Everything I needed to know about career management I learned from my parents

At this time in between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I would like to honor my parents who have always been loving, dedicated and supportive. By teaching me to be a good person, my parents indirectly taught me how to be a good job seeker and career manager.   Many of the lessons I learned at a young age are still applicable now. They are especially important in job search and in managing an effective career. I would like to share the top six skills my parents developed in me and I suggest you practice these in your job search and career management.

Integrity and respect:   Both of my parents have great character and taught me that your reputation must not be taken for granted.   Integrity is essential – do what you say you will do and keep your word. Treat others with respect and your reputation will speak for itself. Our family members were always treated equally and with reverence. Likewise, we were taught to treat all respectfully. Treating others with respect will take you far in your job search and in your career.   For example, in job search never be rude to the receptionist. You may not realize it but this person has more power than you think. If you treat this person with disrespect, your résumé is likely to end up in the trash. After interviewing, the hiring manager may ask the receptionist how you behaved in the waiting room. The answer may determine if you proceed in the selection process.

Take risks: My father was an entrepreneur before it was a trendy thing to do. He was gutsy and started a business while my Mom wasn’t working and they had six children to feed — nothing like ensuring success through necessity. But seriously, my Father worked very hard to establish his business. He saw an opportunity, took a chance, worked hard and it paid off.   He created one of the first Executive Recruitment firms in the world, which began as Battalia & Associates and has evolved into the successful business of Amrop Winston Battalia . Entrepreneurship is not for everyone but it can be a great path for some. Are you avoiding it because you have done the research and know it’s not a good fit or are you just afraid to move forward?

Work hard even when no one is watching: Both of my parents are extremely hard workers and that has certainly been passed on to me. They illustrated that hard work pays off and expected each family member to pull their weight around our house.   As a result, I learned to “earn my keep” and carried this with me to other places. As an example, I was often invited to friends’ homes for dinner and I frequently offered to do the dishes.   It gave me pleasure to see the parents’ pleased reactions and satisfied my urge to be helpful.   Not surprisingly, I was often invited back!   In your work and job search, if you work hard and excel at what you do, you will develop a reputation for these qualities.

It’s never too late to start:  After raising six children, my Mom went back to school at the age of 34 to get her Bachelors Degree. After finishing, she decided to keep going and attended law school. Right after passing the New York Bar Exam, she started working at a local firm, became a partner and today is running this successful law practice. This taught me that it’s never too late to start a new career and to pursue your dreams.

Be active in your community:   Besides always being active in PTAs and community initiatives, my Mother started an organization called ICARE to help people find stable housing. In short, when she sees a need, she fulfills it. She has also served our town as Supervisor, Judge and even ran in a Congressional primary.   My Father has been equally active in the community. He is currently a volunteer with the Senior Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) but he has served in many other roles and volunteered on numerous boards over the years. He even traveled to Zimbabwe to share his knowledge and help an entrepreneur start a recruiting firm. Volunteering can be an important part of a job search. It’s an excellent way to share your skills and to learn new ones. Remember the more you give, the more you get.

Build and nurture your network: Because they were so involved in their communities, my parents naturally created a strong network. Both of them still know who to call upon for a certain skill or expertise and they freely share resources with others. They understand the power of connections and they strive to create a network of people and resources that can be utilized to help others. Of course, they also know that networking in not a one way street and that the best way to obtain assistance is to offer help to others first.

Show appreciation:  My parents always stressed the importance of thanking people. We had to write thank you notes to our grandparents and others after receiving any gift. I have embraced this habit and always impress it upon job seekers. As I say, people always remember those who thanked them (and those that didn’t).

On that note, I would like to end with a message of gratitude. I thank my Mom and Dad for teaching me these important skills that I will never forget!   I hope these tips help you as you move forward in your career journey.

One easy step to improve your LinkedIn Profile – CREATE A VANITY URL

WHAT IS A VANITY URL?

It is a fast and easy way to customize your social media presence when using LinkedIn.  The “vanity URL” concept is similar to the idea of getting a vanity car license plate – it makes your name and brand much more memorable.  Aren’t you more likely to notice and remember driving by a car with the plate “DAY-DRMR” or “IMGR8” versus a randomly assigned plate like J3R9S6?

WHY SHOULD I CARE? 

Two big reasons- clarity and branding.  First, LinkedIn assigns everyone a messy URL initially, which is why you should change it.

Additionally, a Vanity URL helps in your branding and marketing efforts and shows you are somewhat savvy in using LinkedIn.  As Donna Sweiden shares as tip #4 in her blog 7 simple updates to your LinkedIn profile, it improves your Google ranking.  Once your profile is set up, share your customized URL so people can easily find you and your expertise.  Place it on your résumé, business cards and electronic signatures.  This is important for people concerned with managing their careers effectively no matter what their status is:  employed, unemployed or underemployed.

HOW TO GET A VANITY URL:

LinkedIn often changes things up, so I can\’t promise these will be the exact steps when you try this, but here it goes.  Once logged into your LinkedIn account, click on the Profile tab located at the top left of the page.  Then slide your curser to the drop down choice of Edit Profile. Click on the Edit link (usually in blue letters), just to the right of your currently assigned URL.

It may take you directly to an edit screen but more likely, you should now see somewhere in the upper right-hand side of your screen the words Customize your URL Link (usually in blue letters) – click on the link on these words.  Then, a box will “pop up” with the URL started as http://www.linkedin.com/pub/, plus a blank box at the end will allow you to type in the customized URL you would like.

Start by typing in your full name and see if it\’s available (no spaces allowed and it will all show in lowercase no matter how you type it).  If it is available, you will see a green check mark. If not, you will see a red X mark.  Keep trying until you get one you like that is available. If your name is taken, look to add other letters that have meaning for you or your profession. So, if the extension of joesmith is taken and he is in the field of sales, he could try joesmithsalesexpert.

Like others, when I first got on LinkedIn, I was assigned an unmemorable URL.  Now you’ll see that my Public Profile (URL) on LinkedIn ends in paulabrandcareers.  When I initially attempted to obtain a vanity URL, I typed in my name and paulabrand was taken, so I added the word “careers” and my URL is now http://www.linkedin.com/in/paulabrandcareers.

SO WHAT’S STOPPING YOU NOW?

It really is easy and takes only a few minutes.  Now you know how, so make use of this feature! Take the time to do this for your best career management when using LinkedIn.  Please share this tip with people you know.

Truth Revealed: Why you should keep your job search active this holiday season

Many people looking for work decide to take a rest during the holidays. This is an understandable temptation, but not a wise move. As other career professionals have pointed out, you should not buy into this mindset. Career Coach Jay Block shares his reasons in Don’t Believe the Myth: Get Hired Over the Holidays while Debra Donston-Miller’s article on Ladders.com gives a welcome point of view from the employer perspective. Master Career Development Professional Barry Davis expounds on this topic in his blog titled, Tis the Season… to Keep Active!

Since others have shared some useful information already, I will keep this short and to the point by summarizing the good advice and adding my own two cents.  My “first cent” is to prove the point that people do get hired this time of year.  Just this past week, one of my clients had not one, but two job offers.  Here’s the rest…

1) Play the odds – Since many people do believe this myth, you will have less competition in this season. Why not use that to your benefit? If you knew your target company received a substantially lower amount of resumes in a certain month, wouldn’t it be a good idea to make contact in that month?

2) Tis the season to connect – There are a multitude of social events that only happen this time of year. You should take advantage of these opportunities to reconnect with people you don’t normally see and meet new folks outside of your regular social circles. Most contacts leading to a job are not from your most inner circle, but from the wider spectrum of connections you develop by following leads.  Holiday events can be a great way to make those connections in person.

3) Slower or faster? Or both? – In terms of timing, the pace of the hiring process may be slower than normal because of the challenge of trying to coordinate interviews around staff vacations. However, in some cases it may be faster than normal. Often companies are eager to fill a position ASAP to maintain productivity. Some positions must be filled by the end of the year or the department will have to forgo the funding for it. And of course for certain industries, like retail or shipping, this time of year often creates a need for jobs that only exist right now (proving yourself in these seasonal jobs can sometimes lead to something else).  In all of these cases, the holiday season will not hinder the company’s need to fill the position. Present yourself as the solution to that need.

4) Giving hearts or stressed out minds? – Most articles say that people are more friendly and willing to help at this time of year. I would agree that is true in many cases. However, some people are very overwhelmed and busy during the holidays and therefore returning a call from you may (understandably) not be their number one priority. Even with good intentions, they may lose your information or just honestly forget to return your call. If this happens, try at least once more after January 1st. Leave a second message wishing them a happy new year and of course provide your contact information one more time. This might be just the reminder they need.

So what’s stopping you?  Go ahead. Make that call you have been putting off. Contact that supervisor you haven’t talked to in years. Wish that long lost friend a happy holiday season. For the next few weeks, you have a great excuse to make these connections, so make the most of it. Good luck connecting and happy holidays!

Managing Your Career 101

There is a lot of advice on managing your career. I can boil it down the seven I deem the most important. No matter what your occupation, these actions (or lack thereof) can make or break your career.

1) Set goals for yourself. Ask yourself where you want to be in 2, 5, 7 years from now. Then make a plan to get there. Write down your goals and post them someplace visible.

2) Always network. This means always work to build relationships, not only when you are in job search. Even when you are working, still make time for networking

3) Do what you say. Build a reputation of standing by your word and getting things done. If you do this your reputation will build itself.

4) Understand yourself. Take some assessments or just take some time to reflect but you must know your strengths and areas of improvement. The better you know what your value is, the more likely you find a good fit in the workplace.

5) Be valuable to others. Remember that you want to give more than you receive. I believe it will come back to you in some way. I’ve seen it time and time again.

6) Keep an open mind. You can plan very well but then something unpredictable may happen to change the equation. Don’t be so set in your plan that you miss surprising opportunities.

7) Seek out a mentor. Find someone in your field (or the field you want to be in) who is well respected and ask them if they might take you under their wing to offer advice and guidance.