Do the extra credit: Step 1. You look on a company's website or a job search site and find a job you love. Step 2. You apply directly from that site. Step 3. Avoid step two at all costs. If you apply in this manner your application will get lost in the "black hole" of job applications. You'll be applying against thousands of other job searchers. Instead, do a little extra work for a bigger pay off. Scour the internet and LinkedIn for the hiring manager's name and address. Not only will a real live human be on the other end of that email, but they'll be about to see you have great perseverance and investigative skills.
Meet Nancy. She's a 28-year-old tour guide. She leads city tours in Florida. She went to a great college and majored in photography. She tried to make it in her profession, but taking a crying baby's photos or shooting a wedding wasn't her ideal career after all. She now works at a job that is seasonal, has no real growth or benefits and didn't necessarily require her diploma.
Meet Danielle. She's a 29-year-old manager of a popular seasonal bar in New York. She graduated from a prestigious fashion school and scored a job designing showrooms for stores. She hated it. She started bartending and saw she was able to triple her former salary. She only works four months out of the year and is able to travel for eight months. To her, college was pointless and not at all necessary. If she could do it again, she would have saved her tuition money and started bartending four years earlier.
Meet Dan. He's a 30-year-old bartender at a popular bar in Washington, D.C. Dan graduated from a local college there but wasn't interested in finding a job in his chosen career path of art history. He bartended through college and kept going after graduation. He isn't thinking about applying to a regular nine-to-five.
Meet Andy. He's a 25-year-old waiter, a former pre-med graduate. After attending classes, he saw that becoming a doctor was not the path for him. He's still thinking about what his next steps are, but at the moment he is very happy and comfortable with where he is financially. He's taking food and wine courses to help him move up in the industry.
All of these people are extremely intelligent and educated. They all expressed how much interpretation and analysis goes into each of their lines of work -- something the customer rarely thinks about.
The college system is broken. More and more graduates are entering industries that not only have nothing to do with their field of interest but might not even require a degree. Colleges need to provide real life, on-the-job training. Students should have a chance to fully test out what that job should be. They should understand the roles, responsibilities, salary and demand of that position.
With the exorbitant cost of college, it really might not be the best option for some people. Plenty of industries do not require a four-year degree and won't leave students in a job they don't like with high amounts of student debt. Those jobs include electrician, cosmetologist, hygienist, customer service representative, or paralegal.
Professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa from New York University andThe University of Virginia released a study and wrote a book, Aspiring Adults Adrift, on the demise of prepared college graduates. They told the Wall Street Journal,
"Colleges focus too much on students' social lives at the expense of a strong academic and career road map. Schools have given their charges an unrealistic sense of what it takes to achieve their life aims, resulting in overwhelming -- and possibly unrealistic --optimism among young people about their prospects."
Everyone's vision of success is different. The ROI of attending collegesattending colleges have faltered the millennial set. Schools need to take action now and reform their education process.
Heading into a job interview, presentation, raise negotiation or asking to speak on an industry panel?
All these career "asks" take some amount of nerve mixed with confidence. Not only do you need to believe you're worthy of the "ask" in question, you need to muster up the courage to make that initial request as well. Visualizing asking your boss for a bump in your salary of 5 percent seems a lot easier than when you are standing in front of her sweating, perplexed, playing with your watch band and feeling like a deer in headlights.
Here are six things you should do before any big ask.
Practice makes perfect: While it's true some people are born naturally confident, for the rest of us it takes practice. The more you work on your tennis game, yoga moves or Photoshop talents -- the better you become at it. Think of confidence as another skill you need to practice, learn, perfect and earn.
Get a power outfit. In medieval times knights had armor to protect them in battle. In 2014 women need to be dressed with a modern suit of armor. Get a go-to power outfit. It could be a dress, suit or even a blazer and dark jeans. Whatever you choose needs to make you look great while also feeling confident and influential. When we look our best we're often more up for a work challenge.
Pinpoint your fear. We often lose our confidence when we aren't prepared. Confidence is learned through experience. Do your homework before your next meeting. Do the research and know the tough numbers and facts off the top of your head as opposed to checking notes during a meeting or presentation. Don't give yourself the opportunity to fail. Focus on using your knowledge and expertise to win over your boss, co-worker or client.
Let's go to the videotape. It's very tough to picture ourselves in high-stress situations when we aren't at the office. Videotape yourself the night before a presentation, business trip or sales meeting. You'll see points where you stumble or use filler words (like, um, ya know). Why are you stumbling in these sections? You aren't as prepared as you should be. If you haven't convinced yourself of your words then you won't be able to convince anyone else. You'll also be aware of your body language. Do you flip your hair, tug your shirt, adjust your glasses, lean, tap a foot, and play with a pen while speaking? These are all dead giveaways to a listener that you are not confident.
Speak up. With confidence comes respect. You need to learn how to speak up and insert your expert opinion into the workplace conversation. On your next staff meeting, put on your go-to power outfit and make a point to add your two cents on the meeting's agenda. Prepare in advance. This is the time to change your company's perspective of you. Become a voice your boss and co-workers search for in a crowded room. Don't bite your tongue if you've got a great idea -- announce it.
Don't' stress over stress. Everyone gets stressed out from time to time. Instead of thinking of that stress as a confidence buster -- use it to your advantage. We often get stressed out when we're working on a challenging task. Stress occurs in the anticipation of working on an assignment outside of our comfort zone. Seek out these types of opportunities. If you are getting complacent or bored at the office that's when laziness and sloppy work ethic come into play.
Looking to jump-start your persona at the office in a short amount of time? Simple body language and nonverbal changes will often speak volumes about your character and your work ethic.
Maintain eye contact. It might seem obvious, but retaining eye contact showcases your natural ability to stay focused and present. Too often people lose presence by shifting their attention to their smartphone as opposed to listening at a daily meeting or even within a one-on-one conversation. You'll stand out by virtue of the fact that you are one of the few employees that can remain truly present and authentic in a conversation. When you look someone in the eye it expresses confidence and helps articulate your interest in the topic. When people glance away it tells the speaker they are boring or that you don't really care about the topic.
Wear a smile. Who isn't guilty of having a resting bitch-face from time to time? Become more aware of your attitude by smiling more often. Smiling subconsciously tells people in your surroundings that you have a positive, energetic atmosphere. People notice when you're generally in a good mood and when you aren't. Whether you are in a client-facing role or a receptionist, this is a huge part of your job. You are literally the face of the company. To a client, potential investor, the CEO – you want to express your want and need to stay at the firm as opposed to seeming unhappy and scowling.
Be accountable. Be the employee who comes in early and stays late. Create a go-getter persona to enhance your career. Being known as a problem solver will make you stand ahead of the class. There will always be employees who clock in and out – heading to yoga, happy hour, a date with the couch – and these are the same people who miss the boat when it comes to promotions, raises, and new opportunities. Staying an extra hour at the office won't kill your social life, but it will reflect your can-do attitude to the higher-ups who are also burning the midnight oil.
Spring has officially arrived. While you clean up your home and store your winter attire don't forget to tackle your LinkedIn profile. It's most likely been a while since you updated your profile, added new connections and touched base with your network. Grab a cup of coffee and get started.
Your profile picture is old.
Use a photo that's no more than five years old on your LinkedIn profile. If it's older than that you're misrepresenting yourself and most likely aging yourself. Perms, feathered hair and Jennifer Aniston cuts retired back in the 80's and 90's. Listen up - those do's, clothes and awkward photo backgrounds are making you seem older than you actually are. Embrace your experience and update your profile so it feels fresh, timely and energetic. Remember, the interviewer has to recognize you when you walk through that door. The best photo is a colorful headshot of you in professional attire. Tilt your chin up, pull your shoulders back and smile. LinkedIn professionals who upload a photo are 11 times more likely to have their profile viewed.
List all your experience.
Experience counts – list it all. A LinkedIn profile with more than one job listed is 12 times more likely to be viewed than one with a single job. And it doesn't matter if you've changed industries. One great example is a friend who said, "I used to work in PR when I first started and now I'm in marketing. How could that help?" It turns out that the agency she interviewed with was very impressed with her PR background. She had skills other marketers didn't. She knew how to sell a brand to the media which is a huge asset when promoting a product. Your volunteer work, freelance, and even internships can positively impact your professional profile. Remember to upload projects and presentations to your profile. This feature trulylets your work speak for itself. Your network can comment on or like your work, which can naturally start a conversation about future projects or jobs.
Create Water Cooler Conversation.
At a loss for what to chat about in the break room? Check out LinkedIn Pulse which allows you to customize your home page through subscriptions to channels for trending news coming from your industry. You can also follow inspirational Influencers like Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington. Check out what Diane Von Furstenberg has to say about the fashion industry or Workplace Happiness Tips via Gretchen Rubin. Adding these channels will keep the conversation growing and evolving on LinkedIn and at the office.
Make Time to Reconnect.
You've spent time growing your network but when was the last time you reconnected? Don't accept and forget. Your LinkedIn network is as valuable as the relationships you create and sustain. By all means, connect with someone you met at an event or even yoga class. Always give them a reference to remember who you are. You want to take these first-level connections and build them into more robust relationships where you can help them and they can help you. For example, "Hi, I'm Sarah we met at the Engineering Conference in Dayton. We chatted about our businesses and you gave me that great recommendation of a developer." Make a point to message everyone in your network once a year. It's a great way to catch up, keep the conversation going and stay on their minds throughout the year.
Get a Stamp of Approval.
We often trust our friends when they are setting us up on a date, our doctors on what vitamins to take and our local bartender on what new special drink to try. A recommendation always helps set you apart. Ask clients, co-workers and former bosses to pen one for your LinkedIn profile. Ask them to highlight a particular skill, such as event planning or your social media skills. Consider asking for a recommendation while you're in the midst of a project working your tail off. That's when your hard work is top of mind and they're more motivated to do it. That recommendation will live on your LinkedIn profile and act as evidence to your amazing work.
Check on the Competition.
We all know that job hunting can get discouraging. If you're not seeing results it might be time to give your profile a bit of makeover. Have you tried checking out your competition? It doesn't hurt to see how other people in your industry are presenting themselves. On LinkedIn, use the Advanced People Search feature to see "what other people in your industry are listing as skills and specialties." Research the buzzwords in your field and insert them into your profile. Many recruiters use software to sort for these types of words or phrases.
It's all about the Match.
How do you take initiative and actually find the job of your dreams? Take advantage of your own ability for some online reconnaissance. Follow companies that you're interested in, and identify groups that contain your industry's best and brightest. That way, not only do you get a sense of who you want to work for, but by the time you get to the interview stage, you're also able to bring all of your unique talents and experiences to the table and help them to see that not only are they the perfect fit for you, but also that you are the perfect fit.
You have a few months to go before you say Sayonara to school and officially become a working professional. You might have taken Psych 101 but chances are you never took a class on how to get a job or what to do when you scored your dream gig.
What if you're applying for your first job...ever: If you've recently graduated from a Masters, MBA or undergraduate program your first thought will most likely be...I have NOTHING to put on my resume. I have never worked! Except, that isn't exactly true. List your hobbies, clubs, conferences, volunteer experiences and activities you are a part of. Have you ever had a leadership role (class president, yearbook editor, captain of JV Field hockey) list it! You should also include what you learned from your school courses; business, teamwork, computer programs, marketing skills, public speaking, etc. All of these items should be a part of your resume. You'll see how quickly your resume fills up after some analysis.
Conquering a job interview: Be prepared. You would never show up to class without reading an assignment and same goes for a good interview. Come armed with information about the company, your boss, and your role. Sign onto LinkedIn and study the Company Page and the career trajectory of your hiring manager.
Be wary of pushy parents: Your parents will always want the best for you but there is a professional line they should never cross. Under no circumstance should your mom and dad be at the interview with you or apply for you. Think I'm kidding? A parent at my firm did just that. He didn't see anything odd about asking me to hire his daughter to be an intern and tell me how great she would be, how he'd be involved and how much he'd be "checking in."
Your parents would never take a test for you or sit in your Spanish class...I hope... same rules apply for the office. You should ask your parents to reach out to their network of co-workers, clients, and friends to see if someone might know of a job opening up. After that, YOU need to be the first point of contact -- not your mom. You could also ask your parents to review your resume or help you with a mock interview. After that, though, you are on your own.
When the new boss is always M.I.A.: If you only have a ask your questions the first few minutes of the day. Let them know you are interested in the business and want to be the best employee for them. Have an idea? Let them know that moving the straws next to the soda cups creates efficiency.
When the office is cliquey: High school cliques annoyingly also exist off campus. Often times these mean girls will at first see you as a threat. Be as friendly as you can to them and try to learn. Make them feel like they are the BMOC. However, if they are still icy – do your best to ignore them. Don't let it get to you and focus on the job at hand.
Ready for a promotion? Before you ask, make sure you deserve it. Here's a list of 4 questions you need to ask yourself:
- Are you helping the company's bottom line?
- Are you punctual and working overtime if you have last-minute client requests?
- Have you been there longer than six months?
- Have you felt that you've made your boss' life easier and are taking on more responsibilities?
If so -- go in for the ask. If not, be the best employee you can be and ask for a promotion 30 days down the line. If you are asking, make sure you come prepared with reasons why you have earned this. Have sales increased since you started? Are you able to get through your work much faster than other employers? Have you created a business website or helped with the social media strategy? Are you volunteering for projects outside your typical responsibilities?
Making a grand & graceful exit: Your employer knows that you won't be at their firm forever. Set up a meeting to chat privately. Start off the conversation by letting them know how amazing it has been to work there (even if it wasn't) and how much you have learned from them as a boss. Then let them know you'll be leaving and will give 2 weeks' notice so they have time to find someone to replace you.
Always end on good terms with a boss – you never know if you'll want the job again down the line or which business owners your boss is friends with in town. You'll also want to count on them for a reference.
After sending your resume out, you finally have a job interview. Here are 5 things you should never say or wear during an interview.
Not: What do you do here?
Fix: If you walk into an interview and you ask the interviewer what they do at the organization that is a fail. First off, you should have researched the company. Secondly, you should have looked up the person you are interviewing with on LinkedIn. Never go into an interview unprepared.
Not: I left because my boss hated me.
Fix: Never, under any circumstances say an unkind word about your boss, coworkers or company. You never want to insert the negative in a job interview.. Always keep things upbeat and positive. Loyalty and trust go a long way in terms of employment. Your new boss wants to ensure you'll use that same digression during your potential career with them.
Not: Over inflating your salary.
Fix: The jigs up. With platforms like Glassdoor and Salary.com as well as industry insight, hiring managers have a general idea of what you are making. If you over ask (and I'm talking more than the cursory 5-10% - you have a big chance of not getting the job. It shows you have unrealistic expectations and have not properly analyzed the market. It's encouraged to negotiate but know what is appropriate.
Not: Not wearing the right clothes.
Fix: Do your homework. Understand the company culture by studying the type of office environment they envision. Don't show up to a start up in a three-piece suit and don't show up to a PE firm in dark jeans and a blazer. You need to look the part. Look like you could easy blend into the team.
Not: You admit to being desperate.
Fix: No hiring manager wants to hire someone who has bounced around from interview to interview. They want to know that you are a strong candidate who is passionate about the position and the product. They want to know your strengths, ideas, and insights. Keep your interview track record under the table. Lead with confidence and understanding of the company.
What do health, wellness, philanthropy and professional and personal development have in common? They are all the foundation of Elevate Gen Y, a company that offers live events and programming to millennials. Elevate Gen Y is run by mother/daughter duo Sharon Ufberg and Alexis Sclamberg.
After graduating from college, Sclamberg (like many young women) was clueless about what she wanted and went to law school by default. She earned her law degree and found herself in the same unsure situation -- now with a ton of debt.
After reading self-help books, listening to personal development webinars and finding nothing relating to her quarter-life crisis, she talked to her mom about the generational issue of finding life direction at a particular phase of life.
"It was immediately obvious that this was our chance to work with one another to put our hearts and passions together to create something amazing," Sclamberg says. Her mom spent over 30 years as a health care practitioner guiding people to live more empowered and healthier lives.
"I wanted to learn how to make wise decisions (not just practical ones)," Sclamberg adds. "My generation needs community, inspiration, empowerment. We need to feel like we're not alone in this crazy time that is your 20's and 30's."
So Elevate Gen Y was born.
The company creates live events and online programming for women in their 20s and 30s to inspire and empower them to live happy, healthy, meaningful lives and back to their community and the world. They, in term, are inspired by the email they receive from women about connections they've made and how the program has changed their lives.
The mother and daughter seem to enjoy their work together and are ready to embark on "The Borrowed Wisdom World Summit, a 12-week interview series featuring self-help experts, world-renowned doctors, celebrities and more. "We've spent years searching and have found the very best experts to help listeners get a life they love," says Sclamberg
What's the biggest piece of wisdom they've borrowed so far?
"People are very generous and willing to help you if you are brave enough to ask for what you need," says her mom.
If you are in college (or have a child who is), it's time to start the search for a summer 2015 internship. While some people might think seven months is a bit too far in advance to start searching, they would be wrong. Competition to get an internship in your desired industry, much less company, is aggressive.
Internships act as a solid bridge between the academic and business worlds. Good internships connect you with great contacts, experience and a good working understanding of the industry. The best internships provide you with tangible training, relationship-building events, hands-on experience and career development seminars. Vault.com recently released their list of the Top 50 Internships for 2015.
Vault surveyed 5,800 interns at 100 different internship programs for theirInternship Experience survey. The survey was based on the following criteria: "quality of life, compensation and benefits, interview process, career development, and full-time employment prospects."
"Today, 40 percent of all entry-level full-time hires in the U.S. are sourced through internship programs," according to Derek Loosvelt, a senior editor at Vault.com. "This means that, for those looking to work for the most desired and admired employers in the country, internships are no longer a luxury but a necessity."
10 Best Overall Internships for 2015:
1. Bates White Summer Consultant Program
2. Elliot Davis ENVISION
3. Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP's Summer Internship
4. Bain & Company Associate Consultant Intern and Summer Associate programs
5. Northwestern Mutual Internship
6. Plante Moran's Internship Experiences
7. KPCB Fellows Program
8. Evercore Advisory Summer Analyst and Summer Associate Program
9. CapTech Summer Internship Program
10. Anadarko Corporation Summer Internship Program
Vault, in addition to ranking the Best Overall Internships, also ranked internship programs in seven industries: Accounting, Consulting, Energy, Financial Services,Investment Banking, Media & Telecom, and Retail & Consumer Products.
Best Accounting Internship: Elliot Davis ENVISION
Best Consulting Internship: Bates White Summer Consultant Program
Best Energy Internship: Anadarko Petroleum Summer Internship Program
Best Financial Services Internship: Northwestern Mutual Internship
Best Investment Banking Internship: Evercore Advisory Summer Analyst and Associate Program
Best Media & Telecommunications Internship: AT&T Finance Leadership Program
Best Retail & Consumer Products Internship: Kohl's Information Technology Internship
According to Loosvelt, the company has been studying, surveying and ranking employers for quite some time. Mainly focusing on consulting, law, banking and now expanding into consumer products, tech, energy, media and entertainment. Why study the internship programs of these industries?
"Internships have been growing in importance, as nearly half of all entry-level full-time jobs at the top employers in the country are now sourced through their internship programs. So we found it important to give readers a better sense of the best internship programs out there, and to give them information about what it's like to intern at top employers as well as how to get these internships," says Loosvelt.
Loosvelt says Millennials are looking for jobs and careers that have meaning.
"Of course, prestige and salary are still important to Millennials, but I don't think they're the most important factors by far (like I think they were to, say, Generation X). I think Millennials want to make an impact. They want to feel their work is meaningful (the definition of what's meaningful varies, of course, from person to person)," says Loosvelt. Some people might want to advance the tech field in Silicon Valley, others might find their meaning in charity, while others are spreading awareness via social media or through education.
"Millennials are very focused on career advancement and training," Loosvelt says. "They're attracted to positions in which they'll be able to make difference right away-that is, being able to contribute to their firm's success without much waiting/training period. And they want to know that they'll be able to advance quickly if they succeed. They shy away from strict advancement time periods. And I believe that Millennials are also less fearful when it comes to changing careers and entrepreneurship -- starting their own ventures. This might just be because it's easier to start businesses these days; for example, brick-and-mortar stores aren't necessary to begin because, in most cases, all you need is a web domain and an idea; it doesn't take that much money to get going."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials will be the majority of the workforce in 2015. Loosvelt agrees that more companies (like the ones ranked in the study) are putting more time and resources into their programs in order to attract top talent and retain them.
There has been a major switch as companies have been putting a greater emphasis on training and development in internship programs. "This is partly, I assume because they realize it pays to do this. If you treat your internship program like one long training period (and now sometimes students will intern two and three summers with the same firm), once your interns start full time with you, they're ready to perform real work, not to mention they're apt to stay at your firm for a lot longer period of time that is, they'll be less apt to jump ship to another firm just for the money since they have a stronger connection (more loyalty) to you," says Loosvelt.
"Companies are increasingly offering better benefits and perks," he adds, "as they understand that Millennials are interested in flexible schedules (to raise families and/or engage in outside-of-work activities) and in having a community feeling at work, which wasn't so much the case with respect to past generations."
It takes about six seconds to make a first impression, and what you're wearing is a huge nonverbal and often subconscious way of ensuring the interviewer/client/coworker thinks you're a great fit. But before you reach for that bulky suit on the rack, think again.
These days, women can let go of the boxy power suits of the 1980s. Women wore these suits to blend into their environment, to subtly tell men that you were one of the guys and part of the team. Suits gave women power and confidence.
These days the modern suit is much different--it's all about fit. Stay away from blazers with shoulder pads and try on a style that cinches around your waist. What's paramount now is dressing for your industry. Every office, field and work environment is different.
If you're in finance or law, for instance, chances are you need to stick to a suit. However, stay on trend. While the pant suits you wore the 80s and 90s might still fit, that doesn't mean they are still the right fit and doing you any good at the office. In fact, they're most likely aging you. Take a look at what the senior women are wearing and take your cues from them. You can insert your style by adding a dash of color with your blouse or a statement necklace.
Corporate finance or law are also industries that tend to favor suits over other, more casual getups. Find one that complements your specific field. Remember, fit trumps quality. Visit a tailor to shorten a sleeve or (if they're a fit for your office) hem a skirt.
Before buying another shirt because it's on sale or accepting your older sister's hand-me-down blazer, think before you put it on. Does the fit, quality, and style truly compliment your professional brand? You'd never submit a report that was disorganized or create a PowerPoint that was all over the place. Extend this attention to detail to your work wardrobe.
When does work stop? In truth, it doesn't. Email and smartphones have completely transformed the traditional 9-5 work model. Millennials entered the work world during this transition.
I'm not surprised that according to a recent survey by Bentley's PreparedU Project, 77 percent of millennials prefer a flex-work schedule. With Wi-Fi virtually everywhere, you can literally be online and 'accessible' anywhere. We've been able to flex-work during college, vacations, internships, and train with virtual classrooms. Email and internal instant messaging have greatly changed the typical workday.
Working 24/7 isn't the answer. There is a gray area when it comes to flexible work schedules. I believe that employees need to create an open dialogue with their bosses about their schedule. Be honest about what the hours are and what hours would work best for you. Would they mind if you started your day a bit later to hit a yoga class or left early to attend a networking event? The problem many managers face is knowing if they can trust their employee.
As for me, I put in the long hours, the face time, and my work shined. My boss completely trusts my instinct. She also works from her home and wouldn't easily be able to check in on my whereabouts without connecting with the internal office staff. My work, my work ethic, and my accountability are what allow me to have a flex-work schedule.
Understanding work needs. If you have a client on the West Coast, or worse, in Asia, you could be clocking in double or triple the hours of your coworkers. Arranging conference calls at 3:00 in the morning or constantly working on projects in the middle of the night can take a toll on anyone. If you become overworked and sleep deprived, you'll be more likely to start looking for positions elsewhere.
Speak up to your boss. Come up with a plan to ensure the work gets done, and you don't come into the office the next day looking like a zombie. Don't assume that your boss has thought of these alternative options already. Most likely, they are worried about so many things that, unfortunately, they aren't always thinking about you.
Millennials are always on. Millennials often get pegged as the generation with a terrible work ethic, but in fact, 89 percent of millennials regularly check work email after their regularly scheduled work hours, and 37 percent say they always check work email. Smartphones have truly changed the work landscape. As a community, we have a Pavlovian response when it comes to email. We see the blinking light, hear the ding of a bell and immediately need to check our messages – personal or professional. Time of day does not hinder this need to be "on."
The truth is, millennials work differently than our older counterparts, as each generation did before them; Generation X worked differently than the Boomers. Technology and awareness played a big role in that. Millennials don't have a poor work ethic- it's simply a different approach to work.
One of the only times I have felt like a spy was when I was job searching while currently employed. You feel like you're a double agent. You're always searching for new leads, you need to pledge loyalty to both sides before jumping ship, and you need to conduct your operation under the radar. If you get caught, it's all over.
Avoid shared devices. Whenever possible, do the majority of your job hunting at home and on your own devices. And, without question, using your own email addresses. If you absolutely need to respond to queries, do this on a mobile device like your smartphone and tablet. I'd recommend uploading a copy of your resume and any other presentation materials to a shared system like DropBox or Google Drive. That way you do not need to download these files onto your work computer. You never know who might have access to your computer or how much your IT department is looking into the email you are sending from the company server. It is not worth it to test the waters.
Legally, anything you download on a work computer is the company's, not yours. Naturally, you want to only be job searching off the clock. But what if your dream job emails you and needs a response ASAP? In these cases, emailing during office hours is essential.
Attire matters. If you usually come into the office looking like you crawled out of bed and then suddenly show up in a pressed shirt and a blazer, people will notice that something is up. Make it a habit from day one of your search to always dress as if you have a job interview. You'll throw people off and even start looking the part in your current job. Keep this in mind for shoes as well. If you typically arrive in the office in duck boots and flats and then leave mid-day in heels...the jig is up. Either change into work shoes before you get into the office or vice versa. Don't give your manager a reason to doubt you.
Time it accordingly. Loyalty matters at whatever company you're working at as well as the company you are applying to. Do your best to arrange your interviews before work, on your lunch hour or after hours. Your interviewee will be empathetic to you and understand that you are trying to be fair to your current boss.
If it is absolutely imperative to meet during the day, go in for the meeting, but make up that hour or two of missed time to your current employer. Stay later or come in earlier if you have to. If you know the interview will keep you away from the office for more than 1.5 hours, it would be wise to take PTO. You can typically ask your hiring manager how much time you should allot for the interview. If you are meeting with four people, it's safe to say you should take PTO.
Excuses, excuses. People always ask me, "I have an interview during the day – what do I tell my boss?" I hate lying and think that honesty is always the best policy--except when you're looking for a new job. There is no correct answer here, but if you work in a role that normally keeps you in the office from nine to five, then you need to get creative with your answer. If you are dead set on interviewing and finding a new job, chances are you'll be interviewing plenty, and saying you have a weekly doctor's appointment isn't going to work. Instead, you could say you have a physical therapy appointment. Other ideas include a colleague that is visiting from out of town or networking. The less you say, the better.
What is the best way to help your recently unemployed friend? The number-one thing you can do is listen and be there for them...but don't go overboard. As friends, we have a tendency to go big, but a job search is a highly stressful situation--something the job seeker needs to be ready for.
Talk to them. Ask them if they'd like help. Would they want you to act as a career coach? Someone who helps them stay accountable and also sends job listings? Some people have done their homework and know what they want, and that might not be at the end of a job listing. Other people are more open to it, so ask before you go ahead. Don't make empty promises. If you offer to set them up for an informational interview or connect them to someone in their industry, follow up on it.
Practice makes perfect. Offer to look at their resume, and if they are open to it, edit it. You can also help them with mock interviews and by offering feedback for their elevator pitches. Recommend them to sites like the Muse, LinkedIn, and Wakefield. Another thing a great friend could do to go above and beyond is to use a smartphone to record a mock interview. It's helpful to see yourself in action. Do you have a nervous habit of tapping your shoe or tugging your sleeve? Do you speak too fast or use a lot of expressions like "like," "um," or "at the end of the day"?
Use motivating words. Keep their energy level up. Many people tend to get depressed, discouraged and desperate during a long job search. It wears you down not getting called in for an interview or not getting called back for a job. That's a ton of daily rejection. Remind them how much of an all-star they really are. Advise them to try and freelance or put their skills in motion by volunteering. Remind them that their situation could and does happen to everyone and that it's a matter of circumstance--not reflective of their talent.
Check in. Every friend and friendship are different. If you are very close, ask--but drop it if your friend isn't too chatty on the subject. Change gears and talk about other matters. Don't let your hangouts turn into marathon job-searching sessions. Your friend most likely wants a break from thinking about their dead-end job or unemployed status. Your friendly conversations act as an escape.
Squash tension and negativity. Is your relationship as friends suffering while your friend looks for work? Talk about the friendship, not about the job search. Chances are that it's the job search tension that is subconsciously causing the negativity. I once recommended an unemployed friend to interview at another friend's firm. She was so unprepared and unprofessional in her email introduction and the interview itself that it ended up souring the friendship.
Are they simply venting? Do you have a friend who might be stuck in a dead-end job? Do they truly want to make a change? We have all vented about our jobs to a friend from time to time. The commute, the nosy coworker, the mountains of Excel work, endless business trips...but do they really want a new job, or do they just need to de-stress? Before offering to look at their resume or set them up with job leads, actually ask them what their next move might be.
Every office has that annoying coworker, but what if that annoying coworker is actually you?
Have you ever stopped and thought about how your actions and more likely reactions could be frustrating your officemates? It's easy to complain and pass on the blame.
Instead of pointing the finger elsewhere, think about what you could do to clean up your act (and your desk while you're at it).
You might not notice this, but you could very well be the loudest person at the office. Do you take personal calls at your desk? Who doesn't? If so, lower your voice and keep it under five minutes.
When we chat with people we're comfortable with — like friends and family — we tend to raise our voices, which also irritates the rest of the open office. Plus, no one wants to hear about your dermatologist appointment, latest Match.com date or messages from your building's super. While we're on the subject, turn your personal phones to silent, keep speakerphone use to a minimum, lower your headphones and be respectful of your shared environment.
Sure, the Chicken Masala is calling your name, but the smell of that lunch lingers for days. If you happen to have a craving for lox and bagels, tuna fish, or any other overly pungent food — go out and get it. Eat your mid-day meal in a park or at the restaurant. Your colleagues will thank you.
If you absolutely have to order a particularly overpowering food at least toss your trash in the kitchen garbage and not at your desk. Nothing is worse than smelling day-old curry.
You text at meetings.
Using your phone during a meeting is one of the top-10 rudest things you can do at the office. Your behavior tells the room that you do not respect them, which is why you are diverting your attention to your smartphone.
Even if you are answering work emails, they most always can wait until the end of a meeting. If they absolutely cannot, let your coworkers know you are expecting an email or call prior to the start of the meeting to excuse any distracted behavior.
You can't call in.
Dialing into a conference call can be one of the most frustrating office tasks. Half the time you either receive an error message, echo, or a series of loud beeps. Here's a tip, regardless of if you planned the call or not — call into it 15 minutes beforehand to test it out. Let the organizer know if you are having any trouble.
Over half the invites I am emailed end up being faulty. You lose valuable time when this happens — especially if you are chatting with people on tight schedules. If you're still not convinced, tune into this hilarious parody on conference call etiquette that hit the internet waves last month.
You scour through resume after resume when you finally land a gem within the pile of candidates. It hits every point of your job description even the 10 skills you listed. It almost sounds too good to be true...is it? Last week ABC News' 20/20 set up a segment to expose just that. The business behind fake resumes.
ABC interviewed the founder of fake resume resource site CareerExcuse.com, William Schmidt. He'll create fake positions but also take it a step further by creating fake degrees, companies (including phone numbers, addresses even websites). Schmidt says he has rarely been caught because few companies thoroughly check resumes and job references.
Schmidt thinks he is doing a public service by helping those job seekers who lost their jobs during the recession. He doesn't think he's selling a lie. He compares his business to that of a poker player's bluff...all about the illusion. He claims that half of the people who use his service are employed within 30 days.
But what's an employer to do if they think they found a great applicant but something isn't adding up? Marissa Klein, SVP of Choice Fashion & Media, weighs in with her expert advice.
Eyeing a Phony Applicant: How hard is it to find false information buried within a document that might have legitimate experience as well. Klein, says, "We specialize in an area that is very close knit. It is quite easy to catch a discrepancy due to our relationships and our own experience within the niche world of fashion and media. However, I have certainly discovered incorrect dates and falsified job description bullet points. Especially since the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009."
Catch a Fake: You've spotted a potential fake. What's the next step? Do you speak with the client, try and take another route or toss their resume in the trash? Klein, "We normally will outright challenge the candidate. Our "fakes" tend to be in the details – such as resumes not matching LinkedIn profiles. I tend to try to give people the benefit of the doubt. After the economy took a turn, many were forced to enhance or exaggerate their skill set in order to remain competitive, or valuable."
Go With Your Gut: What are a firm's options if think they found the perfect applicant but something within their work history isn't adding up. Klein says, "Certain things will always slip through the cracks. My advice to my clients is always the same. We can do all of the leg work to check, and double and triple check... but gut instinct, whether professional or personal, is usually infallible. If something doesn't feel right, it likely is not."
The Safety Net: How important is a background check? Klein says, "We do qualify candidates and I would say that most employers do too. However, specific background checks are costly (criminal, credit, etc) and we can provide these to our clients at a pass through cost. Most of our clients run these types of checks after an offer has been extended and accepted. Background checks in general fall into a truly gray area... traditionally, companies are not really supposed to disclose true editorial on a candidate, merely confirm a date started and a date ended. Ironically, as the liaison we are sometimes caught in the middle and must find a balance between what the client would like for us to "check" and what is legally permitted. Perhaps that is a whole other conversation!"
Last night, I was asked to take part in a career panel at Fairfield University. As a primer for the event, the founding organizer and Video Producer for Group SJR, Audra Martin, let us know that over half of these students will graduate from college without ever having had an internship. She also instructed us to not sugar coat anything and be as honest as possible about our after college experiences. It was a great event with a ton of amazing panelists who were real and truthful about their career paths.
Internships are important: The best way to learn about an industry is to roll up your sleeves and do it. Of course you can sit in your classes and learn from a book, but there is no substitute for being in the working world. If your school has a less than stellar career department (and most do due to budget cuts), you need to do the work on your own, which is actually better. No one is going to hold your hand through your job search so why not go full speed into searching for an internship? The first stop is to reach out to your network. Ask your professors if they have any contacts in the industry, contact former alumni for informational interviews, reach out to family and friends that might be able to point you in the right direction. LinkedIn is a great networking tool. Use it to your advantage by researching openings and connecting with hiring managers directly as opposed to blindly applying to email@example.com. You’ll find out that you’ll get many more responses when dealing with a real person.
Be persistent without being annoying: One student asked how to get noticed without feeling like a pest. The trick is that in order to get noticed you need to be a squeaky wheel – especially in the media field. My inbox is filled to the brim with “Asks” and I do my best to get back to people but sometimes an email can get lost. This is why it’s important to keep checking in. The other point to consider is that when you are reaching out to someone in hopes of a meeting, job, or information you need to have done your homework and create an “in”. Study the person you are contacting. Read their LinkedIn Profile, member posts, blog anything on the web is fair game. Learn about their experience and the company they currently work for and previous ones too. Use this information to your advantage over email, “I read your article on PR trends and learned a ton” or “I see you work on the Today Show – I’m such a huge fan. I especially love the weekly segment about women ‘Having it All.'” This is your in. Chances are the people you are emailing know why you are contacting them but going the extra mile and doing your homework turns your “ask” into a relationship.
Don’t expect a dream job at 21: Congrats on graduating, entering the workforce and officially becoming an adult. Chances are you’ll be interviewing and submitting dozens of resumes after commencement. Chances are you’ll apply for jobs that aren’t exactly your dream job and that’s OK. We can’t all be Lena Denham and produce, star, and write major TV shows. You need to start at the bottom to get ready for your move to the top. When you are just starting out you have no idea how many different types of jobs are truly out there. Don’t sit on your thumbs waiting for the exact one to come along – because it might never come along. If you get an interesting offer – take it. Your 20s are the time to experiment, learn new things and more importantly – take risks. You don’t have a family to support so if you want to take a freelance TV production gig that has awful hours, low pay and no benefits – do it now!
What happens when your career path turns into a dead end? You’ve done everything possible to win that promotion, but it’s still out of reach. Or, maybe you love your job, but you’re struggling to survive on a paycheck that barely covers the rent. It’s scary, but change can be good, and it’s especially important when it comes to your professional life. Hanging on to a dead-end job is a miserable experience, no matter what your reasons are, but there is a way to escape and move on to find a winning career.
There’s a difference between having a few bad days and feeling truly trapped at work. Doing something rash—like storming out with an “I quit!”—will only haunt you in the future. And it won’t solve the problem. Instead, devote some time to re-look and re-evaluate. Try making a pros and cons list, and be as honest as possible. Is the problem really that your boss is a control freak—or, could you be guilty of playing passive aggressive and not standing up for yourself? You can also ask your boss for an informal sit-down to discuss your progress. Be very direct about what you want, and then listen closely to her feedback. If you still feel frustrated, it might be time to move on.
If your job is terrific but your salary leaves you cold (literally, because you can’t afford to pay for utilities), you’re not alone. Many people want to work in publishing or nonprofits, because they want a meaningful job, and that’s wonderful—but you need to be able to take care of yourself, first. Wanting to make money doesn’t make you a sell-out, and there are lots of ways to volunteer or give back without sacrificing your financial self-worth. (However, if the only thing you want is that assistantship at Vogue, go for it—just be prepared to do a bit of bartending on the side.)
Once you’ve determined it’s time to go, you’ll need a solid exit strategy. Revamp that resume and make sure you have a great interview suit or outfit. And while you can search online or engage a headhunter, don’t be shy about asking your colleagues for help. Seek advice from those you trust or look up to in your industry, and ask thoughtful questions about different positions that you’re interested in. As they say, “it’s who you know…” and you don’t need to feel bad about using your connections. Lots of higher-ups enjoy helping fledgling professionals, so take advantage of their generosity. Just be sure to send those thank-you notes. You never know who might become your future boss!
Know what you want—and what you don’t. If you’re a number cruncher with dreams of a future in finance, should you bag it all to become a pharmacist? Yes, if you want a job that involves math and working with people. No, if you have no interest in counting pills. Before straying from the field you had your heart set on, it’s important to consider what your interests and passions are. Will moving to a field that is a more reliable match well with your personality? Sure, there are sectors that are consistently stable (education, nursing), but if you hate children and faint at the sight of blood, are these really good options? You should also consider your long-term goals. If you’ve dreamed of working for a nonprofit, will you really be content with a career in the insurance biz? Before making a quick switch, it’s important to do some serious soul-searching. After all, a sunken economy is ultimately fleeting, whereas your career is every day for the rest of your life.
Be willing to work for it. It’s true—there are jobs out there, but the competition is fierce. Now is the time to up your game and work as hard as you can for every single lead. Network, practice interviewing and make sure your résumé is flawless. Apply for every job you can find in the field or related to the field. Remember, there is no perfect job, but every job will teach you something. If you find yourself with a job offer that is below what you’d hoped or involves a ton of grunt work, try to look at the advantages of cutting your teeth in the industry as a hardworking employee with a positive attitude even when the job sucks.
Set up an informational interview. Request a chat session with someone you respect with a job you admire. Ask them for advice: Have they lived through a recession? How did changes in the field influence their career path? Do they think the industry is going to turn around soon, or is it going to be a long road to recovery? Listen carefully to what they say—no matter how brief, the advice could be valuable. Before you walk out the door, make sure they have your contact information, just in case.
Learn all you can. Scour the Internet for professional journals, associations, or clubs. Read everything you can get your hands on about the inner workings of the industry. Pay special attention to articles about things that are new or cutting-edge. A job in a random, up-and-coming sector could be the key to getting your foot in the door and eventually landing your dream job. Plus, reading the info that’s written for the professional provides a helpful perspective. If you find yourself with a consistently wandering mind, maybe this field isn’t actually for you. This is good to know before you invest too much in a job search.
Specialize in something challenging or obscure. Think about honing skills that will make you a more valuable employee: Learn software programs, improve your technical skills, or take continuing-ed classes at night. Not only will it keep you energized and help with networking, but furthering your education is a good way to guarantee that someday soon you will get a job in your field of dreams.
Follow your heart. Andrea decided that she really, really wanted to be a graphic designer, so she found a job doing design work for a real estate agency. It isn’t the cool job she imagined, but she’s getting lots of valuable experience. Maybe a job in fashion will be her next step. But most of all, after some serious research and soul-searching, she knows the hard work of breaking into the field is worth it.
How to Read Between the Lines of Job Descriptions
When you are applying for a job, keep in mind that you aren't the only one who is sprucing up your resumé and cover letter lingo to help sell yourself. Job descriptions are written with the same type of intent. You never know what kind of environment you'll be stepping into, but carefully decoding job descriptions can help pull back the uncertain layers. Here are five terms you may run into and what they mean:
1. “Self-Motivated Team Player”
You need to expect that this work environment will not give you a lot of direction, hence the “self-starter” request. Creating work for yourself without an agenda from a supervisor is expected. When you do “play with the team,” you'll be expected to contribute ideas and work with different types of personalities. It also means that you'll do as the boss says and work on projects across the company as needed.
2. “Excellent Salary”
This is an advertising tactic to get potential hires to apply. “Excellent salary” means different things to different people. Some people think 70K is excellent, while others believe 150K is excellent. Traditionally, salary is discussed after an offer is made. The employer believes they've sold you on a great job, even if the true salary might come up short on your end.
3. “Good sense of humor required”
This office resembles a fraternity which includes an environment where foul language, eating contests and practical jokes are welcome. It is also code that they don't take the work that they're doing too seriously, which might mean that they won't take you seriously. You need to be comfortable working in a very relaxed environment where people might be playing flip cup while you're working on a deadline. In order to be accepted, you'll need to be a team player and participate in a pizza-eating contest or two.
4. “Must have a 'no job is too small' attitude”
In my first job, this meant that I spent Saturday nights lugging heavy metal objects to company events. Other times, this will mean you'll be expected to pull an all-nighter to finish a PowerPoint deck, or maybe come in a half-hour early a few times a month to prep for a meeting. It also means that you can virtually never utter the phrase “that's not my job,” because it's been spelled out in the job description that you are up for every task (unless it is illegal or immoral, of course). Otherwise, this boss will expect you to shut your mouth and do the job.
5. “Extremely organized”
Almost every job description includes “organized” as a requirement, but when they add an “extremely” you might have a problem. This boss will be a control freak with a major case of OCD. He or she will expect you to have an immaculate filing system, an alphabetized book collection, and for your workspace and desktop to be as neat and organized as their own. If you thrive in a messy space, this isn't for you.