woman_jugglingAs a mother of five with a full time job, I’m often asked “how do you do it all?”  That’s a good question!  Juggling the tasks involved with each role can be challenging.  Every day presents a new list of things to do; the key for me is to handle one day at a time.  While I keep the broader perspective in view, I work through the plan for each day involving my family and work before I leave the house.  Who needs to be where and at what time?  How are we going to get that accomplished?  I have an overall calendar in my head, but it helps me to jot down important events and activities—both for my family and work obligations.

My focus shifts between the various roles throughout the day, week and month.  The demands of each role change, so the most important ones on any given day change.  I’m finding ways to balance everything, but there are still times when I feel pulled in too many directions. When that happens, I try to refocus on what’s most important at that moment.  I’ve also realized that it’s not possible to manage everything by myself, so another key is knowing when to ask for help.

How do you cope with the many demands on your time? Join the discussion and share your tips.

Posted on May 4th, 2016 by

Have Patience

hourglassI remember a song from my childhood that said “have patience, don’t be in such a hurry.”  This is a wonderful piece of advice that applies to almost every facet of life, especially to your career development.

Most new graduates are ready and eager to take on the world.  I’ve met some who want to see how much they can accomplish in a short amount of time.  The problem is that career development isn’t a process that can be hurried.  The experience gained in the first professional position helps move you to the second position.  A successful career takes time and patience to build.  Each step you take will help you develop the skills you’ll need to successfully pursue your dream job.

As you evaluate job opportunities, think about what industry you’d like to work in and look for positions to help develop the skills you’ll need down the road.  Patience is a virtue that will be needed along the way as the process almost never moves as quickly as we think it should.

Posted on April 26th, 2016 by

Be Nice When You Quit

Businesswoman throwing office papers

Even if your boss is the biggest jerk on the planet, be nice when you quit.  Although you may think you would never work with or for this person again, you can’t predict when or where people might reappear in your career.

Tell your boss first, in person, in private and then follow up with a written letter of resignation.  Don’t let him/her hear it through the grapevine.

Do the right thing.  Give appropriate notice (two weeks is standard).  Be prepared, however, to be escorted to the door; this is standard operating procedure in some companies.  Make sure you actually have an offer in hand before you give your notice.

Don’t burn any bridges.  You want to leave on good terms.  While you might be tempted to unload on the boss on your way out the door, don’t do it.  Other people are likely to see or hear about it.  Whether you are aware of it or not, all of these people are now potential references in the future.

Make sure your work is up-to-date and organized so the next person coming in won’t have a mess to deal with, and keep it that way right up until your last day.  You would expect the same.

Lastly, don’t forget once you leave, your boss and all of your co-workers are now part of your professional network, and your network should always be treated like a treasure.

Posted on April 22nd, 2016 by

Before You Hit That Send Button . . . STOP!

email proofingThis is a topic worth revisiting, as I still see so many emails from job candidates that aren’t professional or contain too many errors:

You’ve found a job opening that’s perfect, composed your email message, attached your resume, and are ready to send it. BUT WAIT! Before you hit that send button, review everything very carefully:

  • Be sure you are using a professional email address. One that includes some part of your name is best. “HuskerFan,” “SexyCollegeGirl,” or other “cute” addresses just won’t work for your job search.
    TIP: Set up a separate email account or use your school email address for your job search and professional networking if you don’t want to give your friends a new email address.
  • Use the proper salutation and correct contact name in your cover letter and email—check that spelling, too. And please don’t use “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom It May Concern.” If you don’t have a name, use a job title, like “Dear Human Resources Manager.”
  • Be brief, but include key points that will catch the reader’s attention.
  • Make sure your tone is professional and business-like. If you aren’t sure, ask someone else for their reaction.
  • PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, and PROOFREAD again. Even in an email message, just one typo, spelling or grammatical error can lead to rejection before the reader even sees your resume.

Posted on April 12th, 2016 by

How to Survive the Dreaded Panel Interview

panel interview2Have you ever experienced a panel interview? If so, you know how intimidating it can be to sit in a room facing not one, but three, four or more interviewers—all bombarding you with questions. Who do you look at? Where do you focus your attention? How can you possibly do your best in such a stressful situation? Here are some suggestions to help you make the most of this opportunity.

  • Prepare well: Do even more in-depth research than you would for a one-on-one interview. When the interview is scheduled, ask the scheduler who will be interviewing. Get their names and titles. Then use LinkedIn, Google or any other means to learn as much about each of them as you can. That of course is in addition to your research on the position and company. Jot down some notes and take them to the interview along with enough copies of your resume so each interviewer receives a copy.
  • Focus on the interview, not the size of the group: Remind yourself that they are interested in you, or they wouldn’t have invited you or asked so many to take time from their busy schedules to talk with you. This should help you relax a bit so you can focus on the questions and your responses.
  • Greet each person: As you are introduced, smile and repeat their name as you greet them. It can help, too, if you jot down the name of each interviewer on your notepad in the order they are facing you. That way, a quick glance will help you address each by name when appropriate during the interview.
  • Address your response to the one asking the question: Make eye contact with that person, but as you talk, make eye contact with the others as well so the entire group is included. They will be evaluating your ability to interact with others in an unfamiliar situation.
  • Pause briefly to gather your thoughts before responding: While you don’t want to overdo this, it is perfectly acceptable to take a few seconds before replying to a question.
  • Involve each interviewer: One way to do that is to prepare a question for each one of them, based on what you have learned about their role and how you might be working with them.
  • Close the interview: When it appears as if the interview is winding down, of course you want to thank them for meeting with you. You should also ask for business cards from each person. Finally, close by saying something like, “Is there any other information you would like from me?”
  • Follow-up with a Thank You: The best approach for your thank you is to send personalized letters or emails to each interviewer. If that’s not possible, send your thank you to the person who seemed to be in charge or who arranged the interview, and ask that person to convey your thanks to the others. You can also copy them on your letter.

Yes, panel interviews can be intimidating and very stressful, but you can reduce that stress if you take the time to prepare! Also keep in mind that panel members may very well be people you will work closely with on the job. Take this opportunity to evaluate them while they are evaluating you. Is this a group you would enjoy working with?

Posted on April 6th, 2016 by