Category Archives: Good Ole Fashioned Advice

Career Rx: Take a Break

I just returned from a wonderful vacation break and agree that some time off is the best prescription for recharging the career batteries.  While not many people are happy to see their vacations end, it is always nice when a person can return to work with a clear mind to create and tackle new ideas and projects.  I am no exception.  I did something I very rarely do when on vacation…I did not check my email.  GASP!   Did I pay a heavy price when I returned from my vacation?  Oh yes.   An astronomical number of emails awaited my immediate attention upon my return, but I stand firm in saying it was worth it to unplug.  And let’s face it, it is probably good for our colleagues and clients to have us re-energize.  *SMILE*

Whether you truly enjoy what you do with your career or not, you will be susceptible to burnout if you do not find a way to relax your mind.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t think about my work while away.  Of course I did.   But the break was exactly what the doctor ordered for me.  Now I am back renewed.

How often do we tell ourselves that we cannot take a break?  Do you tell yourself that you can’t take even a few days to relax your mind?  We have brainwashed ourselves into thinking that we can not separate.  Technology and those handheld devices have changed our lives in a million ways and not always good.  But, you know what?  Those little devices do, in fact, have an off button.   I was shocked to see that mine worked.

Even if you do not have the funds to travel, have you ever thought of taking a few days for a StayCation?  Just stay at home?  Yes!  I’m a huge fan of StayCations myself.

No matter what works best for your lifestyle, it is important for you to take time to clear your mind and rid yourself of the dust that can fill your head.  We spend such a very large portion of our lives at work; therefore, it is important that we pay attention to keeping ourselves energized and focused.

Career Management is about navigating opportunities for advancement, and part of that navigation includes identifying and addressing opportunities for improvement.  Every battery needs to be charged at some point, and your mind is no exception.  Take a break and unplug every now and then.  You will love the results.

 

High Tech / High Touch Job Search

How many of you remember the first time you applied for a job?  If you are like me, you didn’t have the internet.  You had to leave your home and “pound the pavement.”  For my first job, I had to physically walk into a business and ask for an application.  If I was going to go out and look for a job, I had to also dress the part.  In addition, I wanted an office job, so that meant I had to wear a dress with hosiery and heels.  I will never forget how nervous I was to walk through the front door of that office building and ask the receptionist for an application.  After What a frightening and exhausting experience.

The reason for my walk down memory lane is not to bore you with my history but to set the stage for an illustration of how the “internet” has changed the way we seek employment.  Today’s job seeker does not even consider my “old fashioned” way of finding a job.  Today’s job seeker typically starts out in front of a home computer.

While I understand it takes a great deal of time to complete online profiles with the companies where you submit a resume, I urge everyone to only use the Internet to research and apply for positions only.  What sets today’s job seeker apart from the thousands who only apply online is good old fashioned human interaction or as we call it today, networking.

The High Tech portion of our job search should consist of research and submitting necessary documents for positions.  The element of High Touch in the job search closes the deal.  Reach out to those in your professional field, college alumni, or other networks to build professional relationships.  Ask for guidance and direction.   Reach out to professional groups through LinkedIn, blogs, and face-to-face meetings in your area.  Become known in your profession and help employers find you.

Technology has become a very important component for today’s job seekers, but its use should be to enhance your job search research.  An “apply online” only approach rarely closes the deal.  How often do you hear job seekers say they applied for multiple positions online and not receive one interview in return?  Technology’s role in the job search is not to replace good old fashioned interaction.   Technology and human interaction must go hand-in-hand in order to successfully conduct an effective job search.

 

Take the “Thanksgiving Unplugged” Challenge

I’m so excited to share with all of my blog readers a new campaign co-authored by a dear friend mine. Diane Gottsman is the owner of the Protocol School of Texas and has joined with Thomas Farley in creating “Thanksgiving Unplugged”.  The campaign challenges Americans to disconnect from their digital devices before sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner this year.  Please visit www.thanksgivingunplugged.com to take the challenge yourself.  I wholeheartedly get behind this idea.  I am even going to go a step farther in pledging to walk away from my digital devices during all business meetings during the month of November.  Unless it is a real emergency, I will not be distracted.  As the old adage states, the most important person in a given moment is the person in front of you.

When reading about Diane and Thomas’s “Unplugged” campaign, I couldn’t help but think about how bad all of us have gotten with taking our digital devices to meetings and meals.  Yes, we use these devices to take notes and maybe send the occasional emergency text or accept the occasional call from our kids, but is it REALLY that important to check our email during business meetings?  What if we all went back to life before our devices and held calls while we were meeting or dining with someone else whether that be business or pleasure?

I hope all of my readers take the “Thanksgiving Unplugged” challenge, and as a test run, practice by not looking at your digital devices during your business meetings and meals this week.  Just like before the cell phone, hold all calls except for emergencies.  And I mean real emergencies.

Please share your experiences as you go through this week, and most importantly, let me know if you decide to take the “Thanksgiving Unplugged challenge.  Thank you Diane and Thomas for creating such a powerful opporutnity.

 

Minding Your Business Manners

How many of you heard “Mind Your Manners” as a kid?  I know I was raised to “mind my manners” in someone else’s home, in church, with family, in public–basically everywhere.   Phrases such as please, thank you, you’re welcome, in addition to proper behavior were right up there with the Golden Rule.

In your professional life, “minding your manners” can make the difference between moving forward in your career or staying stagnant.  For job seekers, poor manners can keep them from potential jobs and career paths.  It’s no secret that many business deals happen over a breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings.  Many a business deal has gone sour due to poor manners in dining etiquette.  In addition, the simple gesture as a thank you has become such a lost art that it now an exception that actually propels professionals and job seekers into an elite category.  Such a simple gesture as saying thank you can make you different.  WOW!  In today’s world of online job postings and the “black hole” feeling of those who apply for jobs online, I am constantly being asked how to stand out.  Can you believe that simply saying thank you can do just that?

Here is a quick list of best practices in joining this elite group of well-mannered business professionals:

1.  Always write a thank you note within 24 hours of an interview, business meal, reception, mentoring conversation, etc.

2. In addition to writing a thank you note after a business conversation, always write a thank you note if you receive a gift, scholarship or award.

2. Circle back to people who give you advice in business and keep them updated on your progress based on their recommendations.

3. Say “You’re Welcome” or “My Pleasure” as opposed to “No Problem.”  No problem may be a norm in our society, but it is not the appropriate response to someone say thank you.

4.  Brush up on basic dining etiquette before attending a business meal or reception of any kind.  You have no idea how noticeable and basically gross it is to watch someone use poor table manners.  Use your utensils properly, don’t eat with your hands, don’t chew with your mouth open, etc.  If others at your table struggles with finishing their meal due to your poor table manners, chances are the business you are hoping to solidify during that meal will not go your way.

5.  Treat everyone you meet in business with the utmost respect.  Receptionists, executive assistants, and custodial staff are often watching potential candidates and will report on the way they are treated.

There are so many more examples to note, so this short list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface.   Please note I am not telling anyone they have to poor over etiquette books, nor am I saying that everyone has to have perfect manners to succeed in business.  My point is that you will positively set yourself apart from other job seekers and career managers by exercising basic manners.  Be appreciative.  Be respectful.   Mind Your Business Manners, and you will Be noticed.

 

 

Career Lessons from Andrea Pool and Robin Roberts

Yesterday marked the anniversary (I don’t think anniversary is a good word to describe the day) of the passing of one of my dearest friends, Andrea Pool.  You might ask why I am writing about her on a Career Management blog.  The answer is that Andrea’s amazing story includes her inspiring journey in reaching her career dreams.  When I met her, she was a communications specialist with our beloved Texas A&M University. Andrea was extremely good at her job, but she always knew that there was something missing.  Then September 11, 2001 happened, and something inside of Andrea came alive.  She realized her passion for wanting to protect this amazing country.  Through the next few years, Andrea worked to pursue her dream.  Part of the details of her dream she shared with her friends and family; however, some of the details were kept private.  You see, my dear friend was preparing herself for a career with the Central Intelligence Agency.   While she could not share much of her career including her true employer, Andrea loved her work.  All of her friends knew that she was committed to her contribution to society.  She has a passion for what she was doing.  She was living her career dream.  She achieved her dream.  You can too!

Yesterday, I watched Good Morning America and listened to Robin Roberts report on her bone marrow transplant journey.  She was reporting from her hospital bed after days of preparing for her transplant.  One of her quotes resonated deeply with me.  “You’ve got to change the way you think in order to change the way you feel.”  If you do not feel energized in your life, your career, or your job search, I challenge you to ask yourself if your “thinking” is the root of the problem.  Robin Roberts is focused on positive thinking in order to keep this disease and her pain from taking over her life.  Even during my dear friend’s health struggles, she consistently focused on getting back to the work she loved so much.  She refused to let her disease define her life.

No matter your challenges or frustrations, focus on your dream.  If you feel the road is too tough to travel, look for inspiration to give you that extra push.

Dreams are attainable.  You have to build your resolve to succeed.  Learn from those inspiring stories.  Take today to re-energize!

 

Don’t Forget Your Job Search Schoolin’

When we are searching for a job, we focus on doing what needs to be done to find a job.  We look for great opportunities with companies and search for positions that provide a great salary in the geographical location of our preference.  Basically, the short term goal of obtaining a job is our destination.

During your job search, you polished your resume, made sure your online profiles were professional, networked, interviewed, and so much more.  Successful job seekers make sure they leave no stone unturned when it comes to establishing their professional image and preparing to promote their skills and accomplishments at the drop of a hat.  Job seekers are knowledgeable.  They read business publications and research employers of choice.  Basically, they are in the know.  Well, they should be right?

Probably, the biggest mistake working professionals make after starting a new position is that they stop all of the wonderful practices they implemented during their job search and focus only on doing their new jobs.  BIG MISTAKE!

Successful career management is so much more than just job search success.  Here are a few best practices for great career managers:

Network:  Great career managers continue the business relationships they worked so hard to develop during their job search.  They position themselves as a professional and look for ways to help all of those who graciously helped them during the job search.

Pay it Forward:  It is imperative for career managers to pay it forward.  Provide praise.  Thank your new colleagues for their assistance.  Give credit where credit is due.  As we fight to climb the corporate ladder, we have to make a choice whether we want to climb with the support of our colleagues or use our colleagues as the steps.  Successful career managers accept the support of their colleagues and make sure to give back more than received at every opportunity along the way.

Online Presence: You worked so hard to perfect your online profile.  You engaged in LinkedIn Groups.  You reached out to alumni, former colleagues, and faculty.  Resist the mindset that you are now employed and do not have time to continue your online professional presence.  You have a great opportunity to give back through the same source that most likely made a huge difference in your job search success in the first place.  Provide the same great advice to current job seekers that you received during your journey.

Professional Development:  Finally, never stop searching for more education.  Be a life-long learner.  Seek to be more knowedgeable in your profession, look for opportunities to learn better leadership and communication skills, and challenge yourself to stay on top of the latest technologies.

It’s called LifeLong Career Management for a reason.  Accomplishments within the job as well as your professional presence and relationships go hand-in-hand to achieve career management success.

The Need for Expert Career Advice

Just like expectant mothers, job seekers receive advice from almost everyone in their life.  Isn’t it funny how everyone immediately becomes an expert?   I often talk with job seekers who have received resume, interviewing and cover letter advice from so many sources they do not what to do.  I cannot stress enough the importance of finding an expert for your job search the same way you would for legal or medical advice.  Always find people most trained and experienced in the area where you need advice.  For the purpose of the job search, every job seeker should enlist advice from these two important groups of experts without exception:

Job Search Experts and Career Coaches offer successful tips based on experience and knowledge from hiring managers and recruiters across numerous companies and industries.  Career experts know the latest best practices in resume writing, letter writing, networking and interviewing.  They know how to guide you in determining career paths and options that best fit your strengths and goals.  Career professionals are counselors, advisors, and/or coaches depending on the need of the job seeker.  These people offer objective guidance based on research and knowledge of the current marketplace.

Profession Experts provide insight into the specific careers in which job seekers are researching.  If you are seeking a career in corporate finance, you should connect with people who are currently in and have had successful careers in corporate finance.  These experienced professionals provide targeted advice on what organziations you should join for networking and development.  They know the climate of their profession and what incoming candidates need in order to be successful.  People who are in the profession of your choice have walked in your shoes.  They know what works to get noticed and what doesn’t.  Seek a professional mentor who can offer you this much needed and valuable direction and guidance.

Create your team of experts who will guide you towards a successful job search and future career progression.  You can’t afford not to enlist the very best for your future.  Good luck!