Part-Time VIPKid Review

Since August, I’ve been working as an ESL teacher through VIPKid and I wanted to give it some time before providing my two cents on it as a part-time income stream. For anyone who doesn’t know what VIPKid is, it’s an online teaching and education platform where teachers (independent contractors) can get certified and then start teaching English to kids online.

I’ll start off by taking you through some of the pros and cons that I encountered in my first 5 months with VIPKid.

Pros

It’s flexible. You have complete flexibility to teach as much or as little as you’d like to. This was the most attractive to me when I started because you can open time slots at your convenience or block off days or weeks as needed.

It’s easy to get started. To qualify as a teacher with VIPKid, you have to have a Bachelor’s degree and no teaching experience is required. If you have any prior experience teaching kids (I don’t), it’s just a bonus. The process to get started as I remember it was submitting your application online, followed by submitting a recorded demo on my phone (2 minutes) and then completing some online training followed by a mock class. Once I got through all of that, I signed a 6-month contract and completed a background check in order to start teaching online. They also make it easy to teach the classes by providing the entire curriculum and there is almost no preparation required for any classes.

You can do it anywhere. As I was getting started with VIPKid I was also thinking about other applications it could have for future travel, like what if I wanted to travel for an extended period of time but still have a part-time job I could take with me wherever I went?

The more you teach, the more you earn. This is a pro and a con- if this is a full-time job for you, you have the opportunity to make more money because VIPKid pays on a tiered system ie. the first 20 classes you earn as an example $8 USD, but for classes 20-40 you’d earn a higher rate, and so on.

Cons

Early mornings. If you’re a morning person, this might be the right job for you! Peak times (when students will book classes) are EARLY, 5:00AM to 8:00AM November to March and 6:00AM to 9:00AM March to November (EST). The first few months were manageable, I didn’t mind getting up super early and it kickstarted my workday. However, during busy periods at my actual job, teaching in the mornings and then going into really long workdays (or nights) was rough.

Building a roster of students. I’d heard that it was tough to get your first few bookings and get recurring students but my first month was good; I booked 10 classes which is more than I’d anticipated and got a few students who became regulars. But that’s where it stopped- since beginning, I’ve averaged about 10-15 classes per month (classes are 25 minutes) and my pay has worked out to be $21/hour CAD depending on the exchange rate from USD to CAD, because VIPKid pays in USD. This was partially on me though- I’m part time and so most days I’d only open limited availability from 6 or 6:30am to 8:00am. There have been the odd days where I’ve booked 3-4 classes in a row but my mornings are rarely booked solid.

So, is VIPKid worth it as a part-time gig? For me, no. Doing this part time, I’ve only earned $100-$150 a month in extra income AND there’s a lot of inconvenience in doing it part time. As an example, there have been many days where I’d only get one booking which meant I was getting up at 5:30am to teach at 6:00am for 25 minutes and then go back to bed or start my workday at an ungodly hour.  

I also just don’t feel like it’s the right side job for me- the kind of energy that teaching for VIPKid demands to keep kids engaged is a lot, but I will say the fact that they’re cute helps.

All in all, this wasn’t the right fit for me but it was an interesting experience! I should also note that on the other end of the spectrum, I have friends and colleagues who have done ESL online teaching through VIPKid or other online platforms for years, really enjoy it and do pretty well with it. I hope that this post was somewhat helpful and feel free to leave any questions you have!

What Does a Recruiter Do?

The right recruiter can be an invaluable resource to a company. Recruiters often have bad reputations and like any profession, there are good ones and bad ones. There are also different kinds of recruiters; there are short term (contract) recruiters hired to help with volume or project recruitment, there are agency recruiters who search on behalf of companies and often have a commission structure of some kind, and then there are internal recruiters, which is where I’ve spent most of my career and so my opinions and experience will be based on just that, the role of an Internal Recruiter.

So what does a recruiter do?

An internal recruiter acts as a strategic partner and searches for the best candidate for a position in a timely manner. As an internal resource and partner, the recruiter is usually dedicated to a client group which can be by region(s) or function(s). They’re often looked to as the subject matter expert and advisor on the talent pool in the industry and the market. Luckily, there are a lot of great options for talent data analytics these days like Talent Neuron and LinkedIn Talent Insights that help to make recruiters even more effective and trusted in our roles.

A recruiter will usually manage multiple searches and in my career I’ve overseen anywhere from 5-50 open requisitions at any given time.

What does a search look like?

When there is a new vacancy, the recruiter will start the search process. The steps I’ve covered below don’t encompass everything and the process for a position may vary and include testing or another form of assessment but we’ll keep it simple.  

Research and Prep: after I’m alerted of a new role or vacancy, I schedule a meeting with the hiring manager and start my research. I familiarize myself with the job, pull data analytics on the existing talent pool in the market, do a quick search on LinkedIn Recruiter to see the talent available, pull some profiles from my pipeline to share (if I’ve got one) and prepare questions that I’ll need to ask the hiring manager in the meeting.

Kickoff Meeting: this is the opportunity to get clarity on the job by having the hiring manager walk me through the position in his/her own words. What are the must have attributes vs. nice to have attributes? What skills and capability gaps need to be addressed? What has past success has looked like and what challenges would someone face coming into the role? All of the data collected in this meeting helps me to be able to speak intelligently to the candidate about the position while also providing me with crucial information for headhunting passive candidates.

The kickoff meeting is also where I can establish expertise and build trust with the client or the hiring manager through presenting data, asking well thought out questions and providing some early profiles for review.

Posting and Sourcing: after the kickoff meeting, I post. For entry level or high-volume roles, you can usually post and attract a strong pool of quality candidates out of the gate. However, because most of the roles I hire for are not entry level I start sourcing as soon as I learn about the vacancy because my goal is to find the best candidate for the position, not just the best applicant.

Phone/Virtual Screens: as I receive applications and connect with passive prospects I conduct phone screens where I qualify candidates, look for red flags, ensure we can afford them and also ensure they align with the company culture through behavioral based questions.

Shortlist Presentation: by this point in the process I’ve got a shortlist of 5-8 qualified and screened candidates that are ideally a mix of applicants and sourced candidates. The profiles and my recommendations go to the hiring manager for review to decide who they’d like to meet with.

Interviews: interviews get scheduled by a coordinator and while they are in progress, I play the waiting game to see which candidates pan out and if we’re going to offer or if there will be a second round of interviews.

Offer and Negotiations: once a top candidate has been identified, I create an offer recommendation that goes to the hiring manager based on the data we have for internal equity, our internal ranges, and candidate expectations. Once the offer has been finalized, this is where recruiters get to give the good news and manage negotiations if necessary.  

Declines: at the end of the process, I decline all candidates who didn’t make it through by phone call or with an email and some feedback.

And then the cycle begins over again! Outside of the searches a recruiter manages, they’re usually working on other things like building pipelines of talent for upcoming roles, developing recruitment strategies, networking, coaching or participating in project work that falls in the talent space.

Would I enjoy being a recruiter?

As a recruiter you have to be client focused, collaborative and willing to go the extra mile to find the perfect candidate. You have to be able to build relationships and trust very quickly, establish expertise in what you do and be able to sell and negotiate, whether it’s negotiating a compensation package or selling a candidate to a hiring manager that doesn’t have the traditional background for the job.

Personally, the thing that I find to be the most rewarding about working in recruitment is working with the business as a strategic partner and an advisor. It’s also extremely rewarding connecting the perfect candidate with the right role for them within a company. Lastly, I love continuously learning about different facets of the business through my role while also getting to participate in and lead some exciting projects within the talent space.

If you have any specific questions, drop them below and I’ll be sure to post a response!

Does Switching Jobs Hurt Your Career?

“Stay at a company for at least two years.” I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been on the receiving end of this advice and heard the same advice passed on to others. Everyone from your colleagues to your family have an opinion on this topic, and as someone who has worked in recruitment for several years and receives detailed resume feedback on the regular from hiring teams, I can tell you that the answer to the question is complicated.

On one hand, there are clear benefits of job hopping. On the other hand, it can impact your reputation and the perception of you as an employee and a candidate.

THE GOOD

Career Advancement

When you job hop (change jobs every 1-2 years), you have the potential to go further faster, especially early in your career when you’re trying to build up a portfolio of skills, knowledge and experience to take on more responsibility. You’re not waiting for that ‘next job’ to come up in your current company and quickly taking on more senior titles.

Job Satisfaction

Switching jobs can help you to find the right company for you. One where you can see yourself staying for the longer term where you have a great team and growth opportunities. If you’re absolutely miserable in a job where there is no resolution, staying in it for years is going to be pretty painful.

Compensation

Changing jobs can be a very lucrative way to increase your salary. Studies have shown that employees who stick around in their current job and company can expect a 3% average annual raise, whereas changing your job/company will get you a 10-20% increase in your salary.

THE BAD

Perception

You may be dismissed by hiring managers. While many employers have become more accepting of shorter periods of employment, I would be lying if I hadn’t supported teams who dismissed resumes of candidates who changed companies every 1-3 years. Hiring managers may not want to invest their time and resources into someone they believe will only stay for a year or two. 

Have Reasoning

If you are a job hopper, it’s likely you’ll be asked about your frequent moves, even if they’re legitimate (maybe you relocated, were a contract worker, or your job was eliminated). Be prepared to explain the reasoning behind each of your moves and tell your story.

It’s Taxing

When you only spend a year or two at each organization, you’re constantly settling in and having to re-prove yourself which can be taxing and stressful.

All in all, changings jobs every few years has clear benefits and where it makes sense and you’re able to explain your reasoning, it can be the right move. But it can be taxing on you to do it frequently while also leaving some hiring managers with the perception that you’re not looking for something long term, even if you are.

If the goal of your next move is to find a place that you stay for the long term, make sure you do your research on the job, the company and the culture to learn as much as you can up front and increase your likelihood of staying. Ask questions and try to get a sense of what it would be like to really work at that company and what advancement and development looks like so that you can make an informed decision on an offer.

10 Great Questions to Ask in an Interview

When you interview with a company, it’s important to remember that an interview is a two-way street. Yes, it’s a chance for the employer to evaluate you but it’s just as important for you to validate if the position and the company are the right fit for you. The question period at the end of the interview is the perfect time to ask any questions that you might have about the position and the company.

The question period is also an opportunity to demonstrate your interest in the role by asking thoughtful questions and showing that you’ve done your research, so always make sure you’re prepared!

There are lots of great questions out there but here are 10 to get you started.

1) How would you describe the company culture?

2) How do you measure success in this role? OR What has past success looked like in this role?

3) What are the biggest challenges someone in this position would face?

4) What other teams or departments does this position work with?

5) Do you have any employee resource groups? (a great question if you’re seeking a company that promotes diversity and inclusion)

6) I read an article about the company doing X, can you tell me more about this? (read current articles about what the company is doing to show you’ve done your research and learn more)

7) What do you like about working for the company?

8) How do you help your team grow professionally?

9) Is there anything that concerns you about my background being a fit for this role that I can address?

10) What are the next steps in the interview process?

How to Get Your Resume Noticed by Recruiters

You might spend days or even weeks perfecting your resume before sending out job applications. But how long does the average recruiter actually spend reviewing your resume? According to a 2018 eye tracking study, Ladders Inc. found that recruiters scan a resume for an average of 7.4 seconds (which is up from 6 seconds in 2012). The resumes that fared well were easy to read and featured simple layouts with clear section and heading titles. Resumes that did not do well were those that were too long with cluttered layouts, multiple columns and little white space.

As a candidate there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting noticed and shortlisted to move forward in the process.

Make your resume easy to read

When recruiters scan your resume they need to be able to easily digest your experience and understand what you do. This means no paragraphs, long winded bullet points, images or an overly creative and distracting format to your resume that makes it difficult to locate information. Recruiters need to be able to clearly locate your current title and company, your previous title and company, start/end dates and education. You can also opt to add a few key bullet points as a summary to the top of your resume to highlight your work experience in a few sentences.

Another consideration in making your resume easy to read is formatting. Keep your resume in reverse chronological order and use a simple, no-fuss font like Times New Roman or Calibri in a font size of 10-12.

Last but not least, keywords, keywords, keywords! Make sure your resume is keyword friendly by including keywords for the skills you think they’d search for based on the position. As an example, if you work in finance and you’ve worked with certain software or programs, include those on your resume. You can also look through the job description to find the most relevant keywords the recruiter might search for.

Don’t make it too long

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how many pages you should keep your resume to. The shorter it is the easier it will be for the recruiter to review, but if cutting your resume to 1 page means cutting out valuable experience or information, don’t do it. Based on your level and the number of years you’ve been working I’d aim to keep your resume between 2-3 pages.

Tailor your resume to the job you’re applying to

Your resume should always be tailored to the role you’re applying to. The easiest way to do this is to look at the job description of the role and draw the shortest line possible between your experience and what is stated in the job description so that it’s clear you’re a match for the position. The more tailored the resume is, the better off you’ll be.  

Highlight your accomplishments

Highlighting your accomplishments can set you apart as an applicant. Recruiters and hiring managers like to see what you were able to accomplish in each role in addition to your day to day responsibilities. You can include a few bullet points for each of your roles to highlight your key accomplishments that lead to tangible results. For example, if you implemented a new program, increased sales by X, or lead a key project start to finish – we want to hear about it (just be sure you’re able to clearly outline how you accomplished these wins as they’ll likely be discussed in the interview process).

Use your network

One of the most effective ways to get your resume noticed is to use the connections in your network. If you know someone at the company you’re applying to who can refer you or forward your resume to the HR department, this can make a huge impact. Company referrals are trusted sources and because of this, referrals who get moved forward to the interview stage of the process statistically have a higher chance of getting hired than other candidates.

Other Tips:

Don’t neglect your LinkedIn profile – make sure it’s up to date and that all of the information on your resume lines up with what you have on LinkedIn.

Remove irrelevant information – anything non-work related, old or irrelevant jobs from the past can all go.

Use action words to describe your responsibilities at each employer – think of words like managed, lead, implemented, etc.

Submit your resume as a PDF – it’s cleaner and it will prevent any formatting errors.

Always double check your resume for spelling errors or typos before sending.

Good luck!

Why a Growth Mindset is the Key to Success

Being able to harness a growth mindset can have implications on your career development. Mindset is everything, and as organizations become more agile and fast-moving, a growth mindset becomes a much higher priority and therefore crucial to your career success. Individuals who have a growth mindset believe their talents can be developed and tend to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset, who are more likely to believe that talents are innate gifts rather than something that can be improved upon through hard work.

A growth mindset is also exactly the opposite of a fixed mindset in that it is quite literally not fixed. Creating a growth mindset is a process – a gradual and conscious process of changing the way you think over time and regularly reflecting on where you utilize your growth mindset vs. your fixed mindset in various areas of your life. A growth mindset is more of a journey than an end-goal and requires critical thinking and a belief in continuous learning.

How does this impact your career?

If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that you’re dealt a specific hand in life including your talents, abilities and intelligence. This belief of an invisible ceiling will likely stunt your career progression at some point.

If you have a growth mindset, you believe in cultivating skills, knowledge and talents through hard work, strategy and feedback. You place less limitations on yourself and your abilities and believe in failing forward and learning.

Through reflection you can start to identify where in your life you utilize your fixed mindset, and where you utilize a growth mindset. Some questions to ask yourself:

Where have you seen challenges as learning experiences?

Do you take advantage of opportunities to develop your skills, knowledge and abilities?

Steps to Foster a Growth Mindset

Fail Forward

Embrace failure and acknowledge that failing does not mean that you are unintelligent or inadequate. When you make an error or a mistake, you haven’t failed, you’ve learned.

Seek Feedback

Feedback is vital to your growth and development, and individuals with a growth mindset accept and embrace feedback for self-improvement.

Prioritize Learning

The process of learning is the key, not necessarily the end result.

Turn Challenges into Opportunities

Having a growth mindset means challenges are just opportunities for learning and improvement.

If you want to read more about the research behind the correlation between mindset and success, I highly recommend Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It’s based on decades of research by the author and world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck and will completely change the way you think.

“No matter what your current ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.” – Carol Dweck

3 Habits for Working Remotely

I must say that working remotely has been the best part of 2020 for me, bar none. It has offered more flexibility and balance between my personal and work schedule and with no hour-long commute to endure, I can effectively do so much more with that free time. However, I have noticed this year that maintaining a healthy boundary between work and home has been extremely challenging because working remotely has made it that much easier to be plugged in all the time.

In the beginning of the pandemic working remotely felt somewhat stressful and I went a little overboard with working trying to make it clear that I was still productive from home. More recently, I’ve found myself rationalizing answering emails while watching TV “after work” and going to log off at 5:30pm and thinking ‘well, let me just knock this one thing off of my to-do list’ and then looking up to find it’s 7pm. This has caused work and home to become one big blur which lead to a bit of burnout recently and I realized I had to make some adjustments.

Separate your workspace

Being able to work from your bed is fun until it isn’t! Drawing a line between where you work vs. where you live is important. If you can physically close the door to your home office at the end of the workday that’s great, but even if you don’t have a home office, working from a specific part of your apartment or room and putting your laptop and work phone away each day when you finish will help to create some separation. 

Have a trigger to kickstart and end the workday

With no commute and no heels to kick off at the end of the day, I was missing a trigger that told my brain that the workday had ended. Your trigger could be anything – getting dressed, meditating, reading, taking a shower, taking a walk or whatever works for you. I’ve found the trigger that starts my day is putting on a pot of coffee in the morning, and the trigger to end my day has been a walk or two around the block. It’s enough time to clear my head and separate myself from work thoughts and technology.

Set a time to log off

It becomes much easier to lose track of time and work late when you’re remote. Setting a hard stop time for yourself will keep your work in check and also prevent it from bleeding into your personal life and the things you need to do after work. I would normally finish up my workday around 4:30pm so I do my best to set a hard stop at 5pm, which gives me a little bit of leeway to finish things up.

While working remotely creates a lot of flexibility, it also allows work to start creeping into your personal life which can create an unhealthy dynamic in your home- balance is key. Setting a few disciplined habits will mean being able to mentally and physically detach from your work more easily, creating a stronger work-life balance for you.

How to Answer: What Are Your Salary Expectations?

There is no trickier question in the interview process for most candidates. Believe me when I say that companies are not trying to trip you up when we ask this question and I often broach this topic in the initial phone interview. What we really want to know is, are you within our salary range? Many organizations have fixed salary ranges and we want to avoid getting too far down the line only to find that we can’t afford you, while also leaving you disappointed.

Why is this such a tricky question?

If you aim too high, you risk putting yourself out of the company’s range completely and thus, out of consideration. If you target too low, the company could lowball you leaving you dissatisfied. Depending on when this question is asked, it could also be difficult for you to gauge your salary expectations without fully knowing what the job entails.

It’s best to do your research ahead of time so that you feel confident going into the interview.

Research competitive market data

Going into the interview, you should have a clear idea of what someone in this role is earning. There are lots of resources available online including Payscale.com, Glassdoor.com, Salary.com, and LinkedIn which now provides salary insights. And be as specific as the data will allow you to; industry, location and any additional details will all provide more targeted and accurate results.

Tip: take the data with a grain of salt and when in doubt, go with your gut. The salary data from these sources should give you a rough idea to build on but they are not the be-all, end all.

Know your worth

While it’s good to be armed with competitive market data, you also need to know the worth of the skills, knowledge, and experience that you bring to the role and that differentiate you from other candidates. No one knows your skillset and its value in your industry better than you! While you do not need to communicate it, know what your bottom line is going into the conversation and be prepared to back it up by highlighting your skills.

Share a range, not a number

When answering the question, I always recommend providing a range (think 10-15k) rather than committing to a specific number that could be too high, could be too low, and could also limit your ability to negotiate later in the process. Never provide any numbers you wouldn’t be happy with, even the lowest end of your range should be a salary you’d be content with.

Be flexible

In addition to salary, there may be other monetary incentives, benefits or perks that you consider valuable, and you can use these as opportunities for negotiation. For example, if you have the salary conversation and find you’re slightly above what the company has budgeted, they may be willing to offer incentives to try to close the gap.

Example Responses:

“While I am flexible, I am looking for between $65,000 to $75,000 annually.”

“Based on market data I’d expect somewhere between $50,000 to $60,000 annually, but I’d like to learn more about the specific responsibilities of the role.”

“I’m open to discussion but based on my current salary and my knowledge of the industry, I’d expect a salary in the range of $80,000 to $95,000, depending on the total compensation package.”

“I would ideally be looking for a salary between $60,000 and $75,000 annually. It’s in line with the industry average and it reflects the skills and experience I would bring to the role. That said, I am flexible and open to hearing more about the company’s range for this position.”

Key Takeaways

  1. Do your research
  2. Know the value of the skills and experience you bring
  3. Express your flexibility
  4. Never provide any numbers you wouldn’t be happy with
  5. Provide a range and not a number
  6. Know your bottom line
  7. Be prepared to negotiate

Why You Should Never Accept the Counteroffer

There have been two instances in my career where I accepted a new job with a different company and when I walked into my managers office to provide my resignation, I was asked what salary I’d be looking for in order to stay. In both situations I was a very taken back, and with one it was downright offensive because I had already tried to negotiate a salary increase months before.

While it can be tempting (and flattering) to hear your manager and company try to bid you back with a higher salary, promise of more responsibility or something else of value to you, the best response is a very polite “no, thank you”, and here’s why.

There was a reason you decided to start a job search and that could have included salary, but probably wasn’t limited to it.

A 2018 study done by Korn Ferry of almost 5000 professionals found that 33% of employees started looking for a job because they were bored and no longer felt challenged in their role. 24% started looking because the company culture didn’t fit with their values, while a smaller percentage noted salary as the top reason to start looking for a new job. And my guess is that prior to starting your search, you had already tried to resolve your concerns, or, your concern was something fixed (like a rough commute).

When your manager comes to you with a counter offer you might wonder: between yesterday and today, what changed? Why are you now being offered the raise you asked for months ago? Why is there now an opportunity for you to lead that project? It isn’t that your value is suddenly apparent to your manager. It’s because your leaving not only causes a disruption in work and productivity, but it also means hiring and training someone new which is expensive and a large time commitment.

Bottom line: if you ever find yourself on the other end of a counteroffer, take stock of the reasons you started your job search in the first place and be honest with yourself. Would those issues go away or be resolved if you accepted? It’s unlikely.

How to Pivot into a Totally Different Job

Throughout my career, I’ve encountered many folks trying to pivot into totally different jobs and fields within their company. They might feel like there isn’t as much growth potential as they want in their field, they genuinely don’t enjoy their work anymore, or there’s a need to gain skills and experience in a totally different area in order to progress in their career. I can tell you that no matter what you’re doing, it might be difficult but it’s never impossible and there are a few key things you can do to make it happen.

Speak Up

This is crucial if you’re looking to make your move internally with your current company. If you have a performance development routine with your manager, bring it up and add it to your personal development plan with actionable steps. In many companies, your two key supporters will be your direct manager and your HR partner. Making your interests clear to both parties will help them to guide you effectively and champion you when a new role comes up.

Education

Pursue formal learning where required. Completing a certificate or a course is not only a good idea to get a base set of knowledge for certain fields (in some it’ll be required), but it also demonstrates your commitment to making a career change.

Find Ways to Get Experience

I recommend finding ways to get even small amounts of experience in the department you aspire to work in. There are lots of options here including but not limited to job shadowing, volunteering some of your time to help in a different department, short term experiences, short term assignments, the list goes on. Get creative and work with your manager to determine what makes sense based on your time capacity and your existing transferrable skills.

Build Relationships

The relationships and networks you build professionally can be key to helping you progress, especially when there is such a large hidden job market. Network by reaching out to associates or leaders in the department you’re interested in to learn more, express your interest and also get some direction and guidance.

Craft a Compelling Narrative

Hiring Managers are going to want to understand why you’re looking to make a change into a different role or career. Craft a compelling story that ties together your past experiences and interests and how they’ve brought you to where you are now, and why you believe this is the right move for you. Also be sure to include how your skills and knowledge would be of benefit in the new role.

Apply

When those jobs come up, apply! Make sure your resume reads as relevant as possible- have any relevant experience and education front and center so that the hiring manager can easily see your demonstrated commitment and interest, particularly if you’re coming from a different field. And keep at it – it can take time to make a change like this so try to not get discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight.