5 Things to Do on Your First Day at Work

26 04 2016

For most of us, navigating the work environment on our first day at the job is much like riding a roller-coaster. The excitement of meeting your new colleagues and getting familiar with on-site duties blends with the anxiety of making a good first impression.

Learning the ropes may take a while. As such, getting a good head start makes all the difference. On top of all the effort you’ve put into landing that much-desired position, there’s still a lot more prepping and planning that needs to be done in order to secure your spot in the company and make sure you will be there for the long term.

Here are the top five things to do in your first day at work to make sure you’re in it for the long haul.

first day on the job

1.      Go in Ready to Learn the Culture of the Company

The first day at work may be tantalizing if you go in unprepared. Take the time beforehand to prepare relevant questions for your future colleagues, even if you know the standard answers to some of them. Letting the day pass by quietly will shine an unfavorable light upon you. Asking relevant questions to the people you meet is the first clue that you’re a proactive person, eager to learn.

As the first few weeks on the job are really just an extension of the interview, use them wisely. Use the first day to kick start a self-centered campaign during which everything you do is intended to let the qualities you were hired for in the first place show.

2.      Prepare the ‘Elevator Pitch’

People are curious. As you are the new face around, some of your colleagues will ask about you and your role in the company. Be prepared to answer such questions without hesitation. They’re meant to genuinely find out more about you, your role and start up a conversation.

Just in case you were not aware, this particular phase takes a bit of preparation, as well. Let’s say you’ve just landed an awesome position as a product developer at Target. On top of all the research you’ve already done about the job itself and what the application process entails, you’re going to want to explore the relationship dynamics within the company and how you can fit into that environment as naturally as possible.

One easy way to do that is to simply go on LinkedIn, research people who are already working at Target and try to start up a friendly conversation with them. This will give you a bit of insight on the types of people that are already working there and even give you the opportunity to make a few friends before the actual starting date.

If your new colleagues seem too busy to welcome you, don’t shy away from introducing yourself. Talk to everyone you meet. Eventually, it will pay off.

3.      Relax and Smile

Your first day at work will be a breeze to navigate if you’re relaxed and friendly. People appreciate an open person with a relaxed yet professional attitude. Everyone has been on their first day at work at some point. As such, nobody’s out to get you.

The stress caused by trying too hard can only get in your way. Keep in mind that the first impression matters yet that you have already passed the interview and you’re there for a reason. Let the process naturally unfold one step at a time. Once you learn the ropes of the work environment, you’ll have more chances to shine.

4.      Observe, Listen and Learn

Despite feeling the urgent need to affirm yourself immediately, the wisest option is to observe, listen and learn. Refrain from stating strong opinions about one topic or another. Instead, listen to what your colleagues have to say and learn why.

A wealth of valuable information is readily available directly from the people you meet during the first day at the job. Thus, this is the perfect opportunity to get a better grasp of the big picture, learn about decision making in the company and how ‘political capital’ is built along with relations with people who may become your best friends.

5.      Figure out the Unwritten Rules of the Office Environment

This isn’t a joke. No matter how professional the environment your work in, there are habits and small things that make people go irrationally mad. If there is a kitchen, ask about the Dos and Don’ts related to this common space. Some are annoyed by the improper use of the fridge. Some have their personal corners where their coffee mug reigns undisturbed. Whatever it is, you need to figure out the unwritten rules starting day one. It will make your life easier.

All in all, the first day at work should encompass a balanced approach to letting others in on your personality and role in the company and learning to navigate the work culture and environment as soon as possible.

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****For this helpful post, Campus to Career thanks Thea Millard!!****

Thea MillardAbout the author: Thea Millard is an HR Manager and a part-time consultant, dedicated to helping people find satisfying careers and incorporating the best resources possible for maximum work efficiency



How Women are Finding Success in Nontraditional Occupations [INFOGRAPHIC]

19 04 2016

Guest post by Kathy Jackson.

If you’re a woman looking for a well-paying career with great opportunities for advancement, then you might want to consider searching beyond the traditional roles that women usually take in childcare, administration, and accounting. This infographic Tulsa Welding School developed highlights five careers in the skilled trades that have a lot to offer the modern workingwoman. Check them out to see if one may just be right for you.

1. HVAC Technician

Demand for these professionals is expected to grow by 14 percent through 2024, which is much faster than average. The mean annual wage for an HVAC technician is $46,880, and this field has plenty of room for advancement: you could climb the career ladder to become a distribution manager or operation manager.

2. Electrician

With job growth also set at 14 percent through 2024, becoming an electrician could not only provide job security but also great pay; electricians enjoy an average annual salary of $54,520, but there are many opportunities for career growth. It’s possible to pursue additional education in order to move up to project management or engineering.

3. Welder

With over half of U.S. products requiring a welder to manufacture and a predicted shortage of 400,000 of these professionals by 2024, welders will likely be in high demand for some time. Welders are able to work in a variety of locations and for a lot of different companies. Many even get to travel regularly for their jobs.

4. Pipefitter

Only 1.6 percent of all pipefitters are women, but this skillset is in high demand: jobs for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are expected to grow 12 percent through 2024—faster than the national average. That means that there are a lot of opportunities for qualified men and women to find jobs in this field.

5. Construction Business Owner

If you want to start your own construction business, you’ll be happy to know that 17.5 percent of people working in the construction industry are self-employed. The federal government has implemented legislation to ensure female-owned construction companies are entitled to bid on projects, and the number of such companies has been steadily rising in recent years.

The skilled trades offer some impressive career opportunities for women. Review the infographic below to learn more.



Career Advice from a Groundhog

2 02 2016

Each year, Americans celebrate Groundhog Day on February 2.  That’s right.  For the past 129 years, we’ve had a day celebrating a rodent.  Punxsutawney Phil is a legend.  He has his own website and Twitter feed.  They even made a movie about it starring Bill Murray alongside the furry fella.  Every February 2, people from all over the country wait to see if he sees his shadow.  You see, Phil is something of a amateur weatherman…some may even call him a prophet.  If he sees his shadow, legend has it that there will be six more weeks of winter.  If he doesn’t see his shadow, we’ll have an early spring.  As fun as it sounds, we all know that the first day of spring is March 20 or 21 depending on the year and it’s almost EXACTLY six weeks from February 2.  Shh…don’t tell Phil.

The reason I started this article with the Groundhog Day history is that February 2 is also National Job Shadowing Day.  Championed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and many other organizations, National Job Shadowing Day provides job seekers and youth a unique look into different industries and careers within those industries.  It’s a great way to learn from others in the role, gain perspective from their experience, and get a true feel for that particular job, company and industry without the pressures of an actual interview.

Please note: While it’s not an actual interview, I would highly recommend you being just as professional as if it were!  You never know where this experience could take you.

In the job search, shadowing can be very beneficial.  Even if you’re gainfully employed, it’s a great way to learn more about what makes the company work.  I’d like to cover both sides: Job seekers and employers.  Below are two key points for each.  It’s not an all-inclusive list, so if you have other suggestions, please include them in the comment section.

Job Seekers

Spend “A Day In the Life”. Job shadowing is a perfect way to spend a day in the life of someone, learning from their experiences and truly stepping into their shoes.  Ask someone in a position you’re interested in to spend a day or half-day with them.  If they consent to the full day, ask for the experience to be as authentic as possible.  If that means your day begins at 4:00AM in a distribution center, then go with it.  It’s really the best way to get a feel for the opportunity while not actually working for that company or officially interviewing.

Make the connection. Get the person’s contact information and ask if you can stay in touch with them throughout your job search and beyond.  Don’t just view job shadowing as a one-way street.  Believe it or not, the person you’re shadowing is probably learning just as much as you are!  Offer your perspective and insight on processes and business practices.  Ask a lot of thought-out questions.  Do your research, though.  Don’t ask questions like “what does your company do”.  Instead, ask questions like “how do you market a certain product” or “what do you like most/least about your job”.  People love to talk about themselves!  Asking the right questions will help you gain insightful perspective into the industry, company and position.


Prepare & Participate. I would highly encourage businesses large and small to participate in the job shadow opportunities available.  It’s a great way to showcase your company, your knowledge, and your culture.  But don’t just jump in without a little preparation.  I’m not saying that you should create a canned speech about Company XYZ, but it’s good to have some consistency across the board.  Have a plan.   During the job shadowing, walk the person through the industry, your company, and your job specifically.  Give them the real “play by play”, but don’t bog everyone down with the mundane details.  We don’t need a minute-by-minute breakdown of what you do, but rather need a high-level overview.  Think of the opportunity as a one day internship.

Educate, Inform, and Involve. This goes hand in hand with the previous point of prepare and participate.  Job shadowing should be about three things: Education, Information, and Involvement.  Keep the experience interactive, providing a good education about the opportunity, information about your company and the culture, and involve the person job shadowing in the process.  This isn’t a lecture – it’s a conversation.  Have questions of your own.  Know what you want to achieve.  Is it about Branding?  Networking or mentorship?  Recruiting?  Know what you want to get from the process and be prepared to give at least just as much.

Now, I know you’re thinking, “Kirk, Groundhog Day falls on a Saturday this year.”  National Job Shadow Day shouldn’t be the only day you participate.  It’s a year round activity!  Get on the phone, reach out via email, Skype, etc. and ask if you can spend some time with a local employer for a job shadowing opportunity.  If you can’t get in on February 2, consider the entire month of February as Job Shadowing Month.  The key is actually reaching out and asking.  Many companies don’t have a formal job shadowing program, but  if you ask, they may be willing to accommodate you in some capacity.

My last thought before leaving you to the rest of your week:  Don’t let conformity stop you.  Just because this hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  Just ask.  The worst answer you’ll get is “no”.  If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.  Also, don’t let this begin and end in February.  Job shadowing is relevant every day of the year!

Don’t be like Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day. When the alarm goes off, get up, get ready and get after it!

What are your thoughts?  Have you tried job shadowing before?  Employers: do you have something set up to address the opportunity for job seekers and current employees?  Please let me know!  Leave a comment below.

As always, thanks for reading.  And as I would imagine Punxsutawney Phil would say, “BE the shadow!”

This post was originally written in 2011, but it’s still relevant. I’ve taken the liberty to dust it off, update it, and share with you again this year.  Happy Groundhog Day!

6 Ways to Promote Yourself Without Bumbling, Bragging, or Being a Jerk

8 10 2015


Google “self-promotion” and up come the haters.

In a flash, you’ll see countless negative articles. From “Why Self-Promotion Is a Terrible Idea” to “The Braggart’s Dilemma” to “Please Shut Up,” there’s no shortage of spewing.

Here’s the problem: In today’s intensely competitive, hyper-social work world, self-promotion is no longer just a professional responsibility. It’s a career survival skill.

Employers must know your real value. Otherwise you’ll find yourself on the losing end professionally. You won’t get the job, the raise, the promotion, the respect and recognition you deserve.

Your career success depends on your ability to promote yourself correctly. Yet many people have a blatant inability to properly express their value to higher-ups and hiring managers.

Here are six ways to do self-promotion right.

  1. Don’t assume that your boss knows exactly what you do.

Whether you work six feet or 6,000 miles away from your boss, it’s unlikely he has more than a general idea about what you do beyond the minimum he expects. He probably has countless other responsibilities than his direct reports, and is increasingly stretched too thin.

And you think he knows exactly what you do? Not a chance. It’s up to you to actively promote yourself.

  1. Embrace the difference between articulating your value and bragging. 

As a kid, you were likely taught that modesty is the best policy. Better to let others discover your greatness on their own.

The problem is, in all probability, they won’t. Besides, when done properly, self-promotion is not bragging. It is informing.

    3. Adopt an accomplishment mindset and narrative.

In any workplace, you’re seen first as a commodity, not a person. Accordingly, you need an inventory of your on-the-job accomplishments—the things that express your commercial value to the business. Be able to roll those things off your tongue anytime, anywhere, to anyone.

  1. Quantify your worth.

You were hired because someone believed that you’d produce more value for the company than you’d cost.

Consider, for instance, a payroll clerk I once worked with. In the first run he ever did at XYZ Company, he cut 6,000 paychecks alone, on time, with zero returns. Think of the cost savings created by an error-free check run of that size.

  1. Source and shape your success stories.

Unless you are just starting out or have a superhuman memory, you’ll need to do some heavy lifting to track down your past accomplishments—end results, problems solved, projects completed on time and on budget, and so forth.

To begin, look at old resumes, business planners, performance reviews, and journals. Then reach out to family, friends, managers, co-workers, customers, etc. To bypass generic responses, you must do this by phone. No email. No exceptions.

  1. Master the three-part accomplishment statement.

Your accomplishments must be crafted into a single three-part statement with a distinct beginning, middle, and end.

You’ll convey what you did, what that resulted in, and the value or net result. For example: “Created a digital filing system that resulted in 300 man hours saved per week, enabling the company to save $6 million annually.”

****For this great post, Campus to Career thanks Rick Gillis!!****

About the author: Rick Gillis is a nationally recognized careers expert and employment coach specializing in trends and technologies in the modern job search. A onetime workplace radio and TV host, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and the author of five books. His new book is Promote! It’s Who Knows What You Know That Makes a Career (CreateSpace). Visit rickgillis.com.

3 Tips for Mastering Your Emotions at Work

8 09 2015


When you master your emotions at work it does not mean you will become emotionless. As you build your emotional competencies, you will continue to experience the full spectrum of emotions and learn to express them more effectively.

For many of us, managing our emotions is not easy, particularly when they are elevated. The good news is that emotional intelligence is an intelligence that can be improved so here are five tools you can use to self-regulate when tensions are high.

  1. Consider the Consequences of Your Actions

Consequential thinking is the process of considering possible outcomes when you are making a decision while experiencing pronounced emotion. In order to use consequential thinking, you need critical thinking, empathy, and visualization skills. When you learn to use consequential thinking in the heat of an emotional situation, you are able to consider multiple outcomes and determine which decision makes the most sense for your well-being and the well-being of your co-workers.

When considering circumstances consequentially, I have to acknowledge there are times when we react inappropriately after considering an appropriate response and its consequences. When this happens, our emotions are so elevated our state of mind caused us to misread important facts and make decisions that are not optimal. In a circumstance like this, it is best to take the time to cool off and the revisit the decision. Chances are, your perspective will change after a cooling-off period.

  1. Reframe Difficult Situations

Most of us don’t have the luxury of expressing our emotions whenever we want so we need tools that can be used in the moment. One of the more powerful tools for self-management is reframing.

A co-worker once shared a quote by Will Bowen, author of “Complaint free Relationships; How to Positively Transform your Personal, Work, and Love Relationships.” with me. It was simply this, “Hurt people hurt people3.” This is because if they are not equipped with emotional intelligence skills, they unconsciously project what they are feeling inwardly toward the people in their environments and leave a trail of emotional demolition. This statement is a powerful reframing tool you can use if you are experiencing difficult persons at work.  It just isn’t personal; they are acting out their own hurt.

You can reframe a situation by learning to identify the silver lining. If you are in an emotional state that does not allow you to perceive the opportunities in a situation, invite the input of a relative or friend who is not contaminated by your emotions. Your goal is to engage an external voice of reason until you can do this for yourself.

  1. Set Clear Boundaries

Setting boundaries is a three-step process. The first step is to identify the areas of your work and life that require boundaries. Your life is included because sometimes undefined boundaries at home impact your work. Secondly, once you identify these opportunities for boundaries, decide what the boundary will be and what you are prepared to do to maintain it.

Thirdly, always remember that setting boundaries is about continuously reinforcing those limits. When setting your boundaries, remember, setting boundaries does not necessarily exclude persons; it helps them to understand how you prefer them to interact with you.

These three tips are designed to heighten your self-awareness and develop self-management skills so you can engage difficult situations masterfully.  Mastering your emotions means you are not only aware of yourself, you are also aware of those you work with and you know what to do to shift your response to contribute to healthy work conditions.

Photo credit: Alejandro Escamilla

****Campus to Career thanks Yvette Bethel for this great post!!****

image002EQLib-BookCover-HiRezsmallAbout the author: Yvette is an HR and change consultant, emotional intelligence practitioner, trainer, and author of the book EQ. Librium: Unleash the Power of Your Emotional Intelligence; A Proven Path to Career Success. She is a Fulbright Scholar with over 25 years of experience. During her tenure in the banking industry, she served in senior capacities in corporate strategy, marketing, PR, training, and human resources. Yvette Bethel can be reached at http://www.orgsoul.com/. Her book E.Q. Librium: Unleash the Power of Your Emotional Intelligence; A Proven Path to Career Success is also available at Amazon and other retailers.

5 Things Recruiters Want to See on Your Resume

11 08 2015


Today’s tight job market presents job-seekers with a barrage of fluffy blog posts promising “secret” information recruiters “don’t want you to know.” With titles like “This one weird trick will get you hired IMMEDIATELY,” the implication is that the only thing separating your resume from those of the job-seeking illuminati is one crucial piece of information.

The truth, of course, is that there is no special trick. There’s no certain font or magic one-liner that will get you hired. What matters most is whether or not an employer can look at your resume, quickly extract the information they need and follow up accordingly.

When you know what recruiters really want to see, and why, then you’re on the path to getting hired. So, close out all your other tabs and listen up – these are the five things recruiters want to see on your resume:

  1. Continuity

Nobody likes a flake. While opinions may differ on what qualifies a flake – some say frequent job-hopping is bad, while others say it speaks to strong work ethic – all will agree that a flake is a person to be avoided. Employers want someone who is capable of handling the work: someone who will show up, do what’s necessary and not bail or change tracks until it’s done.

Recruiters scanning resumes, then, look for a sense of continuity. It doesn’t matter necessarily which positions you’ve held, how long you held them or why you left. What matters is that all of the things on your resume work together and convey a sense of steadfastness and dependability. Your resume needs to answer the invisible questions hovering above the recruiter’s head:

  • Are you a hard-worker?
  • Can you get things done?
  • Are you the right choice for this job?

The best way to maintain a sense of continuity is to establish a strong, clear …

  1. Career Narrative

Where did you start? Where are you now? What happened in between? Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end, and recruiters scanning your resume are looking for the same.

  • I started at X.
  • I learned Y.
  • By the time I left, I’d done Z.

Your resume shouldn’t merely be a list of skills and gigs; it should present the reader with a picture of the exciting road that is your career, portraying each entry as a stop along that road, and you as the wandering hero.

Recruiters want to know what challenges you’ve faced, what dragons you’ve slain, how you’ve grown and what you’ve learned. Most importantly, they want to know why this job is the ultimate destination of all your relentless questing, and why they should throw the doors open to welcome you.

  1. An Ongoing Commitment to Personal Growth

Nobody’s perfect, and being introspective enough to recognize your own weaknesses is, paradoxically, a strength. That’s not to say you should fill your resume with things you can’t do or things you aren’t good at – but you should strive to include credible evidence that shows you make a conscious effort to get better, all the time.

It’s up to you to determine what will prove a commitment to growth in the context of your specific field. For some, it may be attending local workshops on your own time. For others, it may be taking on extracurricular projects at work. If you’re in a highly research-driven field like medicine or law, you could probably benefit from a resume which highlights participation in a formal continuing education program.

  1. References, Awards and Recognition

Fundamentally, we are all hard-wired to resist taking risks. It’s an evolutionary trait stemming from billions of years of battling natural selection, which tends to take a firm hand with dumb animals who make a habit of eating weird fruit.

As a result, before you go to see a movie, you look up the Rotten Tomatoes score first. Before you buy a dishwasher, you read Amazon reviews. Before you meet up with an OkCupid date, you camp out in their backyard and watch them from the bushes Google them.

Likewise, recruiters look to external recognition when vetting candidates, because like you, they’re lazy and risk-averse. They don’t want to take a chance on you. They don’t want to give you a shot or take your word for it. To a recruiter, you’re just another weird fruit: You might sustain them, or you might kill them. When scanning your resume, a recruiter wants to feel safe and certain. They want to see that someone else – a former boss, a contest judge, the dean of your college – has already taken the plunge, eaten the weird fruit and can independently verify its awesomeness.

  1. What They Get from Hiring You, Specifically

Tired phrases like “hard worker” and “fast learner” are “a dime a dozen.” They’re squishy and impossible to quantify. They’re just words; even worse, they’re clichés. They hold no meaning, and they don’t set you apart.

So what does set you apart? What makes you not merely qualified for this job, but more qualified than everyone else who’s applying? What puts you in the top 1 percent? Why are you unique? Why are you special? Why are you awesome?

Figure that out, then put it on your resume – because in the end, it’s the only thing that really matters.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum

Standing Out (In a Good Way)

1 07 2015

It’s a tough world out there. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, for every job opening in 2009, there were 6.2 people unemployed. Today, that statistic has gotten better and is now 1.6 unemployed per job (5.4 million openings in April 2015.) Companies are seeking future leaders to take their organizations into the next era vs. hiring “butts in seats.” What does this mean? It means the competition is still fierce and you’ve got to have what it takes to land the job and succeed. Here are a few ways you can set yourself apart from the competition, laying the foundation for future success:

20150630_093135Have a plan

“If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” I’ve used my mother’s quote many times before and it still rings true. Plan for success, learning from your setbacks and failures.


Things to include on your plan’s checklist:

Share your plan

Prefer to do things on your own? That’s okay. There are advantages to being the lone wolf like being more aggressive or having more strength , but remember that once a wolf is driven from the pack, they may never rejoin a group again. Yes, they survive, but just barely and on much smaller food rations. Where am I going with this?? Share your success plan with your mentor, your teammates and your boss/potential boss. Get their input, adjust where needed and keep them updated throughout the process. Why?? Keeping your head down and working hard might not get you noticed. Don’t be a jerk about it, but toot your own horn now and then!

Follow through

You have the plan – follow it. Do what you say you’ll do. It’s that simple. 

Have a sense of humor and SMILE

We get it. Work is work and sometimes, it’s not fun at all. But that doesn’t mean you have to have a miserable attitude, bringing everyone else down with you. See the positive side of things and smile – to yourself and to others. I’m finding myself smiling right now as I type this post. No one likes a grouch!

Be patient, tenacious but kind

Things take time. Whether it’s waiting on a response from an interviewer or an email from your boss regarding a big project you just submitted, realize that what seems like a lifetime of waiting for you may only seem like seconds to the other party. Don’t give up, though. Be tenacious but kind. Follow up when and where appropriate so you receive the response or input you need. I recently worked with a student who had his heart set on a particular internship with a top company. He did everything right – applied online, submitted his resume, followed up with a personalized thank-you note, reached out via LinkedIn and heard absolutely NOTHING from the recruiter despite every attempt to make contact. He didn’t get that job, but he didn’t give up. Another recruiter from another company remembered him (from his onsite impression and follow up) and offered him an even better internship for the summer.  Don’t get so focused on what’s in front of you that you fail to see the bigger picture.

What did I miss? If you recently landed a job, how did you set yourself apart from the competition in a positive way?

I’d like to leave you with one last resource. An unofficial mentor of mine wrote this fantastic piece for LinkedIn: Work Hard, Be Kind. Check it out.

As always, thanks for reading.