A Great Reputation Is Your Best Asset

great reputation

This post was originally published in 2016. In light of the recent college admissions scandal, I felt it needed to be republished with minor updates. David Singer, the parents who hired him, the coaches who sold their reputations for money, the proctors who helped students cheat on their ACTs and SATs have destroyed their reputations and quite possibly those of the unknowing students who benefited from their actions.

In life, there are very few things that you do where you can’t get a second chance. There is, however, one notable exception: your reputation. Creating a great reputation takes practice, hard work, consistency and time. Seth Godin, author and branding guru, said it well in a recent blog post: “Early assumptions about you are sticky and are difficult to change.”

Because a great reputation may be the single most valuable asset you can possess, you need to be diligent in your choices and actions. A positive reputation is important at all stages of your career, whether you are just embarking on your post collegiate job search or are well into your career.

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Start Early

job search

There are a number of factors that influence how successful your first job search will be, whether it’s for a summer internship or that all important first post collegiate professional role. By far the most effective thing you can do to improve your success rate is to start early. 

Fall is recruiting season on campus. College career offices know this and host career fairs and employer visits starting as early as September. If you have yet to visit your career office, run, don’t walk, there. The staff there can help you with your resume, interview prep and it’s all included in your tuition. Most colleges also offer free LinkedIn head shots. Taking advantage of these services is not only a smart move, it will save you time and money. Not sure where to start? Check out my tips for 9 smart moves you can make now.

According to NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average job search for recent college graduates is 7.4 months. If you wait until after you graduate, you’ll likely have a lot of uncomfortable dinner conversations with your parents about your job search. So help your success rate, and your stress level, by starting EARLY.

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LinkedIn – How to Gain Quality Connections

linkedin logo

As a professional career coach, I make an effort to be active and stay connected on LinkedIn. I regularly advise my clients on how to create effective LinkedIn profiles. I also teach them on how to use LinkedIn to gain quality connections.

There are a number of things LinkedIn users frequently do that reduces their effectiveness. One very common mistake is not customizing connection requests. I am continually amazed at the number of form requests I get to connect, from people I do not know. This is a serious LinkedIn rookie mistake. One that dramatically decreases the likelihood of me (or anyone else) accepting your connection request.

Quality vs. Quantity

Unlike Instagram, the primary goal on LinkedIn is not to amass a high quantity of connections. Rather it is to establish quality connections. Knowing how to network, both online and in person, is an essential tool for any job search. One of the most effective ways to create quality connections, provided you use it properly, is to leverage LinkedIn’s alumni tool. It gives you access to all your college alumni, sorted by location, field, major, among others.

Making the Request – the Right Way

If you are going to reach out to someone on LinkedIn, please do it the right way. Always craft a short, customized note to accompany your request, even if you know the recipient and especially if you do not. Let them know why you are interested in connecting. Also indicate what you hope to gain, and offer, in return for a possible connection. Do this and you’ll dramatically increase the number of your quality connections.

A Strong Profile

Next, to leverage LinkedIn effectively, you also will need a strong profile (All Star status). Without a strong profile, even the best crafted connection request will fall short. According to the Muse, professionals with an All Star status profile are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.

I am confounded when I see profiles with no headshot or cover photo. Having a professional-looking headshot (e.g. no photos in obvious wedding guest attire) is critical. Why? Profiles with photos are 21 times more likely to be viewed and 9 times more likely to get contact requests. But if you look like you just finished giving the wedding toast, skip the photo until you can post a professional one.

To summarize, to gain more quality connections:

  1. First, make sure your profile is polished and you have a quality headshot and cover photo.
  2. Next, leverage the alumni tool.
  3. Then craft a customized connection request.
  4. Finally, send a short thank you message to your new connections.

Follow these tips and you’ll soon be on your way to adding quality connections. Need help creating or strengthening your LinkedIn profile? Contact me to find out how I can help you get your profile to All Star status in no time.

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2018 Client Success Story of the Year

credit Bryant Archway

There are many factors that contribute to success. Two of my favorites are persistence and resilience. They are qualities any job seeker needs in spades. My 2018 client success story is a testament to the power of both. 

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, a certain toughness. Persistence is a firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of opposition or in face of repeated setbacks.

Persistence is different than the often quoted (and misattributed) Einstein’s definition of insanity.  Search “insanity”, sadly, is a quagmire many new job seekers find themselves stuck in – sending out endless resumes with no success yet not changing their strategy.

The Backstory

My client, Ben, had been job searching for nearly a year when we started working together. He was doing a lot of things right, but having no success in his search.  He suffered from a “structural deficiency” – a highly specialized degree (video game graphic artist) but no relevant internships. Every summer throughout college, he worked in his local supermarket.

Lacking relevant work experience meant that Ben’s online job applications never saw the light of day – they were trapped in the resume black hole, aka applicant tracking systems (ATS). ATS are designed as much to screen applicants OUT of the process as in. Without any relevant graphic artist work experience, no matter how many applications Ben submitted, they were rejected.

The Game Plan

Ben’s situation required a different approach. To break through the ATS, he needed to create a compelling story (a sticky message) and then leverage it to network his way inside the key video game companies. Our strategy – having Ben attend the annual E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in California on a discounted student pass.

Ben’s purpose for attending E3 was to source new leads and companies, NOT for him to hand out resumes or ask for a job. It was an opportunity for him to learn what was new in the industry. It also was a great way to create a sticky message. Flying across country to attend a conference, solo, with 30,000 attendees, just to learn about the industry is quite a sticky message. Ben led with this story in all his subsequent cover letters.

Ben continued to work hard on his search plan, while accepting a job outside of his field to earn money to pay his student loans that had come due. I encouraged him not to give up on his dream of working as video graphic artist. It was clear to me that Ben had the talent and motivation to succeed. He just needed the door to open for him. 

The Result

Several months later, I received an email from Ben:

“Today I was hired as a game artist with Epic Games in North Carolina. I’m going to be working on new content for the game Fortnite. This is an amazing company and I couldn’t be more proud.  Thanks so much for all your help along the way and helping me get here.” 

These outcomes are why I love what I do – seeing clients land great jobs that leverage their skills, talents and passions.

It took Ben a TON of hard work, along with loads of resilience and persistence, to land his role at Epic. I’m thrilled that his efforts paid off. I’m also confident that Epic has made a fantastic hire. Congratulations Ben, client success story of 2018!

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How to Interview Effectively

How to interview effectively

Learning how to interview effectively is a skill, one that requires lots of preparation and practice. This McKinsey video is an excellent example of how to prepare for an important interview. It also contains suggestions on how to stand out. The advice contained in the video is applicable across the board, no matter what your career interests are.

Management consulting interviews often focus heavily on case studies. Like all interviews, they also seek to see how well you would fit into the team and the company culture. It’s critical to remember that while results definitely matter, how you achieve them, and your impact on others, is important. Being a high producer, but a terrible team player, is a certain route to career trouble.

Looking to boost your interview confidence? Check out the key to interviewing confidently here.

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Time is Money in a Job Search

job search, college gradTime is money in a job search. Being unemployed, or underemployed, carries a hefty price tag.

If you just graduated from college, without a job, I have bad news for you. While the economy is strong and unemployment is at its lowest in years, the number of companies planning to hire new college graduates declined this spring. Clearly not the graduation gift you wanted.

According to NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average college graduate spends 7.4 months searching for their first post college professional role. That’s nearly as long as an academic year at almost the same cost. Continue reading

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The College Graduate’s Job Search Checklist – 9 things to do to kick start your job search

College Career Coach

College graduation is in the rear view mirror for the class of 2018. The road ahead offers endless career options for recent graduates – perhaps too many. In my work as a career coach, I see daily the paralysis that too much choice brings. Bright, motivated college graduates who are so anxious about what’s next they have no idea where to start.

In his TEDTalk, psychologist Barry Schwarz discusses the “paradox of choice”: why too many options can be paralyzing. Anxiety often results when you think you have to figure everything out alone. Not knowing where to start can be daunting, yet the most important step in any job search is starting.  That’s why I created the college graduate’s job search checklist: to ease your anxiety and help you kick-start your job search. Continue reading

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2018 Job Market for New College Graduates

2018 College Grad Job Market

There is good news: the economy is the strongest it has been in 17 years and wages are up. The bad news? According to the Job Outlook Spring 2018 Survey by NACE (the National Association of Colleges and Employers), employers are planning to hire 1.3% fewer recent college graduates than they did in 2017.  This is a 5% decrease just from this past fall, when employers were predicting to hire 4% more recent graduates.

So what has changed?

  1. Slowing GDP growth
  2. Uncertain global economy
  3. Significant decreases in planned hiring by the insurance and retail industries.

While overall hiring of new college graduates is forecasted to decrease, it is not true across all industries.

Which jobs are hot?

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5 Ways to Stay Focused Between Now and Graduation

5 ways to stay focused between now and graduation

Graduation is just around the corner and staying focused is becoming increasingly challenging! There is so much to do and so much to cram in before you don the cap and gown. How will you ever get it all done? You tell yourself you’re going to have a productive day and then before you know it, you’re climbing into bed with an unfinished to-do list.

It might seem impossible to ignore distractions and accomplish your goals. Not to worry – you can do it!

Here are 5 ways to stay focused between now and graduation.

  1. Break down your work into segments.

You’ve probably heard that humans can only focus for so long and it’s true. Your brain needs a break to avoid becoming overwhelmed and fatigued. Therefore, if you schedule breaks, which seems a little counter-intuitive, you’ll actually be more productive in the long run.

  1. Reward yourself for working hard.

If you have something to look forward to, you’ll find yourself staying focused because you know something “good” is going to happen. This doesn’t mean a Starbucks mocha frappe every time you cross off a line item on your to-do list, but it might mean you take five minutes to text your best friend or 30 minutes to play ultimate Frisbee in the quad.

  1. Find the right background noise.

Noise meaning music, television, people talking, coffee mugs clinking, or nothing at all. Everyone has a background noise that works for them when trying to concentrate and it’s important that you find the one that works for you. If there is a certain kind of music that really gets you working, then turn up the volume and have at it. But, if you work better with the sound of silence, find a quiet space pronto and hunker down.

  1. Go incognito or (gasp!) leave your phone at home.

In other words, stay away from social media and social settings. Hide out in the basement of the library or study somewhere new for you. Unfortunately, Snapchat (or any social media platform) and our own friends can be the biggest distraction. Love them as you will, but staying focused sometimes means being anti-social for a short time. If you are concerned about your ability to stay unplugged and focused, refer to # 2 above.

  1. Remind yourself of the bigger picture.

While it might be tempting to put your to-do list aside, don’t forget how that might impact your life after graduation. Whether it’s simply making the most of the last few weeks of your college experience or buckling down for an important exam, everything you’re doing now is part of the end game. Let that motivate you so that you stay focused and stay on track!

Good luck! And, by the way, if you need help focusing on your resume and cover letter, let’s connect so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. I offer a free 30-minute consultation to get you going on your next chapter – life after graduation. Contact me today to get started!

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14 Tips to Ace your Second Interview

second interview
Congratulations, you made it to the second interview. Now what? Getting to a second interview is confirmation that the company generally feels that you have the qualifications to do the job. You should be pleased that you made it to the next round. That does not mean, however, that the job is yours. Most likely you are competing with two to three other finalists, candidates about whom you know nothing. They may even be more qualified than you, at least on paper. Now most definitely is not the time to sit back and coast. These 14 tips will help you prepare for and ace your second interview. Continue reading

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