Advice I’m Thankful for This Thanksgiving: Ask Amber

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

You may have noticed on Facebook, Twitter or in conversations that many people are participating in an informal thankfulness movement this year, recognizing something that they are thankful for each day in November. Perhaps you are even participating. While I am late to the game, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading lists from friends and family members. Now, I can probably guess what you’re thinking, but don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you by recapping 20 days worth of things I am thankful for. This week, I want to share a short list of the top three pieces of advice (in no particular order) I am thankful I received when preparing for and starting my career. Please feel free to add your own advice, or advice you are thankful you received, in the comments section below. Happy Thanksgiving! Continue reading

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National Philanthropy Day: Painless ways to celebrate

By Katy Snyder, JVA Consulting

By now, you probably know that tomorrow is National Philanthropy Day. What you might not know is that there are many ways to celebrate the day, and some that don’t even require opening your pocketbook. In the spirit of giving, we thought we’d share some of our best ideas with you.

Sign up to volunteer at your favorite nonprofit

Whether it’s a one-time gig serving food at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving or committing yourself to an ongoing mentoring position with local kids, National Philanthropy Day is a great day to commit yourself to getting more actively involved with local nonprofits. Or maybe you would rather stay behind the scenes and volunteer your time stuffing envelopes or helping with administrative duties. Either way, your volunteer hours are priceless to nonprofits and those they serve. Continue reading

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Cover letters that get noticed: Ask Amber

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

Cover letters. You’ve all heard about them, you’ve probably all written them—but are they landing you the interview? I recently read an article entitled: “The Five Biggest Wastes of My Time When I Was Unemployed” and was instantly intrigued by the focus on cover letters. As the author says, if every young professional is receiving the “same, generic, common sense advice” for crafting cover letters, how do you make yours truly shine? The reality is, many employers still require, or at least encourage, cover letters, because if done correctly they can give young professionals a chance to build on their resume and set the stage for an exciting interview. It’s not enough to spell check and write the recruiter’s name correctly at the top of the letter anymore—correct grammar, spelling and punctuation are expected and your letter won’t get extra points just for being typo-free. So, how do you create the cover letter that gets recruiters enthused about meeting you without spending all your precious time adapting the same old form letter? I’m glad you asked!

ONLY apply for jobs you REALLY want

One of my favorite things about the “Five Biggest Ways” article is that the author is very honest about her struggles as a young professional and asks her readers to be honest as well while job hunting. Continue reading

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Professional portfolios—building and using: Ask Amber

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

The value of a well-constructed portfolio is priceless, having the potential to serve as a personal tool for organization and self-assessment and as a visual timeline of your work. defines a portfolio as “an organized collection of documentation that presents both your personal and professional achievements in a concrete way.” Keep that definition in mind when constructing a portfolio, ensuring that each item is a concrete representation of your career growth. To clarify, personal achievements should not include field day participation medals and the like; instead, “personal” achievements should reflect your ongoing community involvement outside of work, including board memberships and volunteer recognition (or, if you are a very recent grad, relevant activities such as internships, clubs and coursework). This week’s Ask Amber will focus on how to build a portfolio from both your personal and professional achievements and how to make it work for you. Continue reading

Posted in Books and articles you want to read, College graduates and nonprofits, Commentary, Gen Xers, Generations, Human resources, Millenials, Trends | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Fun and creative ways to thank your donors: Ask Amber

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

Have you been charged with recognizing donors? Do you wonder where your organization would be without its donors? Individual donors at all levels are as essential to your organization as large foundation grants, so be sure that your individual donors are reminded of this in fun and fresh ways. There are plenty of easy and cost-effective ways to thank your donors that feel personal and will help you cultivate strong relationships. Impress colleagues and donors alike with these creative outreach strategies. Continue reading

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President Obama comes to Sloan’s Lake

By Collin Lessing, JVA Consulting

How often is it that the President of the United States is in your own front yard? For me that’s never happened—until today.

President Barack Obama has spent much of his week in Colorado—debating Mitt Romney at University of Denver on Wednesday and bringing his campaign tour to Sloan’s Lake on Thursday, which is directly across the street from JVA Consulting’s headquarters in Northwest Denver. Usually, Sloan’s Lake serves as the setting for a quick gaze from the window in between grant proposals or strategic planning sessions for the JVA team. This morning, however, several of us crossed the street to join thousands of other enthusiastic members of the Denver community who were interested in hearing what the President had to say. During his speech, the President shared his visions for health care, Medicare, education and reducing the deficit. Continue reading

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Explaining unrelated jobs on your resume: Ask Amber

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

I know firsthand from friends who have had a hard time securing a job in their field that this economy is tough for young professionals, especially those who just graduated from college. This means that in order to stay afloat while trying to land a dream job, many choose to take jobs unrelated to the career path they have chosen. If you’re applying for jobs and considering cutting unrelated experience out of your resume, don’t hit that delete button just yet—gaps in employment or no employment history can hurt your resume more than unrelated work. Approached with the right attitude, unrelated jobs don’t have to be a major hurdle toward future employment in your field. The following is a list of ways you can not only explain away, but also highlight time spent outside the field. Continue reading

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