Archive for February, 2015

February 26, 2015 8:00 am

Home Staging in a Bad Housing Market

As a new home stager, you’ve probably heard the terms ‘good housing market’ and ‘bad housing market’, but you may not have had the chance to work in each of them yet. Right now, many places in North America are experiencing a bad housing market. This means that, because of things like unemployment rates, people are buying and selling houses much less frequently. If people can’t find steady employment they’re less likely to make such an expensive investment. Housing prices drop as a result because no one can afford to buy them at their original values. Homes are harder to sell, and those that were previously valued at high prices become cheaper in an attempt to encourage buying. When it comes to a ‘bad housing market’, the term alone puts some design professionals on edge depending on their area of expertise. What does a bad housing market mean for home stagers? What can you do to try and maximize business during a bad housing market, rather than suffering? How should you navigate the process of securing new clients during such a climate? Here are some tips for succeeding as a home stager in a bad housing market!

Home for sale

Keep up your visibility

Even in a bad housing market, buyers do exist! As long as there are buyers somewhere, there will also be sellers and it’s very likely that they will need your help. A bad housing market is a good time to stay visible and make sure that people know your services are available. Use things like online social networking to your advantage and let people know the value of your services and how you can help them! These networks have a wide reach in any economic climate, but online tools will be especially useful for both you and your potential clients in a market where people are having so much trouble selling and are therefore actively seeking information and assistance.

Know who your buyers are

Young Homebuyers

Even in the best of markets, knowing who your buyers are is important for tailoring your services to the needs of your sellers and working with them to the best of your abilities. You already know that your clients are sellers whose houses aren’t being bought because of the state of the market. In order to help them, it’s also important for you to identify who it is they’re marketing their product (in this case, the house that they’re trying to sell) to. The people who are most often encouraged to buy in a bad housing market are young, first-time buyers who intend to invest in a home that they can live in long-term. By doing this, these buyers get a bigger, better quality home for a lesser price, and it’s okay if the market doesn’t pick up again for a few years because they aren’t looking to sell right away. For buyers intending to keep the home for a short time and then ‘flip’ it, buying that large home in a bad market is unwise because it might take many years for the value of the home to increase back to what it’s actually worth. If they sell it too soon, they won’t make as much of a profit as they’d like. By recognizing that your buyers might be young, first-time homeowners you will be able to style your staging to that demographic and help your sellers increase the chance that one of these buyers will be interested!

Find the ‘hot pockets’

Just because an area is experiencing a bad housing market doesn’t necessarily mean that every single neighborhood in that area is following suit. Often, there are ‘hot pockets’, or areas where houses are being bought and sold for decent value at a fairly normal rate. Keep an eye on these areas if business slows down elsewhere. While it’s true that troubled sellers are more in need of your services, hot pocket areas might have even more sellers than elsewhere because they can put a higher asking price on their home and have more of an expectation that it will sell. An area with a high concentration of sellers means an area with more people who could benefit from your home staging services!

Always remember to network

You may not experience as drastic a decline in business as other home-oriented professionals, but you should still invest some time in networking within the industry during a bad housing market. In the event that business does slow down for you, you can benefit from things like positive referrals from past clients to create new business relationships. Additionally, if the bad housing market actually creates a lot of work for you because so many people need help selling, home stagers can benefit from networking with each other. Perhaps one stager has taken on too many clients and can refer some to you? This is mutually beneficial, giving one person more business while also saving another person from tarnishing their professional reputation by having to cancel contracts or juggle too many jobs at once.

Network with Stagers

Stay positive!

As a home stager, your services are proven to help people increase the value of their homes, thereby increasing the chances of actually selling them. This means that a ‘bad’ housing market might actually be a good market for you! Sellers need all the help they can get, and if you are prepared to take them on with a positive attitude and a good work ethic, you might secure more business than at any other time. Don’t let the terminology scare you out of working harder than ever!

Let us know in a comment about your experience home staging in a bad housing market and if you have any tips to share! And if you’d like to learn more about market trends for home stagers, take a look at the courses here at QC Design School!


Attending a job interview is a nerve wracking experience for new professionals. Even with practice, some people never kick their jitters. Despite the stress job interviews can cause, there are things you can do to feel less worried before you face your potential new boss! Try practicing the following skills before and during each interview to help you de-stress and really impress your interviewer!

Impress the Interviewer

1. Do dress appropriately

How you dress for an interview is a big part of the first impression you leave! You want to ensure that you’re not only dressed appropriately for a job interview, but also that you’re dressed well for the specific type of interview you’re attending. If the company is a high end corporation, consider professional attire like a blazer and dress pants. If you’re interviewing for an industry where your skills can be displayed on yourself, such as makeup artistry or hair styling, make sure that your own makeup or hair are done to the quality that the potential employer would expect from you on the job. Regardless of what type of interview it is, avoid dress that is too casual, looks messy, or might be considered too revealing.

2. Do show up on time

Your ability to show up prepared and on time is being assessed when you attend a job interview. Rushing in at the last second or arriving late will almost certainly lose you the position. Aim to be there a little to give yourself some emergency time. You shouldn’t arrive so early that the interviewer feels rushed or like they’re keeping you waiting, but punctuality is one of the best skills you can display.

Don't be late

3. Don’t be too casual

Being friendly in an interview is a good tactic. Potential employers want to see that you have good people skills and can communicate with those around you. There is a fine line, however, between being pleasant and being overly casual, which can tarnish an otherwise good first impression and come across as inappropriate or unprofessional. Be careful with things like jokes, greetings, and even your posture. Relaxing a little is beneficial because it might take the edge off your nerves, but forgetting that you’re in a professional setting is risky. Your interviewer might not be impressed if you treat them like your buddy.

4. Do listen carefully

Interview questions aren’t always simple, so make sure you’re keeping track of the details while you prepare for your answer. This will help you answer as effectively as possible. You should also listen hard if there is a practical component. If the interviewer asks you to do a sample to display the skills you’d use on the job, listen to and follow all instructions! Your ability to listen to information and act accordingly is something they’ll be evaluating.

5. Do answer the entire question

Sometimes interviewers ask long questions with more than one part. Handling these questions can be stressful because they often require long answers, and candidates worry they’ll forget part half way. Here’s another place to use your listening skills! You want to answer each part of every question you’re asked, so pay close attention when the interviewer is speaking. They’re asking you those questions for a reason, and you should provide them with the information they need to consider you properly. If you consistently miss the point of the question or fail to answer completely, their evaluation of you will reflect that.

6. Do some research in advance

One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to research the company and the position itself. If you try to answer questions without knowing what the company does or what the position you’re being considered for entails, your interviewer won’t be impressed. As soon as you’ve applied for the position, or at least once you know you’ve got the interview, gather information about what services the company provides, who the important people are, and what they’re expecting of you.

Do Online Research

7. Don’t talk too much

You will obviously be doing a lot of speaking in a job interview, since you’re being asked several questions. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should speak for long periods of time without break. Part of good communication is the ability to get your points across concisely, and your interviewer will be paying attention to how well you do this. If you ramble or get off topic, sum up your current point and recover quickly. You want to provide the interviewer with as much information as possible, but don’t overwhelm them with unrelated details.

8. Don’t let your nerves show

It’s completely normal to be nervous in a job interview. You will be expected, however, to rein your nerves in and conduct yourself well. Remember that body language is one of the biggest indicators of nerves! While you’re speaking, try to avoid nervous habits like jiggling your leg, twirling your hair, touching your face, or fiddling with your fingers. It’s okay to be nervous, but try not to let your interviewer see just how stressed you really are. They will expect you to conduct yourself professionally regardless of how many butterflies there are in your stomach!

9. Do find a balance between confidence and cockiness

Displaying a certain amount of confidence is necessary in a job interview because you’re being asked to list your skills and tell someone why you’re worth their time and money. If you lack confidence, you might have trouble convincing your interviewer that you’re the most qualified candidate available. On the other hand, being too confident can come across as cocky, which isn’t generally a quality that employers appreciate in their candidates. While you’re preparing for the interview, practice speaking positively about yourself without ‘tooting your own horn’. Interviewers are looking for candidates who have a solid sense of self, but who can also stay humble.

Stay Humble Interview

10. Do ask questions

At almost every job interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. This isn’t a trick; you are allowed and even encouraged to ask questions! If things went well and everything is straight forward then you might say that you don’t have questions for now, but be careful. Having no questions about the company or the position might be interpreted as disinterest and your interviewer might think you’re too eager to get out of there. Consider having a few general interest questions prepared just in case you get the sense that your interviewer expects you to ask for more information.

You’ve got this!

Stay calm, prepare in advance, and don’t beat yourself up too badly if it doesn’t go well! Job interviews aren’t easy, and everyone struggles with nerves beforehand. If you can master these skills and remember tips like this when you go in, you will increase your chances for success.

Need some tips on writing a resume to go along with your new job interview skills? Learn how to write the perfect resume here to land that interview!

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February 17, 2015 8:00 am

Working with Contractors

As an interior decorator, you have the professional skills to plan the look, feel, and flow of a room for your clients. You can choose which furniture styles, lighting options, and color schemes are best for their space and the atmosphere they’d like to achieve. There are some things, however, that you want to do to transform the room but that aren’t actually within your scope. Perhaps you want to open up a small dark bedroom by building a new picture window? For services like this, it will be necessary for you to work with an independent contractor. Here are some tips for doing so successfully!

What do contractors do?

Contractors are most often the people that will help you with the physical remodeling of your space. If, in the process of designing the changes that you’ll make to a room, you or the clients decide that a wall should be moved or a window should be created, you’ll hire a contractor to complete those renovations. As a design professional, it’s not actually within your scope to altar the physical structure of the room. Contractors are responsible for making architectural changes to the room, according to the design plan that you provide them with. The contractor is the professional that you’ll consult with and hire for renovations that go above and beyond your interior décor skills.

Working Contractor

Where can you find quality contractors?

There are several ways of finding contractors to help you with remodeling projects. The first is to network within your industry. Despite competition, you might find that other more experienced local designers are willing to share positive recommendations with you. Speak with any design contacts you have in your area and see if they’ve worked with any contractors that they’d positively refer you to. If you’re new to the industry or no one has a referral for you, try online forums for your local area. These can be either networks for design professionals specifically, or even resources intended for clients doing home renovations. Sites like these often have helpful service reviews from previous clients that you can read before choosing someone to work with. If no such thing exists for your area, you will be responsible for either choosing a contractor yourself, or compiling a list of potential contractors and presenting it to your clients for them to choose from. Use your own judgment and conduct a consultation interview with them first to ensure that the project is within their scope. Also make sure to ask about experience and licensing, liability insurance, pricing, and even references. You want to secure quality services for both your sake and your clients’.

Get Estimates

Once you’ve narrowed the list of contractors down to about three potential people or companies, obtain an estimate from each one. Show the contractor your plan and the space, and explain to them in detail exactly what you and your clients want. Have them do an assessment of the work your plan requires so they can provide you with their rate for that work. Request the most accurate pricing possible, rather than a vague number, so that you can pass concrete information on to your clients for approval. Once you have three estimates, meet with your clients to see which contractor offered the best price for the best service. Don’t just automatically choose the cheapest one if you believe you might get better quality service from one of the pricier options. When your clients have decided which price is most affordable for them and you’ve agreed upon which service is best, you’re ready to hire your contractor!

Get Estimates

How can you help each other?

The best thing a design professional can do for their contractors is to finish their plan as thoroughly and concretely as possible before the contractor starts working. If you’ve only partially decided how you’d like the finished product to look and you let contractors begin remodeling physical aspects of the room, you don’t leave yourself space to adjust the plan later. Once the wall is moved or the new window is created, there’s no going back unless you’re prepared to pay much more than you would if your plan had been concrete and nothing needed changing! Chances are that your clients won’t be happy with you in that scenario. If you have all of your details worked out in advance, you’ll be well prepared to answer any questions they might have as they work, and you’ll also be ready to answer questions together for the client. Your professional image will benefit from good organization and a clear vision of how the contractor’s work fits into your own process. The contractor can also help you in return by listening to your plan in detail, sticking to what you’ve asked of them, and checking regularly with you to ensure that nothing has changed. Over all, good preparedness and effective communication are essential to working alongside contractors.

Contractor compensation

Once the contractor has successfully completed their remodeling portion of your project, you can forward an invoice to your client for those services. The cost of having the remodeling done will be calculated into their total owing cost for your design contract. When the project has been finished entirely and your clients have made their final payment, you can ensure that the contractor’s costs are covered and they have received their portion of the payment. If, during the design process, the client was extremely hands on and primarily dealt with the contractor themselves, they might take that invoice and pay it directly to the contractor themselves. If the client was more absent throughout the process and you were the primary point of contact to the contractor, the client might pay the entire amount for all services rendered directly to you, and you will be responsible for forwarding the portion of that earned by the contractor to them as soon as you receive payment.

Contractor Compensation

Don’t be afraid to work with contractors!

Establishing strong working relationships with contractors during a project is an effective networking opportunity, especially for new interior decorators and other design professionals! If all goes well, you might be able to work with that person or company again, eliminating lengthy steps from the process of hiring someone new to remodel and renovate.

If you’d like to learn more about working with contractors of different kinds, make sure to take a look at the courses offered here at QC Design School!

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February 11, 2015 8:00 am

Tips for Job Searchers

Learning how to job search effectively is a skill that professionals across every industry should master. Navigating the world of applications can be intimidating, especially in a society that is trying to shift from paper to electronic processes. Many people grow discouraged as a result of repetitive information and complicated wording, but the job search process doesn’t have to be a negative experience. There are many resources available to help you find prospective positions, evaluate all of your options, and maximize your potential for success. Here are some tips and tricks for not just surviving, but excelling, in your job search!

DON’T limit your search

The Internet is by far the most useful tool in the modern job search. Most large companies have streamlined their application processes into a series of steps on their website, and electronic job boards host thousands of postings that rotate as positions are filled or made available. These job databases, like Monster, Indeed, and even the classifieds section of Kijiji, often have filtered notification features that will send you an email when a position that fits your skill set is posted. The time it takes to customize your database profiles is absolutely worth the access to thousands of positions that you’ll be afforded. Even though these databases are your most diverse tool, don’t limit yourself to just the Internet! Some people claim that printed classifieds and paper applications that you picked up at the location are outdated methods of job searching, but depending on your industry and the kind of job you’d like to do, ignoring these avenues might cause you to miss opportunities. If the chance to explore and apply for more positions exists, take it!

DON’T be intimidated by the ‘electronic gatekeeper’

Online Application

The more places you apply, the more you’ll encounter lengthy, repetitive online forms and questionnaires required in addition to your cover letter and resume. These can feel overwhelming, especially if every place you’ve applied has asked you to fill in your full work experience despite having already attached your resume. Don’t let these ‘electronic gatekeepers’ defeat you! Many businesses actually put these in place to filter out candidates who aren’t serious about the position and therefore aren’t willing to put in the time and effort that a complicated online form requires. Just by completing each question, you’re already displaying your work ethic and proving your ability to take instruction well. Take a deep breath and answer those automated questions!

DO get old fashioned and pound the pavement

Just because there are thousands of job postings at your finger tips from your computer chair doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t proactively search for a job the more traditional way! Sure, there’s a possibility that you could walk into a business, ask for an application, and be told to go home and fill one out online, but you’ll have shown that business that you’re willing to put in a little extra effort. They might even take your resume from you right away, so you’re already in their minds and their files when they get your online application. Physically visiting a prospective workplace is a networking opportunity.

DO manage your online presence

Manage Social Media

Having a strong online presence can both help and hinder your job searching process. On one hand, business oriented social networks like Linkedin and industry specific forums are extremely useful tools for marketing your skills to prospective employers or clients. On the other hand, social networks that are used purely for enjoyment are often targeted by prospective employers, particularly larger companies, during the hiring process. Some companies actually hire people to screen applicants by searching their profiles on sites like Twitter and Facebook to ensure that you’re not doing anything in your personal life that might give them reason not to hire you. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid social networking all together, but you should take precautions before posting and manage your security and privacy settings.

DON’T forget about networking

Do you have industry related contacts based on past work experience or through your education? Are there job fairs or trade conventions that you can attend to meet other professionals in your prospective line of work? Are there online networks where you can interact and converse with other professionals to learn about opportunities and build potential business relationships? Taking advantage of networking opportunities, both online and off, can increase your exposure to prospective employers or clients, and also help keep you more informed about available positions.

Consider Self Employment 2

DO consider self-employment

Depending on the industry you’re aiming to specialize in, working as an employee or associate for another business isn’t necessarily your only option. For client based industries, professionals might also have the option of working free lance or starting their own small business. If you believe that you can build your own client base and network well enough to realistically make a living from free lance work, this can be a wonderful opportunity to work according to your own terms. Depending on your goals and the state of your local industry, some professionals will choose to free lance full time, while others will free lance as a form of supplementary income between or in addition to other positions. Many professionals who have had success in free lancing will take the next step and start their own small business as a way to make a full time living from their skills. These working structures often start out more unsteady than working for an already established business, but they are an opportunity to independently build your name within your industry.

DO accept help

If family and friends offer to give you a hand throughout your job process, accept their help! It can be very beneficial to have a fresh pair of eyes editing your resume and cover letter and you’ll receive feedback that you can use to improve your application materials. If no one is available to take a look at your materials, consider hiring resume and cover letter editing services from your local employment agency or a reputable online job resource. These people will be able to advise you on changes that should be made in order to help the quality of your resume and cover letter stand out.

Put in the time and effort!

The more you invest yourself in the job search process, the more likely you are to have it pay off in the end. The time and effort you put into your resume, cover letter, and applications will be evident to prospective employers in comparison to those who didn’t invest as thoroughly, and you will stand out as a more qualified candidate.

Have you considered additional education in order to increase your employable skills? Take a look at the different academies and courses QC has to offer!

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February 5, 2015 8:00 am

Winter Décor Tips

A change of season is the perfect reason to switch up your interior décor and try something new! When the cold and darkness of winter set in, making a few small adjustments can not only brighten up the room, but also keep things feeling cozier! Seasonal adjustments are also very versatile. Adding little budget friendly accessories can be a quick way to give the room a wintery feel just for that season, while bigger investment pieces can be used to change the atmosphere of your home every year. Try some of these decorative tricks to let the charm of winter in, while still keeping the cold out!

A cozy fireplace

On chilly winter nights, nothing beats the warmth of a fireplace at home. For some people, the ability to lounge in front of a real flame any time they like is worth the price, effort and risk of installing an actual fireplace. Those seeking a lower maintenance option but still hoping for that permanent warm center piece might prefer a large electric fireplace. These are an investment that can be used each year without restructuring the room or increasing the risk of house fire quite as high as a real open fire. For a more temporary and cost effective option, try a smaller portable electric fireplace. This way, the warmth can be moved throughout the home or stored away when the weather warms up, but the heat provided is more authentic than that of a cheap space heater. Any of these options offers a seasonally stylish way of keeping a little warmer than usual.

Winter Fireplace

Warm rugs on cold surfaces

Stepping onto wooden or tile floors on a cold winter morning is enough to wake anyone up too quickly! Adding thick, comfortable rugs to these surfaces is both fashionable and functional for the winter months. Not only is a rug an opportunity for some new texture and color in order to update your interior decor, but it also insulates the room and decreases the number of cold, bare surfaces that you’ll have to walk on before the house warms up each morning. Try placing rugs of different colors, materials, and weights in the entry way, bathroom and kitchen for easy but diverse looks throughout the house. Choose a neutral, hand woven wool rug for a more classic investment piece, or a brightly colored rug made of simpler material for a trendy, more affordable accent piece. When the mornings get less bitter and the floors feel less icy, roll the rugs up and store them away for next winter’s brisk mornings!

Stylish throw blankets

Throw Blanket

Once again, fashion and function can be balanced throughout the house by using throw blankets as both a temporary solution for the chills and a seasonal change in aesthetic. Place blankets of different thicknesses, materials, and colors throughout the house, draped stylishly across chairs, hung on the backs of sofas, or folded nicely on foot stools and ottomans. Not only will the blankets give a cozy, cabin-like feel, but they’ll also be handy to curl up in for visiting guests or whoever might feel a chill. Try placing a thicker blanket in a warm winter color on the end of a bed for the guest who gets cold in the night or laying a large blanket in more a cheerful hue on the couch to brighten up the room while you share it with a loved one during a movie. When the weather gets warmer, pack the blankets away for next year!

Insulate with drapes

Even in new homes with good seals, heat can escape through big windows and cold air can make its way into your home. One stylish way to control this is to swap your light curtains for thick winter drapes. This will both help keep cold air at bay, and also provide an opportunity for yet another winter décor accent. Choose a heavy textured material in a deep purple, green, or burgundy to physically and aesthetically warm up the room, or thick smooth fabric in an accent color that coordinates with the rest of your scheme. With such a visible adjustment, try not to choose something too bright in the middle of winter, or the drapes will look out of place and out of season. When things begin to thaw, you can choose to simply draw back the drapes to let in air but keep the color, or switch them completely for an airier spring fabric and shade!

Balance colors, textures, and materials

Each of these decorative techniques has involved choosing seasonal colors or fabric weights and textures. Even if you’re not adding or changing noticeable pieces like large rugs and living room drapes, playing with small bits of color, texture, and material can be a simple way to make subtle décor changes for a new season. Choosing different combinations can enable you to incorporate a wintery atmosphere into your room without letting it feel cold like the weather outside. For example, placing comfortable white throw pillows that are reminiscent of the snow adds a nice season-appropriate touch, but the décor can still be kept warm by placing a decorative bowl made of dark wood on the coffee table flanked by deep burgundy candles that give a slight cinnamon scent. The colors and textures balance the look somewhere between letting the season in, and keeping the cold out.

Balancing Textures

Lights for decoration and function

During the darkest time of the year, changing the lights in a room can, once again, be both functional and fashionable. Darkness comes earlier in the winter, so the actual need for more light in most rooms is increased. Lights for decoration, however, don’t have to just be for Christmas! Try a small new table lamp with a warmly colored shade that matches your other winter décor, or a string of small, subtle icicle lights framing the bed’s headboard or wound around the stand of a tall lamp. Adding a bit of new light will literally brighten up the room without changing your décor too drastically or expensively for one season.

Combine techniques!

These are just a few methods of changing your interior décor for the winter months! Changes in color, light, and texture will do wonders for keeping the atmosphere in your home warm and bright throughout the winter, without blocking out the beauty of the season.

Do you have any favorite winter décor tips that you use seasonally? Let us know in a comment!

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A resume will NOT get you a dream job. But a good resume can help land you an interview for that dream job.

Download Now - Resume Skills Ebook - QC Career School

When looking for a new job, too many people will simply pull up a job board website and send the resume they wrote in high school to every single job posting that “kinda matches their skill set”. Guess what: most of these applicants will never hear from the employer.

Thing is, when you apply for a job you should have a reasonable expectation of at least hearing back from the hiring manager for an interview. In order to do this, you need a resume and cover letter that sell YOU.

Even if you don’t have all the skills the job might require, if you can show your enthusiasm and abilities via your resume and cover letter, you’ll probably hear back from someone at the company. Today, we’re going to focus on how you can write the perfect resume that will get you noticed!

Download QC’s free ebook today to learn resume skills that will help you land an interview!

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