Springtime is full of change. As the warm weather rolls in and the flowers bloom our surroundings change. This month we highlight activities that lead to or promote change. Whether it is your first interview, first class, or first time networking, everyone has to start somewhere. Check out a few tips we have compiled to help you along your journey.
Creating Brand You
Creating a good brand for yourself is always a great beginning step in order to branch out – it establishes a platform for you to help set yourself apart from any of your other competitors. Here are some simple tips that’ll help in getting your name out there and creating a positive image for yourself.
An Expert in Anything was Once a Beginner
If you want to expand yourself to people who are unfamiliar with you, you need to be knowledgeable on who you are and what you want to do. You need to be familiar with the ins and outs of what you can do so you can lay it all out on the table. If there is something that is critical for your next career move or for self-growth, consider taking classes or joining clubs to learn more about a new task or skill. We recommend joining job sector specific organizations or taking online classes to work towards a new skill or improve a current skill. You are never too far into your career to stop learning.
Be Bold or Italic but Never Regular
When creating a brand for yourself, determine where you want to fit in and with who. Once this is established, it is crucial to set yourself apart from your competitors. Show off your unique traits. Highlight your uniqueness on various platforms. LinkedIn or a personal website is a great place to show your professional talents. If writing is a talent of yours, consider writing a blog on the lessons you have learned in the workforce or on topics that you consider yourself an expert in. Remember to highlight your strengths without exaggerating qualifications or skills. You do not want to put yourself in a situation where your sugarcoating of a skill or qualification backfires. Mix personality with professionalism.
It’s Not Who You Know, but Who Knows You
Network and get your name out in the open! Attend networking events. Such events can be found on websites like meetup.com and eventbrite.com. When attending these events, it’s important to radiate confidence. Be prepared with what you want to say about yourself so you’re comfortable. Practice that quick elevator speech, who are you, what are you interested in, and why are you here? Make sure you are approachable during the event. It is all about the body language. After the event, follow up! Use social media to network with the contacts you make from events. Connecting on LinkedIn and sending a quick note is a great start. If you have their email we recommend reaching out with a quick follow up note.
Enter the Interview
People consistently fear interviewing. Your resume and previous job experience stood out, but now you have to articulate why you are right for the job. We surveyed our recruiters and have outlined a few tips for the interview scene.
Better Three Hours Too Soon Than a Minute Too Late
First impressions are proven to be made within a seven-second window of meeting someone. The most important way to make your first impression count is to be early, or at least on time. Think you’ll run into traffic on your commute? Allot extra time just to be on the safe side. This is a situation where you need to prepare for the unexpected. Being punctual shows that you actually care about the interview and your potential employer. If you don’t show that you care about being on time for your first impression, it shines a light on how seriously you’ll take your work. Employers don’t want to waste their time and money on staff who do not take their job seriously. Put your best foot forward.
Dress for Success
In addition to being punctual, you should also look the part. It is important that you feel comfortable so that you focus on shining during the interview. Set aside a professional outfit that you know you are comfortable moving in.
- Layers: Offices tend to be hot or cold, but rarely in the middle. Combine a hot office with interview jitters and you are bound to break a sweat. We recommend dressing in layers so that no matter the temperature you can regulate your body temperature while remaining professional. Blazers are a great way to start. They are professional for a first impression and are easy to slide off as needed.
- Colors: A bold print or pattern might show your personality but it also might be distracting during an interview. While we encourage staying true to yourself, we recommend pulling out the basics for your interview. If you need to add pizzazz to your outfit, think small. Accessories are a great way to show your colors without going overboard. Think about cuff-links, pocket squares, and small bracelets, or a brief case.
- Shoes: Make sure your shoes fit and you can walk comfortably in them. We recommend investing in a comfortable pair of shoes that look good professional. Even if you interview multiple times with the same company and the same person, they will not remember you wearing the same pair of shoes. They will remember if you are hobbling from pain, showing up in sneakers, or wearing shoes that are overly scuffed up. Neutral dress shoes that are easy to maintain are the best investment.
Remember to Breathe
Stay calm. No one knows you better than yourself, so you shouldn’t get nervous talking about yourself. Most interviews start with questions based off of your resume and then move to situational questions. We recommend researching common interview questions and have a base line for your answers that you can expand upon and tailor towards the specific job requirements. When you are calm, cool, and collected, you can focus more on the conversation at hand and shine during the interview.
When surveying our team for interview tips, one member shared a story of the first interview tip she received from her father. Always come prepared with questions. His exact anecdote was that he was hired the same day he was interviewed because he “pulled out his index card with his questions and asked every single one on it”. You are not the only one interviewing, while the employer needs to find out information from you, it is important you find out information from them. Begin with researching basic information that you can then craft meaningful questions off of. To do this, check out two to three websites that give information on the company. This can include the company’s informational site, social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or even review sites like glassdoor.com and careerbliss.com. Both websites give insight from current and previous employees on work environment, interview questions, and salary information.
We are always looking for stories to inspire others to take the leap and apply for their dream job. It helps to take risks when you feel you are not alone. Have you taken a leap in your career? Do you have a story to tell? Share your journey with our community! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org