Networking: Start Early, Start Small

If you have a neighbor whose young adult child has a job in a restaurant, and you have a different neighbor who owns a restaurant, start small and network with the young adult first.  Have your child talk to someone closer to their age, whose job experiences have more relevance.  Speaking to an older accomplished adult can be very intimidating.  Students have to practice before they can talk to an executive level professional.  Students – don’t leave this networking up to your parents and their friends: try to maintain connections with students a bit older than you whom you know from school or an activity.  Seek out those who seem to be going places – they will likely be great networking sources as you grow and expand your interests in the world of work.

For students and their families who are about to embark on a networking project, I’d like to help you put this into perspective. Imagine you personally (parent or student) might want to run for an elected town board position.  Your neighbor says they know the Mayor of the closest large city and suggests you talk to them to learn about local politics (e.g. the Mayor of Boston for instance, or of Phoenix).  Picture yourself: your first foray into networking is with that Mayor – intimidating, right?  Don’t make this mistake. In networking, we often try to reach out to the most powerful and connected adults we know  in the hopes of gaining career insight, or an internship, or a job…fast.  And, we adults, with very good intentions, often jump the shark when helping students by introducing them to these high level contacts.

Students, however, need to practice having conversations first.  The point of these initial conversations is not just about making rain from the conversations.  Remember, this is the era of less and less verbal discourse.  So, students don’t come to networking having much practice at formal conversation. Make the entry-point into networking easy. Students need accessible, personable contacts who help encourage them and help them practice the art of formal discussion – teachers, the clergy, self-employed people in your town are all great first starts.  And, regardless of whom you are meeting, set yourself up for success.  Confirm your appointment the day before, pre-write a draft thank you (so it can be edited quickly with a few personalized details and be sent within a day of the meeting-email thank yous are fine). Foremost, arrive with a list of 5-8 questions you have practiced with a family member. (Examples: how did you get into this line of work; what classes in school helped you; what characteristics make someone good at your kind of job; if you were starting out now, what would you do to get yourself ready; what other things do you do outside of work that you enjoy; is there anyone else you think I should talk to or any websites or books or magazines I should look at?…)

Starting small and in this low-stakes way – much like trying out a bicycle with training wheels or learning to ski on the bunny slope, will reduce anxiety and improve your success.  Watch how you blossom as you graduate to more and more complicated conversations with more and more connected individuals over time.  Your standard list of questions will begin to trip off your tongue naturally.  You will add new questions effortlessly.  Your confidence will grow – age appropriately – so that those whom you meet won’t question how you made the contact or why they are speaking with you.  You will right-size your ability with your opportunities, and the whole process will be more comfortable and yield better results.

training wheels

 

 

Breaking News: Humanities Majors Don’t Suffer Financially over The Long Haul

 

humanities
Picture credit: Maine Humanities Council

Here is the bottom line….about the bottom line…for humanities majors vs. STEM majors – first of all, a number of polls including those from Gallup and Forbes show that overall, humanities majors are just as happy in their jobs as STEM majors, and that any pay difference is not causing them upset. And, great news… then, as they grow in their careers, often they close the pay gap with their scientist and engineering peers. Chronicle on Higher Education goes on to state that, “The results are familiar, if you’ve read those past reports: Bachelor’s-degree graduates in engineering and the sciences earn roughly $10,000 to $30,000 more, but humanities majors catch up over time — and humanities majors more effectively close the pay gap between younger and older workers. What’s more, the college debt that humanities graduates carry is about the same compared to other majors.”

Add to this a recent blog post by the respected Michigan workforce group, MichiganFuture, about how Google totally revised its thinking about workforce hiring strategy and humanities majors, “Project Oxygen (Google’s enterprise wide workforce analysis project) shocked everyone by concluding that, among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last. The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.

So, giving your student and young adult a chance to practice the many “softer” skills is certainly going to benefit them in the long run, regardless of their major or chosen career trajectory.

Source Article: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Over-Time-Humanities-Grads/242461?cid=at&utm_source=at&utm_medium=en&elqTrackId=5f5179c39905491ebe32115dfef433bc&elq=58eda80a7953412885d478df1bdd5827&elqaid=17754&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=7832

 

Advance Resume Design for Twenty-Somethings: LinkedIn and Your Resume

 

According to a recent article by Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, a writer at Grammarly, managing the way you include your LinkedIn information is important.  The article goes on to explain:

Include your LinkedIn profile URL at the top of the resume next to your contact information. If you’re using a networking resume and not applying via an applicant tracking system (ATS), hyperlink the URL so the hiring manager can go right to your profile. If you’re creating an ATS-optimized resume you may not want to hyperlink the profile URL because it will cause some systems to toss the resume out as spam. Some 87 percent of recruiters report using LinkedIn first when it comes to searching for qualified candidates, so this needs to be the first place you direct the employer so that they can learn more about your accomplishments and evaluate your culture fit for their company.”

Pro Tip: make sure you proofread your LinkedIn page carefully as well as any articles or other documents you attach.  Prospective employers read LinkedIn even more carefully than they read your resume.

Gaming the ATS is a basic fact of creating resumes that work well for online job applications.  So, while you are already in LinkedIn, spend some times using it’s search feature to your best advantage.  Here is some excellent advice from Anish Majumdar, contributing writer at the online job site, Glassdoor. He suggests that you skip using job postings themselves to select and match keywords. Because these words are not ranked in order of importance, designing a resume to include them can backfire.  Instead he suggests you look up young professionals in your same line of work – just use the LinkedIn search feature and type in the title of the job you are applying for.  You will get a list of others who have your current job. Take 10 or 15 of these profiles and scroll down to the “Featured Skills and Endorsements” section. Here you will find actual relevant KEYWORDS that have been pre-optimized by going through the LinkedIn. Write down all keywords that seem relevant.  However, when updating your resume, use only those keywords that you can fully tie in to a description of direct experience you want to showcase.   

 

Dwight-Schrute-Sample-Resume_l

Dwight Schrute’s Resume is unlikely to make it through the corporate HR ATS system.

Pro-tip:  Have two versions of your resume. The main resume should be simple with few graphics so it doesn’t confuse ATS systems.  Your secondary resume should have a bit more visual interest for use with real human contacts.  Remember, nearly 70% of all job changers report that their new job came from a networking source, so don’t skip personal networking – this should be the basis for any job search process.

Start The Path to Working When Your Child is Young

BOred kids
Days seem longer when you are starting out in the world of work.

 

As you probably know, I believe that academic success and leadership positions are overrated as tools that help students move from school to full time work.  Of course these successes are nice features to have in your toolkit.  But, we all know many successful professionals who were C students and never led a club or a team during any of their high school or college years.  So, what does matter in the toolkit of young adult?  IMHO, the most important features of a successful young adult job applicant are: self-awareness, teamwork, organizational skills and the willingness to seek out mentoring and be managed by a boss. Develop these areas starting at a young age and you are likely to have a successful transition to paid employment later in life.

Kids need to experience work.

But, how do you get them there?  Parents: start young — assigning household chores will start to build your child’s tolerance for the pacing when they enter the workforce.  Slowly have them graduate from chores to ever more challenging neighborhood jobs.

But first, help them practice Self-Awareness as they try out jobs with a close neighbor or family friend.  Ask them to brainstorm, “what skills do I have?” “what do I like doing?” “Why do I like doing that?” Often they will select pet sitting, babysitting, snow shoveling and yard work – help them to explore why they enjoy these tasks and maybe even relate these tasks to a few parallel adult careers like pet sitting might lead to vet tech or hotel management or being a fundraiser at the zoo. Baby sitting might lead to teacher or child psychologist.  Shoveling and yard work might lead to owning a landscaping business or becoming a plant scientist or construction supervisor or civil engineer.

Second, help them master Organization:  Before they start their job, have them create a Task List that they regularly review with a list of the steps they should always follow in order to be a success in their job (example: always double check that you locked the door when you finish dog sitting).  This list should be thorough, clear, ordered in proper sequence.

Additionally this list should contain 3-4 steps where they experience Teamwork with you as their “team member” so they consciously practice having good communication. Example of a teamwork-oriented step: “Work with (Mom, Dad, My Sitter, My Older Sibling) to get a ride to my job.  Request a ride early!” or “Work with (family member/sitter) to help me to remember where I will keep my copy of the pet owner’s key. ”

Finally, when they have perfected their Task List, have them share the list with the person who has hired them and request feedback.  This step promotes a relationship of Mentoring and allows the person employing them to Act Like A Boss, showing them improvements and specific ways they like tasks to be done and then setting the stage for the employer to correct the child if it is not done properly. (Clue the neighbor/family friend in if you can, so they understand the role they will be playing with your child).

To be successful and happy in full time work later on, most young people need to have practiced the separate rhythm of work beginning at a young age. They need to experience progressively more complicated jobs in many settings as a tween and teen before they can transition successfully into a full time job in the workforce.  Patiently helping them learn from you and then giving them a step-by-step path to begin learning from outside employers will solidify their ability to work effectively at the entry level, both by themselves and in groups, while reporting to a demanding manager.

The Smart Way to Pick a Major that Most Students Skip-Talk to People Who Have Already Graduated with the Degree

chuttersnap books
Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash – So many subjects, so many choices when picking your major.

A report released Fall 2017 by The Gallup Organization and Strada International show that when students gather information before choosing a college major they rely predominantly on their social contacts including friends and family. The report details that, “the majority (55%) of U.S. adults with at least some college but no more than a bachelor’s degree list their informal social network as providing advice about their college major. This is the most often-cited source of advice when choosing a major for the majority of U.S. adults.” Media sources play a role, so does college advising staff and even high school teachers.  However, the report goes on to warn that the most helpful source of information, a student’s current and future employers , as well as an informal network of career mentors made up of professionals who have the desired degree are rarely consulted by students and their families.  These are the best sources of concrete information about the major and they are the best contacts you will ever have – both in terms of advice and as contacts when you begin searching for full time employment.

Give some thought to brushing up on your informational interview techniques freshman year. This will help you feel confident in spending substantial time from freshman Spring into the summer (before you declare your major) meeting with people who declared that major and are now employed.  You will learn a great deal and set yourself up for scholastic and employment success. And, if you are a highschooler who plans to apply into a major for college, spend the time discussing your choices with family friends and extended contacts before you make this big decision – you will want to be aware of the long term upside and downside of any major before you lock yourself in. Of course you can change majors once you declare.  However, there is often extra time, cost and sometimes even an entire extra semester of work and expense if you decide to change too late in your college career.

To read more, this Washington Post article gives an in-depth summary of the many issues when selecting a major: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/12/08/why-is-choosing-a-college-major-so-fraught-with-anxiety/?utm_term=.da9563cbc834

Super Bowl 2018 – MLK “Drum Major Instinct” Speech

Superbowl 2018 MLK ad
MLK as quoted by CityYear from the Drum Major Sermon, Feb 4, 1968

 

Fifty years ago today and only a few months before his assassination, MLK spoke of the natural human tendency to want to be out in front, grab the credit, seek the glory all the while extolling the search for true virtues: service and love.

Excerpt from MLK’s Famous Drum Major Speech – Showcased at Super Bowl 2018

Everybody can be great, because
everybody can serve. You don’t have
to have a college degree to serve.
You don’t have to make your subject
and your verb agree to serve. You
don’t have to know about Plato and
Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to
know Einstein’s theory of relativity
to serve. You don’t have to know the
second theory of thermodynamics
in physics to serve. You only need a
heart full of grace, a soul generated
by love.

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The Drum Major Instinct”
Ebenezer Baptist Church
Atlanta, Georgia
February 4, 1968

 

Full Video Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBiFnDuCJIU