4
Sep

5 Networking Mistakes That Keep You From Getting Ahead

{Click here to read the original article on Time.com.}

Every single roundup of career advice out there talks about the importance of networking. Less talked-about but just as important is doing it correctly. You might think you’re doing all the right things by hanging out near the boss at the sales retreat or passing out your business card to everybody you meet at the trade show reception — but in reality, bad networking technique can do as much damage to your career as not networking at all.

Here are some common pitfalls experts warn against falling into.

Relying on online social networks.

Yes, LinkedIn and its ilk can be a great way to further your network, but the point of networking is to actually, you know, meet people. James Jeffries, director of career development at Bard College at Simon’s Rock, says this is a mistake young workers especially need to be conscious of, since they grew up having simultaneous online and real-life relationships. “As networking becomes synonymous with online networking… they can neglect the importance of actually meeting up with people for coffee, making a phone call, or showing up at an event. So far online connections have not supplanted these traditional interactions,” he says.

Staying in your comfort zone.

Mingling with others at corporate, industry or alumni functions isn’t going to be nearly as effective if you just hang out with people you know. Yes, it’s a good idea to catch up with acquaintances, but unless you push yourself out of your comfort zone and meet new people, you’re limiting the effectiveness of your networking, says Amanda Augustine, job search expert at mobile career network TheLadders. “Casual networking events at local watering holes can quickly turn into mini-reunions with the friends you already see on a regular basis,” she says in a post on the company’s blog. Augustine says you should set a goal of talking to three new people at every event you attend. “They have the most potential to expand your network the furthest,” she says.

Doing the business-card “drive-by.”

Some people take the other extreme when it comes to networking. They’re so determined to meet as many new people as possible that they have it down to a science: A quick introduction, handshake and then they’re pushing their business card into the person’s palm and moving on before the other person can catch their breath. “Networking is not a race to distribute as many business cards or get as many cards as possible,” career coach Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta advises on the blog of her consulting firm, OliveBlue. To be effective, networking needs to be about relationship building, not card collecting. It’s not and will never be just a numbers game.

Focusing on what’s in it for you.

“Networking can be described as the process of interacting or engaging in communication with others for mutual assistance or support,” Akpoveta says. The mutual part is key here. If you’re always asking what somebody can do for you, it’s going to get old quick. Find out what the other person needs or is interested in, and make that happen. “We need to change our mindset from focusing on not just what we can get, but to also what we can give,” Akpoveta says. If you’re known as a person who can deliver, people are more likely to remember you — and more likely to reciprocate when you’re the one asking for a favor or a referral.

Not following up.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but how many of us have been rifling through a desk drawer and stumbled across the business card of someone who would make a great contact — if only you’d emailed them back when you met them months ago. “Think of each networking event as a speed dating exercise,” Augustine says. “If you get someone’s phone number but never call them afterwards, the evening was a waste.” Shoot off a quick note following your meeting. It doesn’t have to be elaborate: Just say, “Hi, it was great meeting you. I wanted to make sure you had my contact info, too, because I’d like to stay in touch.” Even a brief email can get the ball rolling.

21
Aug

4 Ways To Plan Your Career Path Now

{This article originally appeared on Glassdoor.}

As Stephen Covey would say, when planning out your career, you always want to think with the end in mind. This means paying attention to how today will affect your ultimate goals. Every action you take and each relationship you build will impact your future self down the road. Read more

14
Aug

How To Pull Yourself Out Of A Work Rut

{Click here to read the original article on Real Simple.}

Five experts share their go-to strategies. The good news: It can involve plenty of TV time. Read more

8
Aug

The Job Follow Ups: How To Follow Up Via Email Or Other Methods After The Job Application Is Submitted

{Click here to read the original article on Monster.com.}

We often hear that it’s good to follow up a week or so after sending a resume and/or applying for a job, especially if you don’t hear back from the company. What are some practical guidelines you would suggest for when and how to follow up — without being pesky?

Detail the Value You’d Add

Start by identifying the best person to speak with by checking with your network contacts or the firm’s front-desk staff, and determine what you want to say. When communicating with the hiring manager, express your enthusiasm for the opportunity and highlight why you would be the right fit for the role. For example, if you’re applying for a finance opening, mention the processes you implemented in a previous position to help the company significantly reduce costs and that you could assist the prospective employer in a similar fashion. As you conclude the discussion, ask about the next steps in the hiring process.

The key when following up with hiring managers is to avoid simply asking if they received your resume. Instead take the opportunity to demonstrate your initiative, show your enthusiasm and detail the value you can contribute to the firm.

DeLynn Senna, executive director of North American permanent placement services, Robert Half International

Use Your Network

One week is a good time frame for a follow-up. Follow up once. Unfortunately, many companies and recruiters just don’t have the bandwidth to personally respond to every job inquiry at the disappointment of many candidates. If you don’t have a contact name, search LinkedIn for the contact of the hiring manager or recruiting manager. Usually someone’s LinkedIn account is tied to their personal or work email address, and you can ask for an introduction through your network.

Lindsay Olson, partner, Paradigm Staffing

Keep It Short

Find a contact in the company/division of interest through professional networks. No matter what method of follow-up you choose (phone, email, professional network), express your interest in the position, highlight your top qualities that match the job, and keep your message short and to the point.

Describe how you would benefit the company with attaining its goals and list something relevant to their organization. Let them know you would be available to meet in person or over the phone to discuss your background further.

If you don’t hear back within a week, ask yourself: Is this a company/job you are really interested in? If so, reach out again.

Judy Ottaviano, recruiting manager, and Marybeth Lambert, executive recruiter, Wells Fargo

Check Your Spam Folder

Many organizations are receiving record-high numbers of applications these days, and often there isn’t time or staff to provide direct updates to every applicant. Check to see if the organization has an online application status tool. Many Web-based systems will provide real-time updates on application status, but sometimes you have to dig to find them. Also, check your email spam folder. Many systems will produce an automated note that confirms receipt of an application, or gives information about general timelines, but you won’t see it if it gets caught by your spam blocker.

If the automated tools can’t help, then give a call to the organization’s staff employment or personnel department.

Noah Apodaca, lead recruiter for staff at the University of California, Irvine

2
Aug

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Organizing Your Job Search

{Click here to read the original article on Glassdoor.}

When on the hunt for a job, it’s not uncommon to be applying for multiple opportunities at once. This is especially true for those of us just starting out in our careers. But multiple applications mean different resume versions, various cover letters and many, many different deadlines to keep track of. With so many moving parts at once, it’s easy to become disorganized. Read more

24
Jul

The Best Job For Everyone Else

{Click here to read the original article on The Muse.}

Early on in my senior year of college, I took a look around me. 90% of the smart, talented people I knew were clamoring for consulting jobs. Being a consultant meant advising the nation’s top companies on business strategy and receiving a generous salary, a bonus, and a future filled with glamorous cocktail parties and networking events.

I, being an English major, had never given much thought to consulting, but I figured, “If everyone wants this job, it has to be great, right?” The fact that I had never independently been interested in business was unimportant. I became filled with a frantic desire to land one of those coveted, prestigious jobs. Read more

18
Jul

4 Ways To Score A Great Salary At Your First Job

{Click here to read the original article on Glassdoor.}

Finding your first full-time job is a heck of a lot of work — after all of the research you do, applications you fill out, and interviews you prep for, it can be tempting to rush through an acceptance once you’ve been offered a position. But signing the dotted line on an offer letter without hesitation is a decision that can haunt you for years down the road. Not only do you miss out on a lower base pay now — subsequent pay raises are often based on a percentage of your annual salary, so the cash you’re missing out on only compounds. Similarly, settling on a lower initial salary might discourage you from asking for more later down the road or at your next position.

So even (and perhaps especially) if you’re fresh out of college, you should put the work in now to ensure that you earn what you deserve. Read more

10
Jul

The Ultimate Guide To Writing An Amazing Email

{Click here to read the original article on Glassdoor.}

You may think of emails as quick to-dos that you can fire off in a matter of two minutes or sometimes, even 30 seconds. But if this is the approach you’re taking to email, you’re likely missing out on a valuable opportunity.

“In today’s fast-paced work environment, it can be easy to type up a quick email and not think twice before clicking send so that you can get on to your next task. However, sending emails that are well-written, thoroughly thought-out, and free from spelling/grammar errors is essential for not only preserving your personal brand, but also for ensuring that the recipient focuses on the content of the message, and not the way it is or is not written,” says Lisa Philyaw, Analytics Coordinator at organization and leadership development consulting firm FMG Leading.

In other words, if you want your emails to be effective, you need to rethink how you’re crafting them. So whether you’re trying to sell a potential client your business services, pitch a reporter, or simply get your manager to review the deck you created, read on to get the scoop on the must-dos (and must-avoids) of email.

Part I: Dos

Do: Use a Clear Subject Line

With emails, the devil’s in the details. If you quickly jot down the first subject line that pops into your head, it’s much more likely to get skipped over or deleted.

A few common errors: “Subject lines like ‘Important Document’ look like spam and subject lines like ‘Event Next Weekend’ are far too vague,” says Rikki Ayers, copywriter and content Marketer at Be Rad Media. “A subject line like ‘Email campaign draft needed for next weekend’s event’ helps me understand what you need. If your email is urgent, add that to your subject line.”

Philyaw agrees. “If you are requesting something, include it in the subject to make it known. If you are following up with specific materials, make that the subject itself. The more specific the subject is to the content of the email, the more likely the person is to open the email with a clear understanding of what’s to come and what’s expected,” she says.

Do: Start With a Greeting

Getting down to business in an email is important, but a little effort spent writing a greeting goes a long way.

“It takes only a couple seconds to type a ‘Hello ____,’ and can make a world of difference regarding how the email comes across to the recipient,” Philyaw says. “Without starting with a greeting, your email may come across cold or demanding, failing to address a recipient’s potential need to connect at a more personal level.”

Do: Be Mindful of Who You Send to

With inboxes so congested already, you want to be very mindful of not looping people into conversations that they don’t need to be in. In particular, “avoid Using ‘Reply-to-All’ unless everyone needs to know,” says business etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer. As anyone who’s been on a never-ending reply-all email chain can tell you, those messages will go straight to the trash anyway.

Beyond that, Schweitzer recommends exercising caution with those who you cc and bcc. “Sometimes people are so proud of their work product that they add a dozen recipients in the ‘cc’ line… this may be interpreted as bragging, a cry for attention, or self-centeredness. Big egos are unattractive,” she says. As for bcc, “ethical questions have arisen regarding this practice. If you need to share an email with someone else, courtesy requires you to seek permission of the original recipient first. When you send your own message secretly to another, it is far safer to paste your message into another ‘FYI’ email, rather than add a person as a ‘bcc.’”

Do: Establish a Personal Connection

“20 years ago, you could have gotten away with writing sub-par emails because they were still novel at the time — they would have been opened out of sheer curiosity,” says Christian Chavarro, Growth Marketer at Clutch Prep. But “that’s no longer the case — people are slammed with emails daily, forcing them to optimize their time by prioritizing a select few emails, with the rest being ignored or deleted. On top of that, people are spending less time actually reading the emails they open, meaning you’re also fighting for a shrinking amount of attention.”

Because of that, it’s necessary to “differentiate yourself… [by] understanding who that target is and what commonality you share rather than shoving a sales-y, ego-centric email in their face,” says Julianna Corso, Sr. Marketing & PR Strategist at Moxe.

One strategy that worked for Corso? “I tried conducting research on who I was targeting first before I even started to write the email. Once I found that piece of gold such as sharing alma maters, watching their speeches, meeting at networking events, or affinities for outside passions like sports, I placed that at the beginning of my message. This creates a humanistic touchpoint rather than a direct sales point,” she says. As a result, “I was able to reach over 90% success rate with coordinating a call based on those emails. I actually got a note back from the CEO of Macy’s saying it was one of the best first impressions someone has ever made via email!” she says.

Do: Use a Strong Call-to-Action

With a limited amount of time in the work day, people don’t want to pick apart an email in order to figure out what the next steps are. As the email sender, your job is to make it as clear to them as possible.

“Assign tasks and deadlines in your emails, whether that’s responding to a memo by this afternoon or following up with a client immediately. A good example could be… Jeremy, please devote some attention to social media this morning and respond to the issues with this message: [insert message]. Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter,” Ayers suggests.

And to make sure that somebody doesn’t gloss over your request, Philyaw suggests that you “underline, bold, or find a way to draw attention to requests… for example, start a question with the actual phrase ‘Question for you: ________’ to make it very easy for the recipient to focus in on it and not let it get lost in the email,” she says.

Have multiple asks for somebody? “Number your request so I can number my responses as well,” says business English coach Guy Arthur Canino.

Do: Keep it Short and Sweet

When writing an email, it’s best to skip the flowery language and get right to the point. “A study in 2005 observed that readers spent an average of 15-20 seconds on each email they opened; I’m willing to bet that number has shrunk considerably since then,” Chavarro says.

You’ll want to keep it long enough to address everything it needs to, but “the email should contain as few words as possible,” Canino says. “I don’t have time to read a novel. As Shakespeare said, ‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’”

Do: Double Check Your Attachments

I have yet to meet somebody who’s never had to send a follow-up email after realizing that they forgot to include attachments. Once or twice is understandable, but repeated mistakes will make it look like you aren’t thoughtful in your communications or just don’t care. So when sending out documents, always, always look for the little blue link at the bottom of your email.

However, it’s best to hold off on mentioning the attachment until the end of your email says Barbara Farfan of Anyhows.com. “The minute you reference an attachment, it’s likely that everything written in the email after that will not be read. Why? Because of Shiny Squirrel Syndrome. The reader will most likely immediately open, download, print, forward, and give their entire attention to the attachment, completely forgetting that there was anything in the email beyond that,” she says. “Say everything you want to say first, and then at the end say simply, ‘Attached is the document/chart/photo/whatever [you’ve] been talking about.”

Do: Respond Respectfully

You know how frustrating it is when someone doesn’t respond to an email that you really need them to, so don’t put any of your colleagues in the same situation.

“Replying within 24 hours is common courtesy. Leaving someone hanging for any longer and you are not only perceived as rude, it could cost you business in the long run,” Schweitzer says. “If you’ve unintentionally kept someone waiting longer than 24 hours or extenuating circumstances arose, politely explain the situation and express your apologies.”

Even if someone turns down your initial request — for example, lets you know they’re not interested after you pitched them on your business services — acknowledging that you received the email and appreciate their taking the time to read it is the right thing to do.

“Be cordial and friendly even if your email doesn’t find the result you were looking for. If your recipient took the time to respond to your email, use that as an opportunity to build a relationship instead of burning a bridge,” says Jeff Alexander, co-founder of Interlude Artist Management.

Part II: Don’ts

Don’t: Use a Template

It’s tempting to leverage canned responses when you have to send out a large volume of emails, but be warned: “Most people recognize templates in an instant,” says email evangelist Gisela Hausmann. “Tailoring a template suggests that the sender doesn’t care enough about the matter to articulate their own thoughts.”

So for truly important emails, original copy is the way to go. It might not be the most convenient in the short-term, but it’ll spare you in the long run.

Don’t: Use Wishy-Washy Language

Have an opinion? Then don’t be afraid to say it! People often qualify their opinions and recommendations with phrases that downplay their expertise.

“Avoid the phrases, ‘I would say’ and ‘I possibly think’ — and variations of those. They come across like you’re not sure what you’re writing, which makes me wonder why you bothered in the first place,” Ayers says. “Take some time to think through your response before whipping out an email. Often you can remove those extra phrases. You are saying something, so you don’t need to say you would say it.”

Don’t: Rush Your Emails

You may think you can fire off emails in your sleep, but odds are those lightning-fast responses you send out don’t get the best reception.

“Never send an email it’s taken you only seconds to write,” Ayers warns. “Always proofread your emails for spelling errors and to ensure your reader will understand the context. Do all of these things and your internal emails will make you look professional, organized and confident — and that will go a long way.”

Don’t: Get Carried Away With Caps, Punctuation, or Emoticons

WHEN YOU SEE AN EMAIL THAT LOOKS LIKE THIS, DO YOU WANT TO OPEN IT?!?!?!?! Didn’t think so. Extend the Golden Rule to email etiquette and email others how you would like to be emailed — i.e., nothing that looks like you’re being screamed at. Oh, and save the smiley and winking faces that appear far too often in professional emails for closer friends 😉.

Don’t: Use an Unprofessional Email Address

“Aerosmith4ever@hotmail.com” may have seemed like a great idea when you first created it, but let’s face it: if you’re working full-time, you’ve outgrown your middle-school sounding email address.

“We’ve seen emails from usernames with vague drug references, emails from friend’s addresses, and even an email SMS message from a cell phone. If you’re asking someone to spend time reading your email, make sure you spend time presenting yourself in a professional way,” Alexander says.

Don’t: Misspell

With technology like spell check, autocorrect, and Grammarly, you really have no excuse to send frequent typos in your emails — so leverage them! Otherwise, you risk looking like an amateur.

One thing to look out for in particular is misspelling names, which can really rub people the wrong way. “In a face-to-face setting (job interview, sales meeting, meeting with the department head) anybody who greeted a lady named Brittany with the words, ‘Hi, Bethany’ would be considered impolite or incompetent… Writing in an email ‘Hi, Britany’ is the equivalent of this faux-pas,” Hausmann says. “An easy trick to avoid misspelling names is to copy the recipient’s name in a text document, thereby strip it of the formatting, then copy and paste it from there.”

Don’t: Overuse the First Person

It seems innocuous enough, but overusing the first person can be a big turn-off for email recipients. “There is no faster way to say ‘This email is about me and what I want’ than overusing the words ‘I,’ ‘my,’ and ‘me.’ I call such emails me-mails,” Hausmann says.

The fix, though, is simple: “After writing a first draft always edit the email and rephrase by turning ‘I’s into ‘you’s,” Hausmann suggests.

Part III: See It In Action
Want to see a concrete example of what these recommendations might look like? Chavarro offered a couple of examples.

Bad Email

Subject line: opinions on this?

I’ve gotta put a report together and thought you could maybe help me out before tomorrow’s meeting. Sorry to bother you with this. I wrote some stuff but I’m not sure what to think of it yet. Thanks for your help.

“The subject line is far too vague to give the reader any context. What is ‘this’? Who are you? The body is in one long paragraph and doesn’t make any tangible request, with ‘help me out’ not giving any concrete specifics as to whether they want feedback, help actually writing it, etc.,” Chavarro says. “There’s also no mention of there being an attachment in the email, which would give readers pause as to whether they should even consider opening the file. Apologizing ahead of time only serves to further push them away from helping the sender. No mention of the sender or recipient’s name is made, which gives the message a cold, unwelcoming feel.”

Good Email

Subject line: Can I get your feedback on this report?

Hey Paul,

I’m working on my report for tomorrow’s 6 PM meeting and wanted to know if I could get your feedback before I finish it up.

I’ve attached the current draft to this email, feel free to ask any questions or make suggestions you might have.

Definitely appreciate your help on this!

Best,
Tim

“This email is good because it’s short, to the point, and its message is broken up into distinct, easily readable chunks of text. The subject line conveys the message so that the reader isn’t left guessing what they’re going to see when they open the email,” Chavarro says.

With all of this info, you have no excuse to keep sending out mediocre, hastily-written emails. So go forth and wow your colleagues with your impeccable communication skills!

26
Jun

Help for 5 Common Career Mistakes

{Click here to read the original article on Real Simple.}

Whatever your chosen profession, we all have something in common: We’re trying to do the best we can in our careers.

Of course we aren’t going to gossip about our boss, fail to meet our deadlines or do anything else to jeopardize our jobs or careers… knowingly.

It’s that “knowingly” that’s the problem. We can easily avoid the professional pitfalls we know, but what about the ones we don’t? And even more important, could we be making major mistakes when we think we’re making the right move? Read more

20
Jun

6 Things You Should Never, Ever Tell Your Coworkers

{Click here to read the original article on Glassdoor.}

We spend a lot of time at work. Forty hours a week for forty odd years adds up to a whopping 70 percent of your life spent in an office, says millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. And as such, “it’s only natural to become friends with your coworkers,” she points out. But Heather Huhman, a career coach and founder of Come Recommended, says, “in any relationship, it’s important to have boundaries,” and Jacinto agrees.

In other words, as Jacinto puts it, “at the end of the day, they are your coworker first and friend second.” And there are just some things you should never, ever tell them. Read more

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