Category Archives: Professionals

Do You Love Your Career?

When asked if I love what I do for my career, my answer is very quick and said with confidence.  Yes!!!   I love career coaching.  I love guiding my students and clients to realizing their strengths, taking on the challenge to minimize their weaknesses, and encouraging job seekers to chase their dreams.  I love writing resumes and cover letters.  Helping a client identify and articulate their strengths and past accomplishments is not just rewarding to the client but also to this coach.

I enjoy watching my former students navigate their careers after graduating.  After 20 years, I could share with you some of the best stories that would make your heart burst with joy.  I have tagged my LinkedIn contacts who are former students.  All I have to do is scroll through that list to see what everyone is current doing with their careers and where.   Talk about inspiring.

As I stated above, I love being a career coach?  Yes.  Do I always like being a career coach?  No.  I do not like to see my students and clients struggle in their job search.   But as I remind each of them, great reward comes from overcoming the struggles and frustrations to reach a goal.  Some of the best job search stories come from those current and former students who overcame rejection and disappointment to eventually seeing their career goals come true.

Just a few weeks ago, I had a student come tell me about an offer she had received.  She was literally shaking with joy.  She had experienced frustration.  She had been through peaks and valleys in her job search.  While anyone would rather not struggle in any endeavor, she would be the first to say that her frustrations fueled her determination to overcome and succeed.  That is an example of one of my best days as a career coach and one I will never forget.

Can you say the same?  Can you describe your best day on the job?  Can you say that you love what you do?  I’m not asking whether you like where you work, the salary you receive or the size of your office.  Do you honestly love what you do at work everyday?  There will be days when you do not like what you do. There will be challenging days that stretch your patience, but do you honestly love your work?   If your answer is no, I challenge you to rectify situation that starting today.  Seek out a career or life coach who can help you realize and act on achieving your career dreams.

 

After You Accept the Offer: Now What?

The day has finally arrived.  You have accepted an offer for an internship or fulltime position.  Regardless of the day your future employer gives you as your official start date, it is important you begin preparing the day you accept the offer.

Once a candidate is chosen for a position, an announcement is sent to the employer’s team.  The department begins preparing for your start date.  You as a future employee have a wonderful opportunity.  Instead of waiting until your first day on the job to meet your coworkers and supervisor, follow these simple tips on how you can make a positive impact immediately.

  • Reach out to your future supervisor and coworkers and let them know of your excitement to join the team.
  • Ask your supervisor if there is anything you can review or read prior to your first day.   Anything you can do to learn more about the department in regards to their work as well as the professionals working in that area will provide you the opportunity to make that immediate contribution you promised in the interview process.
  • If possible, visit your upcoming place of work before your first day.  Join your new team for lunch or possibly an after work get together if possible so that your first day will more comfortable for everyone involved.
  • Even though you researched the company as much as you thought possible in preparation for your interview, you should now look for resources that provide even more information for you.  Look to see if the company has had any press since your interview.
  • Keep in mind that you might be taking the place of a current employee or an intern who is finishing their assignment.  By giving the current employee in the position the opportunity to train you, you will alleviate a great deal of pressure in the event there is no overlap between you and that current employee after your start date.

Your future employer may not be ready to work with you or meet with you until your first day of employment.  That is the choice of that employer.  Your job as a future employee is to make the very best first impression you can to both your employer and coworkers.  It is your job to reach out and assure everyone of your excitement and interest.

You had to make a great first impression during the interview process.  Now is the time to make another great impression.

3 Holiday Networking Tips for Introverts

Believe it or not, introverts can be very successful networkers at holiday parties.  No, you do not have to be the life of the party.  As a matter of fact, you might make a more positive impact through what most of you do more often than extroverts.  You listen!  Here are three quick tips for introverts to be successful networkers this holiday season.

  1. 1.      BE THERE:  Do not stay home! Attend those receptions and parties this season.  Put on your professional party best and a genuine smile, and you are ready for a great event.  If you are uncomfortable joining a conversation, use a tip I received from my esteemed colleague, Diane Gottsman.  If you see a couple of people talking and one person has their foot pointed outward, you can use that as a sign that the conversation is open to another person.  Just walk up and simply ask to join.  This is where you will have to step out of your comfort zone, but it is a step well worth your while. 
  2. 2.      Stay near the Door:  Whatever you do, do not let yourself sit down or stand in the corner.  By standing near the door, you have the opportunity to see everyone arriving and leaving the event.  As real estate professionals say, the key is location, location, location.  Even if you’re in a conversation with someone else, position yourself to allow others to join your group.  Just as you would like people to include you, remain open to including others in your conversation.    
  3. 3.      Be an Active Listener:  The secret to building relationships isn’t in the talking but in the listening.  Active listeners show interest in what other people say.  They are good at asking open ended questions that encourage conversation.  In a previous blog, I wrote that being interested makes you much more interesting because you are actively engaged in a conversation. 

You do not have to be a great talker to be a great conversationalist, but you have to be there, be seen, and engage in conversation.  Just by attending and engaging in active listening, you will make tremendous strides in building valuable business relationships. 

Diane Gottsman is a nationally recognized etiquette expert and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in corporate etiquette training. Diane is also the author of Pearls of Polish, an etiquette guide for today’s busy woman.

December Networking for Job Seekers

Some will advise job seekers to wait until after the New Year to resume searching for employment.  I, on the other hand, am with the group who recommend job seekers dry clean their business best and take advantage of December receptions and networking opportunities. The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is perfect for networking. 

Join professional associations for your chosen profession or industry and attend Holiday and Christmas receptions and socials.  These events are great opportunities to meet potential employers from several organizations at one time.  National or international associations usually have regional groups that get together during this time of year. 

In addition, Texas A&M University has “A&M Clubs” all over the world.  Many of these clubs have weekly Happy Hours and certainly have events planned during the month of December to celebrate the Holidays and Christmas.  All job seeking Aggies should be sure to attend these celebrations, and former or current students from other colleges and universities should be attending events from their Alma Maters as well. 

Another great idea for connecting with business professionals during this time of year is to participate in community events.  Local businesses often get involved in Food Bank inventory collection or Toy Drives.  You will not only meet potential future colleagues and employers but also provide much needed service to your community. 

The opportunities for networking during the month of December are limitless.  Please do not put your job search on the shelf until January 2.  Continue to build your network and enjoy a very happy holiday and Christmas season.

Effectively Use Hashtags in Your Job Search

While it has been close to two years since I opened a Twitter account, it has been about a year since I have been active on Twitter.   I love Twitter!  It is the fastest, most effective way I have found to browse information that interests me and connect with other professionals.  Twitter has been an instrumental resource in elevating my passion and understanding of my profession to a whole new level.  Thank you Twitter!

I must say, however, that one of the most difficult things for me to grasp about Twitter was the #hashtag.  Trying to figure out what #FF means is a day I will not forget.  I was so confused, but once I learned the concept and how to effectively use hashtags, I was off to the races.  In my work, I have found two major areas in which hashtags have helped the most. 

(1)  Network and learn what is happening in your profession:  Along with dozens of other attendees of the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) National Conference last week, I tweeted what I learned from speakers and colleagues throughout the event using the #NACE11 hashtag. Twitter and the hashtag brought the conference to those who could not attend the event, and I found great use in the hashtag search in learning what others were hearing.  This hashtag alone strengthened my connection with fellow Tweeters and those not attending.  My grade for the #NACE11 hashtag is an A+!

(2)  Join others in chats on the jobsearch:  Some of the best trending hashtags for job seekers include:  #career, #jobsearch, #jobseeker, #resume, #coverletters and the list goes on and on.  However, you can also find the best job search discussions with hashtags for professional chats.  Some of my favorite chats to follow include:  #internchat, #tchat, #hfchat and #careerchat. 

Using hashtags to get connected to conversations and information also helps you identify key people and organizations to follow.  Professional activity with Twitter and the use of hashtags can have a positive domino effect in your professional development and increase your business network.  Try it—you’ll like it.  Trust me!

6 Musts When Attending Professional Conferences

My favorite time of the year of professional development is upon me.  I am getting ready to attend the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) National Conference in Dallas next week.  What a great time to connect with current friends and colleagues and meet new ones in both the career services and college recruiting family.  I return home from this conference every year with great new contacts, pages of notes, tons of energy and somehow a great sense of relaxation as well.   As you prepare for any professional development conferences this year, please follow these 6 musts:

1.  Join pre-conference conversations through the organization website or Twitter.  Start connecting with those who are attending the conference which builds energy for the event and offers opportunities to schedule side-meetings as well.  I also love that Twitter allows non-attendees a way to stay connected to the event.  In today’s economy, many organizations are tightening financial belts and Twitter has helped keep those not attending as connected as possible. 

2.  Plan your schedule.  Research the keynote presenters and know which breakout sessions and receptions you will be attending.  By planning your schedule, you have an idea what your expected outcome will be for the event.  You have heard the saying “plan your work and work your plan” so make sure you know what you are doing to do during the conference and then go do it.   

3. Never Eat Alone:  Not to steal the title of Keith Ferrazzi’s best-selling book, but this concept should be the first commandment of attending conferences.  Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with someone else attending the conference.  I even suggest you split your dining time between current and new colleagues. 

4. Followup with people after the conference:  Warren Barhorst, author of Game Plan, talks about acting within 72 hours of learning something new.  Either send emails or handwritten notes within 72 hours of returning home from a conference.  Collecting business cards does not do a bit of good if you are only going to take them back your office and stuff them into a drawer. Take the time to connect with the person you met or a colleague you hadn’t seen in a long time.  

5.  Send thank you notes to the organizers and speakers.  If you have ever planned an event or spoken at a conference, you know the amount of time put into producing the product.  Send notes to those who invested so much in making sure your experience was fulfilling. 

6.  Share what you learned with your co-workers and fellow members who could not attend.  Chances are, you gather some amazing nuggets of information and innovative ideas at your conference.  Bring it home and share.  Ask you coworkers to have lunch with you on your first day back to the office when your energy is high so you can share what you learned.  Tweet or blog about what you learned so that those who couldn’t attend or potential new members to the organization can grasp a piece of the experience.     

The purpose of professional conferences is to share information.  Make the most of your experience and do the same.

5 Career Experts to Follow: Pay it Forward

My blog today is all about thanking five great career experts and bloggers I follow.  This is my #FollowSundaythroughSaturday list.   

1. Debra Wheatman @debrawheatman  The career coaching reputation Deb has created with http://careersDoneWrite.com is inspiring to say the very least.   Her blog is no nonsense, and her enthusiasm for coaching great people towards great careers is contagious.   

2. JT O’Donnell @jtodonnell and @careerealism  This career management guru’s energy amazes me.  She works with the very best in career experts, and if you can’t find the answers at www.careerealism.com, then I would bet you are asking the wrong question. This is simply the one-stop shop of career resources.  I read her daily updates every morning before I read the morning newspaper.  You must join her email newsletter list my friends.

3. Brent Peterson @interviewangel Look for Brent’s work at www.interviewangel.com.  I had the pleasure of hearing Brent speak at the National Association of Colleges and Employers National Conference last summer in Orlando, FL and am looking forward to meeting Brent again next month in Dallas.   I always look forward to Brent’s blog and Twitter updates. 

4. Kirk Baumann @kbaumann  Kirk and I have many common interests such as helping the next generation of college graduates find their career passion, Students in Free Enterprise and FOOTBALL!  Kirk is exactly what he notes on his Twitter bio:  a Social Media Enthusiast.  If Kirk doesn’t know someone, I would bet he knows someone who knows that person.  This guy is CONNECTED!  His blog at http://campus-to-career.com is a must add to your blogroll. 

5. Diane Gottsman @dianegottsman  Diane’s Protocol School of Texas http://protocolschooloftexas.com is sharing etiquette wisdom with every age group of life.  She receives rave reviews from her work with children to college students to business executives.  I was so honored to have Diane here at Texas A&M speaking to the Mays Business School Fulltime MBA Program last fall.  The company tag line says it best:  A Better Way to a Better You.

This might be a short list of must-follows, but it is a most powerful one.  Please follow these experts, and I promised you be inspired and find yourself looking to learn more.