The Lost Art of Follow Up

19 11 2013

“Do what you said you’ll do, when you said you were going to do it.”

follow_upI’ve heard that phrase from many people throughout my life.  Over the past couple of years, I’ve pondered it a bit more as I meet anxious job seekers ready for the workforce.  Now, this doesn’t just apply to job seekers, so let’s get that straight.  This post applies to everyone.

Do what you said you’ll do, when you said you were going to do it.  I’m talking about follow up.  What is one of the BEST ways to differentiate yourself in the job search and in business?  Follow up!  But, it’s a lost art.  Why?  Because people rarely follow through.  The ones that do are often remembered fondly!

Here are a few ways you can set yourself apart with art of follow up:

Get their business card.  This is the first step.  Once you’ve introduced yourself and engaged in conversation, take mental notes about the person.  Do you have a hobby or passion in common?  Remembering small facts from your conversation and referencing them in your follow up makes it personal.  Here’s an example:

Hi Kirk, we met last week at a networking function at the University of ABC business school.  Isn’t it a small world that we were both part of the same amazing fraternity in college?  Thanks for your gift of time – I really appreciate the insight you provided regarding the marketing position at your company.  As directed, I’ve applied online so that I may be considered for the job.  Additionally, my resume is attached for your convenience.  Would you be able to tell me what to expect regarding the interview timeline?  I look forward to hearing from you. Kind regards, – John

Request to connect on LinkedInDon’t forget to personalize your connection request. Let them know when/where you met or how you know them.  Remember that business card?  You can scan it using LinkedIn’s CardMunch app, which will let you automatically connect with the contact and it uploads the information into your address book.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t let you personalize the request, but if you’re doing this in real life, you can simply hand the business card back to them.  After all, it’s a digital world!

Do what you said you’ll do.  Did you notice that John mentioned “as directed, I’ve applied online” in his follow up?  Be sure to do what you say you’re going to do!  It matters.

Follow up, but don’t be a jerk.  Recruiters and hiring managers are busy.  They get tons of applications and resumes each week.  Ask for the follow up timeline (either in person when you first meet them or in your follow up) and then give them the time.  Two weeks passes in a flash for them, but seems like an eternity for you. You’re going to be tempted to send another email, then another…maybe even call them to ask about the status of your application.  Resist this urge.  Give them a little time and a little breathing room.  Be tenacious, but kind in your follow up.  Just don’t be a jerk with a message like this:

Hi. It’s me again. Remember – the guy that applied OVER A MONTH AGO to your job?? I need an answer from you. I know I’m well qualified for the position so what’s the delay?  Please call me back at 555-5555.  Thanks.  

Yeah…you won’t get anywhere with that attitude.

I hope this advice is helpful.  Remember, it’s important to follow up.  How you do so is just as important, so be sure to get it right the first time.  It can really set you apart from the competition in a very positive way.  Even if you don’t get that job, who knows?  They might remember you for an even better opportunity simply because you put in the effort to follow up and follow through.


Degrees Worth Having in 2014 (Even If You Aren’t Sure)

12 11 2013

3 College Degrees Worth Having in 2014 Many American parents strive to have their children attend college, and this is considered the most success-oriented option amongst many teens. However, one consequence of college being popular is that teenagers are forced to decide on something that could potentially affect the rest of their life.

 Where should I go to school?

What degree should I study?  

What job will I end up having?

These are standard questions from an understandably curious and confused teenager that happens to be considering college.

Teens are commonly rushed when making a decision on which degree they should undertake. But what if someone realizes they should have done a different, more specialized degree to get a really specific job they want?  It’s this anxiety that causes a great part of many college attendants to change their major at least once throughout their course of study.

However, a major doesn’t necessarily have to trap you on a one-way road if you’re unsure of where you want to arrive in life. For those on the fence who want to make sure their college years pay off professionally, here are three great majors.

1.    Information Technology degree

This degree tops the charts in 2013. Whether it’s a computer programming or data analysis focus, you will be more marketable in most businesses if you hold an information technology degree. This flexible field of study looks great on the resumes of job seekers who want plenty of options. Furthermore, as businesses and technology progress simultaneously, the need for people trained in this area will only expand.

Information technology can be a much more stimulating career than people assume. Whether it’s studying and facilitating internet activity or helping maintain a business’ infrastructure, there are many avenues for inspiration.

Write it down: Most thriving businesses in 2013 have an IT department. Knowing the functionality and capability of the IT industry is invaluable, regardless of what specific career path you choose.

2.    Business Administration degree

This degree equips students with an understanding of how a general business model operates and succeeds. The innovative part of launching a business requires individual innovation and creativity, but this degree is a nearly mandatory stepping stone for anyone considering a serious business venture. I any case, it’s wise to carry an interdisciplinary education into the future, and a BA is a way to start down that road.

Even if you don’t intend to start a standard business, the knowledge you acquire about finances, human resources, and accounting will come in handy.

Write it down: If you are unsure about what degree to settle on, a business administration degree can be applied to any interest you have in a number of different ways. Whether you’re an entrepreneurial soul looking to start a revolution or just looking for a well-paying nine to five job, this degree can help get you there.

3.    Marketing degree

A marketing degree is a useful gateway to any career path. Regardless of what your interests are, if you want to create cash flow or increase popularity, you will inevitably be tasked with employing marketing strategies. Knowing how to utilize different platforms of communication for the promotion of a product or service is a unique and very useful skill to possess.

If you’re the type of person that thrives on change and endless possibility, this degree is worth a hard look.

Write it down: Marketing is a fancy word for gaining popularity and recognition for something. It’s a nice skill to have in life, regardless of where you choose to focus your energy.

Campus to Career thanks Kate Gredley for the guest post! 

kate-81028About the author: Kate Gredley is an elementary teacher with a background in marketing. She thrives on creativity and helping American youth grow. She currently writes to promote the information technology degree program at Globe University.

5 Simple Communication Tips to Increase Your Assertiveness

5 11 2013

5 Simple Tips to Increase Your Assertiveness  As a recent graduate, you are likely to be entering the job market with little or no direct experience.  Given that so many people are caught in seemingly endless cycle of needing experience to get a job but needing a job to gain experience, it can be quite a relief when someone finally gives you a chance.  But that doesn’t mean that you need to say ‘yes’ to everything or place yourself in a vulnerable position of people taking advantage of you.  In fact, these qualities can be more detrimental to your career than beneficial.

Developing communication skills help in any job but assertiveness skills all too often get bypassed and are frequently mistaken for only being suitable for those entering leadership based positions.  Truth is, without these skills you are likely to be in a position where more work is expected of you for very little pay which could actually stop you from progressing in your career.

Here are 5 simple tips on how to increase your assertiveness and communication skills particularly in the workplace.

1.  Learn to say no

Saying no can be one of the hardest things to say, especially to a new employer who wants you to do something. But, you should go by the philosophy that, it is better not to do a job than to do a bad job of it.  So, if your boss asks you to do something which is outside of your skill set and/or you simply won’t find the time for, you are better explaining that on this occasion it may be better for someone else to take it rather than delivering a poor quality piece of work.

This is not to say that you should have the mentality of only sticking to what is in your job role – although this is important to bear in mind when at work, the reality is that you will probably be working as part of a team and sometimes, that means being flexible with what you do within your role.

The key to success with this is to find the perfect balance and to communicate using diplomacy.

2.  Speak your mind

Honesty really is the best policy – most of the time.  Sometimes, honesty is still needed but the timing of being vocal about it needs to be reconsidered.  Being able to find a way to communicate honestly, no matter how harsh what you think is, is quite an art form and is one that is well worth developing for both in and out of the workplace.

Speaking your mind can be quite daunting – what if people think what I am saying is stupid?  What if I anger someone by being honest?  It can place you in quite a vulnerable position but, if you can find a way of saying it so that you clear and firm but not offensive, you are majority of the way there.

3.  Keep practicing

They say practice makes perfect and they, are absolutely right!  Different situations lean on different communication skills so the only way to develop them is to keep practicing.  This is not to say that you should overthink every time you speak but a heightened awareness and concerted effort will certainly help you make progress.

4.  Body Language

Body language is a huge contributor to communication, so if you do not take it into account when communicating with someone, you miss out on a lot of messages that you do not receive verbally.  By being more aware of body language and how different actions come across, you will ensure the right messages is communicated through yours and also enable you to better read the body language of others; giving you an advantage of sorts.

5.  Watch and Learn

Some of the best ways to handle situations can be learned from other people – you will know what not to do from those who communicate badly and what you should do from those who are effective.  Always keep your ears and eyes open and keep learning!

I once had a manager who fired someone but the person who got fired, left the room with a smile on his face.  Why?  Because the manager told him that he felt he would be fantastic working in another team but perhaps this one is not quite working for him.  An example of how excellent communication skills can be assertive without causing offense or hurt.

Campus to Career thanks Nick Williams for this great post! 

About the author:  This article on assertiveness and communication was put together by Nick Williams. Nick writes a lot around the topics of technology, communication and graphic design. Nick works at Acuity Training who have multiple hands-on assertiveness training courses as well as IT and management programs.