Thank You For Your Time

You’ve got a great resume, they called you to do a phone screen, and now you’ve left the interview with a good feeling. The next step is very important: you thank them for their time.

Remember when grandma or mom used to make you write thank you letters after your birthday or maybe a holiday to let people know you were thankful for your presents? Yeah, let’s continue that trend into adulthood as well. Writing a sincere thank you note (or email, depending on the job or industry that you may be in) can make or break the hiring manager’s decision to bring you on (take it from me– i know from personal experience).

The card doesn’t have to be anything extravagant nor will this cost you much (if anything). You can easily run to your local super store and check the greeting card section for a blank box of thank you cards. You can be generic and just buy the ones that literally say “thank you” on it or you can get something a little bit fancier, maybe if your initial on it. Either way, keep is simple and appropriate. Refrain from too much color or movement going on the front. You will also need to get some stamps (and some bank’s ATMs have that option, so easy peasy! Don’t even need to go the post office).

Next, I recommend typing out what you will say in a word processing software to make sure that everything will be spelled correctly. It would be very embarrassing for you if you misspelled something when you were trying to show how clever and mature you are. The general guideline of what to write should follow:

  • Thank them for having you there
  • Mention the position you applied for
  • Talk about one bullet point of what the position would entail
  • Discuss how you can fix/help/enhance the opportunity or gap that may have been mentioned during the interview AND/OR how the department/organization could benefit form your unique skills

Keep the note to 50 words or less (including your opening and your closing lines). Make sure your handwriting is legible. And then postmark it no later than the following day after the interview (but day of would be even better!).

There may be jobs or industries that you apply to that most everything is done electronically and a hand written thank you is just crazy (think IT positions). However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send some sort of thank you. After the end of the interview, be sure you get a business card and email the individual(s) a thank you note instead. I still strongly urge those who don’t work in that type of environment to still send the hand written over the electronic version as it will make you stand out from the rest.

Have you ever written a thank you note after an interview and receive a job offer afterwards?

Being Let Go

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Ok, let’s talk about something not to fun, but it has to be said…. being fired. It will happen to the best of us. It’s never fun (seriously, who likes being let go??). Either way, you need to have a plan in place. Here’s your surefire plan to get over this:

  1. You get one day (that’s 24 hours) to wallow in your grief. That’s it. Use this time wisely to cry, sob, get angry… whatever it is that you need to do to release the emotion. It doesn’t matter if you were laid off or fired… You will still feel similar emotions. It’s important to take the first 24 hours to get the emotions out or else you will never be able to get back to productive mode.
  2. Evaluate the situation more clearly. Alright, you’ve spent the last 24 hours wallowing away the situation. Now your’e going to put on your big kid pants on and look at the situation that led up to it.
    • If it was a Lay Off: How was the company performing? Did you work in a critical department or not? Was your supervisor acting a little off? What was your gut telling you?
    • If it was a Let Go: By this, I mean that your employment was terminated due to some sort of performance issue. The odds of your boss “just hatin’ on you” is very slim, so you’ll have to be very honest with yourself in this section. Let’s evaluate it: How was your performance? Were you just skating by with the bare minimum? Had you been on a performance improvement plan already? Where you getting along with other people? Did you follow the policy correctly (or not)? Where you coming in on time (most common way to get terminated for young adults)?
  3. Consider where you can improve. After evaluating how you were eliminated, now you need to figure out how you can develop and improve upon yourself. The biggest part about growing up is constantly looking for ways to improve because if you’re not growing, you’re not going anywhere.
    • If it was a Lay Off: Write down some of the signs you were seeing. What were some rumors you heard? How was your supervisor acting towards you? Now, file your list to the back of your mind until the next time, when you’re a lot more prepared for it.
    • If it was a Let Go: Understand what behaviors you did, what actions you did (or did not do) that led to the ultimate decision to fire you. Be honest with yourself because during your interviews, an interviewer may ask the question “why did you leave your last position?” and you will have to be (creatively) honest. What counts the most is what are you going to do in the future to ensure that behavior does not repeat itself?
  4. Update your resume and start applying like crazy! The majority of your time should now be dedicated to looking for your next position. Think of job searching as a full-time job now: You start your day at 8am working on your resume, checking out job listings, updating cover letters, and applying for jobs. Your day ends around 4 or 5. Monday through Friday (and maybe even the weekends!). This is your job now. After a few weeks, you will start seeing the phone calls and interviews rolling in. Don’t give up.

There will always be things in life that will throw crazy curveballs at you, both personally and professionally. If you stick to my 24 hour rule, you will have a lot easier time to recovering from those blows.

Where you ever fired or laid off from a job? Did you see it coming? What did you learn from that experience and how did you use it to enhance yourself for future opportunities?

Find Your Passion

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Figuring out what you want to do is hard. You look around you and feel like a everyone knows where they are going and you feel so alone. I’m going to let you in on a little secret….. They’re full of it! 

Seriously…. They just want to feel better about themselves because you were being openly honest. But, we’re not here to talk about them…. We’re here to talk about you and helping you find your passion, your dream, your path….

Answer this question: If money as not an object, what sort of job/career would I be in?

Now, let’s dive in a little further on that…. (Not gonna lie, there may be some research involved, but it will be worth it!)

  1. What skills are needed for that job?
  2. What knowledge base would you need to be successful? To be the best of the best?
  3. Do you need further education? Degrees? Certifications?
  4. Who do you know that have become successful in this career?
  5. What did they do to get there?
  6. How long did it take them to be where they are today?

Taking it back to where you are today…. Make a list of everything you just wrote down about your dream career. Now answer, based on where you are today, how realistic is that dream career?

I know that’s little harsh, but the odds of you becoming a race car driver when you had never had any exposure to boxcar racing may not be in your favor. BUT, what if you worked to support the driver through marketing and PR? Mechanical? Engineering the motor?

So, think about your dream job, where you are today, and how realistic would it be to get there? If that may be out of reach, what about supporting that profession in another way? If the job is within reach, start checking off the items on the list that you have accomplished now and put deadline dates to the items that you still need to accomplish. Then, get an accountability buddy and get to work!!

What did the 5 year old you want to be when you grew up? How close are you to that dream?

The Truths About Your First Job Out of College (Part 2)

We started with Part 1 a bit go. Let’s continue our discussion with 5 more tips.

  1. You have to actually request time off and call in when you’re sick. Long gone are the days where you automatically get a break or when you can just quickly send an email to your professor tasking for make up assignments. Now you have to let your boss know ahead of time. Are you needing a long weekend vacation? Yeah, you gotta put that on the books weeks (or months) ahead of time. Did you wake up feeling like total nonsense? Guess what… time to call (or email or text, whatever the preference is with your boss) about your illness. And also a word of advice: if you’re constantly “sick” on Fridays or Mondays, they’ll notice. Don’t do it. Seriously.
  2. Assignments don’t just fall into your lap. If you’re wanting to prove yourself, but you don’t have anything going on that is “prove-worthy,” you have to ask for it. Or even step out of your comfort zone and recommend something that may benefit your job role, your department, or even the company. Just do it in such a way that you are not complaining about an issue, but rather identify the issue and then immediately follow up with a solution. That gets you double the gold stars!
  3. You can’t be staring at your phone all of the time. No matter how boring the meeting is or if you’re just sitting at your desk, being glued to your phone is a sign of disrespect and inattention. Sure, maybe the higher-ups may check their phones, but guess what? They’ve put their time in and they are higher-ups for a reason. You, my friend, are still at the bottom of the totem pole. You have to make a name for yourself and you have to be 100% present on the job.
  4. Make friends, but don’t get too personal. These are your colleagues. You may form great relationships with them and they may become great friends down the line, but coming to work on Monday and talking about how hung over you are and about the rager you went to over the weekend will not sit well. Exude confidence and professionalism, and your coworkers and peers will take you seriously. Talk about the one-night fling you had, and your reputation will follow you.
  5. Get to the point. At school it was acceptable to extend what would be a one-page paper into a lengthy 5 page essay, but it doesn’t work like that at work. Get straight to the point, talk about the highlights, and then allow your boss (or whomever you may be speaking to) to make a decision on whether or not they want to hear more. This becomes even more important in emails. Keep it high level by sticking to bullet point summaries.

What are some major difference you experienced going from college life to the work life?  

The Truths About Your First Job Out of College (Part 1)

Congratulations on landing your first job! You studied hard in school. Made the grades. Networked your little heart out. Applied to many jobs and had several interviews… and now you landed your first job! You did it…. kind of. Now you need to learn how to navigate the politics of the business world. Learn some of the ins-and-outs now to save yourself some embarrassment later, oh… and keep your job!

  1. The salary you accept will be the one you’ll have until your annual review. Thats 365 days from the day they hire you. Be smart and do your research ahead of time. A degree is excellent and shows that you are willing to go the extra mile and committed to continue to grow, but without the experience, it won’t do you much good. Be honest with yourself and the salary research you conduct. On the other side, don’t sell yourself too short either because this is going to lay the ground work for the rest of your career.
  2. Making a mistake won’t dock you points on your grade. It will affect your reputation, your boss’s reputation, and can have an impact on the business as a whole. There are some mistakes that are small and inconsequential, but before you try to take the reigns on a large project or a significant decision, talk to your boss first.
  3. If you want to move up, you have to get your name out there. Being smart and having potential is what got you the job in the first place. Doing a good job, networking with your peers and other departments, and getting involved in the company is what gets you noticed and moving ahead. Do not pass up an opportunity to event plan, to come in early, or stay a little bit late to “help out.” Those little actions add up to large opportunities.
  4. You are not at a position to say “No.” You are starting towards the bottom of the totem pole, just like those before you. You are not above the task that is being asked of you, even if it’s reloading the paper into the copy machine. The more helpful you are, the more you are noticed and acknowledged as a team player. Don’t ruin your chances by saying you are “above” the task that is being asked of you.
  5. Be nice to the admins. They will play a significant role in your networking web. They know the people that can help you out. The nicer you are to them, the more likely they can help you get the CEO to come to the employee event you helped plan, which in turns gets you face time with… the CEO! They also talk to managers, directors, and other employees. Let your reputation speak for itself.

What are some hard lessons you may have learned from your first (or second, or third) job out of college?

Checklist: Your First Day on the Job

Congratulations on landing the job! What a huge stress off your shoulders. Now you have to figure out how everything works. Although you may get a quick tour around the office and you know where your desk is, sometimes the little things get overlooked and 2 months down the line you may feel like a fool asking for the number to IT. Get prepared with what I think are the top 10 things you should identify within the first week you are at the new job:

  1. Where’s the closest restroom?
  2. Where do I store my lunch?
  3. Where do I eat lunch?
  4. How do I get in contact with IT&S?
  5. How do I get in contact with facilities/maintenance?
  6. Where/how do I use the printer/copier?
  7. How do I find someone’s extension if I need to contact them?
  8. Where are the meeting rooms?
  9. Do you put everything on the calendar or are there more spontaneous meetings/calls?
  10. Where are the office supplies? How do I order office supplies?

I’m sure you’re staring at the list thinking how basic it is, but you would be surprised how much can be missed on your first day. There is a lot going on, between HR related paperwork and orientation and walking around the office getting introduced to everyone, the little things are often times missed. be smart– stay sharp– ask these simple questions to be prepared!

What first day questions do you wish you would have asked? What are some common things that you forget to tell the new people on day one?

Oh, and P.S. You may want to work on a 30 second elevator speech about where you’ve come from and what you’ll be doing, because let’s face it– as you’re walking around meeting all of these new people, they’re all going to be asking that question. If you don’t know what an elevator speech is, you’re in luck because that’ll be coming up soon!

Work While In College

HOORAY! First and foremost, thank you so much for stopping by my site. I am beyond excited to finally launch my resume creation and career development business & blog. This has been a dream of mine that I’ve been sitting on for a long time. A passion that has finally come to fruition. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.

As one of my first posts, I want to share some wise wisdom with you, especially if you are still in college. Are you ready for this? This will be mind boggling…. you need to be working while you’re studying.

I know, I know… it seems silly to think that you have to work and study at the same time, but I promise you that it will only come in handy once you graduate and are out on your own. Working while you’re in college doesn’t only provide you additional income, but it also gives you something that money can’t: experience.

It’s a tough world out there. You will have a lot of education (and loans!) when you’re out of college, but there won’t be as many jobs available to you. You’ll be competing with people with more experience than you for the same jobs. I won’t sugar coat this: you’ll be backed into a corner and scratching your head because companies won’t hire you due to not having enough experience, but you need them to hire you so that you can get that experience. So, how do you get that experience if they won’t hire you? Well, here are 5 easy tips you can follow to get that experience while still in college:

  1. Work in the industry that you are most interested in getting into. Just be honest with yourself: you won’t start at the top. You won’t be anywhere near the top, but you will be in the industry gaining that experience you’ll need to keep going.
  2. Realize that you are NOT too good for an entry level position. Additionally, starting in an entry level position while in college will also give you a slight upper hand out of college because you may become qualified for the next step.
  3. Apply for Work-Study programs. It’s a great place to get work while on Federal Assistance, get experience, and network! One of the best things you can do is network with associates not just in the career path that you are interested in, but also those outside of it as well. You never know when those paths will cross.
  4. Get an internship. Even if  you don’t get credit for it or it’s unpaid, you are still gaining valuable experience and establishing strong networks (which I talk about in my last note below). Internships give you a small glimpse into the world that you are interested in being a part of. Even if you get an unpaid one, it will still be worth it (believe me, I’ve had to do that before). In addition to the on-the-job skills you learn, you will also learn incredible skills on how to budget your money and manage your time more effectively.
  5. Network. Any person you come in contact has the potential to be the key to getting your job. It can be a friend of a friend’s, someone you met at your local religious group, or a group of people who share the same passions and hobbies. It doesn’t matter who or where you meet these people, but establishing that network and tie with them will help you gain employment in the future.

I don’t give you these 5 tips because that’s what the research and professional articles suggest… I give you these tips because these are tried and true concepts that have worked for many people I know, including myself.

Now tell me, what is it that you want to do when you graduate? And, what are you doing now to gain the experience for that job? And for those who have already graduated: How many times did you change your degree plan? What was it like getting your first job out of college?