Tag Archives: Professional Development

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.



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.


Requesting LinkedIn Connections Rule #2

In my previous blog, I talked about personalizing the text for LinkedIn requests as opposed to using the generic text.  Rule #2 is to make sure your reason for connecting is professional development focused.  Wanting a job with the person’s company is not a good enough reason to connect.  That is short term thinking, and your approach will come across as selfish and one-sided.  Instead of making this mistake, change your focus.

If you find someone on LinkedIn you would like to get to know step back and ask yourself why?  If this person works for a company on your list of target employers, you are going to be more successful if you make sure you have not just a short term but also a long term reason for the connection.  More than likely, this target contact has had professional experiences you do not, connections to professional organizations that can help you strength your knowledge, and insight as to how you can succeed in your chosen profession and the target company.

Before connecting with anyone on LinkedIn, ask yourself if you have thought of long term mutual benefits for you and the person you are asking to connect.  Ask yourself not just what’s in it for you but what’s in it for the other person as well.  If you think long term, you will have a better chance of defining that answer.  Your connection requests will be more professional thus more productive.

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.

Does Networking Really Work in the Job Search?

Does networking really work in the job search?  Absolutely, positively and without a doubt YES!  Just go to Google, and you will find article upon blog upon statistic proving that networking is the number one approach to job search success.  Nearly every resource you uncover will state that networking is the key to at least 75-80% of all jobs secured today and many resources note a higher number than that.  I would say that networking shouldn’t just be in the top five strategies you incorporate into your job search; it must be NUMBER ONE!  Here are three examples that prove networking works and is the most vital component of any job search and future career management success.

1.  Networking uncovers the hidden job market:  Only a fraction of available job opportunities are posted online.  Many opportunities are either still in the development stage within the departments or within the signature and company red-tape process.  By the time those positions are posted, if they ever make it online at all, a candidate has already been chosen.  Has that ever happened to you?  Isn’t it frustrating?  Wouldn’t you love to be the person the company choses?  How, you ask, does a person find out about these positions that are filled before being posted online?  NETWORKING!  The candidate chosen capitalized on drive, creativity, great communication skills and savvy to connect with the hiring manager and close the deal.

2.  Networking provides word-of-mouth marketing you just cannot buy:  Hiring is a cumbersome process.  Reading resumes, idenifying candidates for interviews and conducting interviews is rarely on the job description for most hiring managers.  Direct referrals or recommendations from colleagues is a far more appealing approach for those who have a need for talent.  Anyone who can facilitate the process and make the job for the hiring manager easier will be the squeaky wheel to get the oil–the job.

3.  Networking estatiblishes you in your chosen profession:  The more established your reputation is within your profession for a career, the more likely you will be noticed and recruited when seeking employment.  It is your profession, say marketing, that will appreciate your skills the most.  Your profession is where you will be remembered for your talent.  And when seeking employment, the hiring managers within that profession are those who will make the hiring decisions.  Company departments consistently look to their professional associations and organizations to post positions or “put the word out” for talent.  The search for talent is more targeted within associations.  Active association members knows the major contributors within the profession.  A well established reputation within your chosen profession will provide you the most effective network available.

A effective and successful job search campaign cannot be successful without marketing.  And networking is the number one marketing strategy towards a successful career.  When seeking a job ask yourself where is the source or creation of the positions available today, who within your profession can provide you the best advice and direction, and where can you connect with the most influencial people within your profession.  You find all of the answers through networking.

Excuse Me Sir, Don’t Call Me Ma’am! – The Perils and Confusion of a Simple Acknowledgement

There is an ongoing debate that centers around one simple question:  Is using the terms “sir” and “ma’am” appropriate, outdated or condescending?

There are some that take offense when addressed as a sir or a ma’am; usually the complaint is that the terms are indicative of older age or the assertion that the terms come across as patronizing. Then there are those firmly planted on the opposite side of the fence who take offense when not referred to with sir or ma’am, as they feel the term shows an outward sign of respect. 

Clearly, Southern states are more prone to use such a title while on the East Coast it is seldom built in to any conversation. While the military routinely use the terms sir and ma’am as a daily part of their communication, a technology company or PR firm would be less likely to require their employees to use the term.

In customer service, “sir” and “ma’am” are commonly accepted ways to address an adult customer when you do not know their name: “Excuse me, ma’am, did you want a Grande or Venti Latte?”  Sir and ma’am are also often default terms when getting the attention of strangers: “Excuse me sir, you just dropped your wallet.”

Since the phrase does imply a perceived guesstimate as to a woman’s age (if you’re 16, you are more likely to hear “miss”) the safest route may be to simply eliminate the term altogether: “Excuse me, would you mind removing your shoe from the back of my jacket?”

Whatever your background, upbringing or training, here are some general etiquette tips on the use of sir and ma’am:

  • Calling colleagues sir or ma’am makes you seem junior-level. If you are relatively young, using sir and ma’am emphasizes your junior status, diminishes your power and could possibly make the person you’re addressing feel uncertain or ill at ease. “Yes sir, I can certainly provide you with guidance on your financial portfolio, just as soon as I have my milk and cookie break.” If, however, you are a new graduate, on a job interview, using the terms would be respectful and appropriate.
  • When in doubt of, ask. Your authority is conveyed through your tone of voice and professional demeanor.  It takes self-confidence to ask “How would you prefer I address your clients, sir and ma’am, Mr. Jones or by a first name?” Taking it upon yourself to clarify shows leadership.
  • Adapt to your surroundings. You may be “Southern born and bred” but if you insist on calling everyone older than you sir or ma’am, you may also be out of a job. Appearing unable to adjust sends the message that you are inflexible and unable to adapt.
  • When in doubt, err on the side of caution. While up to this point, sir and ma’am are somewhat controversial, Mr. or Ms. provides more clarity.   If you’re contacting someone you haven’t yet communicated with, it’s always safe to start by addressing them by their title (Mr. or Ms.   ̶   never Mrs.) and last name. If they ask you to call them by their first name, you may oblige. Never use any gender-specific title unless you are absolutely sure of the person’s gender (The Chris’s and Pat’s will thank you).

Above all, give each other the benefit of the doubt. If you are addressed in a genuinely friendly and respectful manner, take it at face value and respond in kind.   ~ Diane Gottsman

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.

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!