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Archive for June, 2007

I’m gonna be honest with you for a second – I’ve got a nice… handshake.

Men have commented on how strong my grip is “for a girl;” prospective employers have said it’s one of the best handshakes they’ve had in a long time. But believe me, a good handshake doesn’t come easy.

Tomorrow, June 28th, is National Handshake Day, according to Chase’s Calendar of Events. It’s the perfect time to make sure your grip is at its best.

Marjorie Brody and Pamela J. Holland, workplace/career experts and co-authors of Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move? offer tips on how to perfect your handshake:

3 steps to a proper handshake

Brody offers the following tips to make your handshake more effective:

  1. As you’re approaching someone, extend your right arm when you’re about three feet away. Slightly angle your arm across your chest, with your thumb pointing up.
  2. Lock hands, thumb joint to thumb joint. Then, firmly clasp the other person’s hand – without any bone crushing or macho posturing.
  3. Pump the other person’s hand two to three times and let go.

6 tips to an effective meet ‘n greet

1. Stand up

2. Step or lean forward

3. Make eye contact

4. Have a pleasant or animated face

5. Shake hands

6. Greet the other person and repeat his or her name

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No thank you? No job.

I might seem like I reference my mother a lot in this blog, but sometimes I can’t help it – she gave me some great advice when I was growing up that has gotten me a long way in life – especially in the work force.

The “great advice” I’m referring to this time? Saying thank-you. Not a hard task, but surprisingly, not something people remember to do after a job interview either.

Sending interviewers a customized thank-you is critical as a job-seeker. Not only are you gaining an edge over the competition, but you’re forcing employers to remember you, as well as giving yourself another opportunity to sell yourself for the job.

The format of your thank-you can vary: Some employers prefer an e-mail, some like a good ol’ fashioned hand-written note and others like a typed hard-copy. No matter what form you send it in, what matters the most is that you send one at all.

Nearly 15 percent of hiring managers say they would not hire someone who failed to send a thank-you letter after the interview. Thirty-two percent say they would still consider the candidate, but would think less of him or her, according to 2005 CareerBuilder.com survey.

Here a few tips for writing a great thank-you letter:

Short and sweet.

Three paragraphs is a good guideline to follow for your thank-you. It’s long enough to include the necessary information – thanking the hiring manager for the opportunity; reminding him/her of your qualifications and reiterating your interest in the position – but short enough that it won’t bore them.

Remind.

Your thank-you note will be lost in the shuffle if you forget to remind the hiring manager who you are and what you’ll bring the company. Thank-you notes are a great opportunity to include key information you forgot to mention in the interview, clarify any points or try to ease any reservations the interviewer might have expressed. It’s your last chance to sell yourself – don’t miss it.

Proofread.

Your thank-you is your last impression on a hiring manager. Just like your resume, it should be free of any grammatical or spelling errors. Also, if you’re interviewing several places, check that each thank-you has the correct information for each company and position.

Customize.

A generic thank-you letter won’t cut it. Tailor each thank-you to the company, position and relationship you established with your hiring manager. Include information that shows you were paying attention during your interview. For example, if you discussed a specific issue in your interview, highlight any further findings on the subject in your thank-you.

Write to everyone.

Send a tailored thank-you to every person you interviewed with at a company. Make sure they aren’t identical – odds are that they’ll share it with each other when discussing your potential as an employee. To make each thank-you different, think back to topics discussed during each interview, such as specific clients.

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At first thought, you probably don’t realize that your capabilities of studying, watching TV and Facebooking – all at the same time – can be put to use in the business world.

Think again. While college does teach you the hard-nosed skills relevant to your major or academic field, you’re also honing vital "soft" skills that many employers look for. The problem is, you don’t realize it.

So, now that you have realized it (even if I had to tell you), the next step is figuring out how to translate your TiVo skills into a language employers will understand. (Don’t worry, I’ll help you with that too.)

Take a look at the following "soft skills" and learn how to turn them into a skill employers seek – just don’t forget to mention them in the interview.

College skill: Juggling a full class load and extracurricular activities at once. Business translation: "I have excellent time-management skills." Suggested career field: Accounting, banking & finance

College skill: Pulling all-nighters. Business translation: "I have the drive to put in the extra time and effort on important projects." Suggested career fields: Consulting, banking, law and technology.

College skill: Group living (in a dorm, sorority, fraternity, scholarship hall, etc). Business translation: "I can work with a diverse group of people under any given circumstance." Suggested career fields: Sales & marketing, retail, non-profit.

College skill: Facebook/MySpace/Blogging/iPod/YouTube profiency. Business translation: "I understand technology, I can raise awareness about your company and connect with customers through new mediums." Suggested career fields: Advertising, sales & marketing, technology.

College skill: Working on group projects for class. Business translation: "I work well with others." Suggested career fields: Sales, business, customer service.

College skill: Completing assignments and projects. Business translation: "I have the ability to meet deadlines." Suggested career fields: Journalism, event planning, law.

College skill: Extracurricular activities: President of your frat or sorority,  head of student government, captain of an intramural sports team. Business translation: "I am a leader."                 Suggested career fields: Management, government, human resources.

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On days like today (warm, sunny summer days) I’d rather be doing anything than being stuck inside all day at my desk. Don’t get me wrong – I love my job – sometimes I just wish I could work outside the confines of my typical 9 to 5.

That got me thinking – you might be fresh out of college and ready to work – just not ready for a 9 to 5 desk job. What are your options?

If you fit into that category, you should look into being a brand ambassador, or event marketing.

Overview

Brand ambassadors and event marketers are typically (but not limited to) young, energetic college graduates with related experience, lots of creativity, strong communication skills and computer skills. In both of these fields, you are typically hosting promotions linking a company, organization or brand to specific events such as tours, concerts, sporting events, festivals, etc.

Working conditions

While working in an office is sometimes protocol in this position, some companies  send crews out for weeks or months at a time. Long hours, including nights and weekends, are common. Substantial travel may be involved as well – you might have to attend the concert where your brand is being promoted or meet with a client in your territory (which isn’t that bad considering you can see all the best concerts or travel to some sweet places).

Qualifications and training

A wide range of educational backgrounds is acceptable but many employers prefer people with experience in related occupations and a broad liberal arts background. Some companies prefer a bachelor’s degree in marketing, but a degree in sociology, psychology, literature, journalism or philosophy, among other subjects, might also be acceptable. Requirements vary, depending on the particular job.

Computer skills are vital, since marketing and product promotion is common on the Internet. You may also need additional training or special teaching instruction so you’re licensed to drive a truck or van to transport equipment, if necessary.

Brand ambassadors and event marketers must be personable, creative, flexible and outgoing.

Want more?

Check out these positions for places to get started:

Beverage Brand Ambassador

Retail merchandiser for sporting goods

Event marketing manager

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