How to Stay Relevant in the Work Place


In an increasingly aggressive job market, staying relevant is no longer a choice but a necessity. It’s important to do everything you can to stay competitive.  Employers have increasingly higher expectations of their employees and it is important to stay one step ahead.

There are many pieces to this puzzle.  Here are a few tips for getting and staying relevant that will help you prove your value to your current or future employer.These strategies are beneficial for current employees, job seekers, college grads, or individuals re-entering the workforce.

Read and Attend Meetings

Read trade journals, articles and anything you can get your hands on related to your career and industry you work in. Try to take 30-60 minutes a week to read the latest industry or career news.   Along with staying current via the news, attend classes, industry relevant meetings and conferences.

Stay in the Loop                                     

Set up Google Alerts. One option is to subscribe to key words within your specialty area (“CPG recruiters,” “food science,” “food industry”). In addition to setting up an alert for your own company, you can also set up an alert for your competitors’ companies.

Continuing Education

A key piece to staying relevant in the work place is education and ongoing professional development. Many professions require continuing education to maintain licensure and credentials. It is something that a great workplace values and certainly benefits from as employees return to the workplace with new experiences and insights.


The key to successful networking is to be able to tap into sources of expertise, recommendations, and advice from those with different or greater experience than you have. But don’t forget, these relationships are about give and take; it shouldn’t be just about your needs.

Social Media

Social media, a rapidly evolving structure, is a powerful tool to inform, motivate and influence.  LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram are a great way to network and express your authenticity.  That being said, professional behavior is a must, all the time, on every platform.

Update your Successes

At year end, just after your performance review update your resume and LinkedIn page with successes from the year before.  This is a great way to keep your LinkedIn account and resume up to date and relevant without having to think back to what you did 5 years ago.

Investing time each week in your own professional development will increase your satisfaction with your current position and will keep you relevant and growing for future opportunities.  Set goals and hold yourself accountable with this process, trust me it will be well worth your time.

Six Things to Consider About Job References


We are all familiar with the famous tagline that is often used at the bottom of resumes “references provided upon request.”  But, what happens when they are actually requested?  Often times, we find ourselves scrambling to put a list of people together and send it off as quickly as possible to the interested employer.  It’s just a formality right?  That’s not often the case says Julie Curtis, Owner and Executive Recruiter at Curtis Food Recruiters.  According to Julie, “a great reference can provide a significant amount of insight into a person’s background that the candidate is not always able to articulate.”  Often, references are considered as one more way to evaluate a candidate, and a great reference can be the deciding factor between two otherwise equal candidates.  As a regular reference checker, in my experience, the candidates that are the most prepared with their references, also tend to be some of our best hires.  Here are six tips on how to be one of those people:

Ensure the person knows that you are using them as a reference.  When an employer asks you to provide your references, let them know that they may be getting a phone call.  I can tell when I have called a reference that is caught off-guard either because they weren’t expecting my call, or they may not have been aware that the person was using them as a reference.  The person may have given you permission to use their name in the past, but it is important to always keep them updated on your job search, so they are prepared.  If they are expecting the call, they will be more able to provide clear and concise answers, which will reflect more favorably on you.

Make sure that you are being equally represented.  Highlight your skills and strengths from all angles, by having various references and keeping ties with them.  According to Julie, “We typically ask candidates to provide a reference from a former boss, a peer and a direct report.  Each year, make sure that you can identify one person from these groups that will be able to give specific examples of your contributions, strengths, and leadership style.”   If you find yourself in a situation where you need to ask your estranged boss from five years ago for a reference, it will be more difficult.  Stay connected to your references on LinkedIn, so even though you may not have regular contact, that person will be aware of your activity and you will be in the fore-front of their mind.  Send a quick email, or have a cup of coffee periodically, just to stay in touch.

Properly prep your reference.  Keep your references updated on your current work situation.  Make sure they have a current copy of your resume or ensure your Linked In profile is up to date.  Provide information about the job you are interviewing for and let them know why you’re looking to make a change.  It addition, it is important to give them an idea of some of the questions they will be asked.  To make the reference interview go smoothly, make sure they can talk to your overall performance and impact on the company.  Also share with them how you have improved your performance, leadership, education or skills since you two worked together.  Areas for professional development are often much harder to articulate.


Know that your reference will say good things about you.  Make sure that your reference knows you well enough to be able to make you shine.  If you did not have a good working relationship with your former boss and you don’t think they will be able to provide a good reference, consider other senior people you may have worked with in the organization.  It’s ok to ask the person what they will say about you.  If the person seems reluctant, they may not be your best choice.

Make sure you have correct contact information and provide reference details.  Your role at this point, is to do what you can to make the reference process go as smoothly and quickly as possible.  Provide your title and the reference’s title at the time when you were working together, your working relationship and the company you were both working for.  Include your reference’s current title and company as well.  Provide current and accurate work and personal emails, work phone, cell phone and home number, if possible.  I once spent several days trying to track down someone at a job they no longer worked at, but their voicemail was still connected.  This definitely slowed the hiring process.  Also, to help speed up the process, let the potential employer or executive recruiter know the best way to contact your reference.

Let your references know that you appreciate them.  Even though the person may be happy to speak on your behalf, it does take time out of their busy day.  It’s important to let them know that you appreciate them.  A card, a little gift or even a quick email to say thank you and update them on the outcome can go a long way.  This person may have been the reason why you got the job, and it is important to keep them in you corner!


-Marianne Lenz

Curtis Food Recruiters




We at Curtis Food Recruiters would like to share with you a very talented Chef and wonderful mentor, Shari Lynne Robins.

She will be working as a mentor for the Supermarket Chef Showdown in June.  The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a mentor as “a trusted counselor or guide.” We feel that sharing your knowledge and mentoring others is a wonderful experience for both parties. Giving your wisdom and guidance can result in both personal and professional growth. Mentoring helps both the mentee and the mentor recognize their abilities and limitations, thus highlighting areas for future development.

We applaud Shari for giving her time and sharing her expertise with Supermarket Chef Showdown finalists.

The Supermarket Chef Showdown program is managed and produced for the FMI by Consumer Insight, Inc., Phil Lempert is the Executive Producer of the program.


For more information on how to get a mentor or become one here are a few sites that offer connections: