How to describe volunteer experience in a CV or job interview

Petrina Darrah

Posted: April 8, 2022

Furthering your education and increased work opportunities are two great reasons to volunteer abroad. But, how do you make sure potential universities or employers know about your experiences abroad?

Adding your volunteer work to your CV or talking about it during a job interview is important for several reasons. It allows you to fill in the gaps between jobs, or work and study, and demonstrates any key skills you learnt. You’ll also show your personal commitment to making an impact in the world.

So, how do you make sure you’re communicating your experiences to potential employers or universities?

How to add your volunteering experience to your CV

A GVI volunteer working with children on a program in India. Read how to list volunteer experience on your CV.

The value of volunteering experience is particularly important for recent graduates with limited experience in the workplace, and for volunteers who may have taken several months off from work. 

Adding a description of your volunteer experience to your CV will help complete the timeline of your education and work. It also shows that you have real-world experience, and that your time off wasn’t just for fun.

If your volunteer work is closely related to the job you’re applying for or was a longer internship where you gained specific skills, you can list it the same as you would a job – just make it clear that you held a voluntary role.

Add the details of your volunteering under the professional experience section of your CV. Give your experience a title and date range. Describe your role in the program and your main contributions or achievements.

Ideally, you should tailor each job application to the role you are applying for. Put some thought into how your volunteer experience relates to the specific role. If you have space, list the relevant skills you used or developed while volunteering.

For example, will cross-cultural communication skills be necessary? Then make sure you describe how you volunteered as part of an international team.

GVI volunteers doing agricultural work on a community development program. Volunteer work teaches leadership skills.

Here is an example of volunteer experience listed on a CV:

Professional experience

Volunteer teacher | GVI | Phang Nga, Thailand | February 2018 – March 2018

Completed Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) training, including lesson planning and classroom management training and supported English language learning at local primary, secondary schools and kindergartens.

If your volunteer experience wasn’t strictly related to your professional field, you can list it below the previous employment section under a separate subheading. This section could be titled “community work” or “volunteer experience” and should always appear before your education experience.

Under this heading, add a brief description of your volunteer work, incorporating as many of the soft skills you picked up as possible.

Previous employment experience

Office administration assistant | Private business | Philadelphia | January 2017 – December 2017  

Carried out a range of office-based tasks including invoicing and budget tracking, responding to phone and email communication, and filing documents.

Volunteer experience

Marine conservation volunteer in Belize | January 2018

Volunteered with GVI for three weeks, assisting in an essential conservation program. Attained PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification while carrying out research on marine species.


Bachelor of Arts in Communications | Philadelphia University | 2016

GVI volunteers on a marine conservation expedition. Describe your volunteer experience on your resume.

Discussing your volunteer work in an interview

Mentioning volunteer experience in an interview gives candidates an advantage. While talking about a previous job might cover specific skills you have, volunteer experience says a lot about your personality and core values.

Your employer will be interested in your character as well as your experience, so mentioning your commitment to social responsibility, your motivation, and go-getter attitude is a huge advantage.

International travel is also a good indicator of maturity. For this reason, don’t shy away from talking about your gap year volunteering. Spending time overseas as a volunteer is more than just self-indulgent travel.

Instead of simply brushing over your time away, make sure it’s clear that you weren’t sitting around doing nothing during your year off. Talk about the benefits of your gap year and anything interesting that you did, or any lessons learnt. For example, volunteering is usually an excellent way of developing strong people skills.

For anyone new to working, or trying to break into a different field, volunteering is a credible substitute for paid work. Use your volunteering to show that you are a passionate and motivated individual, with both practical experience and well-established soft skills.

Often, interviewers are looking for real examples of when you used a skill, or where you picked up a certain competency. For these kinds of behavioural questions, skills developed on a volunteer project are just as relevant as those from a regular job.

Essentially, you can use volunteering experience in a response in the same way you would talk about paid work. Here’s an example of how to use your volunteer experience when answering an interview question:

Volunteer leadership experience can also be built while doing conservation work. This is a GVI volunteer working to protect sea turtles.

Question: Why are you a good fit for this role?

Response: I’m a great candidate for this role because I know how to think on my feet and communicate well with others. While volunteering in Thailand teaching English, I worked in a fast-paced environment alongside people from a range of different cultures. Although volunteer tasks were clearly delegated, I had to be able to adapt to any unexpected changes in the schedule and adjust my work accordingly.

More common interview questions where you can mention your volunteer work include:

  • Describe your leadership style.
  • Tell us about a time you faced a challenge and how you dealt with it.
  • What motivates you?
  • Describe your key strengths and weaknesses.

Volunteering abroad gives you skills such as flexibility, intercultural fluency and independence, as well as a more complete understanding of global issues. These factors are sure to enhance your employability.

Take the first step in expanding your career development by browsing through GVI’s global programs. You can equip yourself with the knowledge and skills needed to turn your passion for making an impact into a full-time job.

We understand that you may have questions about how COVID-19 will affect your travel plans. Visit our FAQs page which explains our latest safety protocols in response to COVID-19. 

Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

Article by Petrina Darrah

By Petrina Darrah

Petrina Darrah is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for outdoor adventure and sustainable travel. She has been writing about travel for more than five years and her work has appeared in print and digital publications including National Geographic Travel, Conde Nast Travel, Business Insider, Atlas Obscura and more. You can see more of her work at

Tips for Staying Safe at Work

A simple list of things people can do to stay safe at work

  • Keep your purse, wallet, keys, or other valuables with you at all times or locked in a drawer or closet.
  • Check the identity of any strangers who are in your office. If anyone makes you uncomfortable, inform security or management immediately.
  • Don’t stay late if you’ll be alone in the office. Create a buddy system for walking to parking lots or public transportation after hours, or ask a security guard to escort you.
  • Report any broken or flickering lights, dimly lit corridors, broken windows, and doors that don’t lock properly.
  • If you notice signs of potential violence in a fellow employee, report this to the appropriate person. Immediately report any incidents of sexual harassment.
  • Know your company’s emergency plan. If your company does not have such a plan, volunteer to help develop one.
  • If the company does not supply an emergency kit, keep your own emergency supplies (flashlight, walking shoes, water bottle, nonperishable food, etc.) in a desk drawer.
  • If you work at home, in addition to making your home safe and secure, you should hang window treatments that obstruct the view into your office. You don’t want to advertise your expensive office equipment.
  • Review your insurance policy—almost all policies require an extra rider to cover a home office.
  • Mark your equipment with identification numbers, and keep an updated inventory list (with photos, if possible) in a home safe or a bank safe-deposit box. It’s a good idea to keep backups of your work in a secure, separate location as well.
  • Follow the same caution with deliveries and pickups that businesses do. Anyone making a delivery to your home office should be properly identified before you open the door. Do not let the person enter your home. If you own the company, take a hard look at your business—physical layout, employees, hiring practices, operating procedures, and special security risks. Assess the company’s vulnerability to all kinds of crime, from burglary to embezzlement. Follow basic crime prevention principles, and work with local law enforcement to protect your business.

How Volunteering Can Positively Impact Employee Wellness and Community Engagement

Volunteering can be a win-win for employee wellness and community engagement.

ON 2/3/23 AT 8:00 AM EST

planting tree

The New Year has come and gone, and many may have already forgotten what they had resolved to do on January 1. But if that resolution was to volunteer more, now is the best time to start.

Volunteering can drop after the holiday season, and by February, some organizations lack the volunteers they had in surplus just a month ago. According to the Sightlines Project, only 26% of American surveyed volunteer, despite reports that many American view volunteering as worthwhile. Why such a disconnect? Most people cite time and conflicting work schedules as major barriers, but employees and employers would actually benefit if companies made employee volunteering part of the job.

Researchers have found donating our time and talent to others who need it can lower blood pressure, boost happiness and improve mental and physical health. Studies have also linked employee volunteer programs with more productive and engaged employees, all while helping a company meet its community engagement ambitions. With so much emphasis on employee wellness these days, company volunteer programs could be the perfect 2023 resolution to ensure we are all taking care of ourselves and our communities.

A Bridge Between Personal and Professional

As hybrid and remote teams further blur the lines between work and personal life, more employees than ever are taking their work home with them. But this increased flexibility also brings more opportunities to bridge the gap between personal and professional interests and make the workplace more fun and fulfilling. Companies can embrace these new opportunities by allotting time for their workers to volunteer for causes they care about.

From ‘traditional’ volunteering opportunities, like working at a soup kitchen, to something that aligns more closely with their interests, like teaching a free class: Employees benefit from helping others. Most employees have personal passions they may not bring to work. Volunteering lets us take advantage of skills we may not get to exercise in our regular day-to-day. Not only is it fun to engage more of our talents, but we feel more fulfilled, which helps us bring our whole selves to work.

I had a colleague who always wanted to be on stage but never had the opportunity. When the conversation about volunteering arose, they combined this passion with giving back to their community and decided to help out at a local theater. Volunteering got their foot into a door they had long desired to enter, giving them the courage to try something new and fun they always wanted to pursue.

Volunteering Rejuvenates

For volunteering to benefit employees and the workplace, the entire organization needs to be involved. By allowing employees to donate their time during work hours, the workplace becomes an outlet for personal fulfillment without affecting personal time. In one survey, 89% of employees perceived companies that sponsored volunteer activities as fostering a better working environment, and 75% said volunteering was critical to their well-being. Company-sponsored volunteer programs rejuvenate employee morale, workplace atmosphere and brand perception.

For the past few years, I’ve worked with a colleague who makes beautiful centerpieces. She can utilize her three volunteering days (a benefit we’ve had for over 10 years) to buy the materials, bring them to work and raffle them off, with all of the money going to charity. People loved it, so when she found herself with an abundance of materials this past season, she decided to hold a workshop where she taught us how to make them. Everyone worked together to learn a fun new skill, and all of the pieces were later raffled off for charity. By allowing this volunteer effort during work hours, she amplified her typical contribution while sharing her gift with the team, who learned and grew from the experience.

Responsibility Matters

Recruiting statistics continuously reinforce the narrative that employees care about community-conscious brands, and employers are starting to take notice. Older reports show that corporate responsibility can increase employee productivity and even revenue — while also demonstrating that some employees would consider a pay cut in exchange for working at a company that demonstrates social responsibility. With this in mind, some companies already offer employees paid volunteer time off.

A social responsibility program built around volunteerism can improve an organization at every level, all the way down to each individual employee. When companies promote volunteerism during the workday, they support employee personal growth and development while reaping key business benefits beyond workplace satisfaction. Employees who volunteer on company time also build key skills and cultivate stronger relationships with their co-workers. Meanwhile, the organization gains recognition for its significant impact on the community.

Volunteerism tends to spike between Thanksgiving and New Year and then drastically decreases for the remainder of the year. With company support, more people can keep up their motivation to do more good in more places. Leaders can start by embracing volunteering initiatives themselves and inspire the rest of the company with their beneficial impact — for the volunteer, those they help and the company that sponsors their volunteer activities.

A new approach to human resources

Photo by Felix Mittermeier

By Sandra Durth, Neel Gandhi, Asmus Komm, and Florian Pollner

Interviews with more than 100 chief human resources officers and people leaders reveal how the HR operating model is changing to drive value in a volatile business environment.

The way in which organizations manage people used to be relatively straightforward. For more than two decades, multinational companies generally adopted a combination of HR business partners, centers of excellence, and shared service centers, adjusting these three elements to fit each organization’s unique nature and needs.

Today, this approach—introduced by Dave Ulrich in 19961—is rapidly evolving. In interviews with more than 100 chief human resources officers (CHROs) and senior people leaders from global multinational businesses, we identified five HR operating-model archetypes that are emerging in response to dramatic changes in business and in the world—including heightened geopolitical risks, hybrid working models, and the rise of majority-millennial workforces.

These emerging operating models have been facilitated by eight innovation shifts, with each archetype typically based on one major innovation shift and supported by a few minor ones. The key for leaders is to consciously select the most relevant of these innovation shifts to help them transition gradually toward their desired operating model.

Eight innovation shifts driving HR’s new operating models

Today’s increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and often ambiguous business environment is forcing companies to transform at an unprecedented pace. The global COVID-19 pandemic and rapid evolution of workplace technology have accelerated the adoption of various alternative, hybrid working models—as well as new challenges in monitoring employee conduct and performance. The emergence of majority-millennial workforces has led to a profound shift in employee preferences. And the “Great Attrition” of workers,2 exacerbated by demographic developments in many parts of the world, has intensified existing talent shortages.

HR plays a central role in navigating this upheaval, creating a need for the function to rise to a new level of adaptability and responsibility.3 While every organization has its own trajectory and HR operating model, our interviews with senior leaders revealed that organizations are innovating in ways that are collectively changing the HR function from the “classic Ulrich model”:

  1. Adopt agile principles to ensure both strict prioritization of HR’s existing capacity and swift reallocation of resources when needed, enabling a fundamentally faster rate of change in the business and with people and how they work.
  2. Excel along the employee experience (EX) journey to win the race for talent in the time of the Great Attrition,4 enabling both employee health and resilience.
  3. Re-empower frontline leaders in the business to create human-centric interactions, reduce complexity, and put decision rights (back) where they belong.
  4. Offer individualized HR services to address increasingly varied expectations of personalization.
  5. ‘Productize’ HR services to build fit-for-purpose offerings with the needs of the business in mind, and to enable end-to-end responsibility for those services through cross-functional product owner teams in HR.
  6. Integrate design and delivery with end-to-end accountability to effectively address strategic HR priorities, reduce back-and-forth, and clarify ownership.
  7. Move from process excellence to data excellence to tap into novel sources of decision making using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  8. Automate HR solutions to drive efficiency and capitalize on the power of digitalization in HR.

These innovation shifts are driving the emergence of new HR operating models, albeit with different degrees of influence depending on the nature of individual organizations (Exhibit 1). In analyzing the drivers, we identified five HR operating archetypes.

Exhibit 1

HR leaders think excelling along the employee experience journey will have the  most impact.

We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:

Five emerging HR operating models

These eight innovation shifts have enabled companies to rethink how they manage their people and the best way to do so. Exhibit 2 shows the five emerging HR operating models we identified, which are all enabled by two core elements: a strong, consistent data backbone and a user-friendly, highly reliable service backbone. When asked which two archetypes best fit their HR operating model, 48 percent of people leaders attending a recent webinar selected Ulrich+, 47 percent EX-driven, 36 percent leader-led, 31 percent agile, and 6 percent machine-powered.5

Exhibit 2

There are five emerging HR operating models.

We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:


This model is an adaptation of the classic Ulrich model, with HR business partners developing functional spikes and taking over execution responsibilities from centers of excellence (CoEs). In turn, CoEs are scaled down to become teams of experts and selected HR business partners. They are supported by global business services and have a digital operations backbone. Many CHROs believe the classic Ulrich model is not up to solving today’s HR challenges, with HR business partners lacking the skills and time to keep up with the latest HR developments. Inflexible CoEs limit agile reactions, while other organizational boundaries have steadily become more permeable. Multinational businesses with mature and stable business models are often the ones that experience these pain points.


An agile transformation

This model calls for a smaller number of HR business partners, with an emphasis on counseling top management, while CoE professionals focus on topics such as data and analytics, strategic workforce planning, and diversity and inclusion. The freed-up resources are pooled to implement cross-functional projects. CHROs who favor this operating model believe that HR needs to accelerate to keep up with the increased focus on execution exhibited on the business side and to prevent HR from hindering rapid transformation. Companies are applying this and other agile methodologies when experiencing rapid growth or discontinuity. (For an example of this model, see sidebar “An agile transformation.”)


Optimizing the employee experience

This model is meant to help CHROs gain a competitive advantage by creating a world-class EX journey. Putting EX first means allocating disproportionate resources toward “moments that matter.” For example, HR, IT, and operations experts could be granted full responsibility to jointly plan, develop, and roll out a critical onboarding process. By creating a world-class EX, HR becomes the driving force in bridging cross-functional silos and in overcoming the patchwork of fragmented data and processes that many organizations suffer from today. The companies employing this model are highly dependent on their top talent, with a small set of clearly defined competencies. (For more on this model, see sidebar “Optimizing the employee experience.”)


In this model, CHROs transition HR accountability to the business side, including for hiring, onboarding, and development budgets, thereby enabling line managers with HR tools and back-office support. This archetype also requires difficult choices about rigorously discontinuing HR policies that are not legally required. Too much oversight, slow response times, and a lack of business acumen in HR have led some companies to give line managers more autonomy in people decisions. Companies exploring this choice typically have a high share of white-collar workers, with a strong focus on research and development.


With this model, algorithms are used to select talent, assess individual development needs, and analyze the root causes of absenteeism and attrition—leaving HR professionals free to provide employees with counsel and advice. As digitalization redefines every facet of business, including HR, CHROs are looking for ways to harness the power of deep analytics, AI, and machine learning for better decision outcomes. Organizations that are experimenting with this are primarily those employing a large population of digital natives, but HR functions at all companies are challenged to build analytics expertise and reskill their workforce.

Innovation shifts shaping HR model archetypes

While innovation shifts have shaped the traditional HR operating model and led to the emergence of new archetypes, not all innovation shifts are equal. Each archetype is typically based on one major innovation shift and supported by a few minor ones (Exhibit 3).

Exhibit 3

Different operating models are based on different innovation shifts.

We strive to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to our website. If you would like information about this content we will be happy to work with you. Please email us at:

For example, a leader-led archetype is mainly shaped by the shift of empowering the leaders and the front line. At the same time, it gives more flexibility to the needs of the individual (the “cafeteria approach”) because leaders have more freedom; it also builds on digital support so leaders are optimally equipped to play their HR role. Alternatively, an agile archetype is strongly focused on adapting agile principles in HR, but it typically also aims to move toward a productized HR service offering and strives for end-to-end accountability.

The critical decision for senior people leaders is to consciously select the most relevant of these innovation shifts to transition gradually toward their desired operating-model archetype. For example, the leader-led model puts business leaders, rather than HR, in the driver’s seat, allowing line managers to choose the right HR offerings for their individual teams. And for companies that decide to deploy machine-powered HR, the key is building and relying on deep analytics skills. This model uses integrated people data to make targeted, automated HR decisions.

In large, diversified organizations, CHROs may find that different archetypes fit the differentiated needs of specific businesses better and may adopt a combination of HR operating models.

Transitioning to a target operating model

Transitioning to a future-oriented archetype is typically a three-step journey. First, CHROs and their leadership teams align on the right operating-model archetype for their organization based on the most pressing business needs, expectations of the workforce, the wider organizational context, and the company’s dominant core operating model. In large, diversified organizations, CHROs may find that different archetypes fit the differentiated needs of specific businesses better and may adopt a combination of HR operating models.

Second, HR leadership teams prioritize the three or four most relevant innovation shifts that will move their function toward their chosen operating-model archetype. When doing this, people leaders need to reflect on strategic HR priorities and, even more important, the shifts required to establish the operating model given its feasibility, the potential limits to the speed of implementation, and the magnitude of change. (Today, we find that the capacity to change the HR information system is often the most limiting factor.) For example, if a company is operating in a traditional hierarchical “command and control” way, the sole shift of HR into an agile archetype requires profound and demanding changes to ways of working, likely beyond only HR. Similarly, a business accustomed to a “high touch, concierge service” HR approach will find that a shift to a leader-led archetype is challenging and requires significant effort to implement.

Finally, teams think comprehensively about the transition journey, working toward core milestones for each of the prioritized innovation shifts individually and ensuring a systemic, integrated transformation perspective at the same time. This requires mobilizing for selected shifts, building new capabilities, and acting on an integrated change agenda in concert across business and HR.


Sandra Durth is a senior expert and associate partner in McKinsey’s Cologne office, Neel Gandhi is a partner in the New York office, Asmus Komm is a partner in the Hamburg office, and Florian Pollner is a partner in the Zurich office.

The authors wish to thank Fabian Schmid-Grosse and Christian Winnewisser for their contributions to this article.

Computer vision syndrome

Computer vision syndrome, also referred to as digital eye strain, describes a group of eye- and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer, tablet, e-reader and cell phone use.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing digital screens for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of digital screen use.

The average American worker spends seven hours a day on the computer either in the office or working from home. To help alleviate digital eyestrain, follow the 20-20-20 rule; take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes.

Causes & risk factors

Viewing a computer or digital screen often makes the eyes work harder. As a result, the unique characteristics and high visual demands of computer and digital screen viewing make many individuals susceptible to the development of vision-related symptoms. Uncorrected vision problems can increase the severity of computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eyestrain symptoms. Viewing a computer or digital screen is different than reading a printed page. Often the letters on the computer or handheld device are not as precise or sharply defined, the level of contrast of the letters to the background is reduced, and the presence of glare and reflections on the screen may make viewing difficult.

Viewing distances and angles used for this type of work are also often different from those commonly used for other reading or writing tasks. As a result, the eye focusing and eye movement requirements for digital screen viewing can place additional demands on the visual system. In addition, the presence of even minor vision problems can often significantly affect comfort and performance at a computer or while using other digital screen devices. Uncorrected or under corrected vision problems can be major contributing factors to computer-related eyestrain. Even people who have an eyeglass or contact lens prescription may find it’s not suitable for the specific viewing distances of their computer screen. Some people tilt their heads at odd angles because their glasses aren’t designed for looking at a computer or they bend toward the screen in order to see it clearly. Their postures can result in muscle spasms or pain in the neck, shoulder or back.

In most cases, symptoms of CVS occur because the visual demands of the task exceed the visual abilities of the individual to comfortably perform them. At greatest risk for developing CVS are those persons who spend two or more continuous hours at a computer or using a digital screen device every day.


The most common symptoms associated with CVS or digital eyestrain are:

  • Eyestrain.
  • Headaches.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Neck and shoulder pain.

These symptoms may be caused by:

  • Poor lighting.
  • Glare on a digital screen.
  • Improper viewing distances.
  • Poor seating posture.
  • Uncorrected vision problems.
  • A combination of these factors.

The extent to which individuals experience visual symptoms often depends on the level of their visual abilities and the amount of time spent looking at a digital screen. Uncorrected vision problems like farsightedness and astigmatism, inadequate eye focusing or eye coordination abilities, and aging changes of the eyes, such as presbyopia, can all contribute to the development of visual symptoms when using a computer or digital screen device.

Many of the visual symptoms experienced by users are only temporary and will decline after stopping computer work or use of the digital device. However, some individuals may experience continued reduced visual abilities, such as blurred distance vision, even after stopping work at a computer. If nothing is done to address the cause of the problem, the symptoms will continue to recur and perhaps worsen with future digital screen use.


CVS, or digital eyestrain, can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing, with special emphasis on visual requirements at the computer or digital device working distance, may include:

  • Patient history to determine any symptoms the patient is experiencing and the presence of any general health problems, medications taken or environmental factors that may be contributing to the symptoms related to computer use.
  • Visual acuity measurements to assess the extent to which vision may be affected.
  • A refraction to determine the appropriate lens power needed to compensate for any refractive errors (nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism).
  • Testing how the eyes focus, move and work together. In order to obtain a clear, single image of what is being viewed, the eyes must effectively change focus, move and work in unison. This testing will look for problems that keep the eyes from focusing effectively or make it difficult to use both eyes together.

This testing may be done without the use of eye drops to determine how the eyes respond under normal seeing conditions. In some cases, such as when some of the eyes’ focusing power may be hidden, eye drops may be used. They temporarily keep the eyes from changing focus while testing is done. Using the information obtained from these tests, along with the results of other tests, a doctor of optometry can determine the presence of CVS or digital eyestrain and advise treatment options.


Solutions to digital screen-related vision problems are varied. However, they can usually be alleviated by obtaining regular eye care and making changes in how the screen is viewed.

In some cases, individuals who do not require the use of eyeglasses for other daily activities may benefit from glasses prescribed specifically for computer use. In addition, persons already wearing glasses may find their current prescription does not provide optimal vision for viewing a computer.

  • Eyeglasses or contact lenses prescribed for general use may not be adequate for computer work. Lenses prescribed to meet the unique visual demands of computer viewing may be needed. Special lens designs, lens powers or lens tints or coatings may help to maximize visual abilities and comfort.
  • Some computer users experience problems with eye focusing or eye coordination that can’t be adequately corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses. A program of vision therapy may be needed to treat these specific problems. Vision therapy, also called visual training, is a structured program of visual activities prescribed to improve visual abilities. It trains the eyes and brain to work together more effectively. These eye exercises help remediate deficiencies in eye movement, eye focusing, and eye teaming and reinforce the eye-brain connection. Treatment may include office-based as well as home training procedures.

Viewing the computerCorrect body posture

Proper body positioning for computer use. Some important factors in preventing or reducing the symptoms of CVS have to do with the computer and how it is used. This includes lighting conditions, chair comfort, location of reference materials, the position of the monitor, and the use of rest breaks.

  • Location of the computer screen. Most people find it more comfortable to view a computer when the eyes are looking downward. Optimally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees below eye level (about 4 or 5 inches) as measured from the center of the screen and 20 to 28 inches from the eyes.
  • Reference materials. These materials should be located above the keyboard and below the monitor. If this is not possible, a document holder can be used beside the monitor. The goal is to position the documents, so the head does not need to be repositioned from the document to the screen.
  • Lighting. Position the computer screen to avoid glare, particularly from overhead lighting or windows. Use blinds or drapes on windows and replace the light bulbs in desk lamps with bulbs of lower wattage.
  • Anti-glare screens. If there is no way to minimize glare from light sources, consider using a screen glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
  • Seating position. Chairs should be comfortably padded and conform to the body. Chair height should be adjusted so the feet rest flat on the floor. Arms should be adjusted to provide support while typing and wrists shouldn’t rest on the keyboard when typing.
  • Rest breaks. To prevent eyestrain, try to rest eyes when using the computer for long periods. Resting the eyes for 15 minutes after two hours of continuous computer use. Also, for every 20 minutes of computer viewing, look into the distance for 20 seconds to allow the eyes a chance to refocus.
  • Blinking. To minimize the chances of developing dry eye when using a computer, try to blink frequently. Blinking keeps the front surface of the& eye moist.

Regular eye examinations and proper viewing habits can help to prevent or reduce the development of the symptoms associated with CVS.


Prevention or reduction of the vision problems associated with CVS or digital eyestrain involves taking steps to control lighting and glare on the device screen, establishing proper working distances and posture for screen viewing and assuring that even minor vision problems are properly corrected.

Suggestions for computer vision syndrome sufferers

  • Don’t take a vision problem to work. Even if glasses are not needed for driving, reading or other activities, they still may offer benefits for a minor vision problem that is aggravated by computer use. A mild glasses prescription may be needed to reduce vision stress on the job. It’s a good idea for computer users to get a thorough eye exam every year.
  • Glasses should meet the demand of the job. If glasses are worn for distant vision, reading or both, they may not provide the most efficient vision for viewing a computer screen, which is about 20 to 30 inches from the eyes. Tell the doctor about job tasks and measure on-the-job sight distances. Accurate information will help get the best vision improvement. Patients may benefit from one of the new lens designs made specifically for computer work.
  • Minimize discomfort from blue light and glare. Blue light from LED and fluorescent lighting, as well as monitors, tablets and mobile devices, can negatively affect vision over the long term. Special lens tints and coatings can reduce the harmful impact of blue light. Minimize glare on the computer screen by using a glare reduction filter, repositioning the screen or using drapes, shades or blinds. Also, keeping screens clean; dirt-free and removing fingerprints can decrease glare and improve clarity.
  • Adjust work area and computer for comfort. When using computers, most people prefer a work surface height of about 26 inches. Desks and tables are usually 29 inches high. Place the computer screen 16 to 30 inches away. The top of the screen should be slightly below horizontal eye level. Tilt the top of the screen away at a 10- to 20-degree angle.
  • Use an adjustable copyholder. Place reference material at the same distance from eyes as the computer screen and as close to the screen as possible. That way the eyes won’t have to change focus when looking from one to the other.
  • Take alternative task breaks throughout the day. Make phone calls or photocopies. Consult with co-workers. After working on the computer for an extended period, do anything in which the eyes don’t have to focus on something up close.

How to ace your video interview

Written by: Laura DeCarlo

Published on: Jan 27, 2022

video interview laptop blue table

(Image: Anna Shvets)

When it comes to the interview, nothing beats an in-person, face-to-face meeting. However, a video conference is considered the next best thing by many employers, and has become increasingly popular – especially with the rise of remote and hybrid workplaces.

Though you might expect a video interview to be more-or-less the same as an in-person interview, there are specific issues you need to prepare for. Here’s a rundown of measures to follow for success.

Before the interview

When the interview is being scheduled, ask these very important questions:

  • Which technology do they plan to use? Many different options exist, and you need to know which one is being used so you can be ready when the interview starts.
  • Who will be interviewing you? Ask for the names and job titles of the people who will be – or who might be – interviewing you. This allows you to address them correctly, and also to learn as much as you can about them. (Being interviewed by an automated system?
  • How long will the interview last? They should have an estimate, though sometimes (as in “live” interviews) it will run longer or shorter than expected.

Prepare as you would for any other interview: Do your research in advance about the employer and their services. Prepare answers to the most common interview questions in a way that emphasizes your fit for this job. Have your own questions ready to ask the employer to demonstrate your interest in the opportunity.

Be sure to download any necessary software well before the interview is scheduled so you can set up an account and test your equipment. Be sure to test your connection and your comfort with communicating by web camera.

Also, consider what you’ll wear in terms of minimizing distractions over video. Some tips:

  • Avoid large plaids and prints which may be overwhelming on the screen.
  • Consider a pastel color rather than white, because white may glare.
  • If wearing white, add a dark jacket to cut down on glare.
  • Red should be avoided if possible for its tendency to “bleed.”
  • Cut out flashy jewelry that will catch the light.

Also, try to avoid all-light or all-dark clothing, as a camera’s automatic brightness control can be tricked by these. For instance, too much light-colored clothing can cause the camera to darken the picture, making your face appear shadowed.

Setting up your space

The best place to field an interview is at home. Of course, do not do this interview from your workplace if you currently have a job. That can be a quick way to lose your job (and also makes interruptions more likely).

Assuming your video conferencing account is set up and your equipment is tested, your next concerns are the setting:

  • Put the computer on a solid surface like a table or desk, not your lap, so that you can move easily without shaking the image seen by the interviewer.
  • Place lighting in front of you, preferably somewhat above you (most of us look better that way), or let in outdoor light so that it hits your face (not on the back of your head).
  • Sit in front of a blank wall (if possible) so that the background behind you isn’t cluttered or distracting. If you don’t have a blank wall, stretch a plain blanket or sheet behind you.
  • Position the camera so that things beside you aren’t visible. A picture or window behind you may be fine, as long as lights don’t bounce off the glass and into the camera.
  • If you normally wear make-up, wear a bit more than usual.
  • Have the necessary documents in front of you: the job description, the resume and/or application you submitted, the names and job titles of the people interviewing you (plus any notes you have about them), examples of your work (with URLs, if appropriate), and anything else that you may need during the interview.

It’s best to do some test runs with your equipment and talking points, particularly if you are at home for the interview.

During the interview

Consider these final tips for fielding the interview:

  • The camera is your “eye contact” with the interviewer. Look directly at the camera, not at your computer screen, when answering questions. Try to imagine that the interviewer is behind the camera lens.
  • Be aware of the transmission delay (typically about a half second). Pause for the interviewer to comment.
  • Be yourself: Speak naturally. Think of the interviewer as sitting across a table from you.
  • Keep the microphone muted when you aren’t speaking. Try not to shuffle papers, drum fingers, or make unnecessary noise near the microphone, which may cause the camera to shift to the site of the noise.
  • Avoid too much body motion as this may create blurry or jumpy images on the receiving end.
  • Have family members and friends out of the house during the scheduled interview time so you have no distractions. This goes for barking dogs and nosy cats as well.
  • Turn off your cellphone and any other regular alert noises to avoid interruptions.
  • Dress professionally from head to toe even though you can only be seen from the chest up. You may need to jump up to get something, or simply forget you are on camera – it has happened before, and it will happen again.
  • And again: Keep vital documents spread out in front of you – your resume, the job description, etc. – for easy reference.

As in any job interview, you’ll need to ask some questions at the end of the interview to make sure you know what to expect and how to stay in touch. Among the info you’ll need:

  • The name, job title, and email address of everyone who interviewed you. To send thank-you notes, you’ll need email addresses. Be sure you have the correct spelling of names and emails: Don’t be afraid to confirm if you aren’t sure.
  • The next steps in their hiring process. Will another interview be scheduled? When will you know about the next interview, if there is one?
  • Who will act as your main contact as the hiring process progresses. Again, be sure to get the correct spelling, and ask for their preferred contact method (phone or email).

It is very easy to forget these questions, which will leave you unable to continue the process smoothly and professionally.

After the interview

Promptly send your thank-you note(s) immediately after the interview, one to each person you spoke with. Don’t send the same note to everyone: Make each message unique (and perfect – no typos or misspellings!), because they will likely be shared.

Video-based interviews can pop up for candidates at all levels, especially right now, and with potentially increasing frequency in the future. Practice the strategies above, and you’ll be a natural.

Laura DeCarlo is a resume and career coach, an author, and a writer for

Staying Safe and Well in the Home Office

Home Office

Apr. 1, 2020 Princeton University Environmental Health & Safety

With no commute and everything under one’s own control, working from home can feel safer than a typical day at the office. Yet the home office presents its own set of safety concerns that are easily overlooked in familiar surroundings. 

Here are six common health and safety issues associated with working from home and the best ways to handle them. 

Ergonomics and Exercise

Concerns about sitting and working in the proper position can fall by the wayside as working from home changes established habits. Freed from office chairs and desks, many will move to the bed or couch—not the best places for working on computers or doing repetitive work like typing or data entry. 

Office work should be done in a neutral posture—back straight with lumbar support, hands on the keyboard or mouse with elbows relaxed and arms at the sides; computer or laptop screens should be at eye level. This is best achieved with a conventional desk and adjustable office chair. A straight-backed chair at a kitchen table is an acceptable alternative if an office area is not available in the home. Working hunched over a coffee table or lying back with a laptop propped at an angle is not a good idea and will lead to strain in the lower back, shoulders and arms. 

At the office, people tend to get up often—to chat with colleagues, visit the break room, use the rest room or refill water bottles. With fewer distractions, people working from home are often less likely to leave their seat regularly and vary their posture. EHS recommends dedicating at least 5 minutes of every hour to a non-computer related task, such as standing while talking on the phone, stretching, or a quick walk around the room or yard while focusing on a distant object. 

The Princeton University Occupational Health website offers desk stretching exercise videos(link is external) as part of its useful section of information on ergonomics and computer use(link is external). Interested in yoga? Verywell recommends starting or punctuating your work day with some sun salutations(link is external). Our very own Lewis Center for the Arts offers free online courses(link is external) in ballet, Pilates, yoga, conditioning, hip-hop dance, and music theater dance for Princeton ID holders.

Office Set Up

Remote work should be conducted in a home office style environment when possible, utilizing a computer desk and office chair. If you bring a laptop home, be sure to also bring an external keyboard, mouse and monitor, if these things are available to you. 

Work areas should be well lighted, with room to spread out papers. While placing a printer next to a computer can be convenient, consider setting it up so that you have to rise from your chair to retrieve papers—a trick to get more movement in during the work day. 

Set up your office in a quiet corner or lightly-trafficked area of the home free from distractions such as TV. If work must be done in a common area, arrange with family members for you to have dedicated quiet time (a whiteboard or chart with post-its can help with this). 

In addition to organizing your day, it helps to organize your tasks. Do-to lists and prioritizing work are very helpful to staying focused and productive, as well as reducing stress. We’ve heard good things about the Pomodoro Technique(link is external), a strategy for breaking complex tasks out into short, timed intervals. 

Electronics and Fire Safety

Fire safety rules should never take a hiatus and the same rules apply to the home office as to any workplace. Computers, printers and monitors should be plugged into a power strip with surge protection. Do not “daisy chain” surge protectors or extension cords (plugging one into another to extend reach or number of available plugs). Extension cords should be reserved for short-term, temporary use. 

If using a space heater, plug directly into a grounded wall outlet and maintain at least a three-foot distance from yourself or any other flammable item. Keep heaters out of the way of foot traffic and exit pathways. Choose a space heater with auto-shut off protection and NEVER leave a heater running when you are not present. EHS has additional space heater tips.

Empty your office waste receptacle regularly and don’t allow excessive clutter and paper waste to build up in your work space. Burning scented candles or incense might set a nice mood, but is not recommended.

Finally, all appliances, surge protectors, cords and components in your home should be certified by UL or another nationally-recognized testing laboratory.

Breaks and Quitting Time

As mentioned above, regular breaks are important to being able to maintain energy and focus through the day, as well as avoid problems such as eye strain. As much as possible, establish dedicated blocks to time devoted exclusively to work, with built in breaks for lunch and short breathers, and a clearly demarcated “quitting time,” after which work is normally not conducted. Many home workers like to mark the transition with a daily ritual to replace the commute, such as exercising or walking the dog, that serves as a “bridge” between work tasks and personal time or evening with the family. 


Without the cues of the office environment, regular eating and hydration habits can fall by the wayside. Try to abide by normal schedules for eating—do not skip meals or “graze” on snacks throughout the day, and be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. 

For those all-important occasional snack breaks, nutritionists recommend fruit or protein-rich foods such as nuts, avocados and the like, rather than starchy chips or sweets.  

Work vs Life Balance

One of the most important lessons from seasoned home workers is maintaining distinct times for work and leisure. Switching back and forth between the two or allowing one to “bleed” into the other keeps us from giving either the full attention it deserves. Hopefully, the advice above will help to maintain this balance and make both work and personal time as satisfying as possible. 

One last tip: don’t be too hard on yourself! Like any work situation, working from home can be stressful, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Choose work-from-home strategies that work best for you and don’t feel you have to be some time-management guru. What you don’t have time to finish today can be done tomorrow.  

Above all, be well!

10 Ways to Organize Your Home Office by Monday

By: Stephanie Watson

Home Office

Your bedroom is where you sleep, and your kitchen is where you eat, but your home office may be the nerve center of your entire house. If you own a home-based business, this is where you keep your files, communicate with your manager or clients, and keep track of your bookkeeping. Even if you don’t work a 9-to-5 job out of your home office, it’s where you manage your household’s most important financial, medical and educational documents.

No matter your office’s official use, you can’t get much done in there if it’s a cluttered mess. Unless you’re cleaning your desk, clearing the floor and weeding through your filing system with some regularity, you could find yourself lost in a tangle of wires and buried in piles of papers.

This weekend, spend a few hours cleaning, organizing and getting a handle on your home office. These 10 simple tips will show you how to get started, and will guide you through the entire process. By Monday, you might even be able to see the top of your desk again.

10: Get an Organizational System in Place

Before you clean a single thing off your desk or floor, remember that you need somewhere to put all that stuff — and some rational system for organizing everything. Chances are if you need to organize your home office in the first place, you’re working in a state of partial or total clutter right now.

You can use a variety of tools to organize your office, including:

  • An inbox you can use to put assignments, bills, letters and other projects on your to-do list. Remember that this isn’t a permanent storage container: If a piece of paper has been sitting in your inbox for more than a couple of days, you need to either file it or trash it. While you’re at it, you might want to add an outbox to handle paperwork that’s finished but still needs to be filed.
  • A file rack to hold current projects
  • A trash basket, recycling container and shredder
  • A filing cabinet

Next, establish a workflow. When a project comes in, you might start by putting it in your inbox. Within a day or two, it can move to your file rack of open projects. After the project is finished, it goes into the filing cabinet. After a couple of years (depending on your business and how long you’re required to keep documentation), it should move to its final resting place — the recycling bin.

9: Sweep Your Desk Clean

Does your desk look like this? Time to get organized!
Does your desk look like this? Time to get organized! STEVE COLE/GETTY IMAGES

The purpose of cleaning your office is to help you get organized. The best place to start is at the part of your office where you spend the most time — your desk.

Is your desk buried under stacks of papers, rainbow-colored mountains of Post-Its and piles of office supplies? Start with a clean slate. Take everything off your desk except for your computer, printer and phone.

This might be the first time you’ve actually looked at your desk in a long time. If what you’re looking at is several years’ worth of accumulated dust, you can use this opportunity to clean your desk and vacuum under it.

Then, go through every item that was on your desk. Consider how often you use it. Once a day? Once a week? Once a month? Never? If you don’t use the item at least once a week, put it aside. Once you’ve organized the rest of your office (read further down this list), you can find new homes for all of the supplies and other items you’ve relocated.

8: Interior Design Your Filing Cabinet

Investing in a filing cabinet is a great way to free up space in your home office. Buying a fireproof cabinet that also locks helps ensure that your important documents won’t get stolen or destroyed. A locked, fireproof container is essential for really important documents, like birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports and car titles. You could also keep them in your bank’s safety deposit box.

To maximize storage space, buy a four-drawer filing cabinet. Make sure your chosen filing cabinet is sturdy: You don’t want it to break or fall over onto your foot.

Once you’ve got your cabinet, get to the business of filling it. If you just throw all your paperwork in there, you might as well have not bought the filing cabinet in the first place. Use hanging folders for the main categories (like client, financial and medical records). Within those folders, subdivide your papers into individual folders.

Come up with a system to organize your files. It can be alphabetical, numerical, color-coded — whatever works for you. Label every file and put it in its proper place in the filing cabinet so you won’t have to go hunting for it when you really need it.

7. Toss It

By Monday, your office wastebasket should look like this.
By Monday, your office wastebasket should look like this. HENRIK SORENSEN/GETTY IMAGES

One of the reasons why home offices get so cluttered is that their owners either stubbornly refuse or don’t take the time to throw things away. Take a few minutes to purge your office of everything you’re no longer using.

Here are some things you need to toss:

  • Pens that no longer work
  • Paper clips that are bent out of shape
  • Old magazines and newspapers
  • Unused or broken office equipment, including old phones, computers, and printers/scanners (you can recycle many of these products)
  • Outdated documents

Unsure when it’s okay to throw out certain documents? Here’s a guide to how long you need to keep important papers:

  • Tax returns and supporting documents (canceled checks and receipts): seven years (Keep tax returns forever if you have the space)
  • Pay stubs: one year, until you get your W-2
  • Investment statements: one year, until your year-end statements arrive
  • Bank statements: one year
  • Medical bills: one year
  • Credit card statements: one month, after you’ve checked them for accuracy
  • Newspapers, magazines, Internet print-outs: as soon as you’ve read them or are finished using them

6: Curb Cable Clutter

Do you trip over a snaking mass of wires and cables every time you step foot into your office? Having too many cables underfoot is not only a tripping hazard, but it also can pose a fire danger and make your office more cluttered than it already is.

To reduce the number of cables in your way, put away or get rid of any electronic equipment you use infrequently or no longer use at all. Use as many wireless devices as you can — your mouse, keyboard and printer — to reduce cable clutter as well. Another option is a USB hub, which lets you plug several devices into your computer using just one USB cable.

Plug your remaining cables into a surge-protected power bar to prevent your computers and other equipment from frying during an electrical storm or other power surge.

Bind the remaining cables together with cable ties, clamps, clips or Velcro wraps (available at your local office supply store) so they stay in one place, out of your way. Route the wires through the hole in your desk and make sure they’re all behind your desk, against a wall, and away from open areas of your floor where someone might trip over them.

5: Keep Important Accessories Handy

An office bookcase or shelf can really help organize your space.
An office bookcase or shelf can really help organize your space. BRAD WILSON/GETTY IMAGES

You waste valuable time whenever you have to root through your desk or get up and walk to your filing cabinet to search for supplies you use regularly. Even if your desk is relatively clean to start with, it won’t stay that way for long. Every time you pull out a supply you need and then leave it on your desk, you’ll be adding to the clutter.

Always keep your most important tools close by. Put a shelf behind or beside your desk to store your dictionary, calendar and any other books you use often. Put a file holder on your desk to hold files for current projects.

Fit your top desk drawer with a caddy, tray, or other organizer or small containers in which to hold your pens, pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, sticky notes, Wite-Out and tape. Before you put those supplies in the drawer, throw out any pens that are broken or out of ink, paper clips that are bent out of shape, and any other supplies that are empty or that you know you won’t use.

4: Move Office Equipment off Your Desk

With your desk covered in computers, printers, monitors, phones, modems and computer storage, where are you actually going to work? Here are a few tips for clearing some of the technology out of your workspace:

  • Put your computer tower on the floor. You don’t need to access it on your desk. It’s just taking up valuable space there.
  • Ditch the mammoth monitor. If your monitor has been around for almost as long as you have and is half the size of your desk, recycle it and buy an inexpensive, lightweight flat-screen monitor.
  • Back everything up online. For as little as $30 a year, you can sign up for an online storage service that lets you back up your files online. Not only will this online backup protect you in case your hard drive crashes or your computer is damaged or stolen, but it also will let you remove the extra storage device from your desk.
  • Buy an all-in-one. Instead of having three pieces of equipment on your desk — a printer, fax machine and scanner — buy one piece of equipment that performs all three jobs. Then, take that item and put it on a printer stand to free up room on your desk.
  • Move the light. Instead of using a desk lamp, put a freestanding light next to your desk, and aim it at your workspace.

3: Relocate Personal Items

That baby photo sure is adorable, but if it's taking up valuable desk space, move it.
That baby photo sure is adorable, but if it’s taking up valuable desk space, move it. BARRY WILLIS/GETTY IMAGES

You can’t help but adore that cute photo of your husband and son on their last fishing trip, but does it really need to be in the middle of your desk?

Take everything that’s not directly related to your work off your desk. That includes photos, magazines, greeting cards, awards, plants, coffee mugs and souvenirs. You can still have some of these items in your office, just in a more remote place.

Have a favorite photo of your family framed so that you can hang it on the wall over your desk. Then you can still look at it every day without it taking up any extra room. Put your plants on a windowsill or on top of a filing cabinet, or hang them from hooks in the ceiling. Build a shelf for your awards and souvenirs.

Finally, pick one or two very important (and small) personal items to keep on your desk.

2: Rein in Your Calendar and To-Do Lists

How do you keep track of your assignments, meetings and other obligations? Do you have an old-fashioned paper Day Timer that’s brimming with notes? Have you converted to a digital calendar but continue to rely on sticky notes to remind you of important dates and deadlines?

Decide on a system that you know you can stick with. You can go paperless and put all of your important reminders on your BlackBerry, iPhone or other personal device. That includes your deadlines, meetings, to-do list and appointments. Throw out all of your old paper to-do lists. Connect the calendar on your computer to your phone so you always know where you need to go.

You can also stick with a more classic system, like a memo board. Use a magnetic, write-on or calendar-style board to record all of your important events for the month. Hang it right over your desk and keep it updated.

1: Organize Your PC

Your desk and filing cabinets aren’t the only parts of your office that need decluttering. Your computer can also benefit from a good spring cleaning. If you keep piling programs and documents onto your hard drive, eventually it’s going to get so cluttered that you’ll never find what you need, or you’ll run out of room.

Here are a few tips for organizing your computer:

  • Create a filing system. Set up folders in a way that makes sense to you. You might have one main folder for your clients (and within that, one file per client), one folder for tax documents, and one folder for personal photographs.
  • Toss out old files. Just like you throw out old papers, get rid of any files you’re no longer using. Roll your mouse over the file to see when it was last modified. If you haven’t revised or used it in the past six months, delete it. The only files you really need to save are personal photos, project files for current clients, tax information and legal documents.
  • Back up files. So that you don’t lose anything you need, back up all of your important files on an external drive or through an online storage service.
  • Organize your e-mail. Your e-mail inbox can get just as cluttered as your desk if you don’t have a system in place. Create folders to store messages by topic, sender or date. Go through your old messages and delete anything you no longer need.

Need to know the right people? Networking tips for the terrified

Easy answers to common questions on boosting your networking skills



If you’ve decided that 2022 is going to be a rocket ride to better things, then networking can launch you towards where you want to be. The idea of networking often comes with fearful thoughts about bothering people you don’t know, with things you don’t want to tell them in the hope of getting to…you’re not quite sure where. These worries come from common questions. Working as a journalist, I often had to start a ‘cold conversation’, and in swapping notes with our seasoned trainers, we’ve come up with a few answers guaranteed to help.

5 top tips on career-boosting networking skills

1. How do I introduce myself?

Professional development opportunities often begin with networking. When approaching someone new, at an event for example, maybe start with a person on their own. Come across as friendly but confident, someone they would want to chat with. Offer a hand, look them in the eye, and be friendly and interested while introducing yourself. Catch their name and repeat it.

Perhaps you don’t know who the person is or whether they might be of any help in your career. How to find out? Some people suggest starting with a joke or an observation, however both risk falling flat or leading to nowhere. Most of us prefer chatting about interesting things rather than comments about the weather, so maybe start with a question. For example, what’s their interest in the event?

Listen to their answer, and use it to spark another question or two. Tell them a little about you, then switch back to them. And when you feel ready to do so, be polite and move on (see below for tips on exiting a conversation). If there are only groups talking, look for the openings. Enter the conversation by saying who you are and use a light opener – ask how they know each other. This respects the fact that they are already talking. Smile and be courteous, this is a good time to be humble without being shy. Show that you are listening, interested and paying attention.

2. How do I chat to someone who’s chatting to someone else?

Perhaps you’ve spotted someone you need to talk to, but they’re chatting to someone else.  Don’t wait beside them without making your presence known, nor interrupt them. Best to appear confident though patient. Approach them, keep your distance, wait to catch their eye, and in the second they look at you, smile, stand still and relax. The message is clear: you’re patiently waiting.

Effectively, you’re interrupting after all, but in a patient way. Besides, at networking events, people expect to be interrupted. When they’re ready to chat, introduce yourself then talk about them – their speech, their project, their whatever it was that caught your eye. Perhaps congratulate them on something, or ask them to clarify a point.

Try win to their interest in talking to you, before trying to win their interest in you. It’s an important difference. It helps if they see that you both have a mutual interest in something. It’s important to relax, be present, hear their name and absorb what they say. Then, when they’re taking you seriously, tell them about you. This way, they’re more likely to take a genuine interest in you.

3. How do I get myself noticed without sounding arrogant?

Many people find it difficult to talk about themselves and their achievements. We might imagine we need to be humble and modest. It might feel awkward to blow your own trumpet, but there are ways around this. Begin by discussing something you’ve done that made a difference, emphasize how it has helped your team or company. You are talking about a project, not just yourself, but it’s important to include your role.

Say what you did, and let others make their own judgement about the value of your contribution. Explaining to people how terrific you are comes off much better when you talk objectively about something. It’s the difference between explaining why the work you were involved with was important, rather than why you were important yourself.

It might help to find an advocate, someone who can make your case for you. It’s always useful when someone behind the scenes is on your side. In the meantime, you can ask someone to back you up in a conversation with others. This is best done in support of your own comments, rather than as an alternative to them.

4. How do I exit a conversation?

Sometimes people feel guilty about leaving conversations. They come up with an excuse such as “I’m going to get another coffee” or “I’m going to the toilet” or “I must go and speak to that person”, but the best way of leaving a conversation is to be honest.

If you want to talk to the person another time, give your contact details and tell them that you are going to meet some more people. If you don’t want to talk again, then be polite and say that you are going to network with some more people and it was great to meet them.

Another way to move on is to bring someone else into the conversation and then leave them to make the connection together. This is known as ‘park and ride’, effective networkers are very good at moving through the room making connections between people.

5. How do I follow up?

The benefits of networking come from keeping in touch. If you want to leverage the contacts you develop at a networking event, it is important to follow up. The best thing to do is to make a note of when you met someone and when you said you’d get back in touch so that you don’t forget. It’s best to follow a three-day rule, follow up within the next three days while they remember who you are and what you talked about.

Sshh…the secret is they’re just as human as you are

Networking is about connecting with people, sharing experiences, gaining ideas and offering solutions, it’s an art that can be practiced and improved. A lot of this comes down to basic good manners – remembering names, giving people the opportunity to talk and listening properly to what they have to say, for example. No-one likes to feel like they are being tapped for information or pushed for favours. Good networkers tend to be people who are interested in others and like hearing what they have to say.

Ultimately, the secret to networking is something that you’re already aware of but might not have formally recognised. Your existing relationships, whether professional or personal, are shaped by emotion. The emotional bond with someone in your family will be different to what you have with your boss, but both relationships are marked by a package of emotions, whether these include love and understanding, respect and appreciation or something else. Networking is no different. Our training course on networking skills will help you build connections with people, not through need, but based on sincere emotions. Scary as networking might be, the people you want to connect with are only as human as you are.

7 Desk Yoga Poses to Relieve Work Stress

While the 60 to 90 minutes you spend on your yoga mat a few days a week certainly helps, it is no match for the chronic stress and tension you place on your body during the rest of the day in your desk job. The good news is, you don’t need to rely on your local yoga studio to practice either. Build up a daily, at-home routine and try the free 30 Day Yoga Challenge. It’ll help you feel better about sitting at your desk all day!

Sitting at a desk for hours on end places unnecessary strain on the lumbar spine, overstretches the mid to upper back, and shortens the chest and hips—leading to neck, shoulder, and low back pain. Try this simple office yoga sequence when you cannot get to your favorite class.

1. Seated Crescent Moon Pose

Credit: Yoga Destiny

Credit: Yoga Destiny

The side body tends to collapse when hunched over a computer, contributing to neck and shoulder discomfort. Seated Crescent Moon fixes that so you can return to your seat with a taller spine, a clearer head, and sharper focus.

Lift your arms overhead and stretch your fingers wide. Lean to the right, taking 2 to 3 deep breaths. Repeat on the left side for another 2 to 3 deep breaths.

2. Wrist and Finger Stretches

Credit: Fit Day

Credit: Fit Day

Desk work builds up tension in the muscles and tendons in the fingers, hands, and wrists, so extra blood flow to these areas is always appreciated. Try these stretches every 2 hours.

Extend the arms to the sides or overhead and draw 5 to 10 circles inward and outward through the wrists. Next, quickly spread the fingers and close the fists, repeating this 5 to 10 times to shake off any excess tension.

Place the hands one on your desk, palms facing up and fingers towards you, putting gentle pressure to counterstretch the wrist and the forearm. Alternatively, you may stretch each arm out and bend the wrist inward then outward, counterstretching with your other hand. Hold each side 5 to 10 breaths.

3. Chair Pigeon Pose

Credit: Christie Pitko

Credit: Christie Pitko

Crossing our legs while seated, especially when done on one side more than the other, can create imbalances in the hips and lower spine. Bring balance back with Chair Pigeon.

While seated in your chair, both feet flat on the floor, cross your right leg over the left at a 90-degree angle, keeping the foot flexed as to not place pressure on the knee. Maintain equal weight distributed between the sitting bones while staying in an upright seated position.

You should feel a gentle to moderate stretch on the outermost part of the right thigh. Hold 5 to 10 breaths before switching sides.

4. Sit and Stand Chair Pose

Credit: She Knows

Credit: She Knows

When we’re seated all day, the underused glutes and hamstrings lose their motivation to help us get back up, and we rely on the upper back and even the neck (eeeek!) to hoist the body to a standing position. This two-part pose helps awaken these leg muscles.

Begin seated with your knees bent 90 degrees and your feet flat. Press down from your heels, trying not to move the feet in toward your chair or use your arms, and make your way up to standing.

From standing, slowly sit straight back down, refraining from leaning forward and/or from shifting the hips to one side or the other. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

5. Desk Chaturanga

Credit: City Personnel

Credit: City Personnel

Your desk can support your yoga pushups! Blasting out a few of these strengthening movements throughout the day reminds the muscles around your neck to relax, while energizing the arms, which tend to go soft during the majority of the day. Get up out of your chair for this!

Rest your hands about shoulder width distance on the edge of your sturdy desk, and step your feet back so your torso is a diagonal line to the floor. Your feet firmly placed, inhale as you bend the elbows to a 90-degree angle, hugging the elbows in towards the ribs.

Exhale and press your chest back up to the starting position. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

6. Desk Upward Dog Pose

Credit: Women World

Credit: Women World

After the above pose, opening the chest and shoulders is a MUST! You will also reap the benefits of ironing out the rounded upper back posture seen in those of us who spend most of our time seated across a computer screen.

Set up the same way here as you did for Chaturanga above. With your arms straight, lower your hips toward the desk, refraining from sinking in the lower back by using the strength in your legs.

Stretch your chest between your shoulders and gently tilt your chin upwards while sliding the shoulder blades down the back. Hold 5 to 10 breaths.

7. Desk Plank Pose

Credit: Chris Watts

Credit: Chris Watts

PLEASE DO NOT climb all the way onto your desk and start planking! Instead, use your desk to support this spine-lengthening and hamstring-stretching final pose.

Place your hands shoulder width distance or wider at the desk edge. Step your feet back until your feet are directly under your hips as you create a pleasant feeling traction for your spine. Hold 5 to 10 breaths and let this pose help you undo all the negative effects of sitting.

If you can set aside just a few minutes during your workday to take some deep breaths, clear your mind, and stretch your tight muscles with these yoga poses, your body will thank you, and you can move through your day healthier, happier, and more stress-free!