Wednesday, July 19, 2017

10 things that will make your resume stand out in the pile


1. Only include the best and most relevant work experiences for the types of job you're applying for — that means customize your resume.

Remember when Paris Gellar and Rory Gilmore are getting ready to graduate, and Paris talks about the 10 different versions of her resume? She isn't completely crazy. I know.

You should have more than one version of your resume. You should go in and reorganize and reword your resume for each and every job you apply to that you value. If you're just submitting resumes left and right to 100 companies without any thought to how your resume looks to each individual company, you aren't going to have as much as luck as you would if you made a custom version of your resume for 10 jobs.

When I say customize, I don't mean entirely redesign your resume for every position. But consider what experience is most relevant. Say you're in communications and you're applying for a job within the government or a very corporate company and also a job with a startup marketing firm. Those two hiring managers are looking for very different skills and work experiences, and you shouldn't expect one resume to fit both jobs.

2. Use present tense for jobs or positions you currently hold and past tense for jobs you no longer hold. 

This is literally so small, so so so small, but if you remember my last post, consistency matters.

Your work experience should be ordered chronologically — meaning the positions you currently hold are at the top, followed by positions you no longer hold in chronological order. And in that same vein, you should distinguish between jobs you are doing now and jobs you are not doing anymore by changing the verb tense for each position. A small detail that I think means a lot. It shows you invested time into your resume.

3. Quantify your work. 

This is one of the most important things anyone has ever told me about resumes. You must quantify your work, not just qualify it.

So that means instead of saying I edited stories for The Daily Tar Heel for print and online, I say that I edited between 10 and 15 stories a day, five days a week, for The Daily Tar Heel, which at that time had a daily print circulation of 14,000 copies a day and reached 25,000 people every day online.

See? Sounds far more specific and professional, right?

4. Include skills that make you stand out — don't waste space with the skills everyone has. 

Everyone knows how to use PowerPoint. Sorry, but it's true. Remove it — it's a waste of space.

Not everybody knows the Adobe Creative Suite or is fluent in Spanish or can use a DSLR like a pro. Include the skills that make you different. If you had an internship and used a specific program (for example, if you used QuickBooks or Adobe Omniture), include that program on your skills. It'll make you stand out if another company you apply to uses that same program and you already have the skills.

In the same vein: If you show through your work experience that you are a strong editor or writer, you don't need to say that you are a strong editor under your skills section. Your work experience shows it.

5. Don't include things from high school.

Unless you have been in college for no more than 30 seconds, leave it off. If you're including it because you don't have any or nearly enough college or post-college experience to fill a page … Stop what you're doing and reevaluate. Join a club or something.

6. Use powerful verbs.

Too often, people start every sentence with "Responsible for," "handled," "led" or "managed." Use powerful verbs that convey what you did and give more value and importance to your tasks. It's very similar to quantifying your work. A powerful verb makes you stand out from the hundreds of other candidates who have also been responsible for menial tasks as an intern at some company or another. It's all about standing out.

I am literally linking to a list of 185 powerful verbs to use instead.

7. Skip the content that feels and looks compulsory.

That includes things like "references upon request" or an "objective" sentence. You don't want someone to look at your resume and feel like they've read 15,000 of these before and yours is nothing different at all. Do not be that resume. Be the one that breaks the mold and doesn't include an objective sentence that no one reads anyway.

Something else that seems compulsory but isn't necessary: Your home address.

Instead of the compulsory, include your cell phone number, email, website and LinkedIn profile. Maybe your Twitter if that would be appropriate for your industry. (It is for mine.) No one is mailing you anything anymore, and if you include a home address that isn't in the area of the job you're applying for, it could put you out of the running — even if you are 100 percent willing to relocate or move to the moon for a job.

Also, you may think your college GPA is important … but it's really not. Unless the job you're applying for asks for a GPA or has a GPA requirement or your GPA is above a 3.5, I would leave it out.

8. Put your most pertinent experiences at the top. 

Sometimes, I've seen sections called "JOURNALISM (or the industry you're applying for specifically) EXPERIENCE" and "OTHER EXPERIENCE." That way, you don't have to be restricted to chronological order — put your most relevant work at the top in a different section from the experience you want to include but isn't the most relevant. For example, if you have experience in both marketing, public relations and digital marketing and are applying for a digital marketing position, it makes sense to have a DIGITAL MARKETING EXPERIENCE section and an OTHER EXPERIENCE section.

But please stick with chronological order within those categories because otherwise, it does get messy and confusing. Maybe that's just me. Oh well.

9. List your honors – if they're things people might recognize.

Winning a scholarship or award is great, but if you don't have room to explain what it is or why you received it, it's probably not worth including. You don't want people to have to guess how big of a deal it is that you won a scholarship in your first year of college three years ago.

But if you, say, were a Morehead Cain Scholar at UNC (a big deal)  then you would't need to break that down. If you win an award that has somewhat of an explanation in the title (like a community journalism award I won last year), that probably will also suffice.

List the honors that are the biggest deal to you and the most relevant to your job search. Employee of the Month at the on-campus bookstore? Eh. Leave it.

10. Your relevant class history is important, but don't speak in tongues.

When I say tongues, I mean class shortenings — ENGL 105, JOMC 153, POLI 203. No one knows what those course codes mean except people in your own university's registrar and also that one kid who memorized the course bulletin their first year whose name is Paige Ladisic.

Before I graduated I used the actual titles of my courses — Media Law, Professional Problems and Ethics, Introduction to News Editing, etc. — and only include the courses that are most relevant to my career search. A lot of people I know mention every course they've ever taken … Not necessary, unless they are possibly all relevant to your experiences and your skills. Feel free to leave off your first year chemistry lab!

Now that I am out of college, I do not include class history at all and include any of my skills from those classes in my skills section. It's a personal preference.

•••

Okey dokey! That's some of the best resume advice I have. Are you working on a resume now? Are you totally out of your wheelhouse? Feel free to send me an email! You can reach me at thedailypaigeblog@gmail.com with any questions or requests for feedback on your resume.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

how to organize your apartment search (without losing your cool)

If you read my post yesterday, you know that we're moving to Chapel Hill. And if you've met me or read my blog ever, you know that I am the Type A-iest of the Type As, so an apartment search is quite the undertaking for me. And nothing brings me more joy. 

So, let's talk about the game-changer in any apartment search: Apartment List. I've got a few tips for organizing your apartment search, and they all begin and end with that amazing site. If you need an apartment or rental home soon or in the future, this is where you should start.
This post is not sponsored in any way by Apartment List. I really like the site, and wanted to share my experience with the site with anyone else who will need an apartment in the future!


Step one: Make a wishlist. 

How many bedrooms do you want? What's your ideal square footage? Do you need a porch or a patio, or is that negotiable? Do you need a washer and dryer, or are you fine buying/renting your own or using a community laundry center? Townhouse, cottage, apartment, house?

We decided we wanted a two-bedroom apartment with more than 1,000 square feet. We wanted a patio or terrace, and our complex had to have a dog park and plenty of sidewalks and green areas. Our unit had to have a washer and dryer and we were pretty flexible on other things like hardwood floors versus carpet.




Step Two: Set your budget.

This is crucial. How much are you willing and/or able to spend on the place you're going to rent? Factor in your usual expenses, the cost of living in your new town and utilities.

Apartment List manages this in two ways that makes it super helpful – 1) it asks you what your budget is and 2) it asks you what your annual income is, so it can calculate the units you can actually qualify for. (Most complexes require that you make 3 times the rent each month, sometimes more than that.)

Step Three: Find apartments that have everything you want and fit into the budget that you've set for yourself.

There are a lot of ways you can do this – check a site like Apartment Guide or Zillow and narrow down what you want, plugging everything into a spreadsheet; look on Google Maps in your desired area and find complexes in the neighborhoods you're looking for; or by using Apartment List to find apartments that match your preferences and needs and package them up for you to look through.

Know what you're willing to make an exception for – will you pay an extra $100 over your budget to have a much shorter commute? Are you willing to sacrifice hardwood floors for a fenced in yard? 

Step Four: Make your shortlist. Narrow down to 5-10 apartments you want to tour.

You're going to end up with hundreds of apartments that fit into your budget, more than likely. Narrowing that down by all of your needs and wants, you want to make sure you have five to ten complexes you could actually see yourself living in.

Again, I used Apartment List to narrow down all of our choices to our shortlist. We had four units we decided to tour – we wanted to tour five but one never returned our calls – because that was all we could fit in the one day we had. If you're moving somewhere from out of town, you'll likely be in the same boat; if you're moving down the street, you'll have a little more flexibility to see more units.

We tried to be really picky. If we weren't absolutely sure that we might want to live at the complex, it didn't make the cut. Like I said, we had five great places on our list that we felt were right for us.

Step Five: Write down the questions you need to ask at each unit.

You will not remember when you get to the complex to ask if they do have 24-hour emergency maintenance, but you will regret it when your ceiling starts leaking at 4 a.m. and you have to wait until the maintenance guy is awake in five hours.

Some examples of questions we made sure to ask if they weren't answered for us already...
• Do you have a maintenance staff member living on site for 24-hour emergency maintenance?
• What is your pet fee and pet rent? Do you have a dog park? Do you have dog friendly events?
• What is the parking situation like? Are there enough spots for residents and guests?
• Do you have garages that can be rented?
• Do you have storage available for rent?
• Have you ever heard complaints about noise or thin walls?
• Do you offer valet trash? If not, where is the nearest dumpster?

Step Six: Ask for floor plans and dimensions. And everything else they have.

When you tour an apartment, especially if you like it, ask for every single piece of paper they have. List of amenities? Yes. Floor plans of the unit you're looking at? Oh, definitely. Dimensions? Hand it over. Any other promotional materials or packets that a potential resident may want to look over? It will all come in handy when you make your pro/con list, friends.

Step Seven: Analyze your remaining options and break down what's most important to you and how those options deliver on those needs/wants.

We wrote down the 15 most important things to us – distance to the Dean Dome, distance to the airport, convenience (is it near a grocery store? Is the stoplight slow to change?), dog park, etc. – and scored each of our final three options in each category. (One of our four complexes took itself out of the running when the leasing agent candidly told me about the residents being pretty rowdy partiers and trashing the pool every weekend. Pass.)

Who gets the highest score? That's probably – probably – your best option. However...

Step Eight: Sleep on it.

This was crucial for me and Pat. We came up with our winner, but the second place complex was only a few points behind, even though they'd gotten a 0 in one category. So, it was tough. It came down to the commute and the value; the unit we decided on was closer to the Dean Dome, although further from the airport, and it was far more bang for our buck, with a screened-in porch for little Theo to frolic around on.

•••

We are so excited to have made this huge decision! What about you? How did your first apartment search go? If you haven't taken this big adult moment on yet, what are you worried about?

Friday, July 14, 2017

we're moving back to Chapel Hill!


Most of the people who read this blog probably know me because I went to UNC and worked with them at The Daily Tar Heel from 2012 to 2016, so maybe this isn't huge news to anyone – but when I graduated last May and left behind the newspaper and the campus that I grew really attached to after four years. 

I think it's pretty safe to say I am unbelievably excited to move back to Chapel Hill!

Today, we're touring apartments. We have to be moved in by July 31! 


And in honor of this move that I am SO excited about... here's my list of things I am so excited about getting back in my life and things I cannot wait to do, now that I'm returning to Chapel Hill.

1. FRIENDS!
2. Easy access to football and basketball games.
3. Dame's Chicken and Waffles in downtown Durham.
4. Free parking in downtown Raleigh for Sunday brunches.
5. Linda's on Franklin Street. FRIED OKRA!
6. I-40 is way less horrible than I-85 and unbelievably less horrible than 77.
7. Gonzo's Tacos.
8. Theo will be back in the Triangle with his brother, Gus Gus.
9. The Little Dipper.
10. Food truck rodeos in downtown Raleigh.
11. Flyleaf Books!
12. And Letters!
13. And Quail Ridge!
14. The Chapel Hill Public Library and its quarterly book sale.
15. Actually knowing where the heck I'm going without using Google Maps.
16. Lucha Tigre boozy brunchces.
17. Durham Bulls games. 
18. Volunteering with The Daily Tar Heel.
19. Chapel Hill Tire Center, the only car place that doesn't treat me like a dumb woman.
20. It's an hour closer to Oak Island.
21. Downtown Raleigh's food scene – Beasley's, Chuck's, the Rockford, all of the above and more.
22. Walking Theo through the quad.
23. Silverspot Theater in Chapel Hill,
24. Closer to the airport.
25. And on that note, a smaller airport = less craziness.

I think I could easily muster up another 25 or 100 things that I am unbelievably excited about with our move back to Chapel Hill, but just know that I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. Get ready for so many posts about moving, apartment searching, furniture hunting... all of the above. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

my four favorite pens (and markers) for any occasion


I love office supplies, but there's a special place in my heart for pens. I'm the girl who gets more excited about Papermate Flairs being on sale for Prime Day than anything in the clothing department. I consider myself a pen expert, because I write a lot by hand – in my planner, in my bullet journal, on sticky notes, on the backs of pieces of paper that are probably important. I just love handwriting and have always been very passionate about pens!

Below are my four favorite pens (well, one is a marker) that I love to use pretty much any time. I also have some honorable mentions that are pretty good! 

Note: I haven't tried a lot of the really popular bullet journaling pens, markers and highlighters – like Midliners or Stabilo fineliners. These are my favorites out of what I have tried. 

Oh, and hey, this post contains affiliate links! If you click or make a purchase, I'll make a little money off of it. Clickety click! 


Staedtler Fineliners | I bought a huge pack of these during senior year when I first thought about bullet journaling. I never actually committed to the meticulous note-taking, but I liked these for drawing lines, adding small elements to my planner or notebook and for writing in cramped spaces, like the grid in my Moleskine Cahier notebooks. I do not write a lot with these, unless I am trying to write very small, because I don't like how the nib writes with my handwriting. I do love the shape of the pen and the colors available!

TUL retractable gel pens | I wasn't sold on these pens but my mom swears by them, so I picked one up and fell in love. I really love the white and gold version, but they appear to be sold out, so I linked to the plain old black and grey pens. They write so smooth, last forever and don't ghost onto the pages of my Moleskine. These are my go-to pens for pretty much anything.

Papermate Flair | I have so many of these, it is actually crazy. They were on an amazing sale on Prime Day but I have so many, I didn't need to make my habit any worse. These pens are great. I love all the colors and they are great for handlettering, regular writing and note-taking and pretty much anything else you could need them for. I have been using Flairs for longer than any other pen. They are my Number One. My ride or die pen!

Crayola Supertips | This is a new-found love, but these markers are awesome for pretty much everything! I prefer to write in black ink but like little pops of color – these are great and so affordable! My Staedtler Fineliners are a little light and so thin that they don't really provide a great pop, but the Supertips are perfect. AND you can get 100 markers for $18. I got a 20-pack for only $5 and change. It's a great deal, and if they dry up or I lose one, I won't feel terribly guilty. (Like I do with some of my other pens!

My honorable mentions...
Pilot G2 retractable gel pens. These pens got me through high school! I had the best notes in AP Chemistry and it was because of these pens.
BIC Cristal pens. These are great for basic pen needs and they last forever. I loved them when I was a waitress and still use them now!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

[5 things] the best time management advice I've ever gotten


One of my favorite things to read about is productivity. Time management, time blocking, bullet journaling, Google Calendar tips, email advice... all of it. I consume this sort of news at a crazy rate – you should see my Pinterest boards.

Here is some of the best advice I've read or gotten from colleagues or friends!

Set office hours.

Whether you are working in an actual office or a creative entrepreneur who works on your own schedule, you need to be clear to yourself and to others when you are on and when you are off. I map out my hours for work and for my other commitments on my Google Calendar. This is my weakness – I want to work on feedback reports on the weekend when I have spare time, and I want to answer Lularoe emails or messages at 2 a.m. when I should be asleep. 

If you honestly tell yourself and your clients that you are unavailable after 7 p.m. for family time or that you cannot be reached from 9 to 5 because you're working your day job, you will know that you have to accomplish the tasks you have on your list in the time frame that you have. It makes it harder to push things off and it sets clear boundaries in your life.

Block out your time.

If you're clear with yourself about working hours and what you need to do when, then you can be honest with yourself about how much you can get done in a period of time. If you know you're working from 9 to 5, block out what you need to get done in those 8 hours. A lot can be done if you have a clear picture of your day. If you're really busy, block out time for little things like answering a single email or stopping to eat lunch. You know how it can get.

Delegate.

You can't and you shouldn't do everything that needs to get done. I'm not saying that you need to hire people to do every single task in your life, but find ways to delegate tasks that you can't take on yourself or that you can't do alone. Ask your child, your spouse, your partner, your coworker to help you when you are overwhelmed with tasks. If there's a task that you absolutely hate but your spouse doesn't mind – for example, I hate emptying the dishwasher but Patrick doesn't mind doing it at all – then that's delegating. You cannot accomplish everything.

Focus on one thing at a time.

You cannot multitask. I know you think you can. Sometimes I think I can. But you can't. And when I try, I do a worse job, I make mistakes, I have to go back and redo things, I leave things halfway completed because I got distracted. You will do a better job if you are aware of what needs to get done and you work your way down your list one thing at a time. You are not a robot – you are not capable of splitting your mind three or four ways at once. And honestly, it hurts your head! At least it hurts mine.

Give your tasks deadlines and categories.

Everyone manages their task lists differently, but I stand by this – every task needs a deadline. Don't fool around and think you'll do the laundry if you have no deadline for doing the laundry. Be real with yourself and what you can accomplish in a given chunk of time, but give yourself a real deadline for every task and organize those tasks into categories. I use Trello to do this but everyone has their own system.


•••

What are your time management tips? Leave a few in the comments! I love to learn what others do to be productive.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

a day in the life of me

I love reading "A Day in the Life" posts from other bloggers, and I wanted to share mine. My job is a little weird, since I travel almost every other week, but I wanted to share my daily routine with anyone who's curious what it looks like when I'm not traveling and am working from home.

•••

8:30 a.m. My first alarm for the day goes off. I say first because I hate waking up to begin with, but I especially hate waking up and rolling out of bed right away. I set multiple alarms – there's one for actually waking up and one for physically hauling myself out of bed. 


9 a.m. OK, OK, I'm physically up. Probably. I probably snoozed my alarm at least three times. I check my work email, first thing's first, and take Theo outside for his first (short) walk of the morning. Since I've been working from home almost always if I'm not traveling, I pour a bowl of cereal and settle down on the couch or at the kitchen island to start my work day. 

I also feed Theo and give him something to chew on or play with while I work. Patrick sleeps later in the mornings because he stays up later than me, so I'm on Theo duty in the mornings. This has become a lot less stressful lately – when he was a brand new addition to the household, it was horrible

9:30 a.m. My mornings when I'm not traveling pretty much looks like this: Check email. Work on feedback reports or training materials. Repeat. My email is my to do list most of the time. On Mondays, there are usually a lot of things to filter through. I also check my personal email and clear it out at this time. 

My emails could look something like...
• Story coaching for reporters.
• Headline help or brainstorming requests.
• Project planning – if a newsroom has a bigger series going live.
• CrowdTangle training or dashboard requests. (This is one of our main social media analytics tools.)
• Schedule and/or travel changes.
• Preparation for our next trip.

Or all of the above.

10 a.m. Theo goes outside once an hour. I won't repeat this every hour, but it's pretty standard. Sometimes we forget because he's asleep or chewing on a bone, but for the most part, it's once per hour until after dinner. 

10:30 a.m. Since I have a work call at 11 a.m., I hurry up and shower, brush my hair and try to make myself look like an adult.

11 a.m. Almost every morning at 11 a.m., I have a check-in call with my team. There are three of us – one is stationed in Vermont, one in Fort Worth and then me in Charlotte, so we catch up on the day before and what's on our calendar first thing in the morning. Lately, though, at least one of the three of us is traveling. 

11:30 a.m. Time to organize myself for the rest of my day. Sometimes, I do this the night before, but usually, I leave it for the morning once I've cleared my inbox, finished any super time sensitive tasks and had my morning call with my team. I manage all of my work and personal to dos using Trello and a priority-based system (I sort my tasks by must do, should do, would be nice to do and use labels and deadlines to keep me organized within those columns). 


12 p.m. I grab a snack or eat a sandwich (or, let's be honest, eat a bowl of cereal that I forgot to pour for myself when I woke up) and pack my bag to head to Starbucks to work for a couple of hours. Patrick plays golf one or two times a week, and when he does, I usually go to Starbucks, to give Theo some kennel time – we're still trying to warm him up to his kennel – and to give me some quiet time. 

12:05 p.m. I arrive at our way-too-close Starbucks and order a Violet Drink and settle down at a table by the window that has plenty of outlet availability and is only slightly wobbly. I probably end up working from Starbucks once or twice a week, and I earn enough stars from going on work trips that it's not outrageous. I plug in my noise-cancelling headphones, start playing the Hamilton soundtrack and get to work.


12:05 p.m. to 4 p.m. I chug away at my work, using Trello as my guide. By the end of the day, I usually try to completely knock out my Must Do and Should Do columns. Depending on the day and my mood, this works out great. On some days, it's more of a battle.

I do try to insert smaller "fun" tasks in between huge marathon tasks. So, if I have to finish a feedback report for a newsroom – which is a marathon task – I'll also put something like "Respond to blog comments" or "Post on Instagram" on the list. I give myself some small things to look forward to, and I feel more accomplished when I push them over to the COMPLETED card!

4 p.m. I look outside and it is pouring rain. Welp.

4:10 p.m. Still raining.

4:30 p.m. I don't like to leave Theo for more than five hours, so as soon as I see the rain has slowed down, I jump in the car and drive home. 

4:40 p.m. Once I let the little man out, we walk around the apartment complex for 15-20 minutes and wait for Patrick to come home. 

5 p.m. Patrick traveled a little farther for golf today so I start preheating the oven for enchiladas and boiling water for rice while I finish up my workday at the kitchen island. Theo is, inexplicably, asleep in the middle of the living room.

6 p.m. We eat dinner – enchiladas and cilantro rice, both from mixed stuff we buy at the grocery store and requiring very limited work on my part – and start watching one of our many shows we're in the middle of on Netflix. This time, it's Orange is the New Black, the new season. Holy heck, this season is bizarre.

6:30 p.m. It's time for Theo's long evening walk. The length of the walk depends on the weather and Theo's mood – read: is he being an ornery little shit? – but ideally, we try to be gone for at least 30 minutes. When he gets a little older and a little less wild, we'll start walking farther distances in the evening, possibly taking the trail behind the apartment complex.


7 to 11 p.m. We take Theo outside once an hour, and we also do his training sessions in the evening. Otherwise, I sit on the couch and read or work on my blog/Lularoe on the computer (or, more likely, play games on my iPad) while Patrick sits next to me and works or reads articles (or, more likely, plays this golf game on his phone). 

11 p.m. I am usually asleep on my feet. We take Theo out one last time and then take him to bed. He sleeps in the human bed because we're weak willed. He stretches out between us, Pat starts playing The Office and I fall asleep within four minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

•••

And that's my day! What do you make part of your daily routine? 

Saturday, July 08, 2017

[is shein legit?] my review of this too-good-to-be-true fast fashion site


You've all seen the advertisements – cute sundresses, on-trend blouses, off-the-shoulder tank tops, all for incredibly low prices. And we've also seen the horror story articles about the silly people who order from a store oversees only to receive an item that looks nothing like what was advertised. When I saw the Shein ads, I wasn't fooled – of course it was a scam.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to poke around and see if anyone had ordered from Shein and written about their experiences. And I found a few fashion bloggers that successfully placed $150+ orders with Shein, received their orders quickly and loved what they got. So, I started to think, "OK, this could be worth a shot."

I filled my cart with 8 items that I absolutely loved and took a chance.

•••

The basics:

• I placed my order on June 25 and it arrived on June 30. Fast! If your order is more than $100, you get free express shipping. I also paid $2.99 for insurance and free returns just in case.

• Shein accepts major credit cards and also PayPal. Not sure how much you know about PayPal but they are great about guaranteeing purchases and I knew if I paid with PayPal, I would be safe if my order turned out to be a total nightmare.

• Have a tape measurer on you or be familiar with your actual measurements – not the sizes you normally wear. I sized up in some clothes and sized down in others, although for the most part, I stuck with my usual size. There are some pieces where you won't be so lucky, especially if you are busty or have large hips.

•••

What I ordered:

This bell-sleeved palm frond print dress.

 

I ordered this because I saw it on a fashion Instablogger I follow and thought it was too cute. I wasn't sure if it was me but figured it would be fun for one of the wedding events I have in the next few months and maybe even for work. I also think the palm frond trend is so worth following.

It fit perfectly and was the perfect length. The fabric came very wrinkled but I think if I steam it once, it should be OK. I love the color and the bell sleeves. This was the most expensive piece I purchased at $24.


 

I ordered this one because I loved the ruffled hem and the black-and-white gingham. Gingham is high up on my list of most-loved patterns, but I am always hesitant to purchase because it's a summer print. But this top was only $9 so I added it to my cart. And I loved it! I've worn it once already with white pants and my nude heels, and I think it is going to be so cute all summer and even into fall if I throw on a cardigan. The worst thing about this shirt was a few stray threads on the hem.

This black cold shoulder tank top.

 

I ordered this because I wanted to try the cold shoulder trend without shelling out a lot of money. Out of all of the clothes, this one probably feels the cheapest – the material is very thin – but I don't feel like it's a waste of my money. It cost $12 and isn't see-through, just thin. I love the sleeves and the straps are easily adjusted to be longer or shorter. It's a little shorter in front than I prefer but nothing crazy.


 

This dress is exactly like the photo, except a little less shiny. (And I think that's a good thing.) It's a little longer on me than most maxi dresses and skirts are, but if I wear heels, I'll be fine. This dress feels like a really high quality piece for only $23. The zipper is real and doesn't get stuck easily and the fabric is really, really nice. I love how it moves and feel like a total princess! This might be one of the dresses I pull out for a wedding coming up.


 

I honestly only bought this top because I figured I could use a black blouse, and it was $10. It's such a cute and flattering blouse! It is super wrinkly but I love the bell sleeves and the exposed zipper in the back, which isn't stiff at all and didn't get caught on the fabric. Again, this chiffon fabric is pretty thin, similar to the cold shoulder top, but it doesn't feel cheap and isn't see-through.


 

I think everyone has seen this two-piece set on Facebook and has wanted to buy it. I had a girl walk up to me in the grocery store while I was wearing it and compliment me on it, saying she's had it in her shopping cart for a week but wasn't sure if it was legit and now that she's seen it on me, she has to buy it. This two-piece set was $18, and considering I can wear the shorts and the shirt separate from each other, I am so here for it. The fabric is a little slicker than I thought – more like a wetsuit or a bathing suit – but it's soft and hangs well. I love the pockets and the shorts are not see-through!



I was so excited about this blouse that I didn't take a full outfit picture, just threw it on and ran out the door. I absolutely loved this $14 find and am buying it in the other two colors, too. The fabric is lightweight and it breathes – feels like linen – without being see-through. The shape of the top is so cute and I just loved how it flowed. I can't wait to wear this all summer long and then to pair it with denim and boots in the fall! 


 

Oh my gosh, this shirt. It was $13 so I added it to my cart for the sleeves – I'm a sucker for ruffle sleeves – but when it arrived, I fell in love with all of it! The gingham and stripes are so fun together (I love pattern mixing!) and it feels a little dressier than your average t-shirt without losing the comfort. This was great.

My advice:

Read the measurements and measure yourself. Don't order your usual size just because you think it'll work! You may regret it. I sized up in a couple pieces because I knew my sizing.

• If it doesn't have reviews or pictures, I would be more hesitant before purchasing. Read the reviews! You can see when you're scrolling through if an item has reviews – it's a little star icon underneath the picture – so you don't get all hung up on the perfect dress just to find out no one has reviewed it yet. Since I had such a great experience, I am more likely to risk it on items that don't have reviews.

• Look for a sale or a coupon code. I got 25% off my order because I ordered over $100. Right now, they're offering $5 to $30 off an order.

• If you can order a lot at once, do it. You'll get a bigger discount and qualify for the free express shipping, which will be far more worth it than waiting two to three weeks for your order to arrive.

• Order the pieces that you know you'll love for the season but might not reach for again once the trend has died down, or pieces that you want to take a chance on to see if they're for you – like the cold shoulder top. I wouldn't use Shein to buy classic wardrobe staples – I've washed two items already and they held up great, but I don't know if their clothes can withstand too much wear before falling apart.

•••

Have you ordered from Shein before? What was your experience? I can't wait to shop again!