As of the end of 2019, I have retired this blog. Check out Career Ready Coaching for more content. Thanks.
As of the end of 2019, I have retired this blog. Check out Career Ready Coaching for more content. Thanks.
If you have any doubts about whether you should read Career-ology, consider these common misunderstandings:
Myth #1: I will get these skills from my employer and as part of my day-to-day job.
You will probably not receive training in all of these skills. Even if you do, how will you continue to hone them once the specific training is complete? If your employer does provide this type of training, your colleagues are also being trained. How will you differentiate yourself?
Myth #2: My job or career is __________ . (Fill in the blank with your position). The skills in this book don’t apply in my situation.
The skills and concepts presented in this book apply to all industries, professions, and roles—from entry-level to the C-suite. You may use some skills more frequently than others, but they are all important.
Myth #3: I already know this “stuff.”
You may have been introduced to these skills and concepts. You may even have acquired a working knowledge, but you have not mastered these skills as a new professional. Most successful professionals will say they practice and improve their skills throughout their entire careers. Professionals who believe they are finished learning will not be successful. Those who believe in and practice lifelong learning, however, will always find opportunities and success. Approaching your career with the right mindset could make the difference between simply having a job and having a successful career.
Myth #4: I took a public speaking or a business writing class while in college. I don’t need those chapters.
See the answer to Myth #3 above.
The following advice adapted from Chapter 3: Professional Networking applies equally to preparing for an interview.
You can prepare for any new networking situation (or interview) by planning and practicing ahead of time. Think through what you will say and practice saying it. When you’ve prepared and rehearsed, your words will sound natural and the conversation will flow. You and the person with whom you are speaking will both feel more comfortable.
Preparation will take time and effort. Don’t wait until you walk in the door to begin preparing. Take an hour with a blank page and put some thought into this work. The investment of time and effort will be rewarded.
The most common question at a networking event is “What do you do?” Many interviews begin with, “Tell me about yourself.” Since you can be reasonably confident that you’ll have to respond to some version of this question, prepare your answer. Write two versions of your answer:
The short response of your answer to the question, “What do you do?” should be no more than 20 seconds long. This equates to approximately 30-40 words depending on your rate of speech. Your response to “Tell me about yourself” should be longer. You will want to combine your short and long response. Keep reading. . .
In other books and articles about networking, you may see the term “twenty-second pitch” which is similar to the term I am using here. The idea is similar, but the emphasis is different. If you are pitching or selling in the first 20 seconds you meet someone, then you’ve missed the point of networking and the importance of building a relationship.
The first 20 seconds are critical. Answer the question, “What do you do?” in such a way that you make a memorable impression in the mind of the person to whom you are responding. Your answer should help move the conversation forward.
You might say, “I am a lawyer,” or “I am a graduating senior,” but answers like these don’t move the conversation forward or make it easy for the person to remember you. You reveal little about yourself and miss the opportunity to share how you are different from the one million lawyers or college seniors across the country. You make it difficult for the person you are meeting to respond. “That’s nice,” is about all they can say, or just “oh.” If you’re lucky and the person you are meeting is in the same profession, you might get “me too” as a response. At this point, the conversation is headed off the rails.
Instead, your short version should add some detail, color, or flavor about the type of lawyer, salesperson, or other professional you are. What is your specialty or expertise? Who are your customers/clients? What about your role is unique? Compare these:
“I am a lawyer” vs. “I advise small to medium-sized corporate clients about employment matters.”
“I am a college senior” vs. “I am a college senior and will graduate with a degree in Marine Biology. I am pursuing roles with NGOs and large aquariums.”
The answers that will enhance the conversation are obvious and they will make you more memorable. This part of your short version answer is the “hook”—the details that prompt one or more follow-up questions or comments in response. Your hook should be intriguing enough that it is memorable, it sparks curiosity and invites further discussion.
With that as guidance, develop your short response by writing several versions of your response. Then continue to refine them. Once you are happy with the words on paper, speak them out loud into a voice recorder. Listen to your recording. Evaluate how it sounds to you. Revise as necessary. Now is also a good time to check the timing, which should be no longer than 20 seconds (ten seconds is better). By now, these words should sound and feel natural to you. If not, find new words.
After you’re satisfied with the results, practice out loud with friends or colleagues. Seek their feedback. Continue to practice until your response sounds natural instead of rehearsed.
TIP: By combining your short and long responses, you have an answer to a classic interview question—“Tell me about yourself.” In an interview situation, you’ll want to expand on your answer and take full advantage of this opportunity to focus on your skills and accomplishments.
Since your short response to the question, “What do you do?” is interesting and includes an effective hook, the person to whom you are speaking will likely ask the follow-up question. Remem- ber that the hook you include in your short response should prompt a follow-up question or comment. You will likely be able to anticipate the question or comment that you get in response to your hook; you can prepare and hone your long response.
Sometimes referred to as a two-minute pitch, two-minute commercial, or elevator pitch, your long response is meant to provide additional information about what you do. It shows how the person with whom you are speaking might help you. You want to answer the question for the other person.
Continuing with the examples from above, here is a sample dialogue to consider as you design your own long response.
The lawyer’s short response was:
I advise small to medium-sized corporate clients regarding employment matters.
Here is what the lawyer’s long response might sound like:
Our firm has been established for 50 years and we have more than 150 lawyers in our offices in New York and Connecticut. The firm has several Fortune 500 clients, but we focus on smaller firms that don’t usually maintain in-house counsel with the expertise our firm provides. We specialize in employment law and labor relations. Recently, the three managing partners of our firm were all named to the “Top 100 Lawyer” list.
If you met this lawyer at a networking event, what do you know after listening to his/her short and long responses? First, you know from the lawyer’s short response—“I advise small to medium-sized corporate clients regarding employment matters.”—that the lawyer would welcome an introduction to someone in your network who works for a small to medium-size corporation. From the lawyer’s long response, you also know the specific area of legal expertise—employment law.
Next, you know that a potential client for this lawyer would likely be based in New York or Connecticut since law firms practice within state boundaries. You also know that this law firm is well established—having been around for more than 50 years and, finally, that the managing partners are well regarded in the legal profession.
With this information, you can mentally scan your own professional network and determine if there is someone who might benefit from an introduction to this lawyer. Perhaps your own organization needs this type of expertise or you have a friend who is currently negotiating his own employment contract and needs legal advice. If you can’t think of anyone who might need this law- yer’s services immediately, you could consider an introduction to someone else in your network who might have a direct connection.
Put This Advice Into Action
While this is a highly simplified example, it illustrates how to prepare for a networking event or interview and how you can start the conversation in a productive way.
The skills and concepts in Career-ology are important for professionals in every industry. They will be critical throughout your entire career. The following is a brief overview:
Here are 3 resources from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentations Skills:
Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Compelling PowerPoint Presentations by Stephen M. Kosslyn
Why? Kosslyn is a renowned cognitive neuroscientist and professor of psychology at Harvard University. This book provides eight simple principles for designing a presentation based upon human perception, memory, and cognition. While rooted in science, this book provides practical advice. It includes hundreds of images and sample slides that illustrate the principles. If you use PowerPoint as a regular part of your job, you MUST read this book.
Speaking Mastery—The Keys to Delivering High Impact Presentations by David and Michael Hutchison
Why? This book offers real-world advice for delivering high impact speeches or presentations. Speaking Mastery covers how to deliver your message, develop your content, and build the “internal muscles” to be a great public speaker.
Why? TED Talks will inspire, teach, shock, fascinate, amaze, and impress you. There are over 1,900 videos (averaging approximately 18 minutes each) of some of the best public speakers in the world. Watch, learn, and prepare to be amazed.
Here Part 2 of the list from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills
Here are 6 tips from Chapter 5: Public Speaking and Presentation Skills
Every public speaking opportunity is a chance to improve your skills. Public speaking happens every day at the office– team meetings, client meetings, etc. Don’t think you have to be standing on a stage in front of a lectern for an occasion to qualify as public speaking. Here are some ways that you can practice your delivery:
• Practice a full-length speech using a video recorder at least ten to twenty times. How many times should you practice? The answer is simple: As many times as it takes to master your content.
• Ask someone to count the “ums,” “ahs,” and “likes” you use. These are filler words and they can kill a good speech. Be comfortable with the sound of silence. Or, use a video/voice recorder and count the filler words. You may be surprised.
• Visualize your audience and the room in which you will deliver your speech.
• Prepare for possible interruptions and distractions such as a ringing cell phone, a microphone or PowerPoint failure, or people who arrive after you’ve started.
If you are actively searching for a job you must have your resume written by a professional resume writer. Even if you are not in an active job search, it is always a good idea to keep your LinkedIn profile up to date.
Resume writing is a highly specialized field and you will be putting yourself at a big disadvantage if you write your own resume. Many of the major online job posting sites including Monster, LinkedIn and Google Career are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to match job postings with your resume. The format and font can impact how the computer processes the information on your resume. Choose the wrong font or layout and you could be out of luck.
There are two major credentialing organizations in the industry. The first is the Professional Association of Resume Writers & Career Coaches (PARW\CC) founded in 1990. The credential is the Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) is earned through a self-study program and online test. There are approximately 1,600 CPRWs. To search by city, region or area code, click here.
The other credentialing organization for professional resume writers is the National Resume Writer’s Association (NRWA) from which members can be certified as a Nationally Certified Resume Writer (NCRW). The NRWA also has a Nationally Certified Online Profile Expert (NCOPE) credential which focuses on your LinkedIn profile. The NRWAs certification process is much more rigorous. Candidates must submit a sample of their work, have earned continuing education credits in the field of resume writing and pass a two-step examination before earning the credential. To search for a professional NCRW, click here. To search for a NCOPE professional, click here.
Some people have a negative reaction to the idea of networking. Others avoid networking opportunities because they are uncomfortable or fearful. If the prospect of networking makes you uneasy, you have the wrong idea of what networking is about.
At a networking event, you may have seen someone grabbing as many business cards as possible while stuffing their card into your hand. Maybe you met someone who talked endlessly about himself or herself while never pausing to allow others to introduce themselves. You may have experienced the pushy follow-up, where someone you didn’t want to meet is calling you to sell you something you don’t want to buy.
Hopefully, this is not your approach to networking. If it is, immediately stop! You are contributing to the impression that “networking” is a bad word. No one would blame you for being turned o by such behavior. But that is not networking. It is just annoying. Unless a networking group or event is specifically designed for people to sell or pitch each other, such behavior is simply not appropriate in a professional networking situation.
“Networking” is not a bad word, but there are many bad networkers. ey are not bad people, but they have never learned the correct way to network. ey have not applied the “golden rule of networking.”
Jeff Chapski has coached and mentored hundreds of college students and recent graduates as they started their first jobs and launched their careers. Recalling the important skills and lessons he learned early in his own career, Jeff started writing a blog at Career-ology.com to help new professionals succeed at work. Read more...