Posts Tagged: Career Advice for Young Professionals
No matter where you are in your career, your elevator pitch is an essential tool in your “how to get ahead” arsenal. How well you describe yourself in those first few moments of meeting someone is immeasurably important. It takes only 7 seconds to make a first impression, so your opening lines need to be just right.
What makes for a successful introduction? Over the past few weeks, I asked my Twitter followers to tell me what they thought.
Tweet me your top tip on elevator pitches. How do you introduce yourself to important people? Will share best ideas on my blog!
— Lindsey Pollak (@lindseypollak) November 7, 2013
There were some fantastic ideas pitched back. Here are a few of the best tips:
@lindseypollak Smile! Put nerves aside and demonstrate your enthusiasm for what you do (& the chance to talk about it) w/ nonverbal cues
— Shimrit Markette (@ShimritMarkette) November 7, 2013
The non-verbals are so important in moments like introductions – I agree with you, Shimrit! For more tips on this topic, read my 3 secrets of non-verbal communication blog post.
@lindseypollak Make sure your intro addresses the target’s needs. Think about what he/she wants to know about you and pitch that.
— Miriam Salpeter (@Keppie_Careers) November 7, 2013
When introducing yourself, it’s tempting to keep it “me” focused, but Miriam brings up an excellent point here: think about what’s going to be relevant to the other person. This will help you make the connection and find common ground much quicker.
@lindseypollak say something they can relate to and will remember like “I admire your experience with…” then ask to stay connected
— Lotus Yon (@lotus_yon) November 2, 2013
I love this tip because it accomplishes two things. First, by explaining what you admire, you establish that you’ve done your homework and can come to the table immediately ready to discuss something relevant. Second, you can make a sincere compliment by mentioning something specific that impresses you. That kind of positivity is usually rewarded with a genuine desire to learn about you.
@lindseypollak What’s the thing you want that person to remember most about you? Focus on that and ask to follow up.
— Matt LaCasse (@MattLaCasse) November 7, 2013
Matt makes another great point here: by focusing on your goal for the conversation, you can work backwards and aim the introduction toward that end. Especially with VIPs, time can be limited. Getting to the point quickly is important.
— Jan-Peter (@Jan_Peter) November 2, 2013
This tip is one I see people often miss. You want your pitch to be the spark of a conversation, not a lengthy introduction of yourself. Start short and engage the other person, allowing them to speak and allowing you to listen.
Thank you to everyone who tweeted a tip on elevator pitches – they were all excellent ideas! I’ll be continuing to ask for tips like this on Twitter, and I invite you to follow me (@lindseypollak) for more conversation.
What are your tips on introductions in career conversations? Share your thoughts in a comment!
It’s been said a zillion times, but it’s true: It’s not just what you say; it’s how you say it. The tone with which you deliver your words, the way you stand and the all-important eye contact connection express information that words cannot. The most successful people I know aren’t just great thinkers or creative wordsmiths – they know the subtleties of demonstrating confidence in their non-verbal communication, commanding the attention of everyone around them.
How can you master this art? Here are three tips to get you started:
1.) When you make a statement, use the right tone.
The biggest error I notice with tone of voice, especially among young professionals, is “upspeak” – ending statements on an upward inflection so they sound like questions. Upspeak makes you sound young and uncertain. Here’s how to spot upspeak.
Read this sentence aloud: “I want to go to see that show.” Someone might respond: “Me, too! Can we go sometime this weekend?”
Now, read this sentence aloud: “I want to go see that show?” Did you read the word “show” and your voice went upward this time? Did it make you wonder if I really wanted to go to the show? That’s upspeak. You’re not sure if I am stating something or asking you a question.
If you notice yourself committing the upspeak slip-up, envision the sentence you want to say with a period at the end to finish it confidently. If you’re really not sure you want to make a statement, re-frame your thought into a true question instead.
2.) Find your power stance.
Your posture is part of your communication arsenal and can signal to other people how you’re feeling or thinking. If you are standing, a good power stance looks like: feet shoulder-width apart, hands at your sides, shoulders back and head up. If you are sitting, it looks like: feet firmly on the ground, straight back and head up.
In either case, keeping your back straight back and shoulders broad will also help you project your voice so that others can hear you. Of course, stay a little loose in these postures to avoid looking robotic. Avoid crossed arms (defensive), hunched shoulders (weak) and slouching (tired or bored).
3.) Make successful eye contact.
Eye contact is an essential piece of the non-verbal puzzle as it’s something that establishes a direct connection between you and your audience. It’s especially critical when you first greet someone, but it’s important to make regular eye contact throughout a conversation. Studies show that holding eye contact anywhere between three to five seconds at a time is the right amount to make without turning the conversation into a creepy stare down.
If this is difficult for you, try these two tips: either switch back and forth between looking into one eye and other or look between the eyebrows of the other person instead. Either of these options will still create the eye contact connection.
What do you think makes for effective non-verbal communication? Please share in the comments!
Image credit: iStockPhoto
Posted in Career Advice for Young Professionals Employment Trends Future of Careers Generation Y/Millennials Managing Generation Y Managing Generational Differences Now Trending Productivity Work/Life Balance on October 25, 2013 at 9:00 am
In my “Now Trending” series, I curate five recently published articles that capture the future of work or embrace the Millennial mindset. Share your favorite articles of the week in a comment!
Friend and fellow Gen Y enthusiast, Dan Schawbel, wrote these top 10 tips for Forbes, and they are excellent. My favorite is #5 – “Spend more time with people than with your laptop.” You can do a lot with today’s software and communicate with thousands via social media, but making a face-to-face connection with someone, especially with older generations, can more often be the make-or-break factor in hiring you. For more great advice from Dan, read my review of his new book, Promote Yourself.
According to a law professor’s study cited in this article, Millennial men are just as likely as women to want work schedules that shift around family needs. One example highlighted is that of a group of surgical residents in Boston who all had a 120-hour-per-week limitation for week. The Millennial men in the group joined forces with the women to push for an 80-hour-per-week limit. A recently released Gen Y study conducted by PwC found the same thing: Millennials of both genders want much more work/life balance than generations prior.
This LinkedIn Today post by Alex Banayan really caught my eye, and not just because his tips have funny headers like “Chase the School Bus” or “Create Corkboards.” His advice is spot on because it will have you thinking about how you can add value as opposed to just getting your job done. Akin to Dan’s advice above, one of Alex’s five traits is “Play the People Game” – getting to know people in your field will benefit you exponentially in the long run.
PolicyMic is a website for news and politics that wants to capture the attention of the no-longer-newspaper-reading Millennial generation (see my previous Now Trending post for another look at Millennials and newspapers). The site posts 50 to 100 pieces of content every day, focusing on sharing opinions and analysis. They just raised a significant amount of funding and “want millions of millennials to use our platform to find the next generation of creative thinkers and work together to solve our most pressing challenges,” said the two co-founders. Sounds like an awesome goal to me.
Not much about this title’s three themes surprises me. The older sets of Millennials are just now entering the next phase of adulthood – getting married, having kids and buying homes. Without these responsibilities, Millennials certainly may have the opportunity to spend freely. Some Millennials I know “complain loudly,” but most do so on Twitter, where they can make noise, find people who agree and get answers quickest. And if you’re traveling for business or for pleasure – who doesn’t want the most comfortable experience you can find?
What other content caught your eye this week? Please share in the comments!
Image credit: word cloud from wordle.net
The New York Times Magazine recent article, “The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In,” followed up their much-talked about “The Opt-Out Revolution” 10 years ago and offered several conclusions about the impact of leaving one’s career. However, one conclusion not drawn in story was how women might protect themselves and safeguard against the challenges of “re-entry” to the workforce.
As a career and Millennial expert, I regularly encounter young women who, despite not yet being married or having children, are interested in how to manage their careers with a family. I trace this to the fact that a majority of Millennials were raised by working moms and saw firsthand the challenges and benefits of combining work and family.
Millennial women are smart to think ahead. In millions of American households, a mom’s paycheck is essential. The Hartford’s 2013 Benefits for Tomorrow Study found 46 percent of working women have kids relying on their paycheck and 10 percent have parents depending on their income. In fact, those numbers skew even higher for Millennial women, with 49 percent citing their children and 13 percent their parents as depending on their salary. And a record 40 percent of households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau as cited by Pew Research.
If you are a Millennial woman planning for a successful tomorrow, here are some suggestions:
Network early and often: Start now to build and maintain a professional network. For the women in the Times article who were able to opt back in to the workforce, it was usually because they had strong connections who vouched for their skills and talent and made introductions to employers. Use LinkedIn to keep track of your connections over the years.
Protect your income – now and later: If you are currently employed, take advantage of the benefits – such as gym membership discounts, smoking cessation programs and insurance – offered by your employer to help you today and make you stronger physically and financially tomorrow. One benefit often overlooked by young women is disability insurance, which keeps a paycheck coming in if you cannot work due to an off-the-job injury or illness, including pregnancy. It also provides return-to-work resources.
Lean into your mentors: One of the best ways to make decisions about your career is to learn from women who have made those decisions themselves. In your company, your family or a professional association, ask women how they have figured out whether to opt in, opt out, lean in or zigzag. There is no need to go it alone.
Remember there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to work/life decisions. The best choices are the ones that work for you. Just be sure to educate yourself today in order to allow for a successful tomorrow.
The Hartford’s My Tomorrow Campaign aims to help consumers understand insurance benefits and empower them so that they can protect the life they’ve built.
Today’s guest post is from my friend and colleague, Sharon Gilbert. Sharon has over 20 years experience working with college students, both as Director of College Recruiting for Human Resource Management Inc. and Asst. Director of Career Services for New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). To learn more about her recently published book Beyond Tuition: Career Coaching Your College Kid, visit www.beyondtuition.com
. . . Lily Tomlin
When I was a recruiter, it surprised me that many people couldn’t name their skills. Often, things we do well come so naturally that we take them for granted and do not consider them skills. However, to an objective observer, they are gifts or talents. Skills may be repetitively exercised like sports activities, a one-time project or experience like raising money for a club or writing a script for a school play. These skills energize us and build our confidence as we use and develop them.
Everyone has a self-image which develops unconsciously as we go through life. The answers are there but we have to dig sometimes to answer the questions, “Who am I?” and, “What’s important to me?” Young people haven’t always had enough life experience to answer these questions with confidence. If you’re feeling confused, talk with someone who understands what makes you tick. Who knows you better than your parents? If you feel comfortable collaborating with them, here are some tips to start brainstorming together:
1. Think about positive feedback or compliments you’ve received. Reflect on enjoyable experiences you’ve had that gave you a sense of accomplishment; or when you felt committed, passionate and enthusiastic about something. Extracurricular activities, past and present jobs, paid or unpaid, should be considered if the task was enjoyable and satisfying.
2. When you come up with examples, figure out the talents you were using in these situations. Break down accomplishment into components. For example, responsibilities as a team leader on a project could be defined as: handling discussions, writing reports, disseminating information, multitasking, leading others, etc.
3. A good check on skills needed for a job can be found by Googling “ONET.” The ONET Online program is the nation’s primary source of occupational information.
4. Interests, personality type and values are as important as skills in finding a good career match. Of course, the demands of the job market play a big role too. Most college career centers have word choice exercises or checklists you can use to determine what skills, interests and values are most important to you in making a career decision.
5. You can learn more about yourself by using career inventories such as, Holland’s Strong Interest Inventory and the Myers Briggs Personality Type Instrument. Make sure to have a career counselor interpret your test results for you. These reports can be a good springboard for conversations with your parent or other mentors.
6. A smart thing to do is to make an inventory of your accomplishments and assemble a skills portfolio with examples. When you start your job search you’ll be ahead of the game.
In conclusion, self-assessment is the first and most important step in career planning. To avoid finding yourself in a career that is not a good fit, examine your experiences to discover your preferred skills, interests, values and personality type, and then relate them to the best career match out there.
Your 20s and 30s are a defining set of decades in your life. You make choices about your career, your friendships, your romantic relationships, your finances and your home that help shape the trajectory of your life. If you’re feeling the pressure to make the “right” choices or to do the “right” things, you’re not alone. Some people might refer to this feeling as a part of the “quarter life crisis” – a period defined by concern or anxiety about making many of these “adult” choices.
Recently, I sat down with my wonderful, inspiring friend Christine Hassler to discuss what you can do to successfully navigate your career path in your quarter life. She is organizing an online conference, called the Quarter Life Upgrade, in which she’s sharing expert video interviews she conducted on the subject. I was honored to be an interviewee, and here’s a quick peek at some of the tips I shared:
1.) Create and tend to your personal brand. A reflection of your life both on and offline, your personal brand will matter increasingly as you move up, across and around the ranks in your career. Your brand is a combination of things like your top skills, interests, experiences and characteristics. Consider how you’re communicating these right now. Are your actions consistent with what you say and think about yourself?
2.) Consider your financial plans and insurance needs at your life transition points. How are you managing your paychecks as they come in? Are you saving for a home? A vacation? Retirement? Having an established plan to control your finances is a critical step to line you up for continued success. You can check out more of my tips about these topics on The Hartford’s My Tomorrow site.
3.) Get comfortable with knowing when and how to manage career changes. While it’s common practice and can be a great move, changing jobs or careers is a big undertaking. Before you commit to making a change, think critically about how this move will benefit you. If your motivation stems from dissatisfaction in your current role, perhaps you might want to consider all of the possibilities to grow within that job. It’s important to distinguish between the feelings of a mismatched job and a bad day.
Whether you’re in the quarter life now or you’ve already navigated those years, what are your ideas about upgrading your career in this stage of life? Please share, and be sure to check out Christine’s Quarter Life Upgrade!