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.

Employers

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!

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Ho-Ho-How to Set Yourself Apart This Holiday Season

9 12 2014

Psst!  Can I tell you a secret?

Ready?  

Employers don’t stop hiring during the winter holiday months.  Use this time to research companies and apply for their fantastic jobs!

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Here are a few tips to help make your internship/full-time job search more successful over the holiday break:

Networking – Holiday parties are a great way to meet people and really connect on a personal level (focus more on personal conversation vs. your elevator pitch.)  Don’t “elf” it up: Click here to read a great article on holiday networking.

Get social – Take this time to update your social media profiles and ask your connections for references.  The more people you’re connected with, the more you’ll be able to get some great career advice and job search assistance.  Is your LinkedIn profile 100% complete??

Schedule it – Keep up with a full-time job search during this time of the year can be chaotic.  Set a specific time of day where you’ll work on your job search as well as set job search goals you want to achieve.  Every day has the SAME amount of seconds, minutes and hours – it’s what you do with them that COUNTS!

Be proactive. APPLY – As winter approaches, the opportunity to apply for internships is coming to an end.  The majority of companies recruit for Summer 2015 internships during Fall 2014.  Don’t wait too long to get your foot in the door!  If you’re looking for full-time employment, don’t wait until you’re a month away from graduation.  Research and apply.  Wouldn’t it be great to walk across the stage to get your diploma knowing that you have a great job waiting for you??

Above all, be sure to enjoy the holidays with friends and family.  They want to support you.  Stop looking at your smartphone and engage in real conversation.  You’ll be glad you did.

Happy holidays from Campus to Career!





4 Things You Can Do to Network With Impact & Results

8 04 2014

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It’s no secret that networking can get you closer to the job of your dreams. You’ve probably heard this countless times from recruiters, mentors, and career sites like Campus to Career. You’ve heard networking is important. You know it’s important. But when you go to a networking event, are you the person who stands around the edge of the room trying to “blend in”.

Networking is about being noticed. It’s about getting your name out there and becoming known to other industry professionals. You have to be bold, and you have to stand out from the crowd. In my experience, even if you’re a reluctant networker, there are 4 things you can do that will make you appear confident, and help you network with impact and results.

1) Arrive early

When you arrive early at a networking event, you give yourself a significant advantage – you can see who enters the room and you can be the first to speak with them. Arriving early means arriving at the designated start time, or within 15 minutes of that. If you arrive late to a networking event, groups have already been formed and the people whom you want to meet are already engaged in conversation. Breaking into a conversation is much more difficult that starting a fresh conversation with somebody who has just entered the room.

2) Create an outfit that gets you noticed

When you walk into the networking event room, it’s your outfit and your body language that others will notice first. Instead of wearing colours that make you blend into the crowd, opt for high-contrast colours and bold styles to help you get noticed. Ladies, add impact to a simple black dress with a contrasting red or white jacket. And don’t forget about your shoes. A pair of striking heels can instantly change your attitude and confidence. Gentlemen, you can enhance a simple white shirt with high-contrast cufflinks in navy or black. Or, choose a white shirt that already has contrasting buttons or colour detail in it.

3) Be bold with your body language

Body language has a major impact on the first impression we make. By simply adopting powerful body language poses at networking events, you can immediately change your impression from meek and insecure to poised and powerful, regardless of how you truly feel inside. Confident body language stems from good posture. Hold your rib cage up and keep your head held high. When you hold your head high you expose your neck, the most vulnerable part of your body, and project to the networking crowd confidence and poise.

4) Use a quality business card case

A quality business card case is probably one of the most underutilised networking tools in Western countries, but will absolutely make you stand out from the crowd. When the other person sees you remove your business card from a proper case, they’ll know that you’re somebody who cares about the smaller details. When they see you put their card in your business card case, it signals that you hold them in high regard. A few moments of respect for a potentially important business contact can have a long-term positive impact on your career.

I invite you to try these tips at your next networking event. By implementing just one of these tips, you’ll be noticed a little more. By implementing all four of these tips, you’ll absolutely have more impact and get more results from that networking event.

****For this great post, Campus to Career thanks Kara Ronin!****

About the author: Kara Ronin is an international business etiquette expert and the author of the eBook, The Ultimate Networking Roadmap: Rise above fear to network with confidence and class. Visit her blog Executive Impressions to claim your free 7 Step Networking Roadmap and get fabulous tips on networking and international business etiquette.





The “Work” of Networking

4 02 2014

Networking.  Ugh.  Did you just get a queasy feeling in your stomach?  I’ve participated in quite a few networking events in my professional life.  You know what I’ve realized?  It’s a LOT of work!

Here are a few tips to help you maximize your next event:

Research the attendees in advance.  If at all possible, obtain a list of the event registrants.  You’ll want to create a target list of critical connections, those that you should “bump” into, and individuals who would be nice to meet, but aren’t crucial to your success.  Keep the list manageable.  A list with 100 people is nearly impossible to maintain.  Focus on the critical few, not the insignificant many.  Look them up on LinkedIn or through a Google search.  You’d be amazed at how much easier it is to find someone when you’ve seen their picture on their LinkedIn profile (don’t forget to send a short, personalized connection request!)

Have a wingman (or woman.)  You can’t do it alone.  Well, I guess you can do whatever you put your mind to, but I’m telling you it won’t be easy without a connection point.  That’s the role of the wingman.  It’s kind of like on How I Met Your Mother when Barney introduce Ted at parties…”haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaavvvve you met Ted?”  Pick a wingman that knows the audience and can help introduce you to connections of interest.  Having someone facilitate an introduction can do wonders.  People won’t think you’re so weird.  Plus, if the person introducing you has credibility (aim for someone that does…) then you inherit a bit of that credibility with the person you’re meeting.  Win-win.  Be sure to thank your wingman.

Utilize traditional and non-traditional connection methods.  LinkedIn is my go-to resource, but not everyone has a profile.  Don’t limit yourself.  Case in point: I made two very important business connections recently at a conference simply because I followed the event’s Twitter hashtag.  They were tweeting the good stuff, so I checked their profile and sent them a short @reply asking if we could meet at the next networking break by the big orange table in the exhibit hall.  Both replied and both showed up!  In this case, social media was very helpful.  Don’t forget about the trusty telephone.  If you pick it up and call the person so that you can secure a meeting time, even better.  Don’t be a pest.  Just be nice and keep the conversation short.  They have their own networking list.

Follow up.  I’m serious…DO IT.  The majority of people never follow up after an initial meeting.  That’s a hard fact that blows my mind!  Why would you NOT follow up?  Even if the person did not really fit on your list of critical connections, they may know someone who does.  Keep the lines of communication open and send them a quick “nice to meet you” note.  This should be easy for you.  You got their business card, right??

Networking isn’t rocket science.  Well, unless you’re networking with rocket scientists.  For the rest of us, it’s simply interacting with people, building relationships around shared interests.  That’s it.  So the next time you sign up for a networking event, go with a plan.  People will notice and appreciate your efforts, which could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship!

PS. Don’t forget to have breath mints and wash/sanitize your hands frequently.  It’s flu season and nobody wants your germs.  🙂





5 College Grad Job Search Mistakes

23 10 2012

Guest post by Charles Sipe

A job becomes the Holy Grail for fresh college graduates. Getting hired seems to be the only way of justifying the time, effort and money spent on a college degree. So why is it that some college graduates are unable to find quality jobs that their fellow classmates have? Make sure to avoid the following mistakes to optimize your opportunities in the job market.

1. Inappropriate Resume

The very first thing that you must have is a resume that truly represents your strengths as a professional who is about to step foot in the corporate world. Remember, there is no recipe for a successful resume and it all depends on what your field of education is, the country, city and organization you are applying for and other factors. In my opinion, a new college grad’s resume should never be more than a single page.

2. Not Applying Enough

It is possible for you to commit a mistake by not doing something at all. The cost of not applying at enough organizations is very high. Job vacancies are advertised, here, there and everywhere including websites, social media platforms and recruiting firms. However many jobs are never advertised and you need to develop connections to uncover this hidden job market. You can’t rely solely on job boards anymore – you have to work your network as well.

Also, not applying soon enough is a mistake. Many companies have a hiring season. Often college students are hired before they graduate. Campus recruiting enables employers to get the benefits that an early bird does – they get the best graduates even before they graduate. Once this hiring season is over, most vacancies at reputed organizations are filled. So if you consider yourself a student who can compete with the best, start applying before graduation.

TIP: Most corporations hire for their summer internships and full-time positions in the fall semester.  Don’t wait until you’re two months from summer break or graduation to start applying for positions!

3. Mistakes at the Interview

Interviewing well with potential employers is an art in itself. Experience with interviews can help you learn which qualities and actions will impress interviewers and which ones do not. Common mistakes are not arriving early to the interview and not researching the company beforehand. Make sure that you have questions prepared to demonstrate your interest.

4. Not Following Up

Following up after an interview can improve an employer’s impression of you and make you appear interested in the job. This works better at relatively smaller companies where you may connect directly with the people who interviewed you instead human resources who often lacks the authority to make a decision. Nevertheless, please follow up.  A nice thank-you note can go a long way.

5. Sitting Idle

Some fresh graduates refuse offers and wait for the ‘perfect job’ to come their way. This is a mistake because a job candidate who is already employed is far more attractive than one who is not. A candidate who is already employed can create an impression that your talents are in demand. Today, job hopping is not considered as bad as it was a decade ago, so don’t be afraid to take a position while you continue to work towards your ideal job.

About the author:

Charles Sipe is the Executive Editor for Masters in Accounting, a helpful career resource for anyone interested in getting started in the accounting field. You can follow us on Twitter at @accountingmacc





The Art of Listening

9 10 2012

The art of listening:  Yes, it’s an art.  In the hustle and bustle of an instant gratification world, listening is seemingly becoming a lost art.  You might be saying, “I’m supposed to be selling myself as a job seeker, having my elevator pitch ready to deliver at a moment’s notice.  I thought this was about ME?”  Well, it is…sort of.  Having your pitch ready to go will only get you so far.  You have to listen, really listen to yourself and your potential employer or client if you want to succeed.

Here are a few examples:

DURING THE SEARCH: Research your potential employer or client. Listen to their story, learn what challenges they face.  Before you go in with a solution to end all problems, listen.  You would be amazed at how many times I’ve seen someone in an interview or executive presentation that had absolutely NO idea what the real issues were.  They simply had the solution, but didn’t actually listen (ie: research, interview, etc.) to the people who were faced with the challenges.  I am not saying that you need to know everything about everyone.  It does help to know as much as possible.  As a job seeker, knowing the company’s challenges and how you can help them overcome their challenges can set you apart from the rest of the competition.  Calibrate yourself to target their needs.  Don’t tell them all about YOU.  Tell them what you can do for THEM.  Show interest in the organization’s success and explain how you can contribute to that success.  In the end, it really isn’t about you!

WHEN YOU NETWORK: When you’re networking, the opening line should ALWAYS be about them.  Something like, “I’ve heard of your company, but what exactly do you do?” or “Congratulations on your recent award in sustainability!  Would you mind sharing with me one of your key initiatives?  I’d love to learn more.”  Break the ice about THEM, and then know enough about them to carry on an intelligent conversation.  Take note of what they’re saying, but also note what they’re NOT saying.  Nonverbal cues such as crossed arms, wandering eyes, or stronger cues like complete disinterest (this is typically when the person pulls out their smartphone) tell you that you need to wrap it up and move on.

GIVE CREDIT: Give credit where credit is due.  If you found all your valuable information on the company’s website, mention that to them when you’re presenting your solution to the company.  If the idea for your solution was sparked by a conversation you had with a colleague, be sure to credit them appropriately.  This could be something as simple as, “Bob and I were speaking about this issue the other day.  During that conversation, my interest was sparked and I was inspired to expand on his solution with the following research.”  Give Bob some credit – he helped you arrive at the solution.  In the world of work, giving credit to your team goes a long way.  It’s much better than taking all the glory yourself.  To be honest, too much spotlight-hogging is a real turn-off for most managers.  If it’s a team effort, mention it.  Give credit where credit is due.  It’s a small way to pay it forward.

Listen.  It really isn’t that hard to do.  People love to talk about themselves.  So if you’re a job seeker, ask questions of those that are employed by the companies of interest.  Ask them what they love about their job.  Ask them what their biggest challenges are as an organization.  The same thing applies to you if you have a job.  If you ask questions, listen with intent, and provide relevant and valuable solutions, your potential is unlimited!





Supercharge Your Networking and Job Searching with Evernote

26 07 2012

By Ashlee McCullen

Having been through several grueling job searches, I’ve found one of the most tedious and time consuming aspects is simply keeping everything straight.

Rather than fumble with a nightmare of folders, Word files, and contacts entries to organize myself, I’ve turned to notes service Evernote. With Evernote, I can track my progress applying to jobs and make notes on jobs in one place.

Plus, the service syncs between devices and is available in many platforms. I’ve used it on Windows, PC, and several Android phones from T-Mobile.

Here are some techniques I use. Feel free to alter them or let me know if you have any “pro tips.”

The meat of it: Job Search Notes

For each job posting (including “hidden” jobs) that catches my eye, I’ll create a note for it. This note then serves as a one-stop-shop for this particular position.

  • Note Tile: I use the same syntax for each job. Date created in 00/00/0000 format, job title, and company name. This way, I can quickly view jobs according to how long ago I found them, and act accordingly.
  • To Do List/Progress: For all progress made, I will include the date of the action. This is vital for gauging when to do any follow up actions or giving up. Plus, when you’re applying to dozens of jobs, it can be harder than you’d imagine to remember which online applications you’ve already filled out.
  • Contact Info: Include the usual stuff like addresses and phone numbers, plus any names of employees you know or will be contacting.
  • Job Information: I paste the URL of the job posting ,and possibly some or all of its text (Tip: Use text-only paste to avoid formatting headaches). I emphasize being able to see the original posting so you can use its keywords in your application.
  • Personal Notes/Observations: What I write here is fodder for answering “why do you want to work here,” for explaining what I can bring to the job and for developing intelligent questions.
  • Phone Interview Notes/Questions to Ask: This one is closely related to the above.
  • Files: Personally, I keep my files in a Dropbox folder, but you may find it more convenient to keep relevant files attached to the job search note.

Keeping track of it all

I recommend using at least two folders to organize your job application notes. I’ve used a “Job Postings” folder for grabbing info the moment I find a job, and an “Applications in Process” folder for jobs I’m committed to applying for.

When you give up on a particular job (ie you haven’t heard back in a few weeks), you can trash the note or place it in an “Archives” folder. Either way, it’s out of the way.

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend installing the Windows or Mac client and learning how to use it efficiently. Creating check lists and formatting text into more readable bullet lists is far less tedious when you know Evernote’s keyboard shortcuts.

About the author: Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for Apron Addicts, a website about kitchen fashion and home style. She also writes about mobile technology and self-improvement.