Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I still remember the day...

I still remember the day I told my parents I was going to go sell mattresses.

It was a Saturday afternoon in 2001, about a month before I was set to grace the stage of my college campus’ auditorium and claim the diploma I had spent four years working so hard to achieve. I’m sure that you can imagine my parent’s response to this bold statement… “You are doing WHAT?” I’m pretty certain at first they didn’t believe me, which was then followed by a semi-heated discussion, which probably included some of the typical parental phrases… “You just spent 4 years getting your degree and you’re going to throw it away” or “Don’t get mad at me when I say ‘I told you so’!” To top it all off, not only was I going to go sell mattresses, but I was going to move over 2,000 miles away from home to do so.

So, you may ask, what would possess someone to do this?

I can tell you it certainly wasn’t for the love of mattress sales. Instead, what truly drew me in was seeing this incredible group of people who had such passion for what I would have anticipated would be such a mundane job. Through my over 7 years with my company, I realized it’s really not what you do… it’s how you do it and who you do it with.

As you go through your career search, you will probably be drawn to big name organizations or positions that may land you a prestigious title. However, I believe that if you want to end up in a position you love with a company you will love, here are a few things to look for:

Culture: What is the culture of the company like?
How do the employees interact?
Do they have an open door policy?
Do they welcome ideas from internal employees?
Vision, Values & Mission: Do they have a specific vision?
What are they doing to actually live out their values?
Is everything they do centered around the mission of their organization?
People: What kind of people work for the organization?
Are they people who will make you a better person and challenge you to grow?
Are they people that you will genuinely enjoy being around?

Where you go to work is obviously a very important decision. You will most likely spend more time at work than you will at home… so choose wisely and make sure that you are selecting a career path & company for the right reasons. This mattress extraordinaire sure did!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Job Seekers Should Act like Puppies…

That’s right; job seekers should act like puppies. After being out of town and thinking abut my little puppy at home, Lola, I began thinking about how puppies are so lovable. Many job seekers today have been recently laid off, turned away from jobs, and flat out rejected. This type of treatment can make a person feel unloved!

 Puppies have a zest for life and are always willing to learn a new trick… with a little coaching.
So hold your head high and think about your cuddly little friends as a source of inspiration for your job search!

So you might be asking, ‘how will acting like a puppy make me more “loveable” to an employer?’ It’s simple, think about the different characteristics of a puppy:

They are always excited to see you when you get home. After coming home from a business trip, I’m tired and looking to relax. I open my door and, who is there to greet me with a big smile and happiness? Lola. No matter what kind of day I have had I always smile when I see her little face and tail wagging with excitement. I mean, who doesn’t like a welcomed greeting? Now as a job seeker, think about the employer you are interviewing with and how many bad interviews they have sat through. Having someone excited and “wagging their tail” to interview is very refreshing and you can’t help but make them smile.

In today’s job market, it may seem like you have to go on 100 interviews before you finally find the dream job you were looking for or find an employer that likes what you have to offer. It is very easy to give up and walk away with your tail tucked between your legs. I ask you, “Is that what a puppy would do?” When Lola wants to play fetch and I’m not in the mood, do you think that stops her from trying? She will continue to place the toy on me over and over and over again until I play fetch with her. Puppies don’t give up… and neither should you.

Every now and again, Lola will have a little accident in the house which will cause me to be upset, placing her outside or in the kennel until she realizes what she has done is a mistake. Lola will recognize she has made me upset, but she will never hold a grudge! So even if you have made a mistake, which resulted in losing a job or not making it to a second interview, never hold a grudge. Don’t tell potential employers about previous grudges once held either. Learn from your mistakes and get back into the game.

Now you might be reading this blog thinking, ‘how can I be like a puppy, they are so young and full of life and I am not? I have been working for years or I just feel jaded.’ One thing you must never forget, no matter how seasoned a professional you may be, it is extremely important to always feel young and always be willing to learn.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's All about the Shake

We all know the famous song:

You put your right hand in,
You put your right hand out,
You put your right hand in,
And you shake it all about!

For the Hokey Pokey, it's all about the shake! For a first impression in a job interview or at a career fair, it's also all about the shake...the handshake!

Here are a few helpful tips for a proper handshake:

Start early. Be the first to stand up and offer your hand. Make sure you meet them head-on, facing them directly.

Make Eye Contact. This should be a no-brainer and shows confidence!

Firm vs. Soft. Try to avoid the dead fish shake and the bone-crunching shake. Find a nice balance and remember that shaking a woman’s hand should be no different than shaking a man’s.

Ending a Handshake. End the handshake after 3-4 seconds or 2-3 pumps in order to avoid creating an awkward moment.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll have any employer eating out of the palm of your hand (pun intended)!