Reflections of a Business Owner: Leveraging Your Competitive Advantages

Reflections of a Business Owner: Leveraging Your Competitive Advantages

I am approaching the end of my first full year as a full-time career coach and speaker. I can’t believe it! Time flew by so far. Not only was it so different than running a business part-time, I have learned exponentially more about the struggles and triumphs of business! It has been an amazing journey and I look forward to what the next year will bring.

As I reflected on what this year has taught me, I realized that much of the dialogue I was having with myself was about how to do the work more efficiently and effectively, how to identify (and pursue the right) revenue streams and how to identify and leverage my professional advantage(s) while keeping my sanity and faith in the fact that the effort I put forth is or will be paying off.

So, I experimented with my skills and deferred to the things I liked to do. So, I experimented with my skills and deferred to the things I liked to do. Small Business Week takes place April 30-May 6 and was created to highlight and celebrate the importance of small business owners. To support this cause, I have partnered up with QuickBooks whose goal is to provide easy-to-use, invoicing software to small business owners to allow them the time to focus on what matters most, their business (P.S. I use this software myself and it is a lifeline!).

Below I share two of my competitive advantages and how I leveraged them in the hopes that my reflections will give you some ideas.

Competitive Advantage #1: I LOVE to network.

Making connections is the best way to promote your brand, test out your business idea(s), gain customers/clients and find other ways to grow your business. It is imperative for me to market myself, not just do the work I want to do. I’ve accomplished a great deal by integrating into the community, but these efforts are springs that add up to a marathon. I move between making my community feel smaller to widening it as I research and learn more about what I am capable of achieving and exploring in what direction(s) my business could go so that I am ultimately successful. Business ownership certainly allows you to study yourself very closely and honoring those discoveries takes time and patience but let others be your guide. So I…

  • Researched what groups exist in your area that are related to your interests. I took note of the local Chamber events, perused MeetUp groups for young professionals and business owners, attended human resources organization mixers, Association for Talent Development events, affiliated with women’s organizations and other volunteer organizations. I then attended at least one event for each (sometimes more) to meet people. It takes time for people to recognize you in your own community. I was persistent and present. You can be too.
  • Volunteered at large-scale organization events and fundraisers. I figured that I could meet cool people, potentially find friends since not only was I new to full-0time business ownership, I was also new to the area. Secondly, I wanted to know who were the “who’s-who” in the region. Gathering information and knowledge about your community can help you feel connect but also engaged. This is important to business success but also life. to find potential friends b. to see what individuals were the Who’s Who of my area.
  • Invited individuals to meet with me for coffee. I found it valuable to reach out to some individuals one-on-one. For example, there was a company I admired and wanted to learn more about so I reviewed the staff list and identified a young professional to whom to reach out. We met at Starbucks one day and ended up talking for quite some time about business owners, freelancing and other life experiences. We remained in touch and recently decided to expand our conversations about business to other young, female business owners. What started out as a relationship based on business molded into a friendship which still serves us professionally. My outreach and ambition in this regard encouraged others with whom I met individually to introduce me to others in their networks and so my network continues to grow. I pay it forward by connecting my contacts with them as well.

 

Competition Advantage #2: I LOVE to speak.

Public speaking is a critical and necessary skill for a business owner. I market myself as a career coach and speaker so the majority of what I do revolves around educating others. My primary goal is to help mid-career professionals in their thirties and forties navigate their careers and anchor their futures. Essentially, I want to help them decide how they want to proceed professionally. I help some change careers, others secure promotions, make more money or conduct some professional planning (aka where do I want to be professionally in the next 3 years).

As such, I love talking to people in front of large groups, one-on-one, virtually or in person. So, this past year, I decided to take Angela Lussier’s Speaking School for Women while simultaneously listening to her podcast, Claim the Stage. As a result, I honed this skill, learning the business of public speaking and secured twice the number of speaking gigs and more that were paid than I had in previous years!

I share this example to reinforce the importance of professional development as a business owner. Pick a skill every quarter or every half year to improve upon; you never know what you might learn about yourself and where it might help you grow your business! Since my experience was so positive and because I care about others’ abilities to speaking up, advocate for themselves, share their stores and change the world, I became trained as a club leader to launch a Speaker Sisterhood Club this summer in the Lehigh Valley, located in eastern Pennsylvania. These clubs are places and spaces where women can share their voice in a safe space and learn public speaking best practices. Not only will this become an additional revenue stream for me but it will also allow me to support my target audience in a way that is relevant to my primary business’ goal.

To played with this skill further, I have been practicing my speaking skills by experimenting with Facebook Live. It comes easily to me to create valuable video content about topics related to professional development, share information about my life as a business owner and offer resources to my audience. It is a free way for them to know what I am doing and for what I stand. I encourage you to view one of my videos here and try it out for yourself. My friend, Sandra Costello, has tried Facebook Live too and you can see one of her videos here as well.

Lastly, I leveraged Twitter more regularly for a couple of months as an experiment to grow my number of followers. I posted resources on topics related to my business, interests and skills regularly (e.g. mid-career professionals, public speaking, women and work, productivity, business ownership, etc.). As a result, I increased my number of followers by almost 100 people and was asked to participate in several Twitter chats, gaining even more exposure. This helped me stay top of mind and expand my networks beyond my immediate community.

Disclaimer: Not everyone loves speaking but it can be helpful to practice speaking up, whether it be virtually or in person about your work and what you care about. Find a way that works for you. People connect with more deeply with you when you share your passions and, despite how intimate or public your venue is, that is how you create customers, clients, followers and even friends, especially when solopreneurship starts to really feel lonely.

I encourage you to sit down with a pen and paper and reflect on what your competitive advantages are.

  • What do you gravitate towards naturally?
  • On what have you been spending your time?
  • What activities have you been feeling less than enthusiastic about? Think about your experiences in business thus far, what has been working?
  • Have you pulled any financial reports to see where most of your money is being earned? On what activities? Have you been tracking the metrics on your social media sites?

Those are just a few questions to get you started. There will always be more but choose one or two that jumped out at you first and spend some time on them. I encourage you to experiment for as long as you can but then take some time to focus on one thing for a while and then go back out and experiment, experience and explore. This malleability is intrinsic to entrepreneurship; it keeps you honest. I know it has for me.

Photo credit: Business Betties

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Navigating the Office Dress Code

Navigating the Office Dress Code

We have all heard the advice to dress to impress. In the job hunt process, this lesser considered step in preparation can have a big impact on your professional perception.

It takes only a tenth of a second to form an impression of a complete stranger from just the appearance of their face and cues from their nonverbal behaviors. The majority of people form an opinion on others within the first minute of their introduction. In the face of a job interview this makes the process even more competitive.

Office culture and employer dress codes can often feel as though you are navigating the battlefield trenches. Have you ever stared deeply into your closet with no certainty or confidence for what you should be wearing? In many cases we wonder what actually defines business formal from business casual? For past generations of workforces this subject was not as complex, professionalism once had a uniformed appearance. Today, there are many more creative jobs, digital start-ups, internet companies, shared work spaces, and a rise of on-trend offices. All complicating the question of what attire fits most appropriately for my place of employment. Of course, dress codes will vary across locations, positions, lines of work and company cultures. Eventually you go from interviewee to proud employee and decoding the dress code comes more natural with ease. As a prospect or candidate for a desired position, crafting the perfect professional image can feel daunting. Beyond receiving an employee handbook (which often comes once we accept an offer), defining professional dress code and company culture is ambiguous. Imagine if we wasted less time worrying about what to wear and focused more of our energy on preparing to sell ourselves for a position.

The Five Most Common Office Dress Codes in Job Listings

Business Formal

Always dress Business Formal for interviews. Use your best judgement when including subtle pops of personality. Men should wear a two or three-piece suit in a neutral or dark color along with a plain (white) formal shirt, solid tie, cufflinks (or watch) and black/brown shoes (your belt should match your shoes). For the ladies, A pantsuit or skirt-suit is suggested, complimented with a button-down blouse, modest accessories (small, fine jewelry), dark tights and a closed-toe heel.

Business Professional

When dressing for any position you want to avoid dressing more than one tier above your respective office dress code, this will avoid an overdressed feeling. Dark colored suits, formal shirts and conservatively-patterned ties are acceptable options for men in a Business Professional setting. For women, conservative length skirts with solid colored blouses and neutral-tone accessories are most common.

Business Casual

Business Casual is the most commonly misconstrued dress code. Casual does not mean leggings, denim nor athleisure wear. This business setting is more versatile in terms of color, prints and pops of personality. Men can be comfortable in formal shirts in any color/pattern. Sweaters and cardigans are comfortable alternatives to a dress shirt. Ties are optional and chinos are a nice substitute for dress slacks. For women, a Business Casual environment is more inviting of statement jewelry, flat footwear and loafers.

Small Business Casual

Small Business Casual is very similar to Business Casual with a more creative flair. Differences include, the ability to wear denim (dark colored), open toe footwear (nice sandals), well-kept sneakers, as well as polo shirts or collarless shirting. Small Business Casual allows room for aspects of personal style and individual personality. Although as professionals we must remain conscious of becoming too relaxed with our image.

Creative

Creative Dress Codes are the most undefined. Specific niche dress codes will depend on the specific culture and field of the company. Trendy fashion items including layers and stylish accessories are acceptable. Although sneakers and T-shirts are also acceptable, your clothing should always be wrinkle free, appropriate in size/fit, and of course, clean.

Even the most prepared candidates who research the prospective role as well as the company background, will commonly forget to consider the office dress code. While at an office, either for a tour, to drop off a resume or for your interview rounds, be sure to get a sense for what others are wearing.  That said, no matter how formal or informal, you should prioritize comfort, fit and confidence, first impressions are powerful. Your potential employer is not only looking for candidates who fit a skill set but also seek individuals who embody a positive energy (a well-tailored outfit and a sharp pair of shoes might be the dignified suit of armor to empower you on interview day).

Quick ways to gain the insights on company dress codes prior to your interview

  • Be Observant. If you know someone already employed, use them as a resource. Take note of what others in the company are wearing on a daily basis.
  • Explore the company’s social accounts. Here you can gain a perspective for the culture and day-to-day office life. Employee headshots are often formal and don’t depict the true standards of dress for that business.
  • Visit the surroundings of the office. Watching people pass through the lobby or an employee parking lot will give you a better sense for what people are wearing.

T.M.Lewin, London-based tailors established in 1898, have been historically recognized for their invention of the “coat shirt,” the first shirt to feature buttons down the entire front of the garment. Fashions have surely changed since then; the dress shirt has cemented itself as a true staple in professionalism. The T.M.Lewin have embraced this connection and are seen to be experts in office-ready work-wear. T.M.Lewin a helpful guide to help us Crack The Office Dress Codes allowing aspiring professionals to navigate the working world with style and ease. If you happen to be in need of an impressive look for your upcoming interview or first day on the job; T.M.Lewin has a premier selection of men’s shirts and timeless blouses for the ladies.

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5 Solutions to Common Small Business Owner Challenges

5 Solutions to Common Small Business Owner Challenges

This last year as a full-time business owner has proven to be both challenging and rewarding. Understanding my strengths, what the market will bear and how to differentiate myself were consistently on my mind. When I heard about Fundera, a bias-free lender marketplace for small businesses that need to fund their dreams, I was inspired to share my perspective on the needs of a small business owner. I came up with solutions to my top five challenges and want to share them with budding business owners like you!

Difficulty #1: Limited to no interaction with colleagues on a daily basis

Solution: Get out into the community at least 1-2 times per week.

  • Join mastermind groups, attend free community events via your local Chamber of Commerce, find meet up groups for business owners and learn more about their challenges and successes in your area.
  • From these larger gatherings, you can orchestrate additional, informal and, yet, consistent gatherings or one-on-one meetings with mentors and colleagues who are also flying solo in business in any industry.
  • I am an extroverted person so I attend 2-3 events per week but one to start is perfectly fine as long as you can schedule a few one-on-one meetings per month. Being visible in the community whether at large networking events, small committee or volunteer meetings and educational events is critical to feel part of a community and to get the amount of socializing, both professional and personal you need to feel sane.

In addition, I’ve established an informal team of advisors. These are individuals in my network (e.g. friends, family members, mentors, former colleagues and others I admire) whom I can turn to about a business idea or with a concern. I would recommend that you have a conversation with most people you want on this “team” so they understand your needs and can vocalize their commitment.

Difficulty #2: Establishing viable revenue streams.

Solution: You know what kind of work you want to do but you have to spend time building others’ awareness of your area of expertise. Oftentimes that means that you need to consider other ways to make money as you get your products and services rolling. I have tried (and succeeded with most on) the following:

  • Leveraging my skills in forums such as Thumbtack, Freelancer and Upwork.
  • Monetizing my hobby – I started my #walkphotography Instagram experiment two years ago. I’ve always loved photography and this has given me a creative outlet, but along the way, I’ve received really positive feedback about my “eye.” One of my goals for early 2017 was to set up an e-commerce site where I could sell prints. It can’t hurt to see what happens, right?!
  • Retainer clients – Contact larger companies that are required to meet a certain criterion of contracted services for the year to understand what their needs are and how you might be able to assist. Local economic development groups, industry-specific professional associations or small business development centers may be a good place to start.
  • Take on part-time, mindless work. You can stay afloat monetarily doing something that pays the bills but lets you use your mind to “work” on your business. For example, Champion chess players often worked jobs such as putting caps on bottles to allow their minds to play several games during the day while doing this mindless manual labor. What kind of work might this be for you?
  • Partner on programming and community presentations. Doing so will allow you to cross promote services, gain exposure to new circles of influence and individuals as well as help you think about your skills and content differently than you might have previously. Volunteering for community organizations allow others to get to know you without the pressure of hiring you. This activity can go a long way in terms of building your credibility. I am working on a presentation with a financial advisor about how mid-career professionals can effectively invest in a career change, professionally and financially.

Difficulty #3: Managing my time, finding balance between my personal and professional life activities and learning when to power down technology.

Solution: I’ve found that the best strategies for me in this area have been about mindfulness.

  • Establish a routine (morning and evening). Go for a walk around the block or in your neighborhood in the morning as your commute and to signify to your brain that it is time to get to work.
  • Establish official “work” hours and stick to them. Communicate those hours with your clients, family members and whomever else would put a demand on your time during those hours. As an experiment in awareness, for 30 days starting in February, I am going to shut off my computer during weekday evenings at 8:30pm and drink a cup of chamomile tea. This will allow me to prioritize larger projects earlier in the day and give myself time to unwind before bed.
  • Set aside time for working out, even if it means doing a few exercises for 10 minutes in between calls or during breaks from working on projects. A healthy body encourages a healthy mind.
  • Spend time working at coffee shops. This will help you feel visible (above) and encourage productivity.
  • Take 20 minutes at the end of the day for 30 days to summarize the type of activities you spent time on, if they gave or took energy away from you and how you felt at the end of the day based on your behaviors. At the end of the that month, look back at your journal entries to identify patterns or opportunities for changes that can be made. For additional journal prompt ideas, check out this link.
  • Prioritize time for you. This could be enjoying time with friends and family or a solo activity; do what replenishes you. I take time to work out, listen to podcasts, read, travel and/or take pictures in an area of my hometown.

Difficulty #4: Marketing my services, managing my brand and finding my niche

Solution: This is something you must consider throughout your career no matter what your profession. However, as a business owner, you are your brand so make sure to think about how you’d like to be known digitally and in person. Are they consistent with one another?

  • Create a website or pay someone to do so and update it regularly.
  • Do targeted Facebook ads for products or services that are your bread and butter.
  • Create consistent colors, font and brand messaging across social media platforms. For example, my designer created customized banners for social media with my logo. Hubspot is a great resource for learning more about this area of business management.
  • Remember your ideal customer avatar and target your products and services to their needs, emotions and wants. You have the luxury of building true and genuine relationships with your clients because their interactions will be with you, the CEO, instead of a person down the chain.
  • Getting out in the community will also help you learn about the needs of your people. In the fall/early winter 2016, I conducted phone interviews with members of my target audience. This allowed me to test my ideas and hunches about their needs and helped them become more aware of who I am, especially outside of my normal circles. This is great for building my brand and expanding my circle of contacts.

Difficulty #5: Doing everything yourself from bookkeeping to selling your services and products, to doing the actual work that you love

Solution: Larger companies can divvy up the work of the organization. Small business owners or solopreneurs often do not have that luxury. It may be possible for you to do the following to offload some of these responsibilities that are not as enjoyable to complete:

  • Hire a virtual assistant or invite a friend/family member to help and pay them back in baked goods, etc. Be creative!
  • Set aside a day for an hour when you dig into your most unpleasant or dreaded tasks.
  • Revisit your strategic plan to ensure that the work that you are doing matches your priorities and goals.
  • Purchase QuickBooks or Freshbooks to manage your invoicing and other finances.

The bottom line is twofold in my opinion. First, you must become part of the fabric of your community whether that be local, regional, national, international, professional or a combination of a few of these networks in order to succeed as a small business. You need to be visible and engaged. Second, you must stay attuned with how you are showing up in your business and with the feelings you have related to your businesses activities.

It is hard to compare yourself with companies that are farther along in their years of operation. Therefore, I encourage you to pick one or two of the strategies above that resonate for you and give them a try this month. Show some self and business love in February! Talk to me about what you discover on Twitter, @MeghanGodorov.

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3 Actions + 1 Hour toward a Mid-Career Shift

3 Actions + 1 Hour toward a Mid-Career Shift

Happy New Year! As January comes to a close, I am even more ready to kickstart the goals and dreams I have for the year into gear. What about you? When most others have given up on their New Year’s resolutions, I am digging in. You, too, can dig in. 

At this time last year, I was drained, stuck and wholeheartedly in need of a professional change. I was in a job that I had outgrown but was still hanging on. I could not sit back any longer and hope for a resolution. Instead, I needed to act. So the end of January became the start of something new for me. I quit my full-time job in higher education to pursue business ownership.

I did not go it alone. I had personal and professional mentors, friends and family members empowering me in, through and beyond my decision to change careers, taking it all one step at a time.

Considering a career change yourself? Are you unhappy at work?

You, too, can take one step at a time and get unstuck. So this year, I resolve to help you take one small action today, tomorrow or even in the next hour that will move you forward and toward a more satisfying professional experience.

3 Actions in 1 Hour to Kickstart a Mid-Career Shift

Connect with a friend, family member or someone new to do one (or more) of the following:

  • Unpack what is going on in your workplace, get a neutral opinion and ideas regarding next steps to take
  • Information and tips for exploring a new industry/field, perhaps one that they know well or know that others in their network know well.
  • Learn more about someone’s career that you admire. Taking some time to step back and dream or borrow from the best practices of another field can help shape the impact you have on your company’s bottom line or for your own career goals.

Update your Resume

  • There are basic resume do’s and don’ts. Take a look at this list and implement one change over your lunch break. If you are considering a truly fresh look, take advantage of my Quick Fix Resume Review offer of $47.
  • Never wrote a summary of qualifications before? Have over 10 years’ experience? This is also a great resource for you to review.

Revisit your Budget

  • Financial concerns were high on many of mid-career professionals’ list that I interviewed earlier this winter when considering a career change. Here are 7 simple and free budgeting tools you can start using today. You might also try your credit card’s spend analyzer tool for a bird’s eye view assessment of your spending. it is important prior to a change that you assess your financial situation so you can comfortably (and realistically) meet you career dreams.
  • Visit Salary.com for information about specific position’s salaries in your industries of interest and in your target geographic locations so you can understand your earning potential both immediately and in the future.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of following a “passion” career versus a more traditional or stable career. Make a pros and cons list and then take it one step further by assigning a weight to each item or rank order in terms of importance.

Any shift or change is scary but you do not have to wait to get started nor be alone in the process. Have questions? Email me! I’m happy to chat and here to help.

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The Perfect Fit – How did I get here?

Six months ago, I started a new adventure into full-time business ownership. The first two, I spent thoughtfully contemplating who I am, who I am not and what I want for this next stage in my career. For as confident as I was about the decision to leave my full-time position in higher education and career development, I was afraid of the change that needed to be made. So how did I get here?

I knew I had taken a chance on myself. I recalled that gut feeling inside of me that wouldn’t quiet down; the one I could no longer ignore. So instead of reporting every day at a specific time to an office full of colleagues, I now spend my days with my parents and Pyrador rescue, Oliver, working on my deck or in various rooms in the house to secure and prepare speaking engagements for local companies and non-profit organizations, partner with men and women on navigating their career choices and taking on projects with large companies to serve the professional growth needs of their clients.

About a month ago, I visited a non-profit organization called the Perfect Fit for Working Women, a program of the ALLENTOWN YMCA & YWCA that supports low-income women entering the workforce by providing professional clothing for job interviews and their first week of work. The two women running the program mentioned that they were going to speak to the Women Can networking group, a diversity and inclusion initiative at Olympus, which is a medical devices and surgical products, scientific solutions, and cameras and audio products company, in the area.

I simply asked if I could go to listen to the manager tell her and the organization’s story at the event.

Fast forward to November 15…I arrived at Olympus, the building was fresh, white, and open with plenty of windows and natural light. I was stopped at the front desk to be checked in and escorted back to the event room. As I walked through the halls, employees were smiling, some were grabbing lunch at the bustling cafeteria, while others were playing ping pong or sitting in the large lounge space connecting with coworkers. It felt wonderful to be back in a space where action was happening; where it wasn’t just me thinking about my next move or if I was “doing this whole business thing right.” I noticed individual reactions to my presence.

At first, I thought it was the big visitors’ badge on my suit jacket but then I realized…I’m wearing a suit and for the first time in months!

I forgot how a suit made me feel or how much I had denied the power that it gave me from within. Since March, I have mostly been wearing yoga pants and other such athletic wear just in my home office. I noticed how differently I was treated by the employees moving out of my way in the hall to let me pass or how they allowed me to go first if we met at crossroads in the building. Not only that, but I was attending this event as a guest of the women from the Perfect Fit so the event organizers even treated me as a…confident woman in a suit.

I truly had forgotten about the polished businesswoman in me. The one others reminded me existed when I decided to make this change to business ownership and the one that I now know will come out to “play” when she is called upon as a speaker, trainer, panelist or partner at companies in the future. The one who will freely share her experience and emotional reactions to such moments for these are the ones that shape our identities, affirm the changes we make in life and remind us to stick up for those gut feelings we have about what we need most.

What’s more is that the accumulation of these experiences led me to believe that we must first give ourselves permission to change from within to grow beyond what we know we are capable of accomplishing. In order to find the “perfect fit” in just one facet of our lives, a deep dive into another may be required. Similarly, the Women Can networking group believes in the power of connecting internally, across divisions to explore and grow professionally.

I needed to uproot some of the comforts of my personal life to address my professional dissatisfaction. This shifted the dynamics of my personal life, allowing me to focus on the gains I could make professionally.

Isn’t it poignant that the exact organization to which I reached out to as a potential volunteer, whose mission is to provide women with the clothes and personal support that will set them up for professional success, also delivered me the opportunity to personally feel the emotional effect that clothing, and others’ reactions to it, can have on your confidence, professional growth and reflective practices?

So I ask you now, in what ways are you pursuing or denying yourself a “perfect fit”?

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Conduct a Job Analysis, Get the Salary you Want

Conduct a Job Analysis, Get the Salary you Want

As a trained salary negotiation facilitator, I’ve presented facts, resources and strategies to many individuals across the globe to help them enter into and walking away successfully from negotiation conversations. Today, I want to provide a tool, the job analysis, specifically for professionals who want to remain with their current organization but know in their hearts and minds that they deserve a raise or recognition for the work and results they contribute.

The job analysis is a resource I used to uncover what I wanted and needed next in my career. Between Spring 2013 and Spring 2015, my department had been through several leadership changes, the loss and subsequent increase in new staff members, and an increase in expectations not only from our senior leadership but also the media regarding best practices in our field.

Needless to say, we were under the microscope and we all needed to step back, assess what our jobs are and should be, and determine our individual investments in the future of the department. So in the Spring 2015, my company’s HR department asked that all staff in my department complete a job analysis.

What is a job analysis you ask? Well, a broad strokes definition of the two parts are:

Part I: A detailed examination of what your work requires
Part II: A detailed examination of how it is working

The 2 Parts of a Job Analysis

Part I: A detailed examination of what your work requires

In the first part of a job analysis, you give a detailed examination of the

  • tasks that make up a job,
  • the conditions under which they are performed, and
  • what the job requires in terms of potential for achievement, behavior characteristics, knowledge, skills, and the physical condition of you, the employee.

Part II: A detailed examination of how it is working

The second part of the job analysis includes:

  • determination of the most efficient methods of doing a job,
  • enhancement of the employee’s job satisfaction,
  • improvement in training methods,
  • development of performance measurement systems, and
  • matching of job-specifications with the person-specifications in employee selection.

At first I could only think about how completing this exercise would serve the institution. But later I realized that it was helping me learn more about what I need and want out of my role and, ultimately my career. In salary and raise negotiations, it is imperative that we first consider our needs. Then we consider what the market is willing to pay us. It is the combination of those two factors that give us the foundation for a productive conversation with our current or future employer.

What the Job Analysis Showed Me
I’d never had the opportunity to spend this much mindful consideration about how and where I was spending my time in my current role. It showed me that I had outgrown the work. I realized I like being part of strategic conversations, but I wasn’t able to in my current role. And at a time when the institution was reconfiguring positions, the job analysis gave me the courage to talk about what I was discovering with my supervisor. When my supervisor later reviewed the results of my job analysis, she agreed that I had outgrown the position and offered me a promotion for a position that had been written into the budget but she had waited to fill. I even had the opportunity to help her write the job description, pick my title, and advocate for the work I would do in the role!

Because the job analysis is an objective, deliberate evaluative process, the exercise productively moved me away from the negativity surrounding my professional situation. Evaluation happens for most professionals either at both the mid-year or end-of-year mark. But I highly recommend that you complete this exercise now (no better time than the present) and prior to at least one of your evaluations.

Get your step-by-step job analysis Guide
Ready to dive in?! Sign up for my newsletter and receive my step-by-step guide, Raise Your Awareness, Raise Your Salary today.

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Walked my dog, Picked up a Business Card!

Walked my dog, Picked up a Business Card!

I often walk and take pictures (IG: #walkphotography); however, this past Monday I also picked up a business card when walking my dog, Oliver. We took our normal route and Oliver was very happy trotting along as I enjoyed one of the Claim the Stage, public speaking podcasts by Angela Lussier when Oliver starting wagging his tail and showing interest in speaking to a neighbor who was mowing his lawn.

I usually try to keep him moving along but as we passed him, Oliver turned back showing his enthusiasm for seeing him so the man stopped mowing the lawn to come over to see him.

We started to chat about dogs (of course), where I lived in the development, and then he asked me if I went to a college close by. He recognized me as my sister because she went to the college at which he has been teaching as an adjunct in the accounting department. Small world! Through the conversation, I came to find out that he runs a tax accounting business on the side and, what do you know, I am on the hunt for a business accountant! So I took the opportunity to ask him questions about his business, my business’ needs in terms of taxes and he gave me his card. Additionally, he asked about my sister and told me to tell her that he said hello.

So why do I share this encounter with you? You never know when or where a helpful conversation will unfold. You can connect with someone about something so neutral and, if you are open to what that person has to offer, you could forge a connection. Sometimes this connection pays off in the immediate future (possibly find an accountant you’ve been looking for) and other times in the distant future (my sister could reconnect with him and discover other career options within the accounting profession through his experience and network).

Nevertheless, the joy of networking is in its serendipity. Embrace the people you run into on the subway, at a coffee shop, in your own neighborhood and see how being open to possibilities will bring!

What actions will I have taken post business card retrieval?

  • Sent my sister a picture of his business card so she can be in touch with her former professor. Clearly she made a good impression on him in that class and when I spoke to her about my chance encounter with him, she recalled really enjoying his forensic accounting class.
  • Emailed him within 24 (ideal) to 48 hours (acceptable) of meeting him (i.e. no later than Wednesday), thanking him for his time and sharing that it was a pleasure to meet him and chat about everything from dogs to business.
  • Visited his website and learned more about his background on LinkedIn. Why not, right? It’s a great resource and is not only a way to fact-check but also to build on this in-person connection. Chances are, I will see him again as he walks his dog in the park behind my house and regardless of whether or not we do business together, I’d like to keep him in my network.
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New Community? 5 Strategies to Achieve Belonging

New Community? 5 Strategies to Achieve Belonging

Five years ago, I moved to the Western Massachusetts community (aka the Pioneer Valley) to fulfill a new role in the Career Development Center at Mount Holyoke College. I did not know anyone. Was I nervous about this fact? Sure. Did I let it stop me, no. Why? because I was up for an adventure. I wanted to live in a different state, expand my knowledge of myself and the demographics of the U.S. and figured I could take it year-by-year. It was an experiment.

Fast forward to today…and I am back in a “new” community. Why “new” in quotes? Well, even though I graduated from high school in the Lehigh Valley where I now reside, spent time after college working in the area and attended graduate school nearby, so much has changed here and so have I.

I know I can succeed building both a professional and personal community here because I did it in Massachusetts so, as I embark on a new adventure here, I wanted to share the strategies I’ve employed with you so you, too, can build a new community or dig deeper into the one in which you’ve landed.

1. Give yourself time to adjust. Being new to a place can be overwhelming. In Massachusetts, I focused first on finding a place to live (Craigslist was clutch there), second on my job (the reason I moved there), and third on learning about the community. I wanted to understand its personality, learn where young people hung out so I could make friends, and see where I might be able to make an impact as a volunteer and professional. I didn’t hit my stride in all of these areas until October, which was almost 4 months after I arrived. When I arrived in Pennsylvania, I hung out with the friends I already knew in the area because I needed time and space to bounced back my transition home. This was right for me in May when I returned and now that it is September, I am actively pursuing opportunities to engage in the community. This tiered approach worked for me, it can also work for you. Feel free to experiment with the formula.

2. Volunteer. Young professionals’ groups in your area and your alma mater(s) can be uplifting. The events they holds put you in front of like-minded professionals, locals with community history and perspective and opportunities to plan events, lead initiatives and grow professionally in ways that your full-time position may not. I’ve been serving on the Alumni Association Board of Franklin and Marshall College since the fall 2013 and led the Northampton Area Young Professionals’ Group between January 2012-July 2015. I continue with both strategic and boots on the group volunteer work in the Lehigh Valley as a community member and professional.

3. Subscribe to local organization emails. Consider your interests. In Massachusetts, I followed regional business and non-profit organizations, local entrepreneurs, and lifestyle brands. I do the same in the Lehigh Valley such as InStyle, Discover Lehigh Valley, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, and my favorite restaurants because they often have events that allow me to more fully experience the people and the treasures of the area.

4. Explore your community alone. Although it is not ideal, it can be freeing. Pursue a hobby as I have, taking pictures around the Valley (IG: #walkphotography) and allowing the day to take you where it might. I discovered nuances of the area that I had never seen before and met new people as a result. Go to meet ups, festivals, dinners at the bar by yourself. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and be applauded for your courage. That in itself is encouraging!

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Hello! I’m looking for…Networking Effectively at Events

Hello! I’m looking for…Networking Effectively at Events

Earlier this week, a friend and I decided to check out a local networking event in Allentown. I love the restaurant and it was a gorgeous evening so I knew we’d be able to spend time outdoors. We grabbed a drink and stood in the crowd catching up. Out of no where, a woman comes around my right side and introduces herself.

Impressed by her gumption, we both started chatting with her. She asked what we do for a living and where we live in the Valley. We returned the favor and asked her where she worked and lived and she began to describe how she was working full-time in an industry that was not ideal for her. We asked her what she was seeking and fully supported her interests by offering to connect her to a few people we know in the area. We exchanged business cards, she thanked us and went on her way. Seems like a typical networking encounter, correct?

My friend and I turned to each other, acknowledged the whirlwind that that was and befuddled regarding the fact that she did not even want to continue to learn more about us. My friend said that if she had run into a career coach like myself, she would have tried to chat with me more and take advantage of me being right there, free of charge. I wouldn’t have blamed her for doing so, in fact, I felt the same way…why hadn’t she stuck around to get to know us?

My belief is that when you are desperate to move on from a position or career and someone gives you the advice to get as many business cards as you can at networking events, you lose out on the opportunity to truly connect with someone, get to know them and learn about the ways you can help each other.

We stood around for a while discussing what she could have done better, again, admiring her straight-shooter approach but knowing full well that perhaps her more successful strategy should have been reciprocal in nature, not transactional. Avoid the “bad taste in others mouths” impression and stick around for a conversation. Building relationships genuinely and over time will pay off in the end in dividends that you oftentimes cannot even compute at the time. Below are some tips for turning a quick networking transaction into a relationship:

1. Truly listen to what the other person is saying. There are gems of advice and sage pieces of wisdom in everyone’s professional story. That same night, we met a gentleman who has been running a successful investment property company while simultaneously making a 300% mark-up/profit selling stationary and funeral announcements to funeral home directors. He learned this trade and skill selling this product through a different company and then choosing to work for himself, taking his clients with him from that company.

2. Offer a favor in return. Last month, I attended a Chamber affiliated young professionals’ group networking event and met an easy-to-speak with financial planner. We chatted about the area as I told him I recently returned and was looking to meet other professionals in the area. He offered to meet me for coffee so we could see how we could help each other. It seemed like each of us was looking for mentor – me for the area and him to promote his professional development and advance the career profile of the professionals in the Valley. That conversation made me feel energized, like a part of something and potentially the start of a great professional relationship.

3. Sit at the bar. When the event started to wind down, my friend and I realized we were pretty hungry. We decided to grab a seat at the bar and order dinner. There were two seats but one gentleman was sitting in between them so we kindly asked him to move over and invited him to join our conversation. He turned out to be a very nice guy who knew all of the bartenders and was a regular at this restaurant. We immediately had an in, lucky us! Plus, many people visit the bar to order drinks, which gave us both a way to chat with more people and we didn’t even have to go anywhere. If you happen to not be near the flow of “drink-ordering” traffic, you always have the bartender(s) to network with and they meet tons of people every day.

For more advice, follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn @MeghanGodorov.

Looking to change your career? Or a considering new opportunities? Sign up for my newsletter today on my homepage and receive a free job analysis worksheet that will help you advocate for a raise or career change.

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Free LinkedIn or Resume Review: Learn How to Earn Below

Free LinkedIn or Resume Review: Learn How to Earn Below

You’re in luck! This is going to be a December to remember for those who want to build a career that lasts. I love freebies and want to offer you that same excitement before the year’s end.

If you are already one of my newsletter subscribers, refer 2 friends to sign-up for my newsletter before December 31st and earn a free LinkedIn or resume review. Get another two people to sign up for my newsletter and you’ll earn a steeply discounted ($47) 30-minute phone or Skype career strategy session. This is a total savings for you of $150!! We can talk about whatever you want for your 30-minutes: my resume or LinkedIn profile comments, your dream career and how to get there, where you might be able to look for resources for a particular industry, how to leverage social media in your search and many more topics!

For anyone not already on my newsletter list who signs up before December 31st, they too will receive a free LinkedIn or resume review.
Bonus! And for every four more people anyone refers to sign up for my newsletter, they will qualify for that same discounted 30-minute session ($47) I mentioned above.

This is a serious win-win for everyone! I want to help anyone who simply needs a boost to get started, the confidence to navigate a new career path or a combination of tools and strategies to make sense of what might be next for them professionally.

So you’re wondering, how will she know whom I referred? I have your answer. Here is the link to the google document where you can list the names of the individuals you’ve encouraged to sign-up for my newsletter. I will cross-check my list of subscribers with this document and email you directly notifying you of your win(s).

So visit my website’s homepage today, opt-in yourself and then tell your friends. Let’s get the ball rolling!

Questions? Email me at meghan@meghangodorov.com.

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

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How Do I Adult? 4 Strategies that Answer this Question

How Do I Adult? 4 Strategies that Answer this Question

A funny question you might be thinking. I thought the same just a few weeks ago when a senior sat down in my office to have her resume reviewed and then with a concerned and a bit hesitant expression on her face asked me, how do I adult? She followed that with a full sigh, hands over her face, looking like the definition of exhaustion. I smiled at her, admiring her phrasing, and paused.

Before moving into a laundry list of ways, resources and ideas about how she could “adult,” I asked her what she meant by that phrase. Clearly it meant something to her from her own experience and vantage point.

She said that she wanted to know what her next step should be, how she could determine what she should do for the rest of her life and how to manage the upcoming transition away from college. Pretty heavy questions even when they stand alone and, together, quite the burden for a twenty-year old who hasn’t had the chance yet to experience adulthood in the context of the workplace. These questions still arise for mid-career professionals, graduate students and other career-changers.

I proceeded to answer her question, allay her fears and help her de-stress by offering one strategy for each of her questions and to get her moving in the right (and most manageable) direction. Below, I share those same recommendations for all of you.

1. Identify what you need first/now. A resume review? Space and time to reflect on your experiences? Conversations with people in your field? We often associate being an adult with choosing one career that you will do for a lifetime after you graduate. College prepares us to think, sets us up with at least a baseline set of skills and a place to grow as social individuals. To “adult” you’ll need to prioritize, prepare and plan for what is to come in whatever way you see fit. There are so many entry points to the job search process. Do you know all of the ways? If not, take advantage of these options by talking with a career coach, trusted mentor, family member and/or your college’s Career Center staff to help you determine what next step makes the most sense for you.

2. Really look at your resume. So many times we get caught up in the minutiae of our resumes. What is the best format? What should my bullet point descriptions say? What types of bullet points should I use? What font do employers like the most? All of this is important but the details do not or should not matter until you’ve really looked at your resume. Ask yourself, what are the themes of my experiences? When I talk about my work with others, are those same reflections included in my resume? Am I missing a critical experience or skills that I’ve developed that weren’t important to me until I wanted “to adult?” Perhaps you need to throw your resume out the window altogether and instead focus on” target=”_blank”>building your LinkedIn or Twitter profiles, using these sites as primary tools for your search and connecting with potential decision-makers (company or individuals) in the hiring process.

3. Join digital communities, professionally. Once you’ve built your profile Your digital imprint is now just as important as the impression you leave in person. Learn how to use LinkedIn, build your profile and consult with a career coach on how to connect effectively with professionals in your areas of interest. Converse with industry leaders on Twitter, follow and engage others on Instagram. Building credibility in these spaces will take some thought and time over time but it will pay off, giving you national and even global connections that will last a lifetime. Which groups you join and on which platforms depend on your industry’s preferences. Pay attention to those trends for greater success.

4. Take time away from your search. Give yourself a break. Honor how much you’ve accomplished up to this point in the search process by building in celebratory moments. Take yourself out for a treat (mine would be ice cream as many of you know), go to the movies with friends, watch your favorite Netflix show or go for a walk. In the “adult” race, you are better off being the tortoise than the hare to begin with. As you gain momentum and clarity, your confidence builds and the question no longer feels like one. You’ll have the answers.

As you move further into your adult life, you will face similar challenges when navigating transition. Building good reflection, branding and celebration habits now will help you hear what you need and begin to hone strategies that you will always have in your toolbox. Make it your professional mission to not let them rust.

Meghan is an advocate, blogger, speaker and educator for women who want to build a career that lasts. She coaches groups and individuals on how to navigate their professional goals, negotiate transitions, and engage in both local and national leadership opportunities. She is also the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College where she supports alumnae and students in building a community around career through on-campus and virtual programming and individual advising. Her advice has appeared in the Huffington Post, several higher education blogs for job seekers, NerdScholar, CardHub, Good.co and LinkedIn.

For a free LinkedIn profile or resume review, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.meghangodorov.com.

Follow Meghan on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Tell Me About Yourself? 3 Strategies for a Stellar Answer

Tell Me About Yourself? 3 Strategies for a Stellar Answer

Clients ask me for help with this question almost every day. Many struggle to identify the characteristics that make them unique, tell potential employers why they are interviewing for their company and deliver information about themselves that is both the right amount authentic and boastful.

Feeling prepared to answer this question can be achieved by doing the following three things:

1. Listen to your heart

Ask yourself, what is your mission or purpose for pursuing this position? Talk about it out loud to friend, trusted mentor or career coach. Nine times out of ten, they hear your passion, enthusiasm and true intent for pursuing your field or position of interest and reflect that back to you. Take what they heard and find a connection between your motivation and the company or position’s mission, goals and priorities. For example, one person asked if she could talk about the reasons why she chose her college because the values of the company matched the qualities of the campus environment, those of individual expression, collaboration and mentorship. This is exactly the kind of connections companies want you to make: thoughtful and connected to your authentic self.

A great tool to help you consider your purpose is Imperative’s purpose pattern assessment.

2. What have you done to support your mission?

Using the above client example, she now has a thesis statement upon which to base her (under 2 minute) pitch to the employer. Referring back to her resume, she can choose 2-3 examples from her experience (paid or unpaid) that illustrate her values and purpose for applying to this position. Briefly highlighting the ways you acted on your mission in essence prove your affiliation with that goal and let the employer know that you are a good fit. Remember: You do not have to tell them everything you think they need to know right away. Instead, give them nuggets of information about how your experiences tie into your mission and overall goals so that you can refer back to them when they ask behavioral question like, “Tell me about a time when…?” “Share a strength and weakness, etc.”

My goal, always, is to invoke emotions and connectedness to the employer in my first impression and that often requires this kind of reflection and tie in of your purpose to the mission of the organization or company.

3. Why/how does the company or organization fit in with your mission/purpose?

The last (essentially closing) statement you want to make will be about how the organization will allow you to continue to advance your purpose. This can be someone future-oriented which will help to preface a question they are most likely going to ask you such as, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” You are setting the stage for them to understand you briefly in the past, mostly in the present and partially in the future as those states of being relate to their company and the open position.

So let’s put it all together with an example:

Interviewer: So, Meghan, let’s get started. Please tell me about yourself.

Interviewee: Great. For over the past 5 years, my work has had three focuses: entrepreneurship, higher education and community development. Navigating careers and anchoring futures for young and mid-career professionals is how I spend most of my time. (1) At Mount Holyoke College and in my business, I advocate for women’s professional success through individualized advising, online skills webinars and and tailored programs. Additionally, I am an active member of the Alumni Association Board for Franklin & Marshall College and one of the coaches for this year’s class of a local leadership development program, Leadership Pioneer Valley (2). I’d like to continue to have strategic impact, be part of a creative and innovative institution and support women’s professional and personal leadership development (3).

Meghan is an advocate, blogger, speaker and educator for women who want to build a career that lasts. She coaches groups and individuals on how to navigate their professional goals, negotiate transitions, and engage in both local and national leadership opportunities. She is also the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College where she supports alumnae and students in building a community around career through on-campus and virtual programming and individual advising.

Her advice has appeared in the Huffington Post, several higher education blogs for job seekers, NerdScholar, CardHub, Good.co and LinkedIn. For monthly tips and advice, sign up for her newsletter at http://www.meghangodorov.com and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

© Meghan Godorov, 2015

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4 Ways to Build Your Business While Working Full-Time

4 Ways to Build Your Business While Working Full-Time

When pivoting in your career, it is helpful to have priority areas that narrow your focus, provide structure to your new adventure and allow you to grow in manageable ways. Below are 4 areas that have helped me build my side hustle and evaluate its full-time viability. Consider these areas as reflection points you can use at any time, no matter where you are in your business.

1. DETERMINE YOUR INVESTMENT CAPACITY EARLY AND OFTEN

It is easy to get excited and completely overwhelmed at the same time by business ownership. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? How will you manage your day-to-day schedule building something while also maintaining performance in your full-time gig? What is your tolerance for risk? Can you put other things in your life on hold to put your business dream first (i.e. time spent with friends, family, less cash for entertainment)?

Fear not! Take some time answer these questions above. Set up a practice of self-care, acknowledge accomplishments regularly and pay attention to how you feel each day and every couple of months. Remind yourself this is a journey and determine if you’re up for it.

Timesaver #1: Prevent burnout by taking time to acknowledge your progress and reflect on what you’d like to accomplish in your business adventure, whether it be full or part-time. Happiness in work goes a long way

2. DEVELOP A REPUTABLE, CONSISTENT ONLINE PRESENCE AND BRAND

Identify the social media sites where you feel most comfortable sharing your business vision, thoughts and resources associated with your brand. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter were the first and easiest three places for me to start doing so. Later, other social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram gave me the space to be creative and show my more personal side.

Several years ago, I worked with students at UMass Amherst to build me a website. This past spring, I realized it no longer suited my new vision and scope. A mentor encouraged me to take it down and build a simple website on Squarespace. Best. Decision. Ever. I took on the task of learning Squarespace, which led to some struggles but, ultimately, the realization that I needed help to get the caliber of design that would set me apart from other coaches. I became familiar with design lingo and more aware of my own expectations, making me a savvier shopper and landed me in the capable hands of Business Betties.

Leaving the website design and coding skills to the experts allowed me to focus on writing effective copy, reflecting and gathering client feedback and actualizing my web presence and brand in a visual context that I was proud of. I then sought support from a friend to design my logo. Not only did my business’ mission to support the professional development and career goals of women, I felt that my brand also became that of female business owner who supported other female business owners. Bonus.

Timesaver #2: Brand development takes time. Identify the aspects of it you enjoy and then invest green in an expert service or two.

3. DEVELOP NEW AND CAPITALIZE ON INNATE SKILLS

Early in my business, I tried to build all of the skills I thought I would need on my own. What became clear after several struggles implementing that philosophy was that I needed to dedicate my time to learning industry trends in terms of content delivery. I already knew how to create and deliver workshops; I just needed to learn new software and techniques. Where and how could I reach my clients? I spent time learning webinar and video software and how to use Google hangout-on-air, create eBooks, Facebook Ads and Lead Pages. Canva, MailChimp and WordPress followed suit. I was completely immersed in building new skills. I felt alive and fulfilled.

Participating in the Do+Make Business District connected me to a community of entrepreneurs, resources, classes and challenges that assimilated me into the world of entrepreneurship. Since I loved marketing so much, I am in the process of completing Hubspot’s free marketing class and will complete the Resume Writers Academy Certification this fall, an industry-specific credential.

Timesaver #3: Developing both industry-specific and entrepreneurial-related skills are essential throughout the life of your business.

4. BUILD COMMUNITY

Make the decision early on to spend time talking with and meeting fellow business owners. Tell your friends, family members and even strangers about your goals. Join these Facebook communities and groups of like-minded and similarly focused women. For example, I joined and/or followed online bloggers and coaches such as Olyvia, Mariah Coz, the Nectar Collective, Megan Minns, Hilary Rushford, Kimra Luna, Live in the Grey, By Regina, Lady Project and the Freelance Hustle. Being both an observer and participant builds your sense of belonging and encourages you to act on your entrepreneurial dreams. There are other female business owners to whom you can turn for advice. Find yourself an accountability buddy, ideas mentor or sponsor; an individual or two who can connect you to people and resources that will help you grow business, listen to your awesome ideas and help you turn them into reality.

Timesaver #4: You cannot be successful in work and life without friends, family and fellow business owners. Invest time and a little cash in coffee dates and phone calls to build relationships.

This article first appeared on the Business Betties blog. To view on their site, please visit this link.

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3 Strategies for Confident Networking and Self-presentation

3 Strategies for Confident Networking and Self-presentation

Earlier this month, my colleague from the Career Development Center and I supported a networking career event organized by the Alumnae Association at Mount Holyoke College. Keynote speaker, Susan Daniels, alumna, professor and actress, prepared students and alumnae for the event’s networking moments with activities and a message I feel compelled to share about how to help you pay attention to your comfort level, how you present yourself and how you sound to your audience (an individual or a group). She recommended three techniques actors use to center themselves before going on stage that we can borrow in order to speak and network with confidence.

1. Breathe from your belly. Many of us when we are nervous breathe in our chest, sometimes more rapidly than we might feel. In order to calm your nerves and breath, try this exercise. Place your thumb on your belly button and your hand over your stomach right below. Breathe in through your nose, letting your stomach expand like a balloon and then breathe out through your mouth slowly (about 10 counts) letting your stomach deflate completely. Repeat two more times. Since learning this technique, I have been in front of a room of people at least a handful or two more times and despite not generally feeling stressed about speaking in public, this breathing exercise has helped every time. I’d say do it any time to soothe your soul.

2. Root like a Redwood tree. Stand up straight with both feet planted firmly on the floor. Now pretend like your feet are reaching 8 feet below the surface you are standing on. Do you feel more grounded? Just by visualizing yourself in this way, extending and conscientiously rooting yourself, you feel stable and confident. Even the simple act of crossing your legs could shrink your confidence and presence in the room. Before speaking up in class, at a presentation or in a meeting, plant your feet firmly on the ground to show yourself that you are grounded.

To illustrate this point even further, Ms. Daniels shared that the redwood trees in California grow only 8 feet below the ground before extending horizontally, connecting with other redwood trees’ root systems to grow as tall and as majestically as we know them to do. Building a strongly, rooted network starts with your own extension down and, when networking, that rooting gets extended through your confident conversations and presentation. So think: Root deep and extend or connect long to find strength in collaboration for career success.

3. Shake it out. Everyone gets nervous. It is natural when we consider speaking with a professional contact of interest for the first time or in front of a group who is unfamiliar to us. To move through this, Ms. Daniels recommended that we start by shaking our hands with intention, really get them moving- don’t be shy. Next, shake your arms, getting your body moving. Without stopping from moving your hands, get your shoulders, chest, back and stomach in on the fun. Shake out your knees, ankles and feet, even your pinky toes! Now, stop. Look at your hands. How do they look? Are they still shaking? I bet not! Taking control of the shaking, calms it down. Do this in the bathroom before an event or simply shake out your hands if you do not have the time to go all out.

The sum total of these three actions will prepare you for any in-person connection, presentation or event. Doing just one can provide a great deal of comfort in a previously stressful situation for you. I recommend finding what combination works for you to be the best networker, presenter and professional you can be.

Like to read? Ms. Daniels recommends the book: Brag! How to Toot Your Own Horn without Blowing it by Peggy Klaus

Want to practice speaking with others? Consider joining Toastmasters.

Connect with Ms. Daniels (sdaniels@mtholyoke.edu) to learn about the ways she supports individuals and groups in using professional actor techniques to help presenters relax, focus and engage with their audience. She offers a number of workshops, that focus on various aspects of presentation, and especially enjoys working with women on authentic leadership and speaking with confidence.

© Meghan Godorov, 2015

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How to Be a Woman Who Asks: 5 Strategies for Success

How to Be a Woman Who Asks: 5 Strategies for Success

What does “being a woman who asks” mean to you? To me, it means knowing what you want, having the confidence to speak up about what you desire and to do so while also taking into account the perspective of the others involved in the negotiation process. In essence, being a women who asks is a woman who acts. Are you a woman who asks? Do you want to be?

As a trained facilitator of the Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshop created by the Wage Project (2012), I’ve not only considered the strategies that lead to a successful salary negotiation for a job offer but have also thought deeply about the ways I can apply these strategies to the other aspects of a woman’s career and professional experience such as for a promotion, a professional development opportunity, moving through a conflict with a coworker or establishing rapport with a new boss/colleagues. I share below the five ways you can build your negotiation muscles for whatever you want or need in your professional life.

  1. Identify your reasons for the negotiation. Self-reflection is critical to successful negotiation conversations and should happen early and often in your career. Essentially, you can confidently negotiate for anything if you know what you want and looking inward first is the way to do so. Some questions to consider are:
    1. What is my desired next step? (in life, career, personal relationship, work relationship, etc.)
    2. What are my top 3 pains in this situation?
    3. What emotions do I associate with this situation?
    4. If I had a magic wand, what changes would I make to the situation immediately?
    5. Where do I feel most confident in this process?
    6. What yet do I need to learn?
    7. Will this opportunity allow me to grow in the ways I need?
    8. How much money do I need to maintain my lifestyle?
  2. Make a budget. Knowing what you can afford allows you to be more confident at the negotiation table. Use this worksheet, one of these apps or com to crunch the numbers. Benchmark the salary range for your type of position on websites such as the Wageproject, Salary.com, Glassdoor or NACE’s Salary Calculator. These steps will help you know if this is a good move for you financially and what is reasonable to ask for in the process. Secondly, make a “budget” or list of characteristics you seek in a workplace and rank or place percentages of importance on each factor so that you can evaluate them effectively when looking for a new opportunity or in gaining traction for a promotion. A concept is what researchers on negotiation label as the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). Knowing what you will allow yourself to minimally walk away from the negotiation with will help you negotiate comfortably and allow you to be open to the options presented during your negotiation conversation. Budgeting in both ways allows you to see your BATNA clearly.
  3. Narrow down your list of items to bring to the negotiation. Come to the negotiation table with three reasonable points of negotiation or conversation, depending on your situation (i.e. flexible schedule, a change in responsibilities, bonus, moving expenses, or suggestions for professional development opportunities). For example, if you want to talk with a coworkers about how their behavior affects your working relationship, make a list of your feelings and their actions so that you can clearly sift through what are valid concerns, emotional triggers and items to be discussed. In response, carefully crafting professional ways to respond to these factors. Knowing what you value or want from the relationship moving forward, being open to the communication and asking clarifying questions in the dialogue are solid strategies for success.
  4. Consider the cohort model negotiation strategy concept. What if women had the chance to join together by industry to change the way they use their voice, advocate for themselves and negotiate for better wages? We might be more effective in closing the gender wage gap and advocating for promotions or senior levels positions in industries where women typically are not present. Many television and movie stars negotiated together to earn millions of dollars more per episode filmed (i.e. Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld, Friends, Marvel Avengers). Why shouldn’t women be thinking like this in a similar way? The first step would be to do your research and gain perspective on what you can earn within your position or field from someone who has been there. Taking the risk to ask is a risk but how will be know, if we don’t ask? Seeking advice and mentorship is critical.
  5. Practice the negotiation conversation. Find a friend, relative or mentor and talk through what you would say in the negotiation conversation so you can work out the nerves associated with speaking up and advocating for what you want. Learn more about the person or company with whom you will have this conversation. Ask yourself: how they prefer to be communicated with? What is their history/experience with the area or topic in question. Remind yourself of your accomplishments and skills and what you would bring to the position whether you are just entering it or are trying to advance within. These are facts you can share with the employer or colleague in the negotiation process.

Finally, remember to be nice to yourself in the process of learning. The more you practice, the easier it will get.

 

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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Summertime Productivity Hacks for Your Job Search

Summertime Productivity Hacks for Your Job Search

I am often asked questions that closely resembles the following, “what can I do this summer to improve my marketability and long-term career goals? Is it a good time or bad time to ramp up my search? The answer is yes and that I have several thoughts on what you can do to advance your search and career overall.

It is important to remember that companies are always hiring. Some industries have specific timelines for recruiting or moments during the calendar year when positions start to open up (i.e. higher education and the summer or at the end of each academic semester). Many others adopt a slower pace and people are in and out of the office for vacations. Deadlines come up and summer planning begins. This is an environment that is often more conducive to your search than you think!

Secondly, when the weather is warmer, people are more relaxed, create space in their schedules are often more open to experiences and conversations. If you are looking to conduct informational interviews with people in your target geographic location or glean industry information, now is the time to peruse your LinkedIn contacts, keep an eye on thought leaders and frequent Twitter posters and make a connection. Ask them for 20 minutes of their time to get iced tea or to take a short stroll at lunch to learn more.

During the summer, you are also more inclined to travel. Why not take advantage of seeing a new city or state that you are interested in moving to one day? Get a sense for the local culture and business sectors present in the area. You may only need to observe but if you are a “Chatty Cathy” like myself, you could take some time to chat with the local barista during your morning coffee or breakfast visit to learn more about what it’s like to work and live in the area.

Finally, summertime is also about finding space to reflect, enjoy the sun and read the books, articles and other things you weren’t able to do the rest of the year. Diversifying what you think about and understand makes you a more interesting person. When it comes time to interviewing, you can share what you learned in the books you’ve read (perhaps some are specific to your field) or talk about the trip you took to a cool new city. Your moments of reflection could also lead you to consider a skill you need to have to build klout with employers in anticipation of your search. There are many websites (i.e. Coursera or EdX) and other start up companies who offer free courses in so many different subjects that you can put on your resume and show employers that you spent time learning and growing in an area that was of interest to you. One last point I want to share about reflection: you can take this time to be mindful and plan how you want to approach your search in the fall. This little time of thoughtfulness can really go a long way in terms of conveying what you want genuinely and authentically to employers and those in your network.

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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Top 5 Mistakes Smart Employees Make and How to Avoid Them

Top 5 Mistakes Smart Employees Make and How to Avoid Them

Smart people make mistakes. We are human after all so what are some ways that we can mitigate mistakes? See my five tips below both from personal experience as well as from my observations of others in the workplace.

1. Not actively reflecting on goals and experiences. I know this can be a daunting task for many but by not doing so, you may end up choosing a field that does not match your personality, goals, natural insights or ways of working. Smart employees are focused employees who make a transition and seek opportunities for advancement based on what will truly make them happy both personally and professionally.

2. Not asking. Considering that the worst answer to most questions that advocate for what you want professional is “No,” I consistently advise on how to prepare for the ask, whatever it may be. Women especially fall victim to not asking because of the fearing of asking for what they want. Practice speaking up and clearly write down your reasons for making the ask so you can establish a solid foundation for speaking up. Finally, practice your pitch, considering all options and possible responses to increase your confidence. Confident employees are smart employees.

3. Not being able to identify and curtail demonstrating passive aggressive behaviors. Fellow professionals are able to see right through your fake kindness and collaborative persona. The last thing you want is to spoil your reputation with your most first degree network, resulting in ill feelings towards working with you. Smart employees pause first to consider the implications of what you write in your emails, opt whenever possible to have face-to-face conversations with coworkers instead and step away from a situation for a moment to neutralize your emotions and be productive and rationale in your response perhaps a few hours or day later when you have had the chance to cool down.

4. Not developing patience in times of transition. It is not fun waiting for the sun to shine but digging in and trudging through can really demonstrate commitment, dedication and your willingness to be uncomfortable with uncertainty. Knowing how to transcend uncertainty and still thrive in your own career and development will provide you with a great deal of content for future interviews and will build resilience—a skill every smart employee needs.

5. Neglecting to build community. It is important to be present and to access the resources that will keep you fresh and engaged with the people who care about the same things, personally and professionally, that you do. Your network is your greatest asset and your personal growth is just as important as your professional growth. Why not be smart and do it at the same time! Join the company softball team, organize meet and greets on your campus, volunteer for a local organization such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters or the local humane society.

 

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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My 4 Best Tips for Writing Better Professional Emails

My 4 Best Tips for Writing Better Professional Emails

1. Think first and foremost about the kind of impression you want to convey to the reader and, secondly, practice the motto “write with a pause.” I think that individuals go wrong when they do not consider the image they are going to be delivering to the receiver. For example, the length of an email, its tone, your feelings or experience of the situation or person to whom you are writing are just some of the factors that affect the impression you convey. Be mindful of your words.

2. One strategy is to consider the recipient an admired mentor. Imagine that you have never met this individual. Are you finding yourself to be more cautious and thoughtful with your words? Have you written the email several times trying to find the right balance of sincerity and eagerness? Remember, what you put in email is permanent. It can be traced and saved for future reference. There isn’t an opportunity to interact in a human way with the recipient so if you are more of a succinct writer, have a warmer greeting and be sure to say “Good morning/afternoon!” with a few niceties before diving into the task at hand. Be polite regardless if you know the person yet or not. It goes a long way.

3. Be careful not to be too casual unless you know the person really well– like a friend or a really close coworker. You might want to visualize yourself writing when you are dressed in your best professional outfit or suit. Erring on the side of being more professional or formal in initial email communications until you get to know someone better is really the most respectful way of conducting yourself. I consistently operate this way because I’d rather be safe than sorry. It also works well in terms of my personality and profession. Of course, knowing when to take a break from formality is something I consistently work on and, actually, enjoy because it allows me to hone a new way of writing and connects me to different audiences. There is a chance that your audience may also want a less formal greeting such as those in the startup community who are looking for your to make a personality connection just as much as an industry expertise appeal. This is where informational interviewing and industry research help you be successful in developing professionalism best practices that speak to your audience and colleagues.

4. Another reason to pause before writing is when your response has an undertone of anger and disagreement with your recipientWhat you put it writing will remain in writing so be certain to gather your thoughts, reel in your emotions and stick to the facts. It might help to take a day before you respond. Or, if you can walk down the hall and talk to the person or pick up the phone, have that personal interaction. It will go much further in terms of relationship building and ensure that the conversation is less charged with emotion and more productive over a shorter period of time. Writing a succinct, well-constructed email with a suggestion that you meet in-person or over the phone will help prevent emotions from being misconstrued and applied to your words where it doesn’t exist.

For more tips and examples, I found this article really helpful.

 

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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Take a Break. Create!

Take a Break. Create!

Several months ago, I challenged myself to do something creative for an hour, every day for a week. I did this because I felt, at the time, a lack of productivity. Even though I was getting a lot done in my professional and personal lives, I felt drained and needed inspiration. Looking back, I realized the gains that one week brought me (many times over) to this day.

Gain #1: I now prioritize including breaks for myself in the day. I used to spend every moment of free time I had in between student appointments and meetings trying to get through my to-do list and was completely drained. The excitement I felt for the creative journey and this challenge allowed me to focus on something each day for myself. I shared with my coworkers and friends what project I was working on each day. It is amazing how a challenged allowed me to create space for reflection and fun. I felt like a more joyous person because of these efforts.

Gain #2: Creativity centered me. By tapping into a part of myself that I had previously lost, I felt like me again. Creativity unleashes a thinking side of you that no other activity can. I am not completely knowledge in the science of this; however, my lived experience sent the message loud and clear that I need to take breaks and create more often than just get through my to-do list. Productivity and success meant more to me than a list I was able to check off.

Gain #3: I am a social person who can create with others and also by myself. The key to holistic creative momentum is to spend time creating on your own and to understand yourself enough to invite people into your experience. The creative pieces you produce become more meaningful when shared. I was blending my personal passions and interests with my professional capacities. This felt “right” to me. Plus, as I said above, I was able to inspire others to be creative by telling them what resources I discovered. I felt like I was more interesting to them and I got to flex my educator muscle, build community in my office and inspire others to experiment with their creative side!

So now you are wondering what activities I actually did, correct?! Here you go. I encourage you to try some of mine, come up with your own and share them with me. I am always up for a creative adventure experiment!

Monday: To get started, I asked a friend who always has an idea for a challenge or a fun activity for some suggestions and resources. One site she suggested was Paintfont.com. Through this site, I was able to write letters and characters into a couple templates, scan the sheets back into the site and it created a font with my own handwriting! So cool! I use that font now when I am typing anything personal in a word document. It adds a nice, fun touch to my work and makes me happy…bonus!

Tuesday: Next, I tried to come up with five songs that capture my personality. This was tough as you can imagine because there are soooo many songs! What was fun about this experience was that it was a reflection exercise and also a throwback experience. Many of my songs were from the 90’s and early 2000’s (i.e. Des’ree You Gotta Be and Whitney Houston I Wanna Dance with Somebody…classics!)

Wednesday: This was my favorite activity of the week. I created an Imaginary Mastermind group of Steve Jobs, Lindsey Pollak, Robert Downey, Jr., Oprah and Jimmy Fallon (pictured above). An Imaginary Mastermind group is essentially a group of people you admire and to whom you can turn (hypothetically) to gain inspiration. It gets you out of your head as you contemplate a decision, build gumption to help you move forward or channel the qualities that you so admire about them into your own behaviors and patterns.

Thursday: Coloring!! I rediscovered my Snoopy coloring book that I bought when I first moved to MA and did not have much of a social calendar yet because I was trying to build my friend group and meet people. Not only did this make me smile and take me back to my childhood, it also helped me reflect on my last 2 1/2 years in MA and how far I have come since those early days in Western MA. Plus, Snoopy is an awesome dog!

Friday: My newest coworker inspired me to complete both a personal and career vision board*. She shared with me the concept of the law of attraction and the power of contemplating and visually positioning your goals to be able to remind yourself every day about what you want. It’s a powerful activity that also gave me the chance to get to know her better as we sat cutting out magazine clippings. Now, instead of just thinking about my goals, I had a place where they lived and I could view them every day. It is a powerful representation and reminder of who you are and want to be. (*Finishing these boards took several days- view my Career Vision Board below)

Saturday: I tried a new recipe. Pinterest was my friend this week as I search for activities and I found myself gravitating more toward the recipes posted, especially the vegetarian options so I tried the Crispy Baked Peanut and Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry (Minimalist Baker). It was amazingly delicious!!

Sunday: Prezi has this sister site called Prezume. I was able to visually represent my resume in a traditional Prezi format. They offered three templates. Through this, I tested an alternative resume option for students I advise in the arts and ended my week of creativity considering a new way to represent my own work and volunteer experience– a win, win!

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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How Millennials Can Empower all of their Colleagues in the Workplace

How Millennials Can Empower all of their Colleagues in the Workplace

With so much talk about the changing workplace landscape, the Millennial generation has been under the microscope.  Some harbor negative feelings related to this scrutiny and attention, others have taken the opportunity to assert generational preferences and to bring forth perspectives that are rich and positive. I spend countless hours in my work assisting clients of many generations with their resumes and cover letters, identifying personal and online resources for job-searching as well as in-networking. However, the trouble is that oftentimes they want to pay little attention to the anticipation, preparation and processing of workplace dynamics. It is a joint effort. There are articles providing employers with information about what Millennials really want out of work and Lindsey Pollak wrote about how to attract millennials to your workplace. I’d like to offer a few tips to Millennials for not just recognizing that three generations exist in the workplace but how to act on that knowledge and productively meld the generations together in the workplace.

  1. Pause first before reacting to a situation with a colleague. If you take a step back from your own emotional triggers and even ask your colleague a question that will help both you and him/her process what is going on, you can assert that you would like to take some time to digest the situation and come back.  I think a lot of damage can be done in the workplace just because we do not take time away from the situation before moving forward.  Miscommunication occurs and stress as well as dissatisfaction follow.
  2. Invite a colleague with more years of experience with the companyto coffee (this person does not necessarily have to be senior in rank to you) to hear more about the history of the work in your department/office. Learn about their workplace preferences and share yours as well.  Seek to understand in order to be understood. Extending this simple gesture demonstrates that you respect their work and are open to developing a professional relationship that could turn into a mentor-mentee connection.
  3. Talk to other Millennials not only in your own workplace (if they exist) but also in other companies and organization. Learning more about how similar or different your experiences have been
  4. People are people and we are all still feeling the pressure and negative effects of the economy. Be human in your workspace.  If you value clocking in and out, then find a position that allows for that but if you seek to build a workplace environment where you can share information about who you are as an individual, then spend some time getting to know your colleagues outside of their roles.  That is how we understand where others are coming from and we can be certain to treat each other respect when we know a little more about them than just the transactions you have with them in your work setting.
  5. Generations previous to you have worked through changing workplace dynamics previous to your arrival.  While that statement may sound crass, just because the media and others are talking about the huge shift Millennials are going to make in the workplace on a macro level, this  does not mean that on the micro level shifts and changes have not been made previously.  We need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Humble communication and information seeking will go much farther in making seamless transitions than clinging to the media’s aggrandization of the changes occurring and more of them to come.
  6. Remember that the old generation of Millennials will have to help the younger generation of Millennials transition into the workplace as we take on supervisory roles. Think back to the struggles you may have faced in a new job and be empathetic to their experience whether or not someone has done so for you previously.
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5 Ways Recent Graduates Can Manage Time in their Job Search

5 Ways Recent Graduates Can Manage Time in their Job Search

What is the best move a college grad can make to get their first professional job?

What do they need to do first?

What’s the best move they can make?

What’s your best, most creative tip?

Be aware of what you want and then seek assistance in identifying the resources you will need to learn more.  Review job descriptions for the positions and fields that interest you both now and perhaps in the future so you can know what to pursue early on in your career. Talk with your college’s Career Center, alumni, faculty mentors, family and friends about your interests so they can refer you to people they know for informational interviews.

The best move you can make is to start when you are ready. Many students feel pressured to begin when their priorities are not in line with what is beyond graduation. Honoring where you are is half the battle. Respecting the space you are in will work in your favor in the search process and landing that first professional job. Spend time crafting a targeted resume, a well-thought-out and authentic cover letter and find your focus when preparing answers to typical interview questions such as “Tell me About Yourself?” and “Why do you want to work in this field/at this company?”

One of the best tools for your job search is time management. There are so many tasks associated with the job search process, so it can often feel like you are not making progress. These steps will help:

1. Spend 10 minutes each week writing or at least thinking about 2-3 key areas you’d like to cover in your search.

2. Set manageable, strategic and smart goals.

3. Designate one or two 30-minute blocks aside to complete those tasks.

4. Think about the time you might spend on social media and other activities and shift one to two hours for your search.

5. Each week, go back to step 1 and reflect on what you were able to accomplish. Then, start fresh with a new plan or goals.

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5 Ways to Stay Calm Awaiting an Employer’s Response

5 Ways to Stay Calm Awaiting an Employer’s Response

Have you interviewed recently? Having a hard time awaiting the employer’s response. Below are 5 actions you can take to help you remain calm while awaiting an employer’s decision on your candidacy for a position that will not overwhelm the employer.

A. Take stock of what you have accomplished to date in your search and interview process. Reflecting can help you sift through the questions you still have about the opportunity and help you evaluate it knowing what you know from the interview as well as allow for questions that may still need answered to pop up.

B. Talk about the interview experience and position with a mentor, friend and/or relative. Sometimes it just helps to vocalize your thoughts and get out of your head.

C. It can also help to draft a follow up email or to write what you might say in a notebook if you are worried you will press send by accident. Oftentimes this allows you to calm down knowing that it probably is too soon or that you cannot say much more at this stage and have to wait but at least you were able to take an action and that is usually all that people want to do when they are anxiously awaiting a response from the employer.

And for context…If an employer says they will get back to you on Monday and it is Wednesday, a few things could have happened:

1. They encountered a personal emergency

2. They are awaiting information from someone else in the organization in order to be able to move forward

3. They decided you were not their first choice and they are awaiting the decision of their top choice candidate. There is a chance you could be their second choice, and although that does not sound as exciting as being their first, you could still get the offer and you want to make sure you let the employer have the upper hand in getting back to you.

D. Finally, I often advise my students and clients to go with your gut. If it feels too soon to follow-up, it probably is too soon.

 

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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Take Time Now To Increase Your Effectiveness on LinkedIn

Take Time Now To Increase Your Effectiveness on LinkedIn

1. Browse the Alumni Tool.

You can do this for your own alma mater(s) or even your friends and those with which you do not have any association or affiliation. Perhaps you want to learn more about the alumni at a graduate program to which you want to apply and where they typically go after they graduate. Maybe you are scoping out a company and want to see if you know anyone in your network who works there and with whom you could have an informational interview.

2. Respond to a professional group discussion.

Perhaps you have been observing discussions about a topic that really interests you and you are feeling ready to jump in. Or, share an article or resource you found that might be of interest to the group and pose question that arose for you when you read the article. Statistics show that engaging in discussions boosts your profile page views on the site by 425%!!

3. Reconsider your headline.

As Lindsey Pollak says, it is your most prime piece of real estate online. You must take care to craft it and not just restate your position title (i.e. Student at XYZ College, Associate Director, Alumnae and Community Engagement). We are more than our title and we want employers to know what we are passionate about and the intersections of our interests. This is a place to indicate to employers that we are seeking an opportunity in specific industries. It can also encourage others to connect with us on other social media sites; I have my Twitter handle listed first. My headline reads:@MeghanGodorov I Speaker | Career Advocate and Educator for Women | Blogger | Community Builder

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6 Tips to Prepare You for a Phone Interview

6 Tips to Prepare You for a Phone Interview

  1. Revisit the resume and cover letter you submitted for the position and take a look again at the job description to remind yourself why you applied and how/why you are qualified.(Note: Always keep a copy of each document with the job description on your computer.  This way, it will be easy to revisit your materials and you won’t have to desperately search for what you submitted. It can be stressful when you apply to so many and then they start calling you for interviews and you feel like your materials are in disarray).
  2. Consider your experiences and develop 5-8 stories you can tell that will support what you are claiming to bring to the table. Remember, you need to substantiate what you claim and be prepared to speak to everything you have listed on your resume.  In an interview, you will be asked to expand upon your experiences as well as connect those experiences to the needs the company has and for the position that is available. The kinds of questions that require stories are behavioral-based. In order to successfully prepare for these kinds of questions, you can use the formula,S.T.A.R: Situation, Task, Action and Result. You start by analyzing and presenting the situation you faced.  Next, you provide the employer with the task(s) at hand that were necessary to employ to move through the situation. These tasks will have produced actions that needed to be taken. So, for this piece of the formula, you will want to talk about what you did to address the problem and task(s) at hand. Finally, you want to describe to the employer what the results were of your efforts.  Reflection is truly a necessary component of behavioral questions. Employers want to know what you learned from the experience and how you will bring those lessons in a constructive way to the work that you will be doing for them.
  3. Prepare answers to questions such as “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you want to work for _____ company” as well as “What are your strengths? Weaknesses? A phone interview is just a first screening of your candidacy. Your resume and cover letter piqued the employer’s interest and now they want to learn more about you. First, spend some time writing your answers down on paper and then setting up a time to practice with your college’s career counseling staff. Additionally, I believe that one of the greatest aspects about the phone interview is that you can have your notes in front of you. Of course, you do not want them to hear in your voice that you are just reading from a piece of paper, but having that “safety net” can be reassuring, especially if you doing a phone interview for the first time.
  4. Many of your career centers, libraries and community centers offer a quiet, professional space within which you could hold your phone interview.  You may need to reserve the space ahead of time but it is often an underutilized resource provided to you by the career center. I would inquire about this once when you are applying for positions so you can be prepared in advance of hearing back from an employer that you have an interview with them.
  5. Do your research about the company and the individuals with whom you will be interviewing. Look at the company’s website, their biographies on the site and try to find your interviewers on LinkedIn to gather more information about their professional interests. Doing this research will help you prepare questions for the interviewers.  It is just as important for you to be assessing whether or not you want to work for them and coming up with questions to evaluate that component of it as it is for them to be determining if you are a good fit for their company.
  6. Find stuffed animals or figurines to which to assign each person with which you are speaking on the phone. This way, you can speak to the object or animal when talking to them on the phone and perhaps that will help you with your delivery and tone.  It can also help you keep track of each individual on the call.
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4 Tips for Graduates Entering the Workplace

4 Tips for Graduates Entering the Workplace

Tip #1: Communicate and connect with your coworkers in person. Meeting other people at your company/organization builds relationships and, subsequently, a sense of community for yourself, especially when you are in a new a city. For example, you could take someone out to lunch or coffee to get to know them and the nature of their work. Asking coworkers about their weekend, the pictures you see displayed in their office or even what excites them about working at the organization builds rapport. When you know the people you work with, you are more successful at your own job.

Tip #2: Success is defined by both the work you deliver AND the value you contribute to the office. Graduates are eager to impress and want to come into the office, do good work and make an impact in that way first and foremost, but it is also important to remember the value that your personality brings. Being successful means you are aware of and balancing both. Observe the office’s dynamics first. Chat with your supervisor about their expectations and your goals. Find ways to partner and work with your coworkers so they can see your professional and personal sides equally. Building your social competence is just as important as your industry competence.

Tip #3: Pay attention to industry trends. Having a global and local perspective on your work helps you contribute a greater impact in the office. I read articles every day about national and global trends in women’s professional development and share this synthesized information with my colleagues and in meetings when proposing new programming or ideas. It keeps me, my work and contributions to my work fresh.

Tip #4: Get involved in your professional association (national, regional or both). Conferences and volunteer opportunities within these associations allow you to meet people from all over the country, and oftentimes, the world. You get to share your work and find people who share your passions in the field. This involvement can help you secure promotions, meet others who can recommend you for employment opportunities and provide professional growth and perspective that your company may not be able to. This past year, I was fortunate enough to present at two national conferences and have presented at an additional six conferences. I’ve met so many amazing people and feel that my involvement in each organization’s working groups makes me a better, more relevant professional. Additionally, I’ve found that being involved early and often increases your professional value exponentially. Hint: You may want to negotiate for professional development opportunities after you get a job offer so that it can become part of your working experience from the beginning.

Meghan is a career consultant, advocate and speaker for women’s professional success in addition to the Associate Director for Alumnae and Community Engagement at Mount Holyoke College. For more tips and advice, subscribe to Meghan’s monthly email newsletter at www.meghangodorov.com. Follow her at @MeghanGodorov.

 

Copyright © 2015 Meghan Godorov

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Jimmy Fallon: Followed his passion? No…Pursue his interests and now, he’s got talent!

Jimmy Fallon: Followed his passion? No…Pursue his interests and now, he’s got talent!

It is funny how things I read get synthesized.  The things I hear and see and experience seem to come together like a “eureka!” in my head and then I want to write about it. Such a thing happened yesterday as I was thinking about Jimmy Fallon and how he has risen to success with what Parade magazine calls “boyish enthusiasm and creative drive” as well as a smile and an insane amount of talent that continues to exceed even his own expectations of himself. His ability to get his guests to be silly and have fun unleashes that within us when we watch his show, especially the “Best of Jimmy Fallon” special. I spent much of Sunday doing work and watching his greatest moments from Saturday Night Live too…and then it hit me…

 

Earlier last week, I stumbled upon an article on the Daily Muse (my favorite job search/career advice website and start-up)Want Work you Love? Don’t Follow Your Passion, written by Erin Greenawald where she asks, “Well then what should we do instead?” Many might think that Jimmy followed a passion of being a comedian all his life but his early college years suggested that he wanted to go into Computer Science and Communications (ultimately he earned a degree in the latter). While enrolled, he pursued an interest and refined a talent for jokes doing comedy shows and impressions at a local club and, because he was doing something he loved, he was exuding that same charm and enthusiasm he does now but at a time in his life when he was still honing his craft. When I encourage students and clients to follow or discover their passion, I am sincere of course, but what I am actually communicating and what Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work you Love is stating in the video from the Daily Muse article above, is that in order to passionately go forth in your career, you must follow your interests and cultivate talents that are needed for the world– those unique to your conglomerate of skills.  The confidence in the skills you have honed as a result of pursuing your interests causes you to be passionate because not only is what you’re doing an interest of yours but it is also something that you are now good at and that other people recognize as such. Others take note of your competence and the confidence you exude. We cannot prove you’ll be successful following your passion because passion develops over time by continuous or sequential exposure to things that interest. You do not follow it you create it, taking hold of or cultivating the skills that allow you to be talented at specific things.

 

For example, I pursue all things career related because I have always naturally wanted to help people discover what they want to do and learn about themselves. Naturally, then I try to pursue my interests so I have anecdotal information to share with my students/clients about how I have felt in doing so; sometimes relentlessly to the point that I am super busy all at once pursuing everything I am interested in! However, the beauty in that comes the rationale that because I am consistently involved in cultivating my interests, I am becoming better and more talented at those interests which have become over time: community engagement, leadership development, certain matters of economic development, as well as the teaching of professional development tips and skills.

 

Fallon’s career is an example of how rubber hits the road.  He was patient in the pursuit of his career, in fact, he had several years in between his time as a regular on SNL and before he took on the Late Show where he was off of most everyone’s radar. He did a few movies to test out that market with his skills, met his wife (on the set of Fever Pitch), had a beautiful baby girl and is now host of the Tonight Show. However, he wasn’t “following his passion” during those years away from television, he was pursuing an interest he had to do movies; to try something different as he was redefining and exploring another facet of his career. Luckily for us, those pursuits did not pan out and he returned to what he does best and what Lorne Michaels said he was a natural at, “[being a comedian who entertains with] a free-wheeling hodgepodge of chat, skits, piano-playing, ad-libbing, man-on-the-street interviews and loopy stunts,” similar to that of the original Tonight Show host, Steve Allen. Lorne recognized Fallon’s talent early on, during his SNL days, and then called him back to Late Night and the rest is history…

 

Putting in your best effort while pursuing your interests builds skills that others recognize and given a forum to do those things, can put you in the limelight.  Whether that be on a national, regional, local or familial stage, it does not matter.  What matters is that you’ve created a stage where the skills you’ve cultivated into a career are now what fills you with passion!

 

**Fallon actually acknowledges the mystery around how he arrived on the Tonight show further supporting this notion that you do not follow your passion, you create a career by cultivating your interests. Check out the beginning of his opening monologue and then consider his final statement which essentially said the following, “[We will talk about what is going on in the news, I will make fun of everyone and ultimately, I want to make you laugh so you get to bed with a smile on your face and stay happy]”

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The Amazing Reinvention Challenge: 4 Ways to Employ Entrepreneurial Tactics to Your Career Change

The Amazing Reinvention Challenge: 4 Ways to Employ Entrepreneurial Tactics to Your Career Change

Are you anticipating a career change and/or in the process of changing your occupational destination? If yes, then spend some time answering these four questions to embark on the Reinvention Challenge!  Entrepreneurs will answer these questions when creating a new product or re-purposing an old one. If a shift in mindset or a revisiting of your strengths and preferences for career satisfaction is what you need, then applying these entrepreneurial principles will help you make your next move.

This economy is asking us to be more tolerant of the shifts in our careers. Companies are expecting more from us and we are also expecting more from ourselves, which requires that we re-purpose the product we are delivering, especially when changing fields.

If you feel lost as you reinvent your product (YOU), then ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What will/should your product be?
  • There are several texts that help you explore who you are further:  Richard Bolles, “What color is your parachute?” (Amazon- Book $16.40; Manual $14.96), StrengthsFinder” by Tom Rath (Gallup $20) and Positive Leadership by Adam Seaman
  • Ask yourself these supplemental questions which get to your most authentic self, where person insight can lead to professional success.  Entrepreneurs must think deeply about their product as well as their threshold of sacrifice and projected level of reward that makes the efforts worth it. The reinvention challenge requires self-reflection in the same way that an entrepreneurial endeavor does. Taking the time to really know how you want to structure your days and how to use your strengths, will allow you to start your reinvention.

— What 100 things about your describe who you are (use adjectives, site hobbies, interests, what gets you excited, what upsets you, etc.)

— What are the 5 values I practice every day? If you have to make a list of values or narrow them down from a list you find online, please do.

  1.  For what industry is your product designed?
  • With some self-knowledge in tow, think big and broadly here about what fields h, interests you have.  What were your realizations and reflections based on the results of Strengthsfinder, Positive Leadership and/or Bolles’ book. What have you always been excited to get involved in– dream time!
  • Perhaps surprisingly, reading content from newspapers, magazines, websites, and blogs allows you to think broadly and in creative ways from an interdisciplinary perspective/approach to engage in a process that replicates that which an entrepreneur engages in when launching a product.
  • Seek out industry-specific information on websites like GlassdoorLinkedIn– groups and individuals, follow professionals and thought leaders on Twitter as a way to synthesize what you learned when reflecting with field trends and opportunities to insert your unique self into a new opportunity either in your current employment or in another arena.
  1. How or where will you sell your product?
  • Leverage your local resources: Young professionals groups, BNIs, Volunteer opportunities, MeetUps; talking to people and building a network locally will help you gain footing for a larger market.  Entrepreneurs identify information/monetary resources upon which to find solutions to their problems/ those that prevent them from getting to their next step. These to-do’s allow you to benefit from outside, expert experiences, gain the respect and partnership of professionals and practice pitching your new product (YOU) by talking about who you are and what you want to sell to many people.
  • Build national connections: Engage with those interesting people and companies  with whom you connected on LinkedIn and Twitter- Converse, ask for an informational interview, post industry-relevant articles, inspirational quotations; anything that will increase your impact and search appearances in website like LinkedIn.
  1. Who is the target market for your new product?
  • Perhaps it is your current company/workplace and this new knowledge will require a shift and advocacy on your part to find a new role.  Gaining new skills by making connections across company, organizational or campus lines will make you a greater asset to the workplace, show new confidence in your skill set (realization of what you can offer) and feel more fulfilled in a place that may have been a drag to you before.
  • Through this process, you may find that it is a new company/field that suits you best. Knowing this open doors and your mind, relieves you of any stress from not knowing what you want when you started at the first question and has taken you on a journey of reinvention that entrepreneurs live and breathe on.

Reflecting on these questions helps you learn the skills to give you hope as well as actionable information and connectedness to local and professional communities that will end up serving your interests long after you embarked on this journey.

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Featured! The First 90 Days: 5 Suggestions to Help New Hires

I recently contributed an article for TrainingIndustry.com’s blog and wanted to share it with my readers. Please visit this link.

If you are a leader, mid-career or otherwise and want to set your new hires up for success, then this is the article for you! Alternatively, if you want to consider how you, the individual, can be successful walking into a new role, there are a few nuggets of high-quality information that can prepare you for the first 90 days. Factoring in your supervisor’s perspective can be very enlightening and advantageous. Happy reading!

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