companies and agencies we’ve deemed credible.

Overall, you can make website management easier on your team by hosting your website on a platform that integrates all your marketing channels like HubSpot’s COS.

Finally, for the projects you want to keep in-house, here is a list of ebooks and guides that might be helpful to your team:

5) Identifying the Right Technologies for Your Needs

Why It’s a Challenge

Finding the right technologies was the fifth biggest concern for marketers this year. Oftentimes, this is because feedback on technology is scattered. Marketers might turn to colleagues, friends in the industry, and/or analyst reports to figure out which technologies best fit their needs — only to find that feedback is spread across emails, social media, and so on from people of varied reputability.

When you’re looking for a tool, software, or piece of technology to solve a specific marketing problem, where do you go to find it?

What Can You Do?

For those of you looking for a tool, software, or piece of technology to solve a specific marketing problem, we recommend taking a look at Growthverse: a free, interactive, online visualization of the marketing technology landscape that focuses on the business problems marketers are trying to solve, and leads them to specific pieces of marketing technology that aim to solve those problems. We’ve found it to be a really well-visualized map of carefully curated marketing technology resources.

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It’s worth noting that the main tool in top marketers’ arsenals is a platform for automating their team’s marketing efforts. We found that although our respondents indicated using an array of specific products, the larger trend was telling: The top marketers use marketing automation software in some form or another. Meanwhile, 40% of marketers cite marketing automation as a top priority for the next year.

6) Targeting Content for an International Audience

Why It’s a Challenge

Targeting is a key component of all aspects of marketing. To be more effective at targeting, one of the first things any marketer needs do is identify their buyer personas to determine who it is they should be marketing to. If you’re expanding internationally, it can be a big challenge not only to figure out the best ways to market to an international audience but also to organize and optimize your site for different countries.

What Can You Do?

Download our free ebook, The Global Marketing Playbook. There are some really helpful tips in there that’ll help give you some direction on global marketing, including how to identify your top three growth markets, how to explore local trends, and tips on choosing the best localization providers.

Remember, your website visitors might speak a plethora of different languages and live in totally different time zones. To make your content appealing to a wide audience, you’ll need to keep your global visitors top-of-mind when creating all your content. This means being aware of seasonal references, translating units of measure and monetary references, and giving translators the tools and permissions to customize and adapt content for a specific audience when they need to.

Finally, be sure you’re optimizing your website for international visitors, too. For more tips and resources on global marketing expansion, browse our international inbound marketing hub.

7) Training Your Team

Why It’s a Challenge

As companies scale and technologies continue to evolve, training your team will become a greater challenge for marketers. Whether it’s training them on the concepts and tools they’ll be using every day or making sure they’re achieving their full potential, the struggle is real across the board.

To combat this, I’ll share some tips I’ve used during my trainings to make sure the concepts and tool tips stick and have a lasting effect on your team and your marketing.

What Can You Do?

To get an overall idea of where your team stands, take a few minutes to assess each of your team members’ marketing strengths and weaknesses, levels of expertise, and passion/commitment to your company. Then, objectively rate the priority (or level of importance) of their expertise and their contribution to bottom line objectives (ROI) to date. Here’s a simple assessment tool from Lean Labs to help you evaluate your team so you can figure out who needs recognition and who needs coaching.

Next, check out this awesome resource from HubSpot Academy, The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Training. It’s a guide that’ll help you navigate all the marketing training options you have, from quick daily habits to more rigorous, career-launching investments.

You also might consider requiring your team members to rack up some online marketing certification. HubSpot Academy, for example, offers certifications, documentation, and training programs to help people master the basics of inbound marketing. Google also offers training and certifications on analytics with their online Analytics Academy.

What about new hire training, specifically? We recommend creating a training plan for new team members. Here at HubSpot, each new marketer is given a 100-day plan like this one to lay out specific goals and help new hires demonstrate their effectiveness.

8) Hiring Top Talent

Why It’s a Challenge

Hiring top talent was the eighth biggest challenge marketers reported experiencing this year. Why? Many companies are shifting more resources to inbound marketing, which means higher and higher demand for top marketing talent. But supply simply isn’t keeping up. From sourcing the right candidates to evaluating for the right skills, finding the perfect person could take months … or more.

What’s more, the type of marketing talent companies are looking for is changing, too. In Moz and Fractl’s analysis of thousands of job postings on Indeed.com, they concluded that employers are seeking marketers with technical and creative skill sets. And the quick rate at which the demand for these jobs are rising has caused a marketing skills gap, “making it difficult to find candidates with the technical, creative, and business proficiencies needed to succeed in digital marketing.”

What Can You Do?

Employers are looking for marketers with a diverse skill set that includes digital marketing, content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing. To find the best inbound marketer for your team, the first thing you should do is decide what that person needs to be able to achieve for your business.

Ask yourself: What will the new marketer’s tasks and duties include? What skills do those tasks and duties require? What goals or challenges will the new marketer face? Use your answers to these questions to write a compelling job description. (Here are 37 pre-written marketing job descriptions to help you get started.)

Next, post your jobs where talented inbound marketers will find them. While traditional job sites like Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, or LinkedIn will help you cast a wide net, we recommend checking out Inbound.org, which is the only job listing service in the world that’s exclusively focused on inbound marketing and sales jobs.

Finally, focus your job description and new hire 100-day plan what people value most in their careers. This year, the data shows that 58% of people consider opportunities for growth when looking for a new job, while 50% are looking for a good work/life balance.

Does Your Company Face Any of These Marketing Issues?

A thorough analysis of your marketing strategy and its current performance will help you discover where your biggest marketing opportunity lies. This will allow you to focus on improving the areas that need the most attention, so you can start making your marketing far more effective.

If you’re faced with a challenge and want ideas on how to best tackle it, you can always consider getting some help by any of the various types of marketing training that are available. Learn more about what other organizations are prioritizing and tackling in the 2017 State of Inbound report.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2012 and has been updated for freshness and comprehensiveness.

To learn more about the transactional email add-on, contact your CSM.

Source: 8 of the Top Marketing Challenges Marketers Face Today [New Data]
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

5 Essential Skills Marketers Need to Succeed This Year [Infographic]

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The marketing landscape evolves at what often seems like a bewildering pace. There are changes in consumer preferences. There are updates to search algorithms. And, we can’t forget the frequent updates and features added to various social media channels.

For that reason, being a successful marketer today might appear to require a never-ending list of skills. Where do you need to excel — content creation, social media, web analytics, or all of the above … and more?

Relax. In a perfect world, it would be possible to constantly maintain all of these skills at an expert level. But in reality, it’s okay — and helpful — to prioritize. The question remains, however: What skills do marketers need the most to both keep up with the industry, and be good at their jobs?

Luckily, the infographic below from TEKsystems outlines five crucial skills — largely digital ones — that marketers need to succeed this year:

  • Digital Advertising
  • Social Marketing
  • Website Design/Development
  • Content Development
  • Mobile Marketing

It’s a helpful guideline for marketers who want to help their brands stay up to speed, as well as job seekers and recruiters who want to know which knowledge is the most valuable in today’s landscape. We’ve elaborated a bit on each one below the image — so read on, and learn more about the skills you need to start, continue, or foster a lucrative marketing career.


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5 Essential Marketing Skills to Succeed in 2017

1) Digital Advertising

Many marketers are trained to draw a bold line between marketing and advertising. But the latter, in its digital and analytical form, has become the work of the savviest marketers. That includes things like creating strategic ads on different social media channels, as well as pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. According to TEK systems, some of the other specific skills that fall under this umbrella are:

  • Search engine optimization/marketing (SEO/SEM)
  • Digital business analytics — data like Google Analytics and Facebook Insights
  • Digital project management

2) Social Marketing

Long gone are the days of simply posting the occasional photo or update on social media. Social marketing has become far, far more complex — so much so that many brands dedicate full-time roles to it. Within this realm, you might see many overlapping skills with digital advertising, like understanding the same analytics and managing PPC campaigns.

While there’s a detailed subset of skills required in social marketing, the major ones fall under strategizing and managing social media posts and presence, according to each channel. That’s one form of content strategy, which we’ll get to.

3) Website Design/Development

As the infographic puts it, “The website is the face of your brand.” It’s often the first line of interaction that a customer will have with your company — that’s why an optimal user experience is imperative. After all, that’s one of the core principles of inbound marketing: Create the content that’s going to draw and benefit your buyer personas.

For that reason, here’s yet another area where — like most of these five skills — understanding content strategy is going to be important. But that’s not the only knowledge required here. TEKsystems also identifies the following top skills sought after by marketing hiring managers:

  • UX design
  • Front-end development
  • Web development
  • Consumer and behavioral analytics
  • Product management

4) Content Development

Finally — content gets its own category. Of course, understanding how to develop the best content for your various distribution channels is important. But then, there’s understanding how to develop consumable content that doesn’t necessarily reside on your social networks or website copy, like reports, or other downloadable items. And in addition to being well-produced and informative, it should be sharable, and a content developer needs to understand how to create something of that nature. Related skills, therefore, include:

  • Analytics
  • Project Management
  • SEO/SEM

5) Mobile Marketing

Mobile is gradually becoming the primary way we consume online content — 48% of consumers, for example,  start mobile research with a search engine, while 26% start with a branded app. That’s why mobile marketing has become such a valuable skill, from understanding how customers use mobile, to how a brand’s digital presence and content can be optimized for that platform.

And while mobile marketing might be a bit different from mobile development — the latter is a bit more technical — it doesn’t hurt to at least understand how that (and app development) contrasts from traditional web development. Additionally, valuable skills here include:

  • Mobile traffic analytics
  • E-commerce analytics
  • Mobile design

The More You Know

We’re not suggesting that marketers need to become experts in every single one of these areas. However, if there’s a specific area of marketing that interests you the most, or into which you’d like to move, understanding where you’ll need to excel can help you get there that much faster.

Plus, as your brand and the landscape continue to evolve, this list can serve as a good reference when you feel like you might need to brush up on certain skills, or at least become more aware of them when it’s necessary. That way, in addition to honing your own skills, you can understand where you might need to focus team-building efforts.

What are your most sought-after marketing skills? Let us know in the comments.

This post was originally published in January 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

6 Cover Letter Examples That Got Something Right

Let’s face it: A job search is, typically, anything but fun.

It’s almost as if it carries its own stages of grief. At first, there’s denial of its demoralizing nature. Then comes the anger over either radio silence or rejection from prospective employers. Of course, there’s bargaining — “I promise to never complain about work again, if I can find a new job!” That’s often followed by depression, and the idea that one is simply just unhireable. Then, there’s acceptance: “This is awful, but I have to keep trying, anyway.”

But we have good news. It is possible to have a little fun with your job search — and maybe even make yourself a better candidate in the process. The magic, it turns out, could be in your cover letter.

It may be true that 63% of recruiters have deemed cover letters “unimportant,” but that doesn’t mean yours has to contribute to that statistic. In fact, it might be that cover letters are deemed insignificant because so few of them stand out. Here’s an opportunity for you to exercise your creativity at the earliest stage of the recruitment process. Personalization, after all, goes beyond replacing the title and company name in each letter you send to recruiters. Boost your resume and join 30,000 marketers by getting inbound  marketing-certified for free from HubSpot. Get started here. 

What does that look like in practice, and how can you make your cover letter stand out? We found six examples from job seekers who decided to do things a bit differently.

Note: Some of these contain NSFW language.

6 Cover Letter Examples That Nailed It

1) The Short-and-Sweet Model

In 2009, David Silverman penned an article for Harvard Business Review titled, “The Best Cover Letter I Ever Received.” That letter contained three complete sentences, as follows:

short-and-sweet.png
Source: Harvard Business Review

One might argue that this particular letter is less than outstanding. It’s brief, to say the least, and the author doesn’t go into a ton of detail about what makes him or her qualified for the job in question. But that’s what Silverman likes about it — the fact that the applicant only included the pieces of information that would matter the most to the recipient.

“The writer of this letter took the time to think through what would be relevant to me,” writes Silverman. “Instead of scattering lots of facts in hopes that one was relevant, the candidate offered up an opinion as to which experiences I should focus on.”

When you apply for a job, start by determining two things:

  1. Who might oversee the role — that’s often included in the description, under “reports to.” Address your letter to that individual.
  2. Figure out what problems this role is meant to solve for that person. Then, concisely phrase in your cover letter how and why your experience can and will resolve those problems.

The key here is research — by looking into who you’ll be reporting to and learning more about that person’s leadership style, you’ll be better prepared to tailor your cover letter to focus on how you provide solutions for her. Not sure how to learn more about a leader’s personality? Check out any content she shares on social media, or use Growthbot’s Personality Profile feature.

2) The Brutally Honest Approach

Then, there are the occasions when your future boss might appreciate honesty — in its purest form. Livestream CEO Jesse Hertzberg, by his own admission, is one of those people, which might be why he called this example “the best cover letter” (which he received while he was with Squarespace):

Brutally honest.png
Source: Title Needed

As Hertzberg says in the blog post elaborating on this excerpt — it’s not appropriate for every job or company. But if you happen to be sure that the corporate culture of this prospective employer gets a kick out of a complete lack of filter, then there’s a chance that the hiring manager might appreciate your candor.

“Remember that I’m reading these all day long,” Hertzberg writes. “You need to quickly convince me I should keep reading. You need to stand out.”

3) The One That Says “Why,” Not Just “How”

We’ve already covered the importance of addressing how you’ll best execute a certain role in your cover letter. But there’s another question you might want to answer: Why the heck do you want to work here?

The Muse, a career guidance site, says that it’s often best to lead with the why — especially if it makes a good story. We advise against blathering on and on, but a brief tale that illuminates your desire to work for that particular employer can really make you stand out.

Why Example.png
Source: The Muse

Here’s another instance of the power of personalization. The author of this cover letter clearly has a passion for this prospective employer — the Chicago Cubs — and if she’s lying about it, well, that probably would eventually be revealed in an interview. Make sure your story is nonfiction, and relatable according to each job. While we love a good tale of childhood baseball games, an introduction like this one probably wouldn’t be fitting in a cover letter for, say, a software company. But a story of how the hours you spent playing with DOS games as a kid led to your passion for coding? Sure, we’d find that fitting.

If you’re really passionate about a particular job opening, think about where that deep interest is rooted. Then, tell your hiring manager about it in a few sentences.

4) The Straw (Wo)man

When I was in the throes of my own job search and reached one of the later stages, a friend said to me, “For the next job you apply for, you should just submit a picture of yourself a stick figure that somehow represents you working there.”

Et voilà:

AZWstrawCoverLetter.jpg

I never did end up working for the recipient of this particular piece of art, but it did result in an interview. Again, be careful where you send a cover letter like this one — if it doesn’t match the company’s culture, it might be interpreted as you not taking the opportunity seriously. Be sure to pair it with a little bit of explanatory text, too. For example, when I submitted this picture-as-a-cover letter, I also wrote, “Perhaps I took the ‘sense of humor’ alluded to in your job description a bit too seriously.”

5) The Exercise in Overconfidence

I’ll admit that I considered leaving out this example. It’s rife with profanity, vanity, and arrogance. But maybe, in some settings, that’s the right way to do a cover letter.

A few years ago, Huffington Post published this note as an example of how to “get noticed” and “get hired for your dream job”:

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Source: Huffington Post

Here’s the thing — if the Aviary cited in this letter is the same Aviary I researched upon discovering it, then, well, I’m not sure this tone was the best approach. I read the company’s blog and looked at the careers site, and neither one indicates that the culture encourages … this.

However, Aviary was acquired by Adobe in 2014, and this letter was written in 2011. So while it’s possible that the brand was a bit more relaxed at that time, we wouldn’t suggest submitting a letter with that tone to the company today. That’s not to say it would go unappreciated elsewhere — Doug Kessler frequently discusses the marketers and brands that value colorful language, for example.

The point is, this example further illustrates the importance of research. Make sure you understand the culture of the company to which you’re applying before you send a completely unfiltered cover letter — if you don’t, there’s a good chance it’ll completely miss the mark.

6) The Interactive Cover Letter

When designer Rachel McBee applied for a job with the Denver Broncos, she didn’t just write a personalized cover letter — she designed an entire digital, interactive microsite:

Source: Rachel McBee

This cover letter — if you can even call it that — checks off all of the boxes we’ve discussed here, in a remarkably unique way. It concisely addresses and organizes what many hiring managers hope to see in any cover letter: how her skills lend themselves to the role, why she wants the job, and how to contact her. She even includes a “traditional” body of text at the bottom, with a form that allows the reader to easily get in touch with her.

Take Cover

We’d like to add a sixth stage to the job search: Experimentation.

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s so easy to feel defeated, less-than-good-enough, or like giving up your job search. But don’t let the process become so monotonous. Have fun discovering the qualitative data we’ve discussed here — then, have even more by getting creative with your cover letter composition.

We certainly can’t guarantee that every prospective employer will respond positively — or at all — to even the most unique, compelling cover letter. But the one that’s right for you will. That’s why it’s important not to copy these examples. That defeats the purpose of personalization.

So get creative. And, by the way — we’re hiring.

What are some of the best cover letters you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Is an MBA Worth the Money?

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Here on the HubSpot Marketing Blog, I haven’t exactly made it a secret that I went to business school. It was an experience that provided two years’ worth of fodder, lessons learned, and other actionables that I like to share here.

But there’s one question I have yet to answer, at least in this venue, about the time spent earning my MBA: Was it worth it?

It’s a question I considered even before I began applying to different business schools, and one in which I’m certainly not alone. When I asked my colleagues if any of them had experienced the great “Should I get my MBA?” debate, there was a clamor of responses. Many of us — all marketing professionals — had experienced the same decision-making process, which made us realize how many other marketers out there must be going through the same thing. Download our free SEO ebook here for more tips from experts on increasing  your search rankings. 

While the topic seems to be eternally up for debate, we agree that there are instances when people should, in fact, go for an MBA — but it’s important to have a clear idea of what those circumstances are, and if they really apply to you. And if they don’t, fear not: There are alternatives. We’ve outlined the factors that do make an MBA worth the investment — and the other things you can do until that day arrives.

When an MBA Is Worth the Money

1) When you know exactly what you want out of it.

Before I began studying for the GMAT — the required admission exam for most MBA programs — I spent about five years deciding whether or not to apply to business school. I had a lot of questions, many of which were shared by my colleague, Mimi An, when she was faced with the same decision. For her, she told me:

The biggest things to consider were if I was at a place where I couldn’t progress further in my career, if I wanted to change function or industry, if I wanted to move, and what exactly I wanted out of the degree. I couldn’t answer the last question. In fact, the answer was ‘no’ to most of my questions. I could still progress. I did not want to change function. I did not want to move. I didn’t know what I expected to get out of it.”

According to Investopedia, the average cost of an MBA is $140,000 — and $260,000 if you’re not working or earning any income while you’re in school. Think of it this way: Would you spend that much on a luxury car or new condo if you weren’t sure why you were buying it? That’s a big chunk of change to spend on something that you aren’t certain is going to benefit you in some way.

Of course, for many people, the answer to those questions is overwhelmingly “yes” — in fact, they were for me. At the time, I wasn’t progressing in my career and I wanted to move, which are two fundamental reasons why I ultimately made the decision to go to business school. But not everyone will have the same responses to those important questions, nor do they come easily to anyone — so be sure to put sufficient time into them.

2) When your work isn’t teaching you what you need to grow.

There’s an important point that An made in her quote above — how much room for growth you have in your current career trajectory, whether that means you’re able to progress in your current job, or do it elsewhere.

If you’re not getting the right learning opportunities in your current workplace, but you’re also short on some of the skills to progress in another role or company, it might be time to think about getting an advanced degree. It’s what Jim O’Neill, HubSpot’s chief information officer, realized early in his career here, when he was also considering leaving to pursue an MBA.

“I couldn’t get it out of my head that I’d be giving up more by leaving the company at that stage than I’d ever be able to learn in business school,” he said. “And while I still might want a graduate degree someday, I was lucky to stay, learn, and grow over the following six years.”

But again — everyone’s experience is different. When O’Neill was contemplating this decision, HubSpot happened to be scaling up, which forced him to learn a lot of crucial business lessons as a byproduct of being in the throes of a company’s earliest stages. Not everyone will be in that same position, and some people will have to seek the lessons O’Neill learned elsewhere.

Depending on the program you choose, an MBA could be the best place to gain this knowledge. So when you’re making this decision, carefully evaluate where you are in your career, and how much you can learn on your current trajectory without an advanced degree.

3) When you actually have the time to dedicate to it.

During my first semester of business school, I was working full-time while also completing my coursework. Granted, most of my classes were at night, which on the surface seems like a convenient arrangement. But as any student will tell you, your academic work extends far beyond the hours you spend in the classroom. There are exams to study for, papers to write, and group projects to complete.

In other words, if you add that to your current professional workload — your nights and weekends are pretty much toast. At least, that was my experience.

That may seem like a sacrifice you’re willing to make, but think about it, in the context of the previous points. Even if you’re certain of your reasons for pursuing an MBA, do you really have the time to dedicate to it? Will you also be able to sufficiently take care of yourself, and spend enough time with loved ones to maintain a measurable level of mental health?

It’s easy to think that the answers to those questions are “yes” — in fact, I told myself that I would have plenty of time to work out between classes or before work in the morning, and to cook healthy meals ahead of time on the weekends. And while that was sometimes true, it required extremely strict time management, and left precious little time to actually relax.

My colleague, Karla Cook — who’s working full-time while pursuing her master’s degree — agrees. “I tell people the only reason they should work full-time while pursuing a graduate degree is if they get offered an opportunity that falls in the ‘dream job’ category,” she explains. “If that’s not the case, then it’s probably not worth completely killing yourself over, because you will have no free time.”

But the good news is, it’s temporary. Business school doesn’t last forever — though it might seem like that while you’re going through it. But before you seriously consider going through this kind of program, have a clear idea of what’s going to make it “worth it” to you. Having that goal in mind gives you something tangible to keep you motivated during these stressful periods.

4) … And when you have the money saved.

They say that “time is money” — and just as you must be sure you’re willing to sacrifice the former, you also have to make certain that you have the latter. Remember those aforementioned dollar figures we cited about the true cost of an MBA? File this point under deciding what will make the degree “worth it,” with “it” being the hundreds of thousands of dollars that your degree will likely cost.

When you’re deciding whether or not to go to business school, ask yourself if you can afford to take on student loan debt. If you’ve just bought a house, paid for a wedding, expanded your family, or bought a car — the answer might be “no,” unless you happen to have a lot of liquid funds at your disposal.

That said, loans aren’t the only answer. You should also see what other resources might be available to you, like scholarships or fellowships, some of which might even be available through the school you end up attending.

When you begin selecting which programs you’ll apply to, explore their respective policies on merit-based financial aid — that’s the kind that you don’t usually have to repay. There are several guides to external merit scholarships available to MBA students, as well, like this one from GoGrad.org.

5) When the program’s career resources will actually help you.

At risk of sounding like a broken record, this point also speaks to the idea of what will make an MBA program “worth it.” Again, everyone’s priorities are different, but if you’re going to business school with the hope of advancing your career with a new employer, make sure the school you choose has the right resources to support your job search.

This factor is one that institutions know prospective students take seriously. In the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Alumni Perspectives Survey Report 2017, 91% of respondents indicated that they found their MBAs to be “professionally rewarding,” and many schools feel a lot of pressure to uphold that significant figure for their own students. For that reason, many graduate students have found advertised career services to sometimes be a bit embellished. Cook echoes that sentiment, and says she’s come across many graduate programs that lack “any useful career benefits,” despite what they claim.

In my own MBA experience, those services weren’t exactly embellished, but they were removed from the university’s budget after I had committed to the program. That wasn’t entirely negative — experiences like those can teach some students crucial lessons on networking and other valuable job search skills. Evaluate the resources available to you through a very fine lens, and consider how much of a priority they are in selecting a business school.

6) When your employer will cover your tuition.

This one seems a bit obvious, but it requires some reading between the lines, so to speak. If your employer will reimburse your MBA tuition, it might seem like a proverbial no-brainer to take advantage of that benefit. But understand what will be required if you do.

First, understand that you’ll most likely have to pay taxes on any amount of reimbursement you receive over $5,250. Also, some employers require you to stay with the company for a certain amount of time upon completion of your degree as a condition of receiving this benefit. Once again — ask yourself what your reasons are for pursuing an MBA. If they include progressing your career in a new work environment, taking a route that requires you to stay with the same employer for at least two years after you graduate might not be the most optimal one.

You might notice that many of these considerations work in tandem. For example, the point above about tuition reimbursement from your employer could be countered by having enough money saved to invest in the degree yourself, or being in a position to use student loans. That’s why we encourage you to spend ample time thinking about all of these factors — getting an MBA isn’t a minor decision.

When an MBA Is Not Worth the Money

1) When you should get a different degree.

Maybe — just maybe — you’ve decided against getting an MBA because it’s simply not the right degree for your career trajectory, or for what you’re hoping to do. If you’re looking to specialize in corporate communications, for example, it might be worthwhile to look into graduate programs that specialize in it, and have the catered career resources to support it.

That idea re-emphasizes the importance of knowing exactly what you’re hoping to gain from an MBA. When you outline your goals, compare them to the standard coursework required of an MBA, and see if they align. If not, it might be time to look into a different academic concentration.

2) When you can work for an emerging or early-stage business.

Remember O’Neill’s great story of how much he learned from sticking with a company that was scaling up — in lieu of pursuing an MBA? As we mentioned earlier, working with a company in its earliest stages often forces its employees, whether they like it or not, to learn a ton of business fundamentals.

In a valuable MBA program, you should learn such fundamentals as managing budgets, personnel, projects, and — when the company really begins to take off — scaling it to keep up with that growth. Sounds a lot like the type of thing that managers have to learn with a new, emerging business, doesn’t it? If that’s the type of work and knowledge you crave, it could be time to look for job opportunities with a company in these early stages.

3) When you can use individual courses to gain the skills you’re missing.

When I was in business school, I was fortunate enough to have some truly great professors. But I also learned something else — without naming names, I realized that while many academic instructors are experts in their respective fields, that doesn’t mean they excel when it comes to teaching.

That meant, for certain subjects, I sometimes had to seek outside resources to supplement classroom teachings — most notably, Khan Academy, an online provider of free classes and courses. I found out about it through a classmate in a particularly difficult class, and once I started using it for that particular topic, I saw how much knowledge the site has to offer.

And while I wasn’t about to abandon my MBA to self-teach via this resource alone, it did make me realize that, for individual areas and skills, sites like these can be a tremendous help to those who aren’t ready to pursue a full degree, but want to improve their professional credentials. And Khan Academy — despite offering a plethora of courses on subjects ranging from economics to art history — is hardly the only resource of this kind. Our favorites include Coursera, edX, HubSpot AcademyLynda, and Udemy. Even better, some of these sites, like Coursera, actually offer classes taught by faculty of some top-tier schools, including Stanford.

To B-School, or Not to B-School

Deciding whether or not to pursue your MBA is a pretty big decision — it can be a significant investment of both time and money. But, for many, it’s worth it. And now, you have a checklist to help make that decision just a little bit easier.

And as for me — the verdict is in. My MBA was worth it. In the thick of my coursework, I did sometimes question, “Why am I doing this?” Plus, I agree that there are many times when the investment just isn’t necessary. But in the end, I remain very happy with my decision to go to business school. I got to experience living in a new city, gain new skills, and figure out what I don’t want to do, which, to me, is a milestone in one’s career progression.

All in all, I think of it as a very productive use of my time — and I want it to be for you, too. You’ll make the right decision. But please, don’t make it in a hurry.

What are your thoughts on pursuing an MBA? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing