Thursday, October 29, 2015

Workplace Professionalism-- Taking a Stand in your Standards

I recently had a couple of experiences that prompted this blog, all dealing with professionalism in the workplace.  Both were things you “don’t” do, however, I was only in the position to address it in one of the situations.  Let me explain.

Situation #1:  I had the “opportunity” to volunteer (we will call it), at a local animal shelter.  The facility was basically clean and the animals well taken care of, however, I did experience some “flaws” in management.  One flaw I noticed was how the owner spoke to some of her employees.  I’m not sure of the background of this employee’s work ethic, but from what I’d observed, he did a good job for the most part.  On this particular day, the owner reprimanded the employee in front of everyone present, to include cursing at him—very loudly at that.  

Situation #2:  I was in the drive-thru of a local national chain fast food restaurant—which I will not name.  My passenger and I were having a hard time deciding what we wanted, because for me, it wasn’t a place (or area) I frequented often for food.  When I questioned the attendant on the mic, if she had changed the size that displayed on the screen, she replied back in a “mocking” manner.  I then drove around to the window, to address her face to face.  I asked if she was the person I was speaking with, she said yes.  I then shared with her how her behavior was very unprofessional, and explained why.  She didn’t seem too excited about the fact I was correcting her, however, I didn’t address her management, in hopes she would choose to “do better”.

These type of situations happen all the time—in our workplaces and as customers.  Professionalism is NOT a choice when it comes to representing our employers, yet we find ourselves in these situations quite often.  For some, it comes natural, as if it was an outlined requirement in the job description. (Which it should be in all job descriptions.)  For others, the need to understand it IS a requirement, whether it’s in the job description or not, is very evident. There are many characteristics that can describe professionalism in the workplace. I will discuss three (3) areas that were affected in the previous situations above.

MAINTAINING DEMEANOR/POISE: Being polite, courteous and well-spoken in all situations (even in disagreements) is a necessity in professionalism.  You should NEVER “lose your cool”, whether you are in the right or not.  Accepting responsibility is part of being a leader, and if you have any desire to progress in your career, exemplifying leadership traits is a must.

 ATTITUDE:  We’ve often heard, “Attitude will take you a long way”, which is very true.  However, that “way” can be in a negative or positive manner.  Because this attribute is infectious, it is important to make sure it is maintained in a positive light at all times.  Showing respect to everyone (customers, co-workers, employees/ers), is vital.  It is not necessary to be friends per se, still, having a friendly and respectful demeanor can make your job a lot easier.  Creating a hostile environment by harassing or discriminating is not only a bad business practice, it is illegal.  Know your rights, as an employee and as an employer, and make sure you are always on the right side of the law.

CONDUCT:  It is interesting that the definition of conduct—to manage oneself, to lead/guide, to serve as a channel, to direct—all have to do with leadership qualities.  When you conduct a meeting/band, you are providing leadership, where others are following your lead.  Then it shouldn’t be a surprise that conducting ourselves in a professional manner, is a way to display your leadership traits. It reflects well of your personal standards, and how you view others.  Your conduct should never be abusive to others, or put yourself in a situation where your reputation is questioned.  Maintaining confidentiality and upholding the ethics of your profession are all a part of your workplace conduct.

These are only some examples of workplace professionalism.  Nevertheless, if you embody these in your daily job routine, you are off to a good start.  Professionalism has nothing to with what type of job you have—whether you work on the grill at a restaurant or as an attorney—it is all about setting and maintaining high standards as you would in your everyday life.  So, take a stand and be a Pro!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Getting to the “Art” of the Matter: Key Tips for your resume

It’s apparent that it isn’t easy standing out these days to get your dream job. EVERYBODY is applying for the same job, and it seems to take an act of congress just to get a call for an interview.  Your resume, is one of the essential tools you use to make that happen.  But again, EVERYBODY’S resume tends to look the same, so how do you kick yours up a notch you may ask?  By using the following tips to stand out from the crowd. 

Use power action verbs—not “fluff”.  We hear all the time you have to know how to market yourself to get that job you’ve been dreaming about, however, that should not be confused with how to create an attention-getting resume necessarily.  Using “confidence inspiring” words should not be your method to the madness.  Use action verbs to show, and not tell.  Words like, implemented, instructed, lead, supervised, assessed— instead of phases/words like, “results-oriented”, “hard-working”, “passionate”.  Also, make sure to “show” your work with examples.  Did you oversee a project, increase revenue, decrease turnover?  This is what will catch the recruiter’s eye and get you that interview.

Measure your work.  It’s all about the numbers”, that’s another phase we hear a lot. But it is true.  This is the proof in the pudding as they say.  Show your work in figures—20% retail sales increase, supervised marketing team of ten (10), improved retention by 8%, secured inventory valued at $500,000 in merchandise.  Make sure these are in bold, italicized font in order for the resume reviewer to easily see your stats.  This is what we call, adding value to your resume, and making it clear to that employer you have something to offer, that they can’t refuse.

Customize each resume.  Just like tires, your old “standard” resume needs replacing or at least revising for each job.  Many large agencies utilized computerized systems to scan for key words and phrases to select your resume from among hundreds of others.  When a person is reviewing your resume as well, they look for those specific words/phrases that relate to that job.  The best way to do this, is to use the job description, identify tasks/experience/skills you have that are listed in the description and add it to your resume.  You will take out those phrases that are not relevant to that particular job.  Put it into your own words, while basically saying the same thing, to detail your experience. (No plagiarizing) Then make sure to place these towards the top of your resume to capture their attention early on.  Recruiters and Resume Reviewers usually only spend about fifteen (15) seconds to review, so give them what they want, and from the very start. 

Create a professional email address/voicemail.  You would be surprised at how many job seekers don’t realize they need a personalized professional email address AND voicemail.  I can’t tell you how many resumes I’ve reviewed or voicemails I’ve heard that were totally unprofessional.  Hiring agents will use whatever method they can to “weed” out those as “unqualified”.  You might be perfect for the job, but when they looked at your contact information, your email is or when they called to set an interview, they had to listen to all the lyrics of Chris Brown’s Look at me now, uncensored version at that.  Rule of thumb, just have a personalized professional email with just your first and last name, and add numbers or characters if needed.  Voicemail should sound professional, with basic information to reach you.  If you don’t think you have the most “appealing voice”, get someone you know that does.  Don’t give the recruiter a reason to disqualify you, present yourself as a career professional, on paper, on your social media platforms, as well as in person.

These are a few suggestions you can use to spruce up your resume before uploading or presenting it at the next job event you attend.  Composing a good resume is easy, but creating a resume that will well represent you and your experience, IS a work of art.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Work it—How to be a success at your next job fair

I recently participated in a local job fair where hundreds of job-seekers had a great opportunity to network, identify potential employers, and have their first face to face interaction with recruiters from numerous companies and organizations.  As a Career Consultant and an organizer of such events, I couldn’t help but notice some of the mistakes many of the eager job-seekers were making, without even knowing it.  Those that I could address briefly, I made sure to give my advice and “two cents” from experience of being a hiring manager, and working with hiring managers.  I, too have made many mistakes in the past when attending job fairs/events, not knowing that it takes planning along with other tactics, to fully benefit from it and get the most of the time spent there.  Therefore, I want to take a look at some key elements of knowing how to “Work a Job Fair.”

·  Do your research.  Just like you would for an actually employment interview, find out something about the companies that will be there that are of interest to you.  In other words, don’t waste time with companies that you have no interest in, but invest time in learning about the ones you are.  This will give you a great advantage over others you are simply wondering from table to table.  It will also show the recruiters you take the time they spend with you seriously, and puts you ahead the masses.

·  Have multiple copies of your resume(s) and your portfolio.  More experts today stress the importance of a career portfolio.  This can be a simple professional-like binder, or binded-document keeper, that has your important documents and best work displayed in it.  Certifications, transcripts, recommendation letters, references, military documents, along with any examples of you work—all should be included in your portfolio.  If you are fortunate enough to get a short interview or spend a brief amount of “quality time” with a recruiter, it may be that one thing that gets you to a second interview.

·  Dress for an interview.  It may seem silly or redundant, but the first impression you make IS the only one you will get.  Some people seem to think that because this is “just” a job fair, and it’s not like it’s an interview, believe it’s okay to dress casual.  One reason, that person might NOT get an interview, is because they didn’t present themselves well by not wearing professional attire.  A suit and tie or 2-piece, may not be called for, however, at least be business casual.  Dress shirt with a tie and slacks, a blouse and pants/skirt, with comfortable foot ware, would give the statement of being professional, and again, taking your presence at the event, serious.

·  Make a plan of action.  In order to get the most out of your time, it is wise to not only get a listing of companies before the job fair, but walk around the floor, to see where and who are all there.  Many times companies that were scheduled to attend, don’t, and other ones that weren’t list are present.  If there is an unexpected “dream company” there, try to get some literature from the table before your “5-minute infomercial” with a recruiter, and be prepared.  As stated before, only spend time with companies you desire to work with, and not just float around aimlessly.  Have a strategy of spending more time with your top choices—at the beginning and end of the day to say thanks—and less time with your less-desired choices. 

·  Network with everyone.  Don’t just think you’re there to talk to HR Reps and Employment Agents, that’s a given.  This is the main reason for attending—to get some face time and contacts for the companies you’ve been trying to get in.  But, don’t forget to meet and network with other job-seekers as well.  They can be an untapped resource when it comes to job leads, recruiting methods of certain companies, and other unknown treasures.  And definitely always talk with your local Department of Labor Reps.  They undoubtedly know most, if not all, of the companies in attendance, contacts and other vital information that can be useful.

·  Follow-up is KEY.  There are so many job fair attendees that simply forget this very important part of the entire process—Follow up.  This is how you keep your name and the positive experience you had with the Recruiter/HR Rep fresh and memorable.  You can send an email to the person you spoke to, call/leave a voicemail or old school, mail the letter.  All of this is best, the same day or next day.  You want the person to remember you, and prompt him/her to pull out or review your resume again.  (Make it convenient and include it in the email/letter.)  Be sure to ask for a “second interview”, and inform them you will call in the next week to follow up—and follow through with the call.

These are just a few of the strategies you should use when attending a job fair.  The main thing you want to remember is, take full advantage of the experience.  You may discover new companies, gain excellent career advice, or even leave with a new job!  This can be the time you use to build confidence and embrace it as the ultimate learning opportunity.  So you better…Work it!