I 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.
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.
This 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.
Have 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?
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE) Job Outlook 2016 Report, employers rate verbal communication as the most important skill. It’s rated higher than the ability to work in a team and the ability to make decisions and solve problems which tie for second on the list.
Why would verbal communication be at the top of the list? Every employee represents the company as a whole. Each person and role requires verbal communication daily to customers both inside and outside the organization. So, being able to effectively have meaningful conversation is critically important to the organization’s success.
How can you as a candidate improve your verbal communication skills? This is a very good question and an important to work on. Many colleges require students to take a speech class, but consider taking more than one. Look for opportunities to practice and improve your verbal communication skills. Conduct research and look for opportunities to present at conferences. Get involved with Toastmasters. Participate in student organizations and take on a leadership role to develop leadership and verbal communication skills. Practice interviewing using InterviewStream to further develop this type of verbal communication.