As I finish up my internship with Enterprise Iowa, I have also graduated with my bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University. In a world forever changed by COVID-19, not only is health on the line making last semesters and graduation ceremonies look very different, but there are millions of graduates looking for jobs in one of the most insecure economies we have seen in history.
Advocates for the character of this generation will say that we are a generation of activism. I remember a professor of mine sending admiration to my classmates and our generation saying something of the following nature:
“My generation and generations before you guys understand that the world can be a dark place, but we tend to accept that’s just the way things are. Your generation understands that the world can be a dark place, but instead you do not accept that’s just the way things are. Instead you see an opportunity to change it.”
So, as we have seen exemplified by this pandemic in multiple ways, the world can sometimes be a dark place. But if anyone is prepared to enter a world of uncertainty, my generation might just be the ones cut out for the challenge.
Although industries as a whole may be scaling back labor costs and become cautious of new hires, it is important to note that jobs are still out there. More importantly, there are companies who are finding increased demand and a need to scale up their business in light of this pandemic. Also, many of these companies are offering phone and video interviews and allowing new hires to work from home as they train and get accustomed to their new job until it is deemed safe to return to the workplace. I have also seen more fully remote positions than I ever remember seeing in the past. And, in the age of technology, it is much easier to find these jobs–and find these jobs safely from your couch–with company website career pages and online job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and Monster. Additionally, LinkedIn is a great source for job postings tied in with a social media aspect. With these resources, it is easy to browse a wide variety of jobs that may pique your interest and match your qualifications. Personally, I’m a big user of Indeed, LinkedIn, and company website career pages.
This is a post targeted towards 2020 graduates, but there is also a record number of unemployed Americans since the Great Depression. Therefore, here are some basic tips for anyone who is in need of employment:
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in your network. Employment is largely about who you know, not what you know. Even if your mom’s best friend is currently unable to bring you on at her office, she may know someone else who is hiring. And, the worst answer you can receive is no, and the answer will always be no if you don’t try.
- Create an aesthetically pleasing resume and cover letter to represent your personal brand. The content, while it does have importance, is probably less important than you think. It is more important to catch the employer’s eye when sifting through a stack of applications. A black and white page filled with 10-point text will probably be overlooked simply because it is boring to look at, not because your resume isn’t impressive. So, keep things simple, easy to read, and add something interesting to catch the eye.
- Be open to applying to and accepting jobs that you may have not previously considered. Especially if you are struggling to find employment, have an open mind when applying for jobs and broaden your horizons. You may be surprised to find out what you enjoy doing, and even if you later figure out that you don’t like it, you can always search for new employment down the road when the opportunity presents itself.
- Apply, apply, apply, and then apply some more. You can expect to hear back from just 10% of jobs you apply to. Additionally, it is unlikely that all of that 10% will result in a job offer (and that 10% statistic is under normal economic circumstances). This statistic is not meant to be discouraging or daunting, it just goes to show that applying to a multitude of jobs is important. So, when it comes to the success of job applications, you will find safety in numbers. And remember, you will face a lot of rejection, so try not to take that too personally.
Here are some other notable facts and pointers to consider while you continue your job search:
- Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, federally administered student loan payments are suspended until September 30th of this year. This act only applies to federal loans and not private loans; however, if applicable, contact your private loan provider to ask about payment relief.
- Research COVID-19 relief scholarships. These funds are obviously not a guarantee, but it may be worth it to apply. Some websites worth checking out are Scholarships.com, Scholly, and FastWeb.
- For immediate relief, see if you qualify for unemployment benefits while you continue your job search. Unemployment benefits and qualifications vary by state, but Iowa’s fact sheet and application can be found here.
All in all, it is important to stay hopeful. That may be easier said than done in the current times we are facing, but try to hone in on the things that bring you joy while keeping sight of the bigger picture. Eventually, something good will come to us all—in this case in the form of a new job—and we will all settle into our new normal.
Quick links to websites mentioned in this article:
Iowa Workforce Development: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits
To promote the safety and well-being of our population during this pandemic, many companies have told their employees to stay home and work remotely. While this is a rather difficult transition for many, there are simple things to do to make life a little bit easier throughout this time. As I write this blog from my couch, I have compiled a list of tips and tricks to stay productive at home.
1) Establish a Routine
Establishing a routine may just be the most important tip for effectively working from home. It will help outline day-to-day activities to stay in line and productive at work. When will I start work? When will I take my lunch break? What can I do to keep me focused and motivated throughout the day? What kind of time needs to be allocated to the tasks I need to complete?These are all valid questions that can be incorporated into a daily routine. Perhaps getting in the routine of keeping and following a schedule or list to follow day in and day out will help keep you on track at work.
2) Get Ready for Work
This is not to say that you still need to dress business casual to work from home (although feel free to if that helps). However, sticking to a morning routine before “heading off to work” will help you get in the right mindset to be a productive employee. My top recommendation for this tip is to continue setting your alarm. Furthermore, before beginning work for the day, try doing simple things such as starting your day with some exercise, hitting the shower, and making breakfast to send a mental signal that you are ready for work.
3) Create a Separate Office Space
You do not need a nice, at home office to utilize this tip. My home office has become one end of my couch with a side table. The important part here is that this is not somewhere I typically sit and lounge on a regular basis. The point is to have a physical separation of your personal and professional lives within your home. It’s possible for this to work out for some people, but the one thing I recommend avoiding is working from bed.
4) Utilize Technology and Keep in Contact with Your Team
Technology is what makes work from home possible. However, a new adjustment for most of us is electronically communicating and coordinating shared documents with everyone. At the office, we are used to having easy access to everything we need and stepping next door to ask a coworker a question. Moving that all online can be a difficult transition. Having shared access to necessary documents through cloud technology is a necessity for team-based environments. It is also important to utilize messaging and videoconferencing apps to maintain good communication with everyone involved in your line of work. Communication is still key!
5) Minimize the Distractions
It is no doubt that an endless number of distractions can come from working at home. Many of us have taken on the extra role of care providers and teachers for children, are sharing spaces with family members also working from home in completely different lines of work, or have new furry coworkers who are always in your business. This is not to mention other simple distractions that arise in a home environment that we do not typically face at the office: How many trips to the fridge will I take today? What new shows are on Netflix? I’ll just take a quick ten minute break to fold some laundry. Again, a solution to this goes back to tip #3. Try to keep a separate office space secluded from many of the distractions you face to remain as productive as possible.
But don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself falling victim to these distractions. Yes, it is important to find ways to stay focused and more productive at work. But more importantly during this time is to be honest about your work. Try to keep detailed notes of when you’re taking breaks and for how long. So, while a small break here and there may be healthy to clear your mind and get back on track, just be honest with the work you have actually completed.
Those are just a few tips to start out with, and you may find that not all of them help or that something completely different helps you the most. What’s important to remember is that many of us are facing the same challenges that come from working at home. I find that most of us are understanding, forgiving, and patient as we are going through the same complications of this transition. In the end, this is not a permanent state and learning how to be productive with your coworkers remotely may end up being a skill we can all benefit from in the future.
Whether you own a small business or lead a large organization, finding new ways to meet objectives can be challenging. Developing a marketing and communications plan can help you identify creative new sources of revenue. From targeting new customers to reeling in potential donors, your marketing strategy is key, and incorporating web services into your overall plan is crucial – after all, your website is the unsung hero when it comes to boosting your brand and increasing earnings.
In today’s digital age, most people rely on the internet to gather information about a potential vendor, investment or product. In many cases, when a user doesn’t know where to look, he or she will engage in a Google search, entering key words to lead them in the right direction.
According to Moz, the average Google search session lasts just under a minute. This means your website needs to appear high in the Google search results listings in order to gain new views, which means paying attention to your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization is the practice of writing and posting web content in a way that encourages search engines to promote it to searchers. Because search engines like Google use an algorithm that helps connect users to content that best matches their search criteria, writing content with this algorithm in mind can be a highly effective marketing and communications strategy for bringing in new business.
Search engine optimization is a complex process that aims to put your company’s name and website in front of more potential customers. While this may not seem like a top priority but instead like a complicated way to spend man hours, it is actually an important strategy for successful online marketing. As a business owner in the Des Moines metro area, this is just another way for you to stay ahead of the competition and see more dollars.
Why Should Your Business Implement an SEO Strategy?
Enhance your company’s web presence by incorporating SEO into your marketing and communications plan. Search engine optimization is a the process of raising your online visibility, and a detailed strategy can help you get the attention and results you need to bring in new customers and encourage repeat clients. In fact, there are three main reasons to implement this type of content strategy: (1) to improve search engine results rankings, (2) to connect with customers more effectively and (3) to establish local authority.
1. You Want to Rank Better in Search Results
Typically, a person uses a search engine to find businesses, choosing — whether they realize it or not — based on rankings. If you’ve performed a Google search for your services and location and noticed your business’s website didn’t show up on the first page of results, you should start looking into SEO strategies. Think about it logically: How are potential customers supposed to find your company when most internet users don’t look beyond the first page of search results? This is where an SEO strategy can make a big difference.
Additionally, by designing content specifically for a local audience, a strategy known as geo-targeting, you can better hone your strategy and bring in more business. Search engines like Google take geo-targeting into consideration when displaying web pages, meaning your company’s website could rank higher with a local-based strategy. An experienced blogging team can not only boost your website’s traffic by increasing visibility with searchers, but also keep up with algorithms, relevant industry topics and local keywords.
2. You Want to Connect With Customers More Effectively
Without the right SEO strategy, it can be difficult to reach your desired audience. In the Des Moines metro area, there is a lot of competition, so you want to have a strong, professional web presence that encourages potential clients to choose you. But if they can’t find you on the web, then they can’t choose you. With a detailed marketing and communications plan that includes SEO, you can better reach your audience and hopefully convert curious searchers into clients.
3. You Want to Establish Your Local Authority
Potential customers want to know that the business they are researching is trustworthy and competent. As a part of search engine algorithms, a large emphasis is placed on having authority as a business, including knowing what you’re doing and providing information to customers effectively. Additionally, if your content uses proper geo-targeting for the Des Moines metro area, for example, people living in Des Moines will see you are knowledgeable on the area and have experience in the industry.
Establishing trust and local authority through SEO can directly influence how your customer base grows. The more content you produce, the more trust you develop with the search engines and the better you will rank, giving your company a competitive edge when it comes to a potential customer’s first impression. In fact, “72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles,” according to a 2017 study by iMPACT. This means that ranking higher for a local Google search for your local services could significantly improve traffic to your website – and hopefully help bring in new revenue. Through detailed web pages, blog posts, and more, you can build a relationship of trust and authority, not only with search engine algorithms but also with searchers.
Should You Hire an Outside Company for SEO?
If you own or operate a business, your time is likely stretched thin already, and curating new content on a regular basis would only further stretch that time. Hiring a company that specializes in web content and maintenance can help you improve your website’s visibility in a simple Google search, as well as posture your business as a local industry expert. Among other things, a company experienced with writing for SEO adapts your website to increase visibility.
If you need help starting a blog or improving SEO on your current website, contact Enterprise Iowa. We help clients generate new, engaging blog content to entice new customers and retain existing ones.
While many issues tend arise when we are least prepared to deal with them, organizations with clear crisis communications plans are in positions better suited for success. In moments of panic, business leaders can often make decisions on a whim, which may reflect poorly on their organization. Creating a crisis communication plan ensures that your entire organization is prepared to deal with communicating with your clients, customers and colleagues when a critical issue arises. Communicating the plan to your entire team and confirming it is well-understood among employees is equally important as the plan itself.
If you’re company is in the not-so-unique position of being without a crisis communication plan, don’t stress. Getting started is as simple as following these six steps.
1. Create a List of Emergency Scenarios
A great place to being is by creating a list of crisis scenarios that would require communications should they occur. Try to think about each and every aspect of your business and how each crisis scenario would impact the day-to-day operations of your customers, clients and employees. For example, is your website down? Is your payment system malfunctioning? Has your office lost electricity? All of these things have an impact on your customers and clients, and you should be prepared to keep them informed to avoid chaos.
2. Determine How You Will Communicate
Every organization has a unique audience. Think about how you would best reach that audience when something goes wrong. Some scenarios may require an email while others may only require a simple message on the home page of your website. Other scenarios may require all of the above. For example, if you are a retail establishment or restaurant facing a loss of power at your location, consider social media as being a possible tool to spread word to current and potential customers. Alternatively, if your organization focuses on web development and has suffered a bug that needs fixing, perhaps a website disclaimer or digital newsletter push would be most effective for reaching your client base. However you tend to communicate with your audience on the best of days is likely going to be the same method to communicate with your audience in a time of crisis. In some instances, you may choose to communicate on more than one channel.
3. Write Copy for Each Scenario and Communications Channel
Now that you have identified all issues, both minor and major, you need to determine what the message says. Depending on which communications channels you use, you may choose to alter your message slightly between channels. Work to produce copy that is clear, concise and appropriate for the chosen communication channel(s), and be sure to avoid further inconveniencing or confusing the audience. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and think through all of the questions they might have and try to address those questions in your messaging.
4. Review the Copy With Your Entire Team
Once you have prepared copy for each scenario, give your team with ample time to review and provide feedback. Members of your team may have a unique perspective to share and may be able to point out additional details that should be included in the messaging. Taking time for this step will ensure that all the important details are covered and that all team members understand the messaging being provided to customers. Making sure the entire team is providing the same consistent message throughout the duration of the “crisis” is vital to successfully getting through it.
5. Create a Templated Guide With Each Scenario and the Associated Messaging
If you plan to use your bulk email service to send out crisis notices, take the time to prepare a draft for each scenario in your system. With the drafts already created, it is simple for a team member to push send on a predetermined email your audience. For other communications channels, such as social media, prepare a simple document that outlines the message for each scenario so that each message can simply be copied, pasted and posted. Your team will be grateful for anything that makes it easier to distribute out a timely message in a time of need.
6. Create a Matrix for Each Scenario
If your company has a lot of scenarios, types of customers and varied communications methods, it may be helpful to create a matrix to outline each scenario and determine who will receive the message, which communications channels will be used to communicate, and how soon and how often communications should occur. This is yet another way to keep your team on the same page and avoid panic when a crisis arises. A matrix can serve as a map so that no decisions are made in a panic.
Creating a crisis communications plan takes collaboration and critical thinking skills. Depending on the complexity of your business, the process to create a plan can be time-consuming and requires careful attention to detail to ensure each component is clear, concise and easily implemented, making dealing with the crisis less cumbersome. The marketing team at Enterprise Iowa has the ability to create a detailed and efficient crisis communication plan to encompass all aspects of your business, ensuring your company is thoroughly prepared to communicate like a pro even in times of crises. Contact us to set up an appointment to discuss devising a unique crisis communication plan for your business.