Finding Your Balance – A Good Fit

It doesn’t matter whether you are a high school student, a college student, or an adult … finding a “good fit” for college or work is a bit like finding your balance.  Robert Fulghum wrote about it in his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.  He said, “Live a balanced life – learn some, think some, and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”  Wise and wonderful words!

As a high school student, it is important to be engaged in not just the grades of specific classes, but the activities and experience of high school.  In doing so, you build your value to colleges and universities through your experiences of participation, leadership and service.  All of which include opportunities to work, or play or dance or perform or demonstrate who you are as an individual.  It helps you to find your balance and understand where you fit in.  Likewise, as you search for colleges and universities you begin to develop an understanding of those things that are important to you in finding the “good fit” experience of higher education.

College students looking for that first job coming out of school, you begin to understand the kind of environment that you would find satisfying or the kind of people you want to spend the bulk of your day with as you go about creating a career.  Life begins to take on a new balance that is based on an evolving set of values, interests and abilities.  Do you know what yours are?

The culture of an institution like high schools, colleges and universities as well as the culture of a work environment all provide opportunities for you to find your balance.  But it does take some effort, it doesn’t happen by accident and you must pay attention.  Just like Mr. Fulghum said in his book, “Live a balanced life – learn some, think some, and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”

Opportunities Impacted by Social Media

Do you have a social media presence?  What does it look like?  Universities and employers alike are using social media to “check out” their candidates.  Everything from your email address and voice message to your pictures and comments on Facebook or other social media sites are available for public scrutiny and feed into your public image or “social entity.”  They can make or break your opportunities for admissions or landing that job.

Just as different people have different perspectives on issues, different generations view and address issues differently.  The kind of abbreviated spellings or language that you use with friends is altogether different from that you must use with admissions office staff or potential employers on any emails or text messages.  Coaches, admissions advisors or employers do not want to “wait while your party is located,” when they call your cell phone. Get rid of it!  Be sure your message is clear, concise and professionally appropriate.  Your email address should also be professionally appropriate.

Now ask yourself these questions and consider who may be on the other side of the computer monitor checking you out.  What does your “social entity” look like?  What do you need to do to make yourself more marketable?

Your social media image can provide lots of insight to your character and work ethic.  That’s why institutions now hire people to scrutinize their candidates’ media presence.  The competition out there for college admissions and for the job market is tremendous.  So make yourself more marketable by scrutinizing your own social media before you put it out there for others.

Your Elevator Speech

If you walked into an elevator, the door closed and you found yourself next to a college recruiter, coach or potential employer and had 30 seconds to promote yourself, what would you say?  When the door opens and they walk away, what would you have said that makes you memorable enough that they want to know more?

The old “Elevator Speech” is a business technique that has been used for decades, but it is still effective.  In fact, for young people who have less experience promoting themselves to future employers or college admissions offices, it is a great way to collect your thoughts ahead of time so that when opportunity strikes, you’re prepared.  I find that when young people are asked to, “Tell me a little about your self,” they get caught like deer in headlights or ramble with no impressive points.

So prepare ahead.  I can help you do that so that the initial meeting or unexpected opportunity can be managed with a prepared and relaxed “30 second Elevator Speech.”  Promote yourself by being prepared.  What will you say in 30 seconds that will leave them wanting more?  Contact me.

Your Image to Others

Do you have a social media presence?  What does it look like?  Universities and employers alike are using social media to “check out” their candidates.  Everything from your email address and voice message to your pictures and comments on the Internet are available for public scrutiny and feed into your public image or “social entity.” Some even check your credit rating.

Just as different people have different perspectives on issues, different generations view and address issues differently.  The one thing we all have in common is we don’t like to wait or have our time wasted.  Does your voicemail ask that we wait while the party is located?  Change it.  Do you make flippant remarks or have blaring music?  Change it.  What works with your friends won’t work with college admissions, college coaches or potential employers.  So set yourself up for success and make sure your contact media is appropriate for your targeted audience.

Now ask yourself the question again and consider who may be on the other side of the computer monitor checking you out.  What does your “social entity” look like?  What do you need to do to make yourself more marketable?  Are there photos, trends, or comments that could jeopardize your opportunities?  Clean it up.

Protect your image to others and manage your social media so that you put you in the best possible position to take advantage of opportunities.  If you’ve had a social media experience that netted a positive result or a learning experience, post your comment above so others can benefit.

3 Keys to a Great Interview

This month has been about planning and presenting your self.  I addressed the importance of creating a Plan and then following up with Updating Your Resume’.  Now it’s time to talk about Presenting Your Self…the Interview.

Key #1 – Presentation – Presentation is all about your image.  From your first impression to walking out the door you will be evaluated.  Dress appropriately, make eye contact, provide a firm handshake, and smile!  When you sit, sit square in the chair, not slouched or leaning on one elbow.

Key #2 – Target Responses – Be specific in your responses to questions and speak with confidence.  Even “I don’t know” can be spoken with confidence and followed up with “But I will find out.” They will be listening and watching for how you react in situations and how you solve problems.

Key #3 – Questions – Have your own list of questions.  The interview should go both ways.  Be sure that you are not asking for information that is already available on their website or in literature about the school, organization or firm.  Your questions have to demonstrate interest on your part and that you have done your homework.

Creating a great interview for a job or college admissions begins long before you walk through the door.  Be prepared to Present Your Self effectively, answer questions with Targeted Responses, and take your list of prepared Questions.

Bring It Up to Date – 6 Resume’ Reminders

There is nothing worse than sitting down after four years and trying to reconstruct the work you’ve done, courses you’ve taken and awards received in order to write or bring your resume’ up to date.   April is the perfect time to review or initiate a resume’.   With summer employment possibilities or first job opportunities, now is the time to get it done.  Consider your resume or athlete profile as a “work in progress” and keep it updated regularly.  Have you recently added….

  • Courses or Special Classes for Training
  • Conferences (as an Attendee or Presenter)
  • Athletic Showcases or Camps
  • Publications you have written
  • Scores on National Exams or most recent GPA
  • Awards or Recognitions

Students, employees, employers and stay-at-home parents who may one day re-enter the workforce all need to pay attention to their profile or resume’ and bring it up to date.   In addition to keeping it current, be sure that the presentation of material highlights the most current or relevant information for the position you are targeting.  If you were doing the hiring, what makes you look like the best candidate for the job?  Need help with writing a targeted resume’?  Contact me.

Mapping a Summer Plan

Whether your summer begins May 7th , June 4th or June 25th, the landslide of summer workers/participants will hit in full force.  You need to be prepared to submit applications and do interviews before everyone else.  So work backwards.  Identify your target date for starting work and work backward with your plan.  You will need time for interviews, phone calls, application completion, Internet or local searches and networking.  That means you start now mapping a summer plan.

There are some terrific web tools for identifying summer employers as well as tips for effective interviews.  Here are just a few:                Great for searching College Internship Opportunities                     Opportunities for students 16-21 years          Interactive map of opportunities across the country                       Getting and making the most of your job

The important thing about starting now is you begin looking at the opportunities.  And opportunities do not apply only to work.  Opportunities may refer to athletic team participation, experiences or internships.  What would you like to do?  Are there jobs/opportunities you are particularly interested in doing and things you just would not consider?  What transportation barriers exist or what options are available if a good opportunity presents itself?  How many hours a day will you be available to work/play/volunteer?  Is summer class part of the equation when figuring schedules for work?  Different employers will embrace your availability as a summer worker and as a student working to get ahead.  Others may find value in your performance and embrace the opportunity that you may be available for the next few seasons.  The here and now impacts tomorrow!

By starting your search now, you have some time to explore options and activate a network.  Just like business people network to expand and strengthen their own client base, students can network to find great summer opportunities through parents, relatives and family friends.  Now is the time to get started!

Making Yourself Marketable

  • Are you marketable? 
  • How will you differentiate yourself from everyone else? 
  • How will you demonstrate key characteristics for maximum opportunities?

So why ask these three questions?  Whether you are in high school or college and looking for summer or full time employment, you face a tough job market.  Being able to answer these three questions in a targeted and positive manner can help put you in a winning situation.

Are you marketable? When an employer does a social media check on you, what will they find?  When they call you, what will your voicemail tell them about you?  Your social media is your first line of contact and will either provide support for you as a professional and serious candidate for a job, or it can be a yellow or red flag that diminishes your opportunity.

How will you differentiate yourself from everyone else?  What have you done that furthers your capabilities to perform on the job?  Is it a degree or have you participated in a learning experience that measures abilities?  CareerBuilders and many of the top job search engines and headhunting experts have written about the need to have supportive data to back up your claims to job capability.  We can help you provide that data through expert tools and guidance.

How will you demonstrate key characteristics for maximum opportunities?  As employers conduct interviews, more and more they are looking for evidence of your past performance as a predictor of your future performance capability.   What examples will you use from your past experiences as a demonstration of your future performance?

Making yourself marketable is a matter of looking at you from another perspective and taking action.  We can help you do that!  Contact us for more information.

Natural Abilities in Your Work

According to The Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2010, “Identifying one’s natural abilities is more than just an interest survey, and the value of knowing can have lifelong impact that creates opportunities for great satisfaction.”  The use of abilities in our daily work can make the difference between tolerating a job and loving a chosen career path.   Understanding our abilities helps us to use them more effectively and communicate them to others in a resume’ or interview.

The Resume’ – A successful resume’ is created to target a potential employer and specific job tasks for a posted position.   Natural abilities can be identified as strengths for that position and they are quantifiable.  They can be used to promote you as the best candidate.

The Interview – When the resume’ lands you an interview, your quantifiable abilities provide great examples of the kinds of things you do naturally and quickly.   They can be used as a predictor of future performance.   The winning interview success formula looks like this: situation + action = results.

After all, in a challenging job market, with highly competitive and qualified applicants, shouldn’t you do everything you can to stand out in the crowd!  What’s your evidence?

Trends? Where are the Good Jobs?

I hope each week you visit the blog that you gain something for yourself or provide benefit for someone else through forwarding the information.  When I read great articles like the one linked here, I find it affirming that I am on the right path when I talk about the importance of leadership and knowledge based societies.

Whether you are a student in school or an adult in the workforce, it is important to recognize that many of the millions of jobs and even careers that have been lost in the last 5 years will not return even when the economy gains strength.  Our society as a whole has had a major shift in technology and jobs.  Jobs of the future will be “knowledge jobs”.  And regardless of how expensive education is, it will be vital to the future of our nation and the individuals within.  Education may be a university degree or it may be a trade or technical school certification, but having that education will make all the difference.

So it is important to pay attention to trends.    Trends of success in the future will include leadership and knowledge jobs.  Click here to read the article, “Where are the Good Jobs”.  Let me know what you think.