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Avoiding Early Career Pitfalls

The summer is an exciting time for young job seekers. A new group of graduates has just been minted and are searching for their first full-time job. But, there are many pitfalls you may encounter along the way. Here are a few suggestions to help you in your search.

Don’t let your parents get involved in your job search. At the most, your parents should be providing you one-on-one guidance from the comfort of your home. Beyond that, it’s too much. Mom or dad should not be applying to jobs for you. They should not be perfecting your resume. They should not be editing your LinkedIn profile. They should not attend an interview with you. And, they definitely should not ever negotiate your salary for you. I get it. Your parents have been there and done that. But, in the professional world, getting your parents involved in a major faux pas. If you want to find a job, now is the time to talk to your parents. If an employer gets even a whiff of them through the interview process, it’s likely that you will be tossed out of the candidate pool.

Sharpen your online image.  Employers will look at more than your resume. Right or wrong, they will look at your social media. Get in there and be sure you would be comfortable with the content. Reduce posts that focus on anything that might be considered controversial.

Perfect your phone skills. I can’t tell you how often a future employer has said to me, “Wow. I wish the candidate would learn how to answer their phone.” If you’re applying for jobs, you may get calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize. Answer in a polite, pleasant way that uses your name. An uncomfortable, “Hello?” is no way to begin a conversation with your future boss.

Be on time. When you’re early in your career, your real world experience is still slim. But, there’s one thing you can easily do: show up on time.

Once you’ve landed your perfect job, don’t start hinting that you want more money. The time to negotiate was before you started. Once you’re there, you’ve agreed to work for what they’re paying you. Nobody is planning to pay you more just because you’re the smartest, fastest, or best at the job you were hired to do.

Don’t expect a promotion every one to two years. I wish it worked this way, but it just doesn’t. Working your way up the ladder takes time. Promotions often happen when your level of responsibility has changed. Perhaps you’ve started to manage a team. Or, maybe your job includes a new area that it didn’t before.

Early on, your job is primarily about learning and growing. Take the time to learn as much as you can. Give back to the organization. In the long term, this will result in both a fruitful and successful journey.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

159 | Building a Creative Career – Bart Cleveland, Job Propulsion Lab in Austin, TX

Episode 159 is live! This week, we talk with Bart Cleveland in Austin, TX.

Bart spent over 30 years growing brands like The Ritz-Carlton, Coca-Cola and CNN. Now, he helps creative professionals plan and execute successful career through Job Propulsion Lab. Bart is also a contributing author of the book, “The Get A Job Workshop, How To Find Your Way To A Creative Career In Advertising.” He will also be speaking this year at SXSW on the topic of “Building the Creative Career You’re Meant To Have.”

On today’s episode, Bart shares:

  • Whether you should start your creative career at an advertising agency or at a corporation
  • What you can do when you’re starting out and have very little experience
  • How to demonstrate your creative potential in a job interview
  • What you can do to lay the foundation toward an executive level marketing career

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

To learn more about Bart, visit his website at www.jobpropulsionlab.com. You can also learn more about his talk at SXSW by visiting www.sxsw.com.

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send me your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.

Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!

 

The Value of College

College is expensive. Private college is even more. My undergraduate school is now charging approximately $50,000 per year, just for tuition. Assuming you’re paying of pocket, that’s two hundred thousand dollars for a four-year degree, not including room and board.

I love my college, but this is bananas. The idea that a student or parents are expected to come up with this much money for school is difficult to wrap the mind around.

The high cost of college makes you wonder what the money is for. College is more than a finishing school. It’s more than a place to learn about history. It will set the foundation for your future professional career.

To facilitate this career, many colleges offer a career resources center. But, they are typically opt-in. In other words, career resources isn’t a priority.

If finding a job is the ultimate goal, why doesn’t every college offer a mandatory class about just this topic? Along with history, math, and writing, why isn’t there a class in how to get a job? After all, we spend four years learning the skills we need to do the job. Why not have a course in how to get that job?

It seems simple. Universities could use leverage existing career resources staff, or they could find outside coaches or professionals. Fundamentals might include elevator pitch, resume writing, and professional networking.

If students knew how to get a job, they would be more likely to land one upon graduation. They very well might make more money, and in turn, the school would become more valuable. If your school already has a program like this, that’s excellent news. But, sadly, most of the students I speak to don’t have such a course.

If you are evaluating where you want to go to college (or graduate school), consider this. Most schools publish what’s called a post-graduation report. You can typically find it through a straight forward internet search such as “post-graduation report for Harvard University.” This report will typically share information, including: which industries graduates work in, which companies hire graduates, where graduates live geographically, and how much graduates make.

The how much graduates make portion is important. Graduates from certain colleges (or with certain degrees) make much more (or much less) than other graduates. This is real. Companies will very often pay a graduate from a pricey school more than one from another school. Or, they will pay graduates with science or computer backgrounds more than those with art or history backgrounds. This may seem intuitive, but the post-graduation report outlines it clearly.

The next question is – will this education have a good return on investment? Education is an investment. It’s an investment in future income. Fortunately, there are ROI calculators online that can help think through this process. At the end of the day, the college and major you select may be influenced by the ROI of the degree.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

145 | Millennial Job Seekers – Alissa Carpenter, Philadelphia, PA

Episode 145 is live! This week, we talk with Alissa Carpenter in Philadelphia, PA.

Alissa is the owner of Everything’s Not OK and That’s OK. She provides strengths based coaching and professional development training for individuals and teams, with a focus on Millennials.

On today’s episode, Alissa shares the biggest struggle young college graduates face. She also gives us tips on what to do if we have little work experience, what part of our high school education should be included on our resume, and whether or not you should consider going back to graduate school.

Listen and learn more! You can play the podcast here, or download it on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher.

To learn more about Alissa, check out her website at http://notokthatsokcoach.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter at @notokthatsok, and you can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/notokthatsok/.

Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.

Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!

Advice to My Younger Self

In the past week, two interesting things have happened. First, I was asked the question, “What advice would you give your younger self?” Then, I attended my high school reunion. Walking through the old halls of my high school brought back memories of where it all started. Needless to say, both moments made me think about the past and what advice I would give a young person today.

First and foremost, focus on your strengths. Growing up, there’s often a large emphasis placed on being well rounded and equally good at everything. We spend so much time trying to be better at skills we struggle with. In reality, it’s the things that we’re good at that make us special. You will go much farther pouring your time into an area where you excel than stumbling around in something you are weak at. Worry less about your weaknesses and instead, celebrate your gifts.

Second, listen to your gut. Other people with good intentions will try to guide you along the way. They may be parents, teachers, or friends. Some of their advice may be helpful, but some may not. It’s your job to sort out the good from the bad. Do a gut check with yourself before you make big decisions. And remember, most people are best at giving advice for one specific area. Seek out mentors to help with specific decisions rather than all areas of your life. If you begin to head down a path that doesn’t feel right, take a step back and reassess. Similarly, if you’re on a path that you are sure about and are receiving negative feedback from those who may not be in a place to advise you, take your time before switching paths. When I made the decision to move from Oklahoma to upstate New York to study engineering, I received some negative feedback. But, I’m very glad I stayed focused on my mission because it was the best choices I could have made.

Last, your path may not be straight – and that’s okay. Today’s professionals will change their career path many times over the course of their working life. There’s a good chance you will change roles, industries, or fields more than once. Each change will take you closer and closer to your ultimate destination. Be prepared for this change. It’s not the same as failure. Don’t dwell too long if something isn’t working. Adjust your path and continue to move forward in a new direction. That’s where you will find your success.

One of the most important elements of finding your way is to stay informed – and to be prepared for change. It’s not always possible to predict what change will happen, but change itself is inevitable. Being nimble, aware of your strengths, and willing to listen to your intuition will take you far. This is the advice I’d give to the younger me. And, with the ever changing job market, it’s a good future lesson to remember too.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

McDonald’s Recruits Employees Using Snapchat

When most job seekers think of using social media to apply for a new job, they think of networking website LinkedIn. But, McDonald’s and Snapchat recently pushed the boundaries of recruiting. McDonald’s partnered up with Snapchat to recruit and hire new employees this summer. Previously rolled out in Australia earlier this year, they’re calling the recruiting effort “Snaplications.”

According to the Washington Post, McDonald’s plans to fill 250,000 summer jobs. Most are front-line customer service employees in their teens are early twenties. And, those job seekers are using Snapchat. The app has approximately 166 million daily users, with the largest group being in the same age range that McDonald’s is targeting for future hires.

A job seeker is given the opportunity to submit a ten second video through Snapchat. Then, the job seeker is directed through a lengthier, traditional online application process. The video sounds similar to an elevator pitch, or the answer to the question, “Tell me about yourself.”

In an ever changing online world, it’s tough to know exactly what to make of this unusual application process. But, in a certain regard, the concept of applying quickly is similar to what other job sites are already trying to create for job seekers. Sites like LinkedIn and Indeed offer easy application processes that are often just one click. The job seeker pre-loads information about their work history. Then, when they see a job they’re interested in, their application can be submitted in just seconds. This allows the job seeker to apply quickly to many different jobs.

The other factor at play with a quick video application is the first impression. Research shows that the average time you have to make a first impression is approximately seven seconds. And, in many fields, much of the job seeker’s success is tied to just that – first impressions. So, a video application is not that different in certain ways then what happens in real life. (It should be noted that just because first impressions matter doesn’t mean they’re fair. Videos, much like photos or age, have the potential to introduce bias into the job search process.)

Also in real life, you must decide quickly and on the spot as to whether or not you’re interested in a particular job. Decisions become more of a gut reaction than we might like to admit to ourselves.

When I reached out to Snapchat to learn more, I found that the McDonald’s campaign recently ended. But, another company may soon hire through Snapchat too. McDonald’s used existing Snapchat advertising technology to create the Snaplications campaign. That same technology could be taken advantage of by other companies seeking to recruit young talent.

Right or wrong, one lesson to take away from Snaplications is this. You never know when or where you may be hired next. Do your best to represent yourself in a professional light no matter what setting you’re in – online or offline. And, be ready to submit your application and your resume wherever you happen to be.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.