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Back in high school, getting a summer job was often as simple as filling out a few applications and gettingyour cousin to put in a good word for you at the Juice Shop. Unfortunately, those days are over. With a weak job market and increasingly tough competition for coveted internships, landing summer employment can be a stressful process, to say the least. So here are some tips to help with your job search process:
In May, many larger companies and organizations have already filled their summer slots. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a ton of positions out there—if you know where to look. To find these more elusive positions, you’ll probably have to expand your search methods. Online job sites are great, but if they’re your only resource, then you’re missing out on a huge percentage of available opportunities. Not all companies or organizations will post open positions online, especially when it’s nearing the beginning of the summer.
Network, network, network
When many summer jobs and internships have already been filled, there’s no better way to find out what’s left (and increase your chances of getting it) than by talking to everyone you know. Don’t limit your networking search to a few previous employers and family members, either. The more people you talk to, the better chance you’ll have of finding something. Everyone you know should be aware you’re looking for employment: family members, neighbors, even friends or classmates who’ve had good internships in the past. Seek out anyone you have a connection to who works in the field you’re interested in. This also includes reconnecting with any professors who know you personally. Not only do they have great connections, but they’ve seen you work in a classroom setting. And of course, there’s LinkedIn—one of the most important networking sources out there. If you don’t have a profile yet, there’s no better time than right now. Once you’ve got your profile, use the site for more than posting your resume.
Still can’t find an internship or job that you want? Don’t resign yourself to a summer of watching TV in your parents’ house or laying out by the pool. There are countless productive ways to spend a summer besides your typical job or internship.
Here’s what you can do instead…
A steady volunteer gig during the summer can be a great addition to your resume when you couldn’t find the internship you wanted. Check USA Jobs to find open volunteering positions with government agencies for all kinds of general volunteer positions. Or, if you know where you’re going to be living during the summer, researching non-profits in the area and simply calling them might be your best bet. Once you find a great volunteer position, make sure that you pledge a significant amount of hours. Volunteering can be a great way to network and pick up some references, but you have to dedicate a serious chunk of time to make those connections.
Informational interviews and job shadowing are two simple and extremely helpful options.
If you’re still figuring out what career path you want to follow, a series of informational interviews can be a very useful way to spend your summer. If you do know what career you want to pursue, find professionals in your area and arrange to shadow them for part of the summer. Job shadowing gives deeper information than an informational interview and allows you to establish contacts. Plus, you never know when these less official positions could turn into a real internship or even a full-time job.
Work on your image
Still have some free time? There are plenty of productive things you can do from the comfort of your room. Work on building an online presence, starting a blog, exploring social media tools, or making your social media presence more professional. Consider taking an online class to learn a new skill or computer program, or setting aside some time to perfect your LinkedIn profile. The key is deciding what you’re going to do and practicing some self-control. It’s easy to get both distracted and disengaged once you’re out of the route of classes. So, give yourself a schedule and stick to it. Tell yourself you are going to spend ‘x amount’ of time on your search each day and then follow through with it. Finally, summer can be a great opportunity to research companies and figure out where you might want to apply for next summer. Make some time to target those companies you really want to work for.
So if you’re job-less and getting discouraged, this isn’t the time to give up—it’s the time to get going! With a little bit of effort (and some creativity), it’s not too late to set up plans for a productive and useful summer.
The Role of Mentors in the Career Development Process
On the first day of your first real post college job, you’re in your first staff meeting, and you have absolutely no idea how to behave. You feel like everyone is waiting for you to screw up. Later, you have no one to eat lunch with. And that afternoon, you find yourself perplexed by the strange interpersonal interactions you’ve seen in your new workplace or by the unusual way important decisions are made.
Time to find a new job? Maybe, but hopefully not. Wouldn’t it be easier and more effective if you could talk to someone about your many questions?
Whether you are looking for a boost in your job search or working life, it is important to find yourself a mentor — or let one find you. A mentor is that one person who can guide you, help you, take you under his or her wing, and nurture your career quest. A Yoda to your Luke Skywalker. A Glinda the Good Witch to your Dorothy Gale. What separates a mentor from the average network contact are long-term commitments and a deep-seated investment in your future. Where a typical network contact might be associated with quick introductions, exchanges of business cards, and phone calls, your relationship with a mentor likely involves long lunches and time spent in the mentor’s office.
A mentor is someone whose knowledge and experience the mentee respects and someone whose wisdom and know-how can support the professional growth and development of the mentee. Often this is a boss, professor or other leader who the mentee has already met, but sometimes a mentor can be someone who is not known to the mentee. Mentors do not necessarily need to be the most senior person at an organization or within the field; the right mentor depends on what knowledge the mentee hopes to gain.
Finding a Mentor
If you don’t have an idea about who to ask to be your mentor, find organizations that work in the area you’re interested in and look to their leaders. Asking to do something as simple as getting a coffee together can be very successful.
Another great way to engage a mentor is to collaborate on a project that is of interest to both parties. Or consider conducting research with a professor. Choose something that supports your potential mentor’s work and ask for some help putting it together. This way, you are both invested in completing a goal together that can lead to a deeper relationship during the process.
Sustaining Healthy Mentor Relationships
To make the most of a mentoring relationship, start with a formal agreement that outlines the roles and expectations of both participants. Including details such as when the pair will meet, how frequently and for how long, and what the goals of the relationship are will build a strong foundation for the relationship.
While the duration and frequency of mentoring meetings varies, most mentoring partners meet or talk once a week for about an hour. The format and content of these conversations may vary, but typically consist of brainstorming sessions to solve problems, updates and follow-ups on current projects, or more focused discussion of professional development topics. A mentoring relationship should not be considered an inside track to the top or an opportunity to complain; it is a respectful and professional relationship in which both parties can learn from the experience and each other.
You’ll know the relationship is working if your mentor encourages you to set higher goals, provides direct and constructive feedback, helps you develop self-awareness, challenges you to grow beyond your perceived limitations, introduces you to movers and shakers, and above all, listens to you and is easy to communicate with. As the relationship develops, mentees should remember to share their successes with their mentors. Finally, most importantly, remember to regularly say how much you value your mentor’s guidance and time. The feeling of being needed and making a difference in someone’s life is an important payoff for the mentor.
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A Whole New World – Traveling the Unknown
Sometimes being in the same place at all times makes life boring and repeatable…with traveling comes the excitement and scares of both leaving the usual things you do daily to doing something totally different. I recently had the opportunity to embark on a mini vacation to China and Hong Kong. Originally I thought of this trip as a fun adventure that would leave me with great photos and memories. Of course it did. But reflecting back on it, I am surprised by how much it has changed me.
As a first-timer traveling to China, there was certainly a unique sense of anticipation. It is hard to define this feeling. Perhaps it was a sensation of excitement because China is so foreign and exotic; the love for adventure and challenges of the unknown. Or maybe it’s that exhilarated feeling you get when you return back ‘home.’ I am an American born Chinese so the opportunity to connect with my ethnic heritage is heartfelt, but I think it is deeper than going home to my mother country. It’s about going back to the roots of cultural embrace. I learned a great deal about my family history and the places where my parents came from.
Stepping foot into China, I felt like a foreigner. Dealing with the language barrier (I really wish I paid closer attention in my Mandarin class), eating different foods every day and interacting in a foreign culture, you begin to see your home through a different lens. There is so much we take for granted, and you recognize this with a sudden flash of appreciation when you’re sitting in a bathroom stall and there’s no roll of toilet paper because the people in China carry their own.
It took a while to recognize it, but the more I find myself in conversations on topics like career, life priorities, global issues, different cultures, or politics, the more I realize that my entire perspective on the world and my life is evolving. Traveling outside of the country for any amount of time will change your perspective on the world. Similarly, spending a significant amount of time away from your normal life will force you to re-evaluate your priorities.
By having these experiences, you discover yourself and your values before you start making major life decisions. I gained confidence, self-awareness and perspective, but most importantly I gained a sense of wonder. When you catch a glimpse of the world, you realize how much more is out there. Knowing this, it would be hard for me to settle on a life that didn’t inspire and delight me. And that’s what the self-styled life is all about.
Your Race to the Finish Line….
For many people who know me, running and volleyball are two of my favorite recreational activities. A month ago when I was told I needed to rest for 4-6 weeks due to a shin injury, it was disappointing. As I get back on the running tracks to prepare for a race and prep myself for the courts, I like to think that competing in any sports is just like planning for your career.
So you are probably asking yourself, what does all of this and your career have in common? I’ve realized quite a lot…..and here’s what I’ve experienced and learned thus far:
When preparing for a race…..there are often routes that take you through steep hills and paths that can cause one to run off the tracks. When this occurs, you are faced with two options: the easy way – retrace the steps and adding a few more miles to the route, or the hard way – go directly through thick bushes and find a way to relocate the trail. Often we choose the hard way.
It is here where the career parallel came to mind. At some point, you might make a bad career choice; maybe you accept a job at the wrong company, employ the wrong person or make a bad business decision. It happens to everyone and the key to fixing your mistake is to be decisive, to work hard and make things right. The challenges we overcome in these times of difficulty give us the experience and resilience we need to succeed in the future.
In every game…just like a job, everyone has a chance to show their strengths. I remember when I was on the court, playing my first volleyball game for a local league, my lack of fitness compared to my teammates in the beginning showed. The ball would come at you fast – you needed to be alert and have good physical and eye coordination. Luckily, we kept overtaking other teams and constantly encouraged each other to carry on through the pain. By strategically playing to our teams strengths we were able to play a good game on the courts.
By teaming up with successful people, superior to myself in fitness and experience, I am driven to push myself harder than I can ever do alone. I am a huge believer that success breeds success. If you surround yourself with talented and driven people, their success will rub off on you and drive you to do better. This should be considered whenever deciding upon a company to join, a manager to work with or a person to hire for your team. Ask yourself “Will this person or company make me better at what I do and improve my career?
The final challenge in any sport is team effort, one that is crucial in being able to work together. You need to know instantly what is expected of each other and what everyone needs to do.. This is the level of team understanding you should strive to achieve with your team and co-workers.
In summary, being a good player on the field is just like career planning because:
To be successful, you need to surround yourself with success
If you go off track, work hard to get back on
Team dynamics are important – play to each other’s strengths and strive to build team understanding
You don’t need to do it all your own. Ask for help, seek out others advice, expertise, and support.
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Lessons From My Parents…
When I was young, my father owned a business right downstairs of our 2nd floor apartment which allowed him the luxury of being close to home at all times. While my siblings were at school, I spent the days with my father. It was just me and my dad. We would park ourselves at the kitchen table or behind the counter of his shop watching basketball or episodes of Three’s Company. At times, when business was slow, we would practice our soccer moves together. All was right in the world. However, at the age of 9, my father passed away due to a stroke.
For many of us this weekend, we celebrated another Father’s Day. Typically, Father’s Day marks an opportunity for many to celebrate their fathers who are still living. For those of us who are not in that situation, the absence of a father can certainly cause a sting.
Growing up, I have always personally dreaded this holiday. But the truth is, as the years go by, I am realizing this day is still and should be important for those of us, such as myself, who spend it physically separated from our dads. This Father’s Day, I spent time with my family, thinking about my dad and being thankful for my father AND mother who has played an important part of my life since my dad’s been gone. I took this day also as an opportunity to reflect back on some of the most important and valuable lessons my parents have taught me because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Lesson #1: Earn & Learn
Although my siblings and I were not overly enthusiastic about having to work/earn the “things” we wanted early in life, the lessons we learned were priceless. We all may understand the concepts of responsibility and gratitude, but the true meaning of each can only come as a result of experience. The one idea that continues to shape my life to this day is that anything worthwhile doesn’t happen by chance—we must “make it happen.” By earning our own books, electronics, education, etc. we learned how to be more resourceful, creative, and effective. Too many young people are given too much too soon and as a result, they develop a warped sense of reality. This lesson taught us that the world—or anyone else for that matter–does not owe us anything. Incredible amounts of motivation can come from this lesson. My siblings and I all agree that learning this lesson has played an important role in the development of the drive we have today.
Lesson #2: Anything is Possible
From an early age my parents encouraged us to dream big, explore our interests and passions. They never said, “That’s not realistic.” However, there is an important part to this lesson that they were sure to emphasize time and time again… a part that many parents fail to make clear. The full quotation should read, “Anything is possible… if you’re willing to work for it.” We grew up believing that we were capable of doing almost anything we wanted, IF we were willing to make the sacrifices and put in the effort. We knew the journey would not be easy and we knew that nothing was merely entitled to us, but we could achieve great things if we were 100% dedicated to giving our best consistently–even if we didn’t feel like it. We could see how our results in school, our career, and personal lives were directly related to how hard we were willing to work. This concept also kept us thinking about the “big picture,” our long-term goals, and how to make beneficial decisions.
Lesson #3: The 90/10 Rule
As the old adage goes, “It’s not what happens to us that matters, it’s how we react to what happens that makes the ultimate difference.” This lesson was instilled in our mind from a very early age. Our parents never let us forget that life is only 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. “At times life will be challenging,” they’d say, “but it will be very rewarding if you work hard, persist, and maintain a positive attitude.” This helped us realize how the countless choices we make every single day (no matter how big or small they may seem) directly affect our lives. If things do not go our way—which will be inevitable at times—we still have a choice in how we react… and that decision is more important that the event itself. There is no doubt that this simple concept helped us develop the optimism and work ethic necessary to achieve our goals.
Lesson #4: Boundaries not Barriers
Our parents had made their expectations very clear and they remained true to their word. There was no confusion about what was acceptable and intolerable. My siblings and I always knew what we could and couldn’t get away with and what the consequences of our behavior would be. We were aware of the things that would be considered “crossing the line,” but our parents were never dictatorial in their approach. Our parents always said, “Don’t do ___ (study/ do your chores/ get a job, etc.) just to please us. Do it for yourself because we will be fine either way.” As a result, we felt very little need to rebel because they gave us enough space to feel like we were in control of our lives. We always felt like we could make our own decisions and ultimately, we would be the ones who had to deal with the consequences—positive or negative.
Lesson #5: Be Solution Oriented
Our parents encouraged us to think for ourselves and develop our own solutions. As a result we did not rely on our parents to bail us out of problems; we did not blame others for our problems; and we did not complain about the challenges we faced. We learned that the sooner we took responsibility and took initiative to rectify the situation, the better our life was going to be. Since life is all about our ability to solve problems, this concept is absolutely crucial—and the best time to learn how to make a habit of searching for and creating problems is early childhood.
Usually there are only a few people who can describe with authority and accuracy the story of our life, those who were around us as we explored, made mistakes, and learned hard lessons. Our parents have an experience of us that is unique only to them. They watched and guided us as we developed. Your parents may have been your only cheering section, especially during those really challenging times. They may be your first experience of truly unconditional love. Parents are our first teachers. We can track our ethics, values, and opinions back to what our folks said or did. As we move through the developmental stages of life there will be many times when you might reflect on a teaching or experience that only a parent would understand.
I cherish the memories and moments spent with my dad. While I often wish I could spend time with my dad and give him something for Father’s Day in the traditional sense of the word, I’ve come to realize that I can give him something even more meaningful in the way I live my life. Ultimately, I aspire to carry on my dad’s legacy by making choices that will pave the way for my children – and when the day comes, I will love them the way my dad loved me.
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Show Me the Money! Negotiating A Salary Offer
You’ve just searched for a job during one of the toughest job markets in memory. You probably navigated the financial and emotional challenges that are part of the territory. And now you’re starting to get offers. The phone rings. A hiring manager makes you an offer. Stepping into a situation of discussing salary requirements is never easy. You really want the job, but you want to be paid well also. You deserve to be paid well after all. How do you convey this to your potential employer? Salary negotiation is a skill that once learned can take your earning power to new levels.
First, when the time comes to say yes or no to an offer, you need to be ready. Avoid agreeing to anything on the spot. If it really is the first time you’re seeing the offer and you need time to review it, say something positive, such as, “I’m really happy to receive this offer. I am happy to work for this company. I just want to make sure I am seeing everything and would like some time to think about it.” Once you’ve had a chance to consider the offer, do your homework on what you’d like to earn. Personally, I recommend several methods, including salary information websites such as Glassdoor.com and Salary.com, speaking with friends who work in that specific industry or even those who work in human resources.
Comparing apples to oranges: If you’re changing careers or moving into a different industry, you should tailor your salary expectations. For example, a person moving from a larger company to a smaller organization, or from a corporate outfit to a nonprofit, should expect lower pay. In situations like these, you should look at compensation factors beyond salary, such as the commute, benefits, the team you’ll work with and industry experience you’ll gain.
Know what you’ve got: Try to determine how your education and experience level stacks up against others in your position at other companies, as well as within the company you are dealing with. Figure out which of your features you should highlight. Would you be the only one in your department with an Associates or Bachelors degree? Do you have more years of experience than others? Find your selling point and use it. Perhaps it is simply your positive attitude and self-motivated work ethic. Set yourself apart, and make the employer want to pay you top dollar.
Stay focused: When dealing with the company, pay attention to clues which may reveal values and qualities which they particularly seek in an employee. This can help you to determine which of your own qualities to highlight during negotiations.
You are desirable: Sell yourself. The company obviously wants you or they would not be offering the job to you. Adopt the right attitude. You don’t want to appear arrogant, but there is no harm in letting your employer know that you are worth paying extra for.
Once you have a solid answer, practice it. Get in front of the mirror, look yourself in the eye and say, “I earned $55,000 at my last job and I am targeting the $60,000s in this job search.” If you feel you were underpaid in your last gig but aren’t sure about bringing it up, I advise raising the topic in a positive light, underscoring that you’d like to increase your earnings as you make your next career move to better reflect your skills and experience. It pays to be confident with your salary negotiation counteroffer.
Perhaps the most basic but also important step to achieving the correct salary negotiation mode is to maintain a positive attitude. Go into negotiations believing that you are worth the salary that you want. Make them buy you for a reasonable market value, but one that is fair and takes into account your additional qualities.
Listen to Your Inner Voice
“Follow your passion!” “Don’t be shy, just be yourself!” “You’re good with children, you should be a teacher.” I am sure these are common pieces of advice you have heard from others. They have good intentions and they genuinely want the best for you. However, I challenge these statements. They are contradictory, not complete, and presumptuous. For example, “Don’t be shy, just be yourself!” is something I heard a lot when I was young. If you are shy – aren’t you being yourself ? No one has the right to say what you are good at, what your interests are, and what skills you should utilize. This brings me to the first statement, “Follow your passion!” This is easy enough advice to give, but many people choose to seek career planning because they are unclear, or out of focus, and need to first discover what their passion truly is before they can follow it. Career Planning is about deciding what your passion is and how to fulfill it. In order to follow your heart, you must learn to trust your intuition and what it is saying to you. Trust yourself and do not let others dissuade you. If you decide to share your dream with others, start with the people you feel will support you and who will not judge you or your dream.
Nurture yourself. This is non-negotiable. We have been raised in a society where the priority is others. I grew up with such a strong desire to please others that I neglected myself. By nurturing yourself, you become open to hearing what the inner voice has to say. You gain self-esteem, self-confidence, and happiness, and this is obvious to an outsider. People want to surround themselves with other happy people. Nurture yourself any way you see fit. It need not cost money. Go for a walk alone or with a pet. This really opens the door to your inner world. Take a bath. Go to the library to read a book. Listen to your favorite music. Light candles. Paint. Draw. Do this for a minimum of half an hour a day. Or if you prefer to do it less than everyday, do it two to three hours a week. The key is to relax your mind, body, and spirit. Tapping into your inner voice can be stinky business.
Along with your passion, your gut holds all your unaddressed emotions – good and bad. Grudges are kept in there until they are dealt with for good. I have come to the conclusion that if you want to make it to the brand new green lawn in the distance, you must wade through the manure, pick it up, deal with it, and move on. Manure is a fertilizer for your growth. Just remember, when you get to the new green grass there will always be cows crapping all over it. These are the people you would rather not deal with, but you must deal with them in order for you to grow. You have no option other than to bury your feelings temporarily.
So before I end my post, here are my 4 key tips you should remember when planning your career:
Stop Making Excuses
Take the Leap
Follow the path with heart
Look forward to the road ahead
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Be In with LinkedIn
A few days ago, I presented a workshop for faculty and staff entitled: One Connection at a Time: Utilizing Social Media for Professional Development. Surprisingly, many of the attendees were already using these sites such as Facebook and Twitter as a way to reach out and communicate with their students. However, what they were not using or were less familiar with was LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world’s leading professional networking website with over 101 million users worldwide. Social media sites such as LinkedIn provide a “people road-map” to where you want to go in your career.
For those of who have created a LinkedIn profile, you might think you are set. But think again. As individuals are jumping on the bandwagon and joining LinkedIn, many are making the most common mistakes that can negatively impact others from connecting with them. Whether you have a profile or not, I hope you use the following as a guide to create a successful profile.
1. Identify your Goal: What is your purpose for being on LinkedIn? Are you seeking employment? Or are you hoping to share your knowledge about a particular subject to a specific audience? It may be helpful to set a goal in order to create a stronger profile.
2. Create your Brand: You’re probably saying to yourself, only companies and products can have a brand. Wrong! You yourself are a product and therefore, everything about you is going to either sell you or turn you away to a recruiter.
3. Know your Audience: To better attract people to your profile, you should be able to align “who you are” with the “what they need”
4. Your profile is not a reproduction of your resume: This mistake is so well ingrained in users that you’re now probably experiencing some disbelief. Don’t just copy and paste your resume into your LinkedIn profile. Here’s why: When you network with someone in person do you give him or her a word-for-word rundown of your resume of what you’ve done? No, you personalize the conversation and speak in the first person. It is a more casual conversation—not as formal as your resume. Therefore, your profile should be authentic and sincere, as though you’re talking to the person about what you’ve accomplished.
5. Being Found: People are searching LinkedIn every second of the day. That means they could be searching for you or someone similar to you. To improve your chances of being found, include keywords in your profile and be an active member of the LinkedIn community. When someone is reading your resume, you need to stand out. Pay attention to completing key areas in the profile such as: Headline, Summary, and Specialties.
6. Quality not Quantity: Adding people to your connection just to outnumber your friend’s means nothing. When you’re on LinkedIn, think about the people who will be of most beneficial to you in your job search.
LinkedIn is increasingly becoming an essential tool for professional and executive-level job seekers. Not only do they advertise vacancies and provide the opportunity to research and network with people in your target companies, but they are also marketing their database to recruiters, giving you an excellent opportunity to raise your profile and get in front of the right people. So be sure you are honest, strategic, and explanatory in your LinkedIn connection requests; your profile isn’t just a copy of your resume; and that your profile is keyword-rich so people can find you!
The Keys to Success in the Workplace
Congratulations…all of your hard work has paid off. You prepared an effective resume and cover letter, wowed them in the interview, negotiated your job offer and now you are working. Great!! But don’t sit back and put your feet up now…there is still work to be done. Maintaining employment and success on the job are topics that are often overlooked. Why is it important? Well, most of the time, these are the things that will influence your success with the company. Here are important tips to remember, to help you keep your job and grow within the company:
■Be friendly and professional at all times.
■Be on time – if you’re expected to be at work at 9 AM, you should not be strolling in at 9:00AM
■Understand the company’s culture
Don’t Climb Ego Mountain
No one likes an egomaniac, and for a good reason: They’re boring, obnoxious, trivial people. Don’t pretend you are a know-it-all. Listen to what your co-workers have to say. Ask questions. Sometimes learning from the experienced ones help improve our skills and boosts our productivity.
Know What is Expected of You
No one wants a drone or a yes-man, but if you don’t understand the corporate culture and if you don’t know what’s expected of you, you’re gone. Remember whom you work for and why.
Know When to Speak and How Much to Say
Leave the gossip to the supermarket tabloids. Idle chit-chat at the water cooler is a fact of life and acceptable, and is even expected in small doses. But don’t chatter endlessly about who’s in and who’s out. To do so reflects badly on you and takes time away from turning the wheels. Your boss will notice if you spend more time yapping than working.
Deadlines are real and must be met because, believe it or not, the world doesn’t move to your beat. Missing deadlines will back up the whole show and make your boss look bad. A bad hair day is no excuse for missing a deadline. Work late to get the job done if you have to.
STAY FOCUSED ON WORK
A workplace is not a support group meeting. It’s not where you should presume to spill all of life’s problems and challenges. While there’s nothing wrong with offering support and concern for a trusted co-worker facing a personal crisis, it can take time away from our work. Also, this may be a person with a cycle of ups and downs, and you’re better off avoiding that carnival ride.
Even in the most difficult of work environments, there’s often one person who seems to rise above it all, never involving themselves in unprofessional situations that surround them. Can you think of someone? How did they do it? Chances are they were careful from the beginning and let potential troublemakers learn they wouldn’t be part of their game.
Whether it is your first few weeks of employment, or many years later, maintaining your job should always be on your mind. It is dangerous to get comfortable and feel secure in today’s unstable and constantly changing world of work. Proving your worth it to your employer should always be of importance, whether you have been there for five years or a few months. You got hired because the boss thought you could do the job. But competence alone isn’t enough to succeed. Be passionate about your work and take pride in it. Tossing things together at the last-minute won’t cut it.
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Networking – The Right Way
Did you know the vast majority of job openings are never advertised? At least 80% of all jobs are found through the “hidden market” of labor. These jobs tend to be landed through word of mouth and referrals, as opposed to responding to ads, posting your resume to internet databases, or other techniques. Therefore, it is by no surprise that networking has become one of the most important and crucial activities job-seekers need to master to be truly successful with the job-search.
When it comes to networking, I’ve found these to be the top 5 common mistakes made by job-seekers:
■They do not network until they need a job
■They immediately ask for job-search help
■Upon meeting individuals, they ask “What jobs do you have with your company?”
■They request introductions from people they’re meeting for the first time
■There is an assumption that attending a networking event means “You will get a job.”
Networking is not an easy task and if not done right, it can harm you more than help you. So here are 2 of my favorite simple rules when it comes to networking:
Rule Number One: It’s Not All About You
So you’ve been telling everyone over and over “I need a job!” Surely if I remind people they will understand that this is a critical priority in my life.
The fact is that networking never works when it’s me-focused. Needing a job is a tough spot to be in, but virtually every networker you meet has their own problems. For example, one person is an entrepreneur desperately in need of business. Another businessperson is stressing about a deadline they need to meet. In other words, we all have our problems. The fact that you’re job-hunting doesn’t diminish the importance of everyone else’s issues.
A good networker listens as much as s/he talks. When you meet someone new, ask him or her a lot of questions – and pay attention to the answers. Have the conversation you’d have if you weren’t job-hunting. When the person turns the tables and asks “What do you do?,” you can say “I’m a marketing – I’m on the job market now.” Since you’ve invested ten or twenty minutes in the conversation, your new acquaintance is very likely to ask you for more information about your job search. Now, you’ve earned the right to tell your story.
Rule Number Two: Don’t Treat People as Conduits to Their More Important Friends
If you meet a person who mentions that he or she used to work at XYZ Corp, it’s rude to ask “Hey, do you think you can introduce me to someone in Human Resources at that company?” With that request, you commit two very big sins. First, you convey that you have no problem asking a brand-new acquaintance a favor. That’s impolite. You wouldn’t like it if a person, after three minutes of conversation, asked you for ten dollars for parking.
The second offense is asking a person to vouch for you, who barely knows you. Instead of asking a new acquaintance for an introduction, ask for five minutes on the phone when your new contact has time. In that phone call, you may cultivate a relationship that allows your networking buddy to make an introduction for you. Let’s hope that happens! If it doesn’t, you can’t ask.
If you’re in the thick of a job search and you haven’t spent much time or attention on your networking skills, now is the time to do so. You can network effectively in a way that moves your job search along. It just takes some patience, careful attention to the needs of people other than yourself, and the willingness to follow up with the new contacts you make. The more you network and practice, the faster the current job search will come to a successful conclusion.
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Do What You Love!
His name was Jim. Jim was a male in his early 20′s who came to me because he was feeling frustrated, confused, and a bit depressed about not knowing what he wanted to do with his life. He would like to return to school and leave his current job but does not want to waste his time on a degree that may take him no where. At the same time, he expressed that he wanted to find a career he loved but also included a large salary.
So perhaps you are like Jim and in the process of choosing a career or considering a career change, but don’t know where to start? Or perhaps you’re getting increasingly bored at work and realizing that opportunities for growth are limited. Regardless of your reasons, I believe the right career is out there for everyone but what makes this process so daunting and difficult sometimes is we don’t know where to begin. With that said, I decided I’d share a few tips on how to discover the best career path for you.
Discovering New Possibilities
The first step of this process is to think about what really drives you. Consider what your primary interests are and what you are passionate about.
Focus on what you love to do – What have you dreamed about doing? What do you naturally enjoy doing?
Reflect on your past – Were there previous positions you held that you enjoyed? What projects or activities did you take on that you liked? Think about the tasks that may excite you.
Identify Occupations that match your interests
Consider taking a career assessment: Assessments help you identify your key interests and strengths
Conduct research: Assessments and tools such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook provide you with a wealth of information on specific jobs and tasks involved. Utilize these resources in helping you narrow down your likes and dislikes.
Seek support: Take a brief moment to look at those in your network and who are a part of your circle of friends. Perhaps someone you know is working in that line of work you are considering. Talking to someone in the field gives you a real sense of what is involved.
Evaluate your strengths and skills
Take some time to figure out what skills you have and what skills you need for those occupations you are considering. Remember, you’re not completely starting from scratch—you already have some skills to start. These skills are known as transferable skills, and they can be applied to almost any field. Examples include:
communication (both written and oral)
managing your time effectively
knowledge of computer programs
foreign language fluency
Develop your skills and experience - So you’re probably asking yourself, well how do I do that? It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Here are some tips that may help you:
If you are currently working, look for on-the-job training or opportunities with your employer that will help you develop new skills.
Consider volunteer and/or internship opportunities
If you are not already, consider enrolling in classes. Many times classes and training programs can provide you with the knowledge you need to excel in that line of work.
Last minute reminders
Career change doesn’t happen overnight, and it is easy to get overwhelmed with all the steps to successfully change careers. However, you will get there with commitment and motivation. Break down large goals into smaller ones, and try to accomplish at least one small thing a day to keep the momentum going.
Don’t rush into a change because of unhappiness in your current job. If you don’t do enough research, you might end up in an even worse position than before, with the added stress of a new position and new learning curve.
Ease slowly into your new career. Take time to network, volunteer and even work part time in your new field before committing fully. It will help ensure you are on the right path and allow you to make any necessary changes before you consider working full time in your new field.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek advice from others.