Sneaking Summer Into Your Workspace

By Julia Marchand

Alas, the days of summer vacation are in the past for most of us, so we pass up the pool in favor of a paycheck every Monday through Friday. But that doesn’t mean your summer style must be compromised! Unless you’re lucky enough to work outside and enjoy this glorious season before it’s gone, you may need to consciously include it in your 9 to 5 life. Here are a couple of ways to do that…

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Put a little spring (or summer!) into your step every morning by donning work wear that reflects these warm, sunny days. I found a blog post with ten apparel items crafted into six outfits that are perfectly professional. Thanks to Goodwill/Easter Seals Minnesota (St. Paul)  for that fun mix-and-match, I’m inspired to get ready for work tomorrow morning! There are no windows in my office, so including color like this will dramatically improve the summer vibes. I would highly suggest investing in well-priced attire at Goodwill that, like these pieces, can work together to create lots of different looks. It’s such an efficient way to make the most of your money!

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Now, who says that home décor is just for the home? I find myself to be much more productive when my surroundings are tidy and well dressed, so why not bring my love of thrifty decoration to the office? A small, framed art piece like this one is easy to make (don’t forget to check out the DIY tutorial from The Crafted Sparrow) and just as simple to swap out with the seasons. This will keep the office from feeling stagnant and season-less, especially if it’s a cubicle. All you need to get started on this project is a second-hand picture frame, some washi tape, and poster board!

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While we’re on the topic of a workplace, it might be a great time for me to share these tips for job seekers that Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and The CSRA (Macon) shared on their website. Whether you are out of work at the moment or just looking to advance in your current environment, I find these tips to be helpful. And, wouldn’t you know, number one is dressing the part! I bet you want to go back and peek at that summer work wears blog post I mentioned now, huh?

Even if your job may sometimes feel like a grind, I’m sure that deep down you know that work itself is incredibly important. It allows us all to support our families, to be active members of our communities, and to gain confidence and feel fulfilled. We are all lucky to have good work to do and maybe a little summer accessorizing will help us share that positivity with the rest of our coworkers! If you’d like to help others in your area gain the opportunity to work, because of Goodwill’s business model it’s this simple: Donate stuff, create jobs. There’s no better time than now!

Brilliant Back to School Buys from Goodwill®

By Julia Marchand

If you are an avid thrifter, you will probably think of Goodwill right away when it comes to shopping, no matter the occasion. But as back to school season approaches, you may find yourself even more eager to browse the aisles for great deals on necessities for the upcoming year. Local Goodwill organizations support mission services through the sale of donated clothes and household items at more than 3,300 Goodwill stores and online through, the first nonprofit Internet auction site, and through contract services, private and public grants, and individual giving. With so many places to shop and a steady stream of new donations coming into those stores, Goodwill will never give you that all-the-good-stuff-is-gone panic attack you might have when shopping at big-box stores the week before the first school bell rings. To help you get ready for the new semester, here are a few of our favorite back to school finds…

I love this back to school thrift haul video from Got It at Goodwill! On top of a $400 bag, which she scored for only $10, the video-blogger also found a huge array of cute clothes and shoes to start her school year off on the right foot. As a teacher, she talks about how important it is for her to find versatile clothing that is easy to move around in while still maintaining a professional appearance. But students, too, can find just what they need to update their wardrobe without spending a fortune. You can see in this video how many fashionable pieces are just waiting to head to a new home. As parents know, kids can grow a lot even just in one school year so second-hand goods are the perfect way to save money, be prepared, and minimize your family’s environmental impact as this new season starts.

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Speaking of how quickly kids grow, have you seen those first days of school vs. last day of school picture comparisons? These days many parents are snapping a photo of their kids heading off to start the new school year then taking the same photo again when school lets out in June. Putting these two pictures side-by-side creates a great visual of the child’s growth that will just tug at your heartstrings, especially as the years stack up. To take this sentimental project one-step further, I pulled inspiration from Goodwill of Southeast Georgia (Savannah)’s Craft Ideas pinboard where they shared this fun DIY chalkboard prop! For consistency throughout the school years, you could make a standing chalkboard like this from a Goodwill baby crib, drying rack, or garden trellis to have your little book worm to stand next to.

On it, write the grade they are entering or graduating from, their age, height, favorite subject, or whatever you want! This is such a smart way to keep track of the seasons as they speed by and it would be so special to see every photo lined up at high school or college graduation!

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When those high-school grads do head off to college, another huge back to school expense awaits: outfitting their dorm. Goodwill to the rescue again! With dishes and cleaning supplies ready to buy, parents will know they are setting their kids up for a smooth semester. Students themselves might be more excited about furniture and decor for the dorm so, if that’s who you’re shopping for, make sure they check out this Dorm Decor on a Dime pinboard from Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest (Spokane) for ideas. It’s easy to pack a lot of personality and functionality into a small space by using some of the techniques (like this well-dressed loft bed and futon layout) shared there!

Once you’ve got all of your back to school style and supplies ready to go, the only thing left to do is mentally prepare yourself (or your kiddos) for another year of schedules and studying. Unfortunately, we will have to leave that part to you. But we will send our wishes for a successful school year and you know where to find us when you think of that one last thing your child needs before they can go back to school.

Three Changes To The Job Search – Not Counting Technology

By Randy Wooden, Director, Professional Center by Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina

Technology has changed our lives in many ways, including how we conduct a job search. I have witnessed a number of recruiting and job coaching changes in my 30+ year career. Most – but not all – involve the use of technology. This week I will examine a few non-technology changes.

#1. Whether due to downsizing or a worker’s desire for a new challenge, today’s workplace sees more turnover than ever before. All this change means it is important to keep your resume up to date and be a lifelong learner to remain competitive with constantly improving and expanding skills. Take a class. Earn a certification. Do what you can to best position yourself with market-relevant skills expected by today’s employers.

#2. While networking has always been part of the search process, I would argue it is more important than ever. The days of walking into a company, shaking hands with the hiring manager and having an unscheduled conversation are largely over. Technology makes it easier to locate and apply for work and human resource departments are overwhelmed with applicants. Some companies have responded by building digital barriers to protect their time. You may be qualified for the position, but, if you are one of 300 applicants, personal referrals can improve your chances that the employer will choose to speak with you rather than other candidates.

#3. Employer expectations and what you can do to meet them have shifted. I am seeing companies place more emphasis on soft skills and cultural fit than ever before. For many jobs, you will be required to take an assessment or two. You may have the skills and experience to perform the work, but if your personality does not mesh with that employer’s desired target, you may not get the job.

Employers expect candidates to be prepared; technology allows easy access to information about the company. Online resources help answer interview questions. Doing your homework – being prepared – is more significant than ever.
Technology is a tool. Use it and know you need more than a search and a few clicks to get the job. Good luck!