Time for a Reality Check

26 02 2013

Hey job seekers, the real world called.  It would like you to join it any time now.  Did I catch you off guard?  Good.  Here’s the thing – I’m seeing a trend with job seekers and it isn’t a good one.  The job market is more competitive than EVER, yet there are two things that I commonly see with job seekers that really holds them back.  The two things that seem to be limiting people are things that really shouldn’t be doing so.  Why shouldn’t they?  Well, I think that they both come with good common sense.  It’s not rocket science. In fact, I’d imagine that if you wanted to be a rocket scientist, these two things would come into play almost immediately.

reality checkOkay, I’ll stop eluding the true subject of this post.  The two trends I’m seeing with job seekers that really worries me are the lack of attention to deadlines and the sense of entitlement that is plaguing our society.  By the way, this isn’t an issue limited to job seekers, so please keep that in mind.  Oh, and if you’re thinking I’m targeting Gen Y or Millennials, you’re wrong.  This applies to everyone.

Deadlines.  We all have them.  They matter.  Throughout your life, you’ll be given many deadlines.  It might be a deadline at work that concerns a particular project that needs to be completed.  People depend on you to get the job done by a certain time.  Don’t let them down.  Scholarship entries and job postings have deadlines.  If you wait until the last minute, there’s a good chance that something will inevitably go wrong.  Don’t be that person.  Make sure you’re proactive.  Plan to complete your project ahead of the deadline.  It’s a nice surprise and gives you some room just in case something goes awry.  Personally, I would rather have someone submit a complete project/application/entry to me well in advance of the deadline.  Those that come in at the very last minute are still on time, but why wait?

REAL WORLD INSIGHT: Most deadlines don’t get extended and late entries typically aren’t accepted, no matter how much you plead.   Welcome to the real world.  Bring your A-game. 

Entitlement.  You have to start somewhere.  As someone who works with college students every day, I’m always a bit surprised to experience so much entitlement among college students.  In the US, there’s this sense of “I have a degree, now where’s my awesome job” mentality.  Is it something that only affects Gen Y or the Milennial generation?  I don’t think so.  It has nothing to do with Boomers, X, Y or Z. It’s a matter of maturity.  It’s also a matter of how each individual was raised as a child.  You can’t just give everything away and expect the person receiving not to expect it at some point.  My parents instilled a hard work ethic in me from an early age. I had chores, responsibility and was disciplined if I got out of line.  My parents love me very much and they still want the very best for me and my siblings.  But we weren’t given everything wrapped up in a neat package.  We had to work for it.

I’ve had a lot of jobs in my short life.  Most of them were enjoyable, some were a blast and one was absolutely terrible.  After graduation, I had the expectation that my perfect job would simply be offered to me.  Guess what?!  I was wrong!!  I had to work hard at it, applying to every job I wanted, being interviewed for many and ultimately accepting a job to get my foot in the door.  That job was as an administrative assistant.

Four years of college to answer the phone, manage paperwork and literally start at the bottom of the food chain.  Did I let this get me down?  Heck no!  I used the opportunity to work with my manager on my professional growth plan, set up many job shadow sessions and found a few mentors across divisions.  Best decision ever.  Those experiences taught me that we all have to start somewhere but we write our own destiny.  It isn’t the employer’s responsibility.  It isn’t your parents’ job.  It’s YOUR job.  Stop whining that there aren’t any jobs out there that fit your major.  Quit fantasizing about the one perfect job for you.  Suck it up and get out there.  Face the fact that your perfect job might not come to you right away.  But, if you work hard at it and keep the end goal in mind, you can get there!

I hope this reality check has been helpful to you.  This post wasn’t meant to belittle or offend anyone.  It is meant to fire you up with some hard facts.   Are you living in the real world?  We’re waiting for you!





5 Reasons New Grads Should Consider Starting Their Own Business

22 02 2013

EntrepreneurFailFeatureGuest post by Charles Sipe

When you graduate from college, sometimes the first job you land is your butt on your parents’ couch. It’s a tough economy, so many students aren’t securing employment right away following graduation.

They say those who can’t do, teach; well perhaps those that can’t get jobs, make their own jobs.

Here are five reasons why new grads should consider starting a business:

You can gain experience you may lack as a new grad.
The ultimate paradox regarding new graduates looking for employment is that they can’t get hired because they don’t have enough experience, but they don’t have enough experience because they can’t get hired. If you start your own business, you gain skills you otherwise wouldn’t have.

It creates opportunities for contract work for companies not looking to hire a full-time employee.
Having your own business will look good to many companies, especially those who aren’t necessarily looking for full-time employees, because your independent venture shows that you are able to work on your own. This is ideal for contract work. Plus, while your business may take up a lot of your time, the freedom of the “job” allows you enough room in your schedule to take on other projects if need be.

Your company’s achievements can strengthen your resume.
According to US News: Money, one in three employers is looking for college grads with some kind of entrepreneurial experience – meaning students who launch their own side businesses have a leg up on other applicants.

Your business may grow and you may no longer need a job.
Ketan Rahangdale is the CEO of EarTop, a company that specializes in high-quality wireless audio products. The kicker: He’s 19 years old and a sophomore at the University of Miami. When he graduates, he already has a ton of experience, connections, and – most importantly – a job.

It encourages you to build your own network.
As mentioned in No. 4, Rahangdale will have a ton of connections when he graduates – and even before he graduates. Starting your own business forces you to be more aggressive and to make your own connections because otherwise your business won’t survive. When it comes to having your own startup, the stakes are higher because it’s all on you, which means sometimes you’re more willing to put yourself out there.

While these strategies are aimed at recent college graduates, the good news is that these ideas apply to “students” of any age. If you have an idea or venture you’d like to launch to gain skills and money, there’s no wrong time to start. However, startups are especially ideal for the fresh college grad with a resume that doesn’t fit half a page. Launching your own business can help fill that other half.

About the author: Charles Sipe writes for Paralegal411.org, a career resource that provides information for individuals interested in starting a career in the paralegal field.





4 Tips for Starting a Business in College

19 02 2013

300-4-starting-a-businessGuest post by Sani Golriz

Traditionally, your college years are a time for the study and personal growth that will make you an ideal candidate for a successful career after you graduate. You may work a little to help pay the bills, but you won’t be expected to do more than deliver pizzas, serve coffee or take part in a summer internship to fulfill your role as a productive citizen.

However, some of us prefer to shoot for the stars. Michael Dell and Bill Gates are just two such people who decided that a dorm room was the perfect place for a global business empire to be born, and things seem to have worked out just fine for them.

When you think about it, they may be right. In college you’re free from most of the obligations of adulthood. You (hopefully) don’t have kids to provide for, a mortgage to pay or an hour-long commute to work.

Your financial obligations may be met by your parents, and you may have no greater money worries than the need to buy a box of ramen noodles to last the month. You’ll never again be in the position to devote yourself so entirely to a business venture, so this may be the best time to see if you have what it takes to run a successful business.

Here are just a few tips to help your new college business thrive.

Find a market 

First, it’s important to understand that your business doesn’t need to change the world on day one. You don’t need to come up with an original product or service, but you do need one that’s better, cheaper or more convenient than any of your competitors.

As a college student you’re connected to a ready-made customer base in your student body, so you might want to begin by thinking about how you can capitalize on that.

What do your fellow students need? You could try something as simple as a grocery delivery service, IT assistance or a management service for local bands.

You should have the connections to provide these services better than anyone else, with the additional advantage of word of mouth advertising that your competitors will lack.

Take Advantage of Cheap Labor

Most college students could use a little extra money, and if your business requires additional staff you shouldn’t have to look beyond the campus to find willing volunteers. Your friends and classmates can offer a cheap and easy labor market in exchange for pay that needn’t be any higher than minimum wage.

Manage your time

It’s also important to consider your priorities. A successful college business is one that can succeed around your study obligations. After all, if your business prevents you from earning your degree you may as well simply drop out and save yourself the tuition fees. You need to prioritize your time and ensure that your business doesn’t prevent you from attending classes, turning in papers on time, and studying for finals.

As such, any successful college business should be time-flexible. You should be able to work on your business in your spare time, and you shouldn’t need to skip class to make it work.

Use Your Faculty

Finally, by starting a business as an undergrad student you’ll have access to the knowledge base of the entire university at your disposal, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it. If your college includes a business school you should ask the faculty for help with everything from your tax obligations to marketing, drawing on the years of combined knowledge and experience in business many lecturers will boast.

Have you started a business while in college? Share your experience with us!

About the Author: Sani Golriz is a community blogger and active staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.





5 Steps to Prepare for a Job Interview

12 02 2013

interview prepMany of you may be racking your brains out wondering how you’ll get through your next interview. You may be trying to figure out ways to make yourself stand out or ways to make you fit into their company. Well here are a few tips on how you can successfully impress your interviewer, rock the interviewer, and potentially land yourself that position you’ve been dreaming about.

Dress to impress. I want you first and foremost to understand that “dress to impress” is not synonymous of “tuxedo” or “tailored suit.” Some companies may be more laid back than you think. Research what their culture is like and dress in a way that will help you fit right into that culture. You don’t want to over-do it, but you never want to be under-dressed either. Always keep it professional.

First impressions. While the first thing they do see is your attire, the second will be your body language. Create a positive first impression because this is something that can last a very long time. Give a firm handshake. Maintain eye contact. Stay composed no matter how nervous you are. Each one of these elements will demonstrate your confidence and this is crucial. Interviewers want individuals who are self-assured. NOT ARROGANT …self-assured.

Interaction matters. An interview is an interaction. You will need to practice your communication skills if it is something you feel you are not good at. If an interviewer asks you a question, do not reply one-word answers. Expand a little on what you have to say. Give a little bit of detail but don’t go overboard. Make sure you have some background knowledge of where you are applying to. This can make up a great deal of the interview and you wouldn’t want to be thrown off by specific questions. Be prepared to communicate about yourself as well as the business.

Brush up on your skills. You may feel that you’re prepared to show off your skills at the interview, but if you haven’t practiced them in a while, you might be mistaken. Train yourself. Exercise them. This way, you will without a doubt be impressive! Try some puzzles and problem solving beforehand. With a little preparation, that next job might just be yours.

Always show interest. Again, I cannot emphasize enough that you must have some background knowledge about the company. Interviewers are impressed by interest. Never hesitate to ask questions. Ask about follow-up procedures. Do not ask questions regarding salaries or benefits because that will only give off the impression that you’re in this for other factors and not because you truly care. Point out how much you’d love to form a part of their team. And when you’re done with the interview, send them an email within 24 hours thanking them. If you were not able to solve a certain problem during the interview, now is the chance to compensate for it. Work on the problem and send them the answer. Showing this much interest will help express how much you really do care about this position.

Utilizing these pointers can very well put you on the right track to impressing your next interviewer. Don’t just sit around waiting for your next interview assuming you can wing it. Try and prepare so that you can rock the interview with flying colors. Good luck to all of you preparing for interviews, you’ll be great!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR. Carolina Otero is an associate at Execu Search. We specialize in Allied Health recruitment  in the New York City Tri-State area and Greater Boston. 





Success & Sacrifice

5 02 2013

Success-Principles

For some people, success seems to come easy, almost overnight.  But for the rest of us, success requires sacrifice.  Am I trying to be a Debbie Downer?  No.  Do I think it’s important to share my story with you?  Yes.  Will you be able to apply some of it to your own quest for success?  I certainly hope so!

They say that Leonardo da Vinci slept only 20 minutes for every 4 hours he was awake.  That provided him with 21 hours each day that he wasn’t sleeping.  Good for productivity?  Perhaps.  He sacrificed the normal 6-7 hours of sleep each night for a more creative rest schedule.  The key here is that he made a sacrifice to succeed.

Now, I’m nothing like da Vinci but I think he was on to something.  I have had to make some similar schedule adjustments.  Here are three sacrifices I’ve learned to make:

GO to bedGo to bed early.  I go to bed every weeknight at 8:00PM.  My wife and I are early risers (she gets up at 4:30am each morning.)  Friday and Saturday night are different, but by Sunday, we’re back in the routine and ready for the work week.  Going to bed early isn’t always fun, but believe me, once you’re in the habit, you’ll wonder how you ever survived with less sleep!  The upside to this is that when you do have to manage with less sleep, your body has some stored energy to help you get through.

 

 

turnitoff

Turn off the TV.  We watch less television now than we ever have thanks to two things: 1.) our DVR is set to record what we want so we can watch on our own time; 2.) my wife and I actually talk about our day when we get home.  It’s nice to have someone support and listen (and it does wonders for your relationship.)  Use the technology and have it work for you, but don’t let it rule you.

 

make timeMake time.  I don’t have time to exercise” is something I hear all too often.  You know what?  We all have 24 hours in the day.  If it’s important to you, then make the time.  Even when I’m traveling and have early meetings starting at 7am, I’m up even earlier at 5am for my run.  Do I ever regret doing this when I’m done?  Heck no.  In fact, exercise focuses me, puts me in a fantastic mood and gets the creative juices flowing.

Also, don’t forget to make time for yourself.  People like to schedule themselves solid during the day.  They forget to eat lunch.  This is not good.  Don’t deprive yourself of the necessary nutrition!  Your brain doesn’t function well when your stomach is empty.  Take the time.  One trick that I’ve learned is to actually block my calendar each day for lunch and some strategic thinking time.  That way, no one can schedule over it and a nice little pop-up reminds you that it’s time to take a break.

Those are just three little things you can do that might make you more successful.  I have found that by making these three adjustments, I’ve been able to think more strategically, focus on what’s most important, collaborate more and have better work/life integration.  I’m sure there are many others and I’m also sure that this isn’t a one size fits-all approach.  Do what makes sense for YOU.

Is there something you’d like to add?  Feel free to leave a comment below.  I look forward to hearing from you and as always, thanks for reading.  Have a great week!





Be a Successful Entrepreneur: Make It a Habit by Making These Habits

1 02 2013

Guest post by Patrick Rosario

French economist Jean-Baptiste Say defined an entrepreneur as a person who “undertakes an enterprise… acting as an intermediary between capital and labor,” but if you’re a true entrepreneur, you probably don’t care one bit about how you’re defined.

Entrepreneurs don’t want academic definitions. They live in the real world, and they want to know the things that matter to the bottom line: what works, what sells, and which techniques will help them to increase their performance. Basically, they are all about doing, and happy to let others suss out the sociological-historical implications.

While no two entrepreneurs are precisely the same, there are many traits and habits that almost all of the most successful ones share. If you want to become successful, you might want to try making these things a habit, too.

do now

Don’t get sidetracked. Entrepreneurs tend to be fantastic at focusing on the big picture and not sweating about the smaller details. While the rest of us are still designing our websites and moving titles around by a few pixels here and a few pixels there, hoping to get them just right, successful entrepreneurs have already gotten their businesses up and running and made their first sale. How? Because they realized that the goal of their company was to make money and used the hours we spent tweaking the site to market themselves.

Outsource. Part of not getting bogged down in minutiae and sidetracked is that the best entrepreneurs will happily admit that there are many people who are better at doing many things than they are. In fact, they will seek out these people and say this to sweet talk them into working with them, often for far less than they might get with a bigger company. Why? Because they buy into the idea the entrepreneur has and the amazing future it could bring if successful. In this way, entrepreneurs are able to ensure that they are getting high-quality work from experienced professionals and allowing themselves to continue to focus on the big picture.

Seek out needs. Most entrepreneurs aren’t inventors. They don’t want to create something just for the sheer joy of doing so or because they believe they are changing the world; they start their businesses because they believe that there are enough people out there in the world who have a hunger for what they are doing and will pay them well for doing it. Essentially, they look at the marketplace and find areas that aren’t being fulfilled, then they find a way to meet those needs.

Keep meetings short. Most entrepreneurs who previously worked in the corporate world will tell you that the biggest way companies waste time and money is by having way too many meetings that last far too long. Sure, it’s great that we can now create these amazing multimedia presentations that put Hollywood blockbusters to shame and connect with 40 people in 30 countries at the same time via video, but who cares? In the true entrepreneurial form of doing instead of talking, meetings should be brisk and to the point so that people can get back to the actual work that keeps the company humming along.

Work the crowd. The best entrepreneurs aren’t lone geniuses with big ideas, they’re the people at parties who are shaking hands, slapping backs, and laughing at bad jokes. And even if they’re not the best at glad-handing, they tend to be vocal and charismatic people that others want to follow. Few people who worked for him would probably call Steve Jobs a nice guy, but most of them would still gladly follow him anywhere because he had a presence that just drew others in.

Skate by. This is one that might chafe some entrepreneurs out there, but hear me out, because it goes back to the idea of outsourcing and finding experts to handle the things that you don’t really know. For an entrepreneur to truly keep their eyes on the prize and do the things that they need to do to make their business a success, they don’t have time to learn how to do the job of every single person who works for them. Instead, they learn just enough about each facet of the company so they can appear competent without wasting their time doing more.

About the Author: Patrick Del Rosario is a Filipino business and finance blogger. He works at Open Colleges, one of the pioneers of Online education in Australia and one of the leading providers of Business courses. Aside from blogging and being a business ninja, Patrick is an aspiring photographer. If you want to feature his writings on your site, connect with him at Google+ or drop a line at patrick@oc.edu.au.