Living Your Passion vs. Working a J-O-B: Balancing the Scales

25 03 2015


Let’s face it: If you weren’t born with a trust fund the size of Jupiter or into a family with strategically well-placed connections to the business world (and thus to ready-made employment), you’re going to need a job to pay the bills. This month’s rent waits for no man, and a growling stomach will soon convince you that working for The Man might be one of those “necessary evils” you hear about on the television sometimes. The trouble isn’t that no one knows this. After all, children are groomed from the time they can say their ABC’s to grow up, graduate college, and get a job. Then it’s a forty-year marathon to retirement, after which you get a gold watch and the free time to finally do all the stuff you would’ve liked to do twenty years earlier.

Here’s the thing about that model: It’s a dinosaur. It might’ve worked like gangbusters in the 1950s – heck, for the last couple centuries, even – but today, for today’s workforce, it’s a bust. Millennials are hungry to make their passion their career, or at least to get the two as closely aligned as possible. Corporate world thinking just hasn’t caught on or caught up quite yet, which is why it can sometimes seem as if the younger generations are career elitists when nothing could be further from the truth.

In other words, the trouble isn’t programming or work ethic – the trouble is an ill-fitting reality that’s overdue for a remodel. If any of this resonates with you, then just read on to find out the three keys to slaying the Dark Monday of the Soul. A work-life balance makeover is closer than you think!


Baby, Light My Fire

The first component to finding a career that you can dive into happily, confidently, and successfully is to isolate and understand your own unique interests. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Strike that – what keeps you awake at night like a little kid waiting on Santa to show up with your presents? Anything you do (or think you might like to do at some point) that generates that kind of interest is worth pursuing. Don’t let people dissuade you, either. If you’re rabid about beekeeping or the backstage element of television production, why on earth would you want to lock yourself in a cubicle for 10 hours a day at an accounting firm, especially when you hate math? Oh, the money’s better? It had better be – nothing says acute depression like being sentenced to four decades at a job you truly couldn’t care less about. Money is important. So is doing your best at whatever career you do undertake – you owe that to your bosses and to yourself. At the end of the day, though, you won’t stick with a job you hate for the long haul, and that’s a lose-lose for everyone. A job you enjoy (as opposed to one you merely endure) is the foundation of your adult life. Don’t neglect it.

You’re a Natural, Kid

Go get a pen and some paper. Now sit down in a quiet spot and write down all the things you’re really, honestly good at. Nothing is too minor or major, and there aren’t really any wrong answers. If you’re good at a particular thing – if you’re skilled at it – then list it. Now ask yourself how you can translate those skills into a career in “the real world.” Whether your skills lie in reading people, organizing stuff, juggling flaming bowling pins, or the skillful navigation of AP Style, the chances are good that you’re possessed of at least a few traits & capabilities that can help you earn a nice living. Nurture them – if you’re good at them, you can teach other people to be good at them too. That’s how leaders are made, and how great companies are born.

Courting Lady Luck and Answering Opportunity’s Knock

The final facet of a work-life balance to kill for is a bit more nebulous than the first two. Opportunities and blind luck play a bigger role in landing (and keeping) the perfect career than you might think. Of course, the savvy employee knows that you make your own luck. Is there a job no one else wants to do? Take it on, then knock it out of the park. Is there some kind of conference in your field? Book a ticket and schmooze! An object in motion tends to stay in motion – little efforts on your part builds strong momentum, and combining that momentum with a firm eye on your goal – a career built around your innate interests (it’s your foundation, remember?) – can literally change your life.

Conclusion / Closing Thoughts

There you have it: The one-stop primer for making a career out of the things you’re good at and passionate about. Keep it handy, follow it studiously (don’t just focus on two out of three facets, for instance!), and watch your world bloom. Thanks for reading, and good luck!

****For this great post, Campus to Career thanks Amy Klimek!!****

amy klimekAbout the author: Amy Klimek is an experienced HR recruiter and VP of Human Resources for ZipRecruiter, a company that simplifies the hiring process for small to medium size businesses. Prior to that Amy has held similar roles at, eBay and US Interactive.

For Amy, corporate culture isn’t about dogs and free lunches, it’s about empowering employees and creating an enriching environment for people to excel.

8 Unwritten Meeting Rules You Need to Know

10 03 2015


Campus to Career is excited to announce our very first contributing writer, Sarah Landrum! You’ll see Sarah’s exclusive thought-provoking posts each month right here. Please help us welcome her to the Campus to Career community! This month, she has some excellent tips to help make your meetings more effective…

coffee cups meetingThe unspoken rules in a professional business setting are the ones you don’t likely learn while in school. You’re either going to figure them out by trial and error, or learn from those who already know what they’re doing. Some young professionals embarrass themselves as they discover proper office etiquette. Since no one likes being embarrassed, here’s a list 8 unwritten meeting rules you need to know:

Planning a Meeting

1.  Never call a meeting unless absolutely necessary. Operate under the basic presumption that everyone hates meetings. Workers tend to grumble to themselves that they would rather be working than sitting in a meeting if it’s not necessary. Before you call the team in, ask yourself: Can I settle this with an email?

2.  Set a hard time limit. If you decide a meeting is necessary, assure everyone that it will be worthwhile. Before the meeting, let everyone know how long it will take. Remind them of this fact at the beginning of the meeting. And be sure to end things on time.

3. Create a schedule of events that can be accomplished within that time limit. At the very least, aim to accomplish one goal on your schedule before the time is up, or else everyone will feel you’ve wasted their time.

4. Do not invite nonessential personnel to your meeting. If people are invited, they will feel obligated to talk. If more people are invited, more people will talk. If more people talk, the meeting will last longer. Do not invite anyone unless their presence and input is essential.

Your Conduct in a Meeting

5. Engage attendees. It’s important to factor in a few minutes for chit-chat to build rapport and get everyone engaged. It’s always nice to begin a subject – especially a dull subject – with something funny to get everyone’s attention. But remember: talking about things that aren’t on the agenda will waste everyone’s time. Stay focused.

6. Keep your phone in your pocket. Looking at your phone sends a strong signal that you don’t care about what’s going on. Resist the temptation to check your phone. Even if you’re checking it for work-related purposes, doing so sends a vibe that you’re not paying attention or don’t care about what’s being discussed.

7. Take notes. Unlike taking your phone out during a meeting, taking effective notes shows everyone that you’re fully engaged with the present proceedings. In fact, you’re so interested that you want to make what’s being said semi-permanent. Plus, if you don’t have much to say it makes you look busy, which is better than looking dumbfounded or bored.

8. Don’t be afraid to get everyone back on topic. Keep your eye on the meeting’s goals and actively work to direct the conversation toward those goals. The meeting will go faster and you’ll position yourself as a good leader.

Transitioning your life from a senior on campus to the newbie at the office doesn’t have to be frightening. Realize that success involves more than what you learned in the classroom. Take the knowledge you gained in school and combine it with the unwritten rules you learn along the way – and before you know it, you’ll be the one giving the next newbie a lesson on meeting rules.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum is a recent Penn State graduate, writer, and founder of Punched Clocks. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and career development, to health and fitness, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum

The State of Job Seeker Personalities in America

5 03 2015

Does the state in which you live have an effect on your personality? You might be surprised at this study.

Every job seeker is born with certain personality traits, but new data from the infographic below — compiled by Truity Psychometrics, a provider of online personality and career assessments and developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment — suggests that the state they live in may have an influence on how those traits develop.

If you’re a job seeker looking for a company with fellow abstract thinkers or a recruiter searching for extraverted or competitive candidates, look no further. This infographic highlights the top five states for each of the five dimensions of personality type, and sorts each state into one of five personality clusters.

Some interesting points include:

  • “Producers,” hardworking, no-nonsense job seekers who enjoy the company of others, can be found in states like Florida, Arizona, Utah, DC and New Jersey.
  • If you’re looking for brash, tough-minded job seekers who are ready for a challenge and enjoy a good debate, the “Critics” can be found in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
  • Alaska, New York and California are home to “The Open Minds,” job seekers who are interested in arts, literature, the sciences, and other intellectual activities.

Check out the full infographic below to find out more about the personality of all 50 states.

Do you fit the bill for your state’s personality type?


How a Bad Thank-You Note Can Cost You the Job

24 02 2015

thanks man


For those fresh out of college and new in the job market, getting an interview can be a daunting task.

Picking out the perfect outfit: scary. Acing the interview: even scarier. But if you think first impressions stop there, you are horribly mistaken. What comes next is the thank you note, and I know what you’re thinking: You’ve been sending thank you notes since your sixth birthday party.

But the thank you note you send after even the most successful interview is unlike any other you’ve sent before, and if you do it wrong, it could be what costs you the job. The first mistake you can make is not sending a thank you note at all, but if you make some of these other errors, you may end up wishing it got lost in the mail.

Sending it too late, doing it via email, being overly generic, being inappropriate, and talking only about the job and yourself could put not only your thank you note in the trash, but your resume too. Here are the five biggest mistakes you can make with a thank you.

  1. Emailing Your Thank You Note

Think about the number of emails your potential employer has to weed through on a daily basis. Chances are, there could be hundreds, and half of them are probably skimmed as closely as your college textbooks used to be. A card sent via snail mail shows true sentiment and effort. Everyone loves getting an old-fashioned letter, right?

  1. Sending Too Late After the Interview

Waiting until the interviewer has either a) forgotten about you or b) become interested in hiring someone else is the wrong way to try to get yourself hired. Since I already suggested sending snail mail (a nickname that doesn’t scream timeliness), a good way to make sure your sparkling hire-me-now letter arrives on time is to send it the day of the interview. This will help with remembering everything you connected on during the interview and personalizing it to a tee. k

  1. Having One Generic Thank You Note for Every Occasion

Similar to cover letters and resumes, a thank you note should be carefully crafted to fit the specific job and person. Having one letter where you change the names in it is an easy way to sound dull and leaves a lot of room for making mistakes. If you need inspiration for unique letters, check out some sample thank yous, but remember to customize each one and let your personality shine through!

  1. Talking Only about the Job and Yourself

In the interview, you had your chance to shine, brag and beyond. In a thank you note, you should be doing exactly that — thanking them. Don’t waste a stamp just to talk yourself up some more. Leave the employer feeling so appreciated and complimented they want to read your note again and again.

  1. Seeming Too Comfortable

Of course you want all of your charm to shine right off the paper the second it’s pulled out of the envelope, but you don’t want to risk sounding too informal. Choose your words carefully, because there are some things you should never say in your thank you note. And definitely avoid being sarcastic or over-confident – you haven’t gotten the job yet.

Once you’ve sent the perfect thank you note, the employer will have no choice but to hire you! Now all you’ll have to worry about is what to wear on your first day of work …


****For this great post, we thank Sarah Landrum!!****

Sarah LandrumAbout Sarah: Sarah Landrum is a recent Penn State graduate, writer, and founder of Punched Clocks. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and career development, to health and fitness, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum

Finding the Right Career for Your Personality [INFOGRAPHIC]

5 02 2015

Have you ever wondered why you are attracted to certain jobs? Ever thought about how happy you would be as an architect? Or how bored you would be as a software engineer? Your personality type could have everything to do with your preferences.

Understanding your personality type could be a key factor in finding the career that makes you happy. This infographic, compiled by Truity Psychometrics, a provider of online personality and career assessments, as well as the developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment, details the four dimensions of personality type and suggests ideal jobs for each type.

Some key points include:

  • 51% of people are introverts who prefer working independently and in calm, quiet spaces.
  • 73% of people are sensors who like working with concrete things like people, data and machines.
  • 54% of people are judgers who focus on organization and crave a structured, orderly workplace.
  • 60% of people are feelers who want work that reflects their values and  gives them an opportunity to help others.

Check out the full infographic below, to find out more about what types of positions make each personality type happy.

How does your personality affect your current position? What types of positions fit your personality best? Let us know in the comments below!


Avoid These Entry-Level Salary Negotiation Mistakes

3 02 2015

salary negotiation 1

Entry level positions are seldom open for negotiations. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you can’t at least try to land a better deal. The whole process can be nerve-wracking, and that’s because rookie negotiators don’t bargain, and they often end up accepting whatever offer the hiring manager makes. In the US, money is a taboo subject; when it comes to negotiating a job offer, entry-level candidates don’t have the courage to ask for more. They don’t even ask if there’s room for negotiations because they don’t want to offend or seem greedy. Here are some guidelines to help you avoid negotiation mistakes when bargaining for an entry-level position.

Don’t let hiring managers “read” your anxiety

It’s ok to be nervous when attending a job interview. If this is your first interview ever, then you’re allowed to freak out a bit. But don’t let the hiring manager notice you’re about to have a heart attack. Take deep breaths; talk less if your voice is trembling and stay focused on facts. Be brief when it’s time to answer questions, and don’t hesitate to ask for clearance if you have doubts.

Everything’s negotiable

Most entry-level positions have fixed salaries. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t try to negotiate either way. Do it the smart way, though. First of all, be ready to answer a question – why should you get more when you’ve got zero work experience? Use your head to come up with a straightforward answer. Talk about your passion for the job, your determination and enthusiasm to do whatever you can to help the company thrive. Make your words count and the hiring manager might just want to listen more of what you have to say.

Bad timing

Salary negotiations are tricky, especially for entry-level candidates. You can’t just walk into the office of a hiring manager and start making demands. Considering that you don’t have a rich resume, you must find other ways to persuade them and convince them that you deserve more. Nowadays, many companies look for motivated employees; even if they don’t have past experience, their drive and willingness to learn can make them great assets for the company.

Approach negotiations with fortitude and showcase a professional attitude. Don’t allow anyone to intimidate you in any way, and be ready to answer a few questions in the briefest and clearest way possible. Hiring managers appreciate candidates who are concise, articulate and fluent in their speech. This shows that they have great potential and that their rugged talents can be honed and turned into priceless skills.

Lack of preparation

Many job seekers enter interviews totally unprepared. They know nothing about the hiring company and they have no idea how much money an entry-level position pays. How can you negotiate better financial incentives if you’re not familiar with the company’s goals, mission and vision? Access salary-related websites to get a general idea about average salaries paid for the position you’re applying for; ask about bonuses based on performance, tuition reimbursement, and non-financial incentives. Engage in a conversation with the hiring manager and talk about what you can do to help the company thrive.

Know how to handle questions

This is probably one of the biggest mistakes candidates make when entering job interviews. It’s natural for hiring managers to ask about financial expectations, but they want to hear an amount and not receive blunt answers like “Well, I’m not sure” or “Whatever suits you”. This is not a very smart way of dealing with salary negotiations. Even if you’re bargaining for an entry level position, you still need to lay out clear facts. Recent graduates fail to land a job because they don’t exude motivation and commitment. How can you expect a company to hire you if you can’t give straight answers to the simplest questions?

Entry-level salaries can be negotiated, provided that you can market yourself. Since they don’t have prior work experience, candidates must persuade hiring managers that they should invest in their potential. Don’t let your nerves get the best of you and maintain a calm, relaxed attitude throughout the interview. This will show that you’ve got great potential, and that you’re not afraid to speak up and stand by your allegations.

****Campus to Career thanks Christopher Austin and for this great post!!****

How to Find a Job in 7 Days

22 01 2015


Let’s face it – life happens. Sometimes, we need to find a job FAST so we can keep the heat on during these cold winters. This week’s post highlights a few ways you can kick-start the job search and potentially land a job by the end of the week. NOTE: It’s a lot of hard work, but you knew that already, didn’t you? 

If you need to find a job quickly, you should ideally consider positions that need to be filled fast. Getting a job within a short period is possible when you have the right attitude. In order for you to get a job in 7 days, you need to begin by letting people know that you are looking for a job.

Tell your story. Give explanations regarding what kind of job you are looking for along with your qualifications. Create a marketable description of yourself that will quickly sell you. You can modify this description in accordance with the position you are targeting. This will also prepare you for questions and the answers that you need to give.

Make your list. The next step is to identify the companies that you want to work for. Create a list of possible employers. This should include a few that have not posted vacancies. Find job postings through various resources such as websites.

Do your homework. After establishing who you want to work for, you need to find out more about the companies. This will require you to carry out research into their backgrounds, the services or products they provide and the type of people they hire. Get in touch with people who are in your network of contacts.

Work your network. Focus on people who have links to the employers that you are interested in. If you are looking for a full time job, your contacts will be able to provide you with leads. Your contacts can also help you find out if you need to provide any additional information in your resume on how to improve your chances of getting employment. Let your career based contacts know that you are available.

Reach out and connect. Get in touch with prospective employers and use the professional description you created to sell yourself. You will usually receive a very short amount of time to express yourself. Every second counts and you need to be well prepared for the opportunity. Speak with enthusiasm and deliver your brief presentation confidently.

Tailor and apply. You also need to send out applications for various jobs and structure your resumes to fit the needs of different employers. Find out how to create an effective resume through a site like ValidateJOB. Create different resumes that you will customize for each application.

Spread the love. Apply generously. Even if the job is a bit of a stretch, consider applying. Those outside your comfort zone could potentially help you grow even more as a professional. With your positive approach and eagerness to learn, you may not only get the desired job but also discover the best of you. If there is a company you are interested in but no vacancy has been advertised, you can make a bold step by sending an introductory letter. It should be brief and to the point while expressing your interest in working for the company.

Follow up. As the week draws to a close, get in touch with every company that you sent a job application to.  Always have your phone close to you when you are looking for a job so that you do not miss out on any opportunity. You never know when it might ring!

Any other tips? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment below!

****For this post, Campus to Career thanks Jenny Richards!!****


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