#DearGrads Your Work is just Beginning – Advice for New Grads

Courtesy Microsoft ImagesOver the last several weeks I have read many blog posts with great advice to the graduates of 2013. I figured it’s time I put  my experience to advice. Hopefully, our new graduates are in the social media world and reading all this excellent advice!! Al-righty, here we go…..

#DearGrads,

Your work is just beginning. Walking down the ceremonial aisle and reaching for that leather-bound folder containing that very important piece of paper is an awesome feeling. Typically there is a lot of emotion tied with this day. You’ve worked hard over the last 4 years to achieve this degree, you’ve built many relationships with people and lastly this day commences this part of your life’s journey. Your new chapter into adulthood is now beginning. 

My college experience was a bit different, I did not go away to school. I worked full-time while paying for classes with cash, so my journey was not only a little longer but lacked the full “college experience” dorms, friends my age, games, parties etc. I took night classes and many of my classmates were adults going back to school. This brought new appreciation to my pursuit of education and I felt like a learned a bit more about life experience from my classmates.

Here’s my advice for new grads:

  • If you know your direction and purpose then pursue it, hard!
  • If you’re not sure your direction, take time to figure it out. Employers want people who have demonstrated passion for the work they do. And by time I don’t mean take 4 years, while living in your parent’s basement rent free, I mean do some purposeful soul-searching.
  • Start planning your future, set some short-term career goals.
  • Get involved in your community and your desired profession. Join your local chamber, societies, associations, non-profits, meet-ups and volunteer.
  • Build your network your new professional network and invest in the relationships you built in school (the ones with friends, advisors and professors).

Transitioning into the workforce is harder than ever, developing a solid strategy for your entry into the “real” working world will set you apart from your competition.  So when you’re done enjoying a little vacation break from your last 4 years of hard work be ready to get back into that game!

Also check out my dear friends the Early Careerists. They are an excellent resource for new graduates and early careerists.

3 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Your Job Search!

Photo Credit: Microsoft ImagesWe all know recruiters are using LinkedIn to source and connect with talent. Job seekers are using LinkedIn to seek jobs and connect with employers. But did you know that job seekers can use LinkedIn to prepare for a company interview or to learn more about the company culture? Well, they can!

Here are a couple of ways to use the information on LinkedIn to aid in your career decision-making process.

First, search and follow the company LinkedIn page. While this is the most obvious, it is a great opportunity to learn about the company culture, people and company news.

Next, look for open or public groups created by the company. They may have a group specific for job seekers. Observing and participating in the employer group discussions can give you a little insight in to how the company communicates with people; plus the added bonus of building a relationship with the employer.

Now, the GOLDEN part… conduct a people search for the specific company. You can narrow your search to just people in your department, and I recommend searching for both past and present employees. Study the length of employment, titles of positions, responsibilities, promotions, accomplishments and recommendations from other employees. This information will give you a first hand look at the culture of the company, culture of recognition, opportunities for advancement in the workplace and more.

Just as GOLDEN… contact some of the present and past employeesAsk the people you contact for feedback on the company culture, day in the life of that position, advancement; just about any of the pros and cons. People are generally very willing to share information. Their first-hand experience can provide great value in your decision-making process. Contacting people who work in that position, or have worked in that position can offer the most accurate depiction of what the job really looks like.

Some people may find this advice sneaky, but it’s really just a smart approach to using social media in your career decision-making process. Completing thorough research when deciding to make a career move is critical. Taking the time to find out as much as you can about an employer before making this decision can save one a great deal of time and agony down the road. So go forth, seek out and ask!!

The In Crowd – Networking Part 2

People Talking- Courtesy of Microsoft ImagesMy last post “Networking is BS” aka “Networking is malarkey” was a hit. My post was featured on the oh so fabulous social media pro, entrepreneur and author, Susan Avello’s site HR Virtual Cafe. As promised in that post I would give advice to being inclusive at networking events to, so here it is. My advice is based on what I have seen to be successful and what I know I want to see.

It was July last year when I started using Twitter for professional purposes and since that time have connected with many stellar HR, PR, SoMe Folks and more!  ILSHRM was the first conference and networking event I attended after establishing connections via social media. I was able to meet several of the people I connected with via Twitter, in real-life (IRL). While it was exciting, I’m not going to lie many of the encounters were kind of socially awkward. I felt like a regular person meeting celebrities and they looked at me like “OMG, is she stalking me?!” And no I’m not stalking your completely public profiles and information that you share with the world.  Anyway, of all the people I had met on social media first and then IRL Susan was the most sincere, open, friendly and genuinely engaging person I met at that conference.

Here’s how you too can be inclusive: This advice is for the seasoned professional that may get tied up in their “normal” behaviors and for the newbie that wants to know how to connect with others!

1.) Awareness: Be aware of your surroundings. While it’s important to be fully attentive while in conversation, make sure your blinders aren’t on. Notice passerby’s or people who are looking “lost”. You know the people I’m referring to, the ones walking around pretending to read the posted promotional materials and signage for the event. They are most likely just buying time. Take notice and invite them into the conversation, or excuse yourself from the conversation at the proper time and approach that person.

2.) Open circles: When speaking in a small group people have the tendency to gather in a closed circle style. To an outsider this says “Exclusive conversation happening here, no one else is welcome…move along“. The best way to counteract this perception is to make sure the circle doesn’t close. This is so easy to do because it really only takes the positioning of one person to open that circle. Create a space that allows outsiders to see they are welcome to join in the convo!

3.) Face Time: Eye contact, smile, greet! These are all the same skills we use when encountering anyone in the workplace and in life so do it here too! Your friendly demeanor will show others that you are approachable.

4.) I know you? I don’t remember but lets chat! If someone does approach you claiming to know you from somewhere and you don’t recall its ok to say  “Ok I don’t remember.  What’s your name? Nice to see you again!” Then show genuine interest in that person by asking thoughtful questions and really engage with that person.

The reality is not everyone will have a connection with everyone they speak to and that is completely natural and ok but that doesn’t mean we should deviate from common sense and social etiquette.

Happy networking!