Monday, June 18, 2012

Getting Ready for the MBACSC Conference in Seattle.

Packing suitcase:
Too many clothes: check
Too many business cards: check
Too many hair and beauty products: check
Too many shoes: no such thing

As I was packing my suitcase I was thinking about what else am I taking to the conference - and what do I really want to come away with?  I was also thinking of ways to keep my cat out of my suitcase while packing.  Nothing has worked.

What do I want?
I want to know about you.  I want to know how you help your students - what works for you and what doesn't.  Let's talk about student engagement - what were your biggest wins this year?  I had some great luck leveraging Student Advisory Groups and hope to expand on that and some peer-to-peer activities this year.  If you are doing anything like that and want to chat - find me! 

Enough about you, I want to know more about you.
I've noticed among my peers a fascinating and varied career path - and want to know what your background is?  Is there training or experience that you had that you valued over others and what skills do you most value in your team?  I could go on - but you get it. It is best practices time, and sometimes worst practices time! All-in-all I'm a geek that wants to do her job better and I hope I am getting ready to meet a group of people that are the same! <<I may also like shopping and eating seafood, so there are understandably some items I'd like to accomplish that aren't on the official agenda!>>

What am I bringing?
A boatload of questions and a notebook. 
A book I've been meaning to start reading on the plane (a couple of them). 
A smartphone with pictures of my Husband, my dog Izzy and my cat Zoey. 
Other than the two packing lists above (and a bevy of breath mints) - I am bringing knowledge in the employment branding/employment media space, as well as some experience in corporate outplacing.  I have an MBA from ASU.  Now, thanks wonderful hiring team at ASU, I bring about 1 year of experience focusing on MBA careers and helping W. P. Carey Grads and Alums navigate their immediate careers and learn life-long career development skills.

What am I missing?
I am coming from Arizona, so I assume I should buy and bring an umbrella, just in case.  But I haven't been to MBACSC or Seattle before.  Let me know if you have any "must bring items" or "must go to events" that I should add to my list. 

I hope I get to speak with you this week!  If I don't get a chance to say "hi" I hope you have a great conference.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Graduates - Know the Value of Your Degree and SELL IT



Today my video blog is dedicated to the thousands of students graduating right now!  This is just a quick thought about "selling" the degree you've just earned.  Congratulations 2012 Grads!




Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Building Your Brand While You're Leaving Your Job

Are you going to leave your mark?
After someone has left your company, do you ever remember hearing something said in a meeting like this: "Oh you know, that person is the new Christopher."?  Sometimes people leave such a mark on a position that it can take months for teams to learn the new person's name.  The role has become synonymous with Christopher.  In other words, Christopher had created a fixed brand for himself in the organization.

One part of leaving well, takes place way before you ever decide to leave.  You need to perform well if you want to be thought of fondly when you leave the company.  If you look at the job you are doing now and imagine yourself being replaced - do you think people would refer to the next person as the new YOU?  Have you put your stamp on your job?  Have you improved processes?  Are you the go-to person for anything on your team or in your company?  If not - is there room to do it?  The answer is almost always yes.  Find ways to make your job your own and to be a resource to others in your organization.  If you can do this, you will leave a mark - your efforts will have MATTERED.

Can you manage your transition AND build your network?
Very happy waving person.
Recently a person moved from a position within my current organization to another.  She was a terrific employee.  More importantly she made a terrific exit.  She managed projects with such dedication while she was also transferring them to other people (and continues to help smooth the transition, even after her departure) - that she actually won employee of the month after she was already at the next position.  NOW THAT is a great exit.  Rarely do people leave on a note like that (she was exceptional).

What can you do to make your exit one that maintains your professional brand  and builds your esteem within the organization?  Notice, I didn't say "and doesn't burn bridges" - because not making people mad just isn't enough these days.  You need your network to be strong, and every move in your career needs to build your network.  Why alienate your freshest group of potential advocates?  Why alienate a group of people you may need to reach back out to for help and resources?

  • First off (I know this can be hard), take the personal feelings out of the transition (whether it is a forced transition or a voluntary), save any negative emotional energy for discussions with close friends and family not associated with your work.  Your professional image is more important than whatever emotions you are feeling at this moment.  Remember that and take a breath before you speak, act, or send an email.  
  • Document your job well and help with the process of transitioning your duties to others.  Make it easy for the next person (or people) to step in without missing a beat.  By doing this you make sure the flow of business is uninterrupted and you don't cause additional stress to the employees you are leaving behind. 
  • Finish major projects.  To the best of your ability, wrap up anything in which you are a KEY player.  A colleague may hesitate to help you in the future if your exit causes an entire project fold.  
  • Express gratitude to the people that have helped you over the years, for the training and experience you've received and let people know that you are available as a resource for them in the future.  Make sure that your co-workers you wish to keep in your network have your full contact information.  Be sure to follow-up with colleagues not too far after you've departed.  Keep conversation away from the "old job" and be positive.  A great way to reach out to former colleagues is to share an article, blog, or piece of information you've come across that might be of value to them.  Add an invitation to coffee and suggest a time and date.  All relationships need maintenance.  Try not to wait until you need something to reach out.  
  • Handle exit interviews with grace and diplomacy.  Give helpful feedback - but don't dwell on anything that is a known issue (or a huge sore spot).  Spending 20 minutes talking about the jerk everyone knows is a jerk from that other department, isn't helpful to anyone. Share anything you can about processes you see that could use help, areas that might need more resources and again, offer to assist if any questions come up once you are gone. 

Making it out the door with your brand in tact will benefit you in the short and long-term, so do your best to build as you go!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Resources for Career Developers and Resume Writers

A friend of mine asked me how I got in to what I do - which is helping people find work and helping them get better at all the things it takes to get a job (write resumes, prepare for interviews, networking, you name it!).  I wrote her a quick email and set a phone call with her, but it inspired me to collect and share these resources with you.  This is a quick blog about some of the resources I use to get better at what I do.  Feel free to share your resources as well in the comments below.

Great associations and learning resources for career developers & resume writers (not a complete list, just some that I like):
http://www.azcareers.org/ - Arizona Career Development Associaton
http://associationdatabase.com/aws/NCDA/pt/sp/Home_Page - NCDA
http://www.thenrwa.com/ - NRWA
http://www.careernetwork.org/ijctcct.html  CPAD - training for JCTC or JCDC $775 (wonderful training, I refer to things I learned from Richard Knowdell regularly)
http://www.resumewritingacademy.com/ (I use her verb list all the time) Wendy Enelow - she has great FREE resources on her site for the Resume Writers Academy - and some of her books are my FAVORITES

I regularly share career coach, job search, career path info here (stuff for practicioners and for people looking for work):
My blog:  http://resumebits.blogspot.com/
My twitter: @resumebits (check out who I follow on there!)
my linked in:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/thekarenaustin

Favorite books (just a start - I could go on forever, most of these are at the library, but in the case of the strengthsfinder, you should spend the 14 dollars to take the assessment from the code in the back of a new book):
No-Nonsense Resumes
Elements of Resume Style
No-Nonsense Cover Letters
Get the Interview Every Time
You've Got the Interview, Now What?
StrengthsFinder 2.0
How to Say it in Your Resume
What Color is Your Parachute?
What Color is Your Parachute (Workbook)?

Groups I follow on LinkedIn (great info and very helpful to connect to others who are in the field):
Arizona Career Development Association
Career Counselors Network
Career Services Professionals
Career Thought Leaders Consortium
Linked:HR (#1 Human Resources Group)
MBA Highway - MBA Job Search & Career Network
National Association of Colleges and Employers
National Career Development Association (NCDA)

I'll come back and keep adding as I remember other great resources and please share any of the 100 I missed that YOU love.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What I Learned From Comedy Improv About Interviewing

Today I took a comedy improv class at the National Comedy Theater in Mesa. There were so many great connections between improv and interviewing that I had to share them right away.

One of the first exercises we did was a group activity to get comfortable looking silly and to make failure acceptable (even celebrated!). Treating failure as an acceptable part of achieving a goal removes fear, plain and simple. If you stretch yourself out of your comfort zone frequently, you will learn to accept failure as a part of success, making it a much smaller force during an interview.

Another set of exercises were focused on getting "out of our own head" and learning to trust our gut. Here are the tips I took away to use in an interview:

1.Listen. Really listen to what is being said and pay attention to what is going on around you. If you are thinking of what you are going to say or worrying about saying the wrong thing, you take away your greatest asset: understanding. Understanding questions and situations is critical. Giving your focus and attention to the OUTSIDE takes all the power away from any negative self talk you might do be doing otherwise.

2. Trust you know what you need to know to respond to a question, without a doubt. All you have to do is pull the information out. Consider trying some word association exercises. You don't have to prepare in order to get a word that makes sense or relates - it just happens. In fact, the less you think about it, the more related the word ends up being!  The same thing happens with interview questions - the more you trust your answer and less you over thinking, the more logical and appropriate your answer will be.

3. Don't try to give a "wow" answer or anything off-the-wall to stand out. Logical answers that closely match the content of the question are far better and cause way less stress.

4.Confidence sells. Make eye contact and answer with confidence. You are talking about you in an interview (a subject you are the number one expert in)so answer with complete confidence.

5. Repeat the question at the beginning of your answer. It will help you settle (let those nerves go away!) and it will help focus your answer (as well as show that you listened).

6. Stay positive. Avoid saying no. Try saying statements that start with"yes, and...". Why? Because "no" ends the conversation. Once you've said "no" there really isn't anything left to say.  "Yes, and"... Allows you to add a new thought or turn the conversation in a new direction. Handy! Isn't it better to keep the conversation rolling and maybe grown into something both parties can agree on? Special note: of course this won't work for those disqualifying questions where the right answer is to say "no", but you get the point.

Last lesson - try something that makes you a little uncomfortable every once in a while. Stretching is the fastest way to grow! Happy interviewing!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Knowing - Doing Gap in the Job Search

Illustration of a gap.  A really big gap.
I think there are some activities that just breed a large "knowing-doing" gap. Whether it is how to execute in your business or how to lose a few extra pounds (*note - finger pointed firmly at myself).  Usually it is because there is some other goal, activity, or reward that motivates you to sabotage the primary goal.  For example:  a company has one product that they really want to sell more of, but their pay structure actually motivates their sales people to sell another product.  This might be true for the job search (maybe it is there is so much motivation just to conduct all job search activity very passively online - that you might know it won't work, but can't overcome the pull of your couch).  However after long consideration, I don't see this as the case for most people with job search strategy problems.

So what is the point of failure for people I work with in the job search?  From what I see it is a default behavior vs. new behavior problem.

Default:
At three percent unemployment, people sat at their computer, fixed their resume on their own using the resume wizard in Word and then applied to as many jobs as they could on job boards.  Interviews came as a result.  It didn't always work, but it did a surprising amount of the time.  We trained ourselves in good-old do-it-yourself style that this is how it works...forever.  It is like learning to change your oil.  Knowing is knowing and it won't change.  And then it changed.

New:
At 10% unemployment (more or less, depending on how you feel these numbers should be interpreted) things are different.  Many companies aren't advertising their openings much, so you might have to cruise the aggregate job boards or check in with companies individually.  It might be even more effective to talk with people at companies you want to work with and develop a relationship.  Your may need to work on selling your accomplishments more (and in more places: in your resume, in person, in cover letters, in thank you letters, in your LinkedIn profile), because you need to market yourself better in the middle of high competition.  So consider this; are you using a job search strategy for five years ago, or have you adjusted your approach to the realities of today's job market?   If you are using the "five years ago" strategy, don't think that the marketplace is the only reason you aren't getting results.   You may need to change your approach to gain traction and see progress towards your career goals.

If you are reading blogs, books, getting career coach help - try the new ideas you are learning.  If you are paying for coaching, books, etc. and then just go to your default behavior, you are wasting your money.  Uncomfortable? Maybe try one new thing a week and see if there is some change.  How we look for work and manage our careers is a constantly changing game.  Change with it and you will improve your chances.

Who knows what this process will be in ten years? Really, who knows? if it is YOU - please email me.