Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why Handshakes Matter to Your Career

One of the most important things in an interview is a good handshake.  It sets the tone for the entire interview and believe it or not, you will be judged on your handshake. Perception is reality and if you have a great handshake you are most likely perceived as confident and trustworthy, making you more likely to be hired - if you're qualified of course.  A great handshake should be firm, use your whole hand (not this finger-tip handshake similar to royal ladies of medieval times), and consist of 2-3 shakes.

To avoid sweaty palms as much as possible, watch your breathing when you're in the lobby and try to stay calm; don't let your nerves get the best of you.  If you typically have sweaty palms, place your hands on your lap while you wait, don't clasp your hands together because that will just make the situation worse.  Maybe even have a napkin in your hand that you can easily put in your pocket or purse when the interviewer comes out to get you.

First impressions really do matter and the handshake is part of that.  A strong and confident handshake won't get you the job, but it will help people have a positive first impression of you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Congratulations You're A Grownup! Now What?!?

So you're graduating from college, old enough to drink, smoke, and and fight for your country. Congratulations!! You're now entering the workforce, possibly for the first time ever. So what the hell are you supposed to do now?!

Step 1: Create a resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.

  • Make sure this is reviewed by someone else and free of spelling and grammatical errors
  • Post your resume to the job boards: CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc.


Step 2: Get a Wardrobe!

  • Whether you were the best dressed in school or liked to experiment with fun and crazy styles, Corporate America wants a specific look.  You can still keep your individuality and style, but in most cases it needs to be toned down or made a little more conservative.
  • Natural make-up and hair color is preferred. Cover up your tattoos for the interview

Step 3: Network!

  • Stay in touch with your classmates, professionals, and other people you've met in college, they can be excellent resources for you down the road. 
  • Attend local organizations' chapter meetings as a guest, see if it's of value for you and if it is, join!

Step 4: Accept Internships or Entry Level Roles

  • You have to get your experience somewhere, and most jobs want 1+ year of experience.  
  • The best thing you can do is intern while you're still in school.  If it's too late for that, look for paid internships and entry level positions, a lot of companies offer room for advancement if you prove yourself.

Step 5: Be Realistic

  • So you graduated from college along with millions of other students nationwide.  You are not alone, so stay positive, accept that you're probably going to get a few rejections, and be realistic about money.  
  • Unless you are a computer programmer, you are not going to make $60k+ right out of college.  You have to work up to that.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Employment Gap

A lot of candidates have gaps in their employment, especially with the recent Great Recession. While this is very common, you should fill the gap if possible.  Did you volunteer or go back to school? Were you a stay at home mom/dad? Travel the world? Did you care for an ill family member? It is better to list these things on your resume than have a 1 year+ gap.

If you did freelance/contract work, be as specific as possible! If you were a freelance writer or contractor list the publications/companies you worked with and projects you worked on.  If you don't do this, employers will assume you just put that on the resume to fill the gap and didn't actually have any clients.

The cover letter is a great place to explain employment gaps.  If  you were laidoff, say so.  If you survived 3 rounds of layoffs but got let go on the 4th, say so.

Show that you made use of your time and did more than just sit at home during your gap in employment.

Do you have any helpful tips for how to pass the time when you're not working? Share them in the comment section below!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Big Lie Colleges Tell

Get this degree or certificate and get a job no problem! 
Start making $60k+ after college! 
We'll help you find a job!

Whether you're going to a private, public, vocational, or for profit school, they always tell students these lies.  I won't go as far as saying that all counselors and professors intentionally lie, chances are they're just out of touch with reality.  However the reality is, that just having that degree or certificate won't get you very far.

As a student, you need to take your career in your own hands and utilize every resource out there. Visit your campus' career center and talk to a counselor about your career path.  Write your resume and include all your clubs and volunteer work. Go to career fairs.  Even if you're a Freshman or Sophomore, go to career fairs.  Figure out what to wear and what to say, how to present yourself to the companies that attend.

Find an internship in your field. This is the most important thing you could possibly do while in school.  This will be your experience when you graduate.  That part-time fast-food or retail job is not going to count for your professional experience. Don't get me wrong, it's good that you've done that, it shows some level of responsibility and work ethic, but it's not enough.

This applies to all industries. Recruiters don't care if you just graduated with your degree in business, marketing, communications, or nursing.  How does that separate you from the other graduates that year? How does that make you stand out? It doesn't, it only meets the basic requirement of the job.

Fun fact: for the 2013-2014 school year, US colleges and universities are anticipated to award 943,000 Associates Degrees and 1.8 million Bachelor's Degrees.

Mom and Dad don't want you to work, you need to focus on school? That's great, but a 4.0 GPA and no relevant work experience will not get you a career, and you'll stay living with mom and dad probably for a lot longer than any of you would like.  College is supposed to help prepare you for the real world.  What better way to do that than start applying what you've learned to the real world?  Still not buying it? Have them contact me.

What about all the young professionals who decide school isn't for them and don't go or end up dropping out?  How do they find jobs? Experience. They might struggle because a lot of jobs require some kind of higher education, but experience in many cases will trump the degree.

I'd love to hear from you! What are your success stories?  Tell me in the comments any internships or experience that helped you start your career or land your dream job!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Resume Tips

In honor of the Game of Thrones Season 4 premier, I'll be tweeting resume tips all weekend - Game of Thrones style ;)  

Follow me @Natasha_29

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mini Rant: Buzzwords - Just Stop It Already

You are not a guru or ninja, so just to just stop it already. It may have been cute a few years ago for the first five people who used these terms.  The people that thought of them were creative, but when most people start adding these "buzzwords" to their LinkedIn profiles or resumes it gets annoying and truly does not add any value.  It's not important, it's not creative, and it doesn't mean anything so just don't include it.

What are some buzzwords that you can't stand?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Negotiating Pay

Money can be such a touchy subject and is always uncomfortable. I have talked about negotiating before, in this article. Make sure you do your research, find out how much people with your job title make, and make sure it's area specific. I highly recommend using www.Glassdoor.com, www.salary.com, and Google searches.

When asked about what you're willing to make, stick to professional reasons, including the amount of experience and education you have, the requirements of the job, and average pay for this kind of role. Do NOT, under any circumstance, use your financial situation as reasoning. Your bills/debt/etc should never be discussed with your potential employer, and could easily work against you.

Its always a good idea to negotiate, and if you're consistent with the numbers you give, you won't come across as greedy. For example, in discussions, if you always say you're looking for $75-85k and they make you an offer of $70k, it's perfectly acceptable to say, "Thank you, i'm extremely interested in this position and think I can make a big impact, however, I really can't accept anything less than $75k."

If they stand firm, then you can say something like, "Well I understand, but maybe we can be creative about the $5k difference. Perhaps extra vacation time or a sign-on bonus".

It's not your place to be grateful you were made an offer, it's your place to make sure this is a mutually benefiting partnership between you and the employer.

Have you negotiated your salary before? Let me know your story in the comments!