Q: Thank you for the helpful tips on my first job. I am actually very nervous about my first day because I know I have to make an impression. When I introduce myself, what do I need to say? (Carol Dozorka)
A: Thank you for the feedback, Carol! This is a very important question. Do you introduce yourself by first name? first and last name? by title? if you have Ph.D., do you add Dr. to your name?
The universal answer is: Hi, I am <first name>, <last name>, and then a brief summary of your responsibilities (you do not have to use your formal title) and a connection to your team or your manager (unless this person is the one who is introducing you). Do not use formal prefixes such as Dr. or Mr./Mrs., unless you are in academia or another line of work where this is common, and someone else does the introduction.
This would sound like: "Hi, I am Lynn Miller, I will be responsible for audit assessments working with Miles and the Corporate Audit team." Smile, shake hands, and respond to the welcome message as applicable (e.g. if the other party says "Welcome to the company", simply respond with "Thank you. Excited to be here")
Unless prompted, do not tell your whole life's story and do not be overly wordy, but if a brief conversation follows, make sure you remember small details (people may tell you their roles, how long they have been with the company, mention family details) or write them down after you return to your seat (I normally open an Excel spreadsheet and keep the details there so that I can reference them in future conversations with my new colleagues).
Practice your 30-second introduction in front of the mirror the day before you join, and maybe even rehearse in front of your spouse or a friend. First impression still matters!
- Mariya Breyter
Q: I tried to follow your advice and spoke to my manager about my promotion. He got upset for no reason. Now he's using every opportunity to tell me that I am not doing a good job and calls it "feedback". What should I do? (Ted Luster)
A: Hi Ted, there are two things you can do. First, think of your conversation with your manager. How did it go? How did you describe your interest in career growth? How did your manager respond? Was is a positive productive conversation or were you accusing your manager for not recognizing and supporting your professional growth? If the latter, what made is such? If not, why did it cause such a response?
This analysis will be very helpful to you in defining next steps. When you said that your manager got upset for no reason, what did you say or do immediately before his reaction? Did you come to this conversation with examples of your accomplishments, suggestions on what you can take on next, shared the training you've taken to function in a new capacity? Did you stay open minded and ask for his advice and support throughout the conversation?
If yes, why did he get negative? Did he feel threatened? Did he think you were unreasonable and unrealistic? Was he uncomfortable with non-verbal communication and the way you presented it to him? What made him starting to justify his actions rather than supporting you?
The best way to find this out is to put on your "white thinking hat" as described by Edward DeBono - this is a very powerful concept to use in your daily life - at work and at home, and ask your manager for a follow up conversation. Come prepared with facts, explain how you feel, and have an open respectful conversation. For example:
You: I would appreciate a follow up to our last week's one-on-one.
Your manager: What is it about?
You: I did some thinking and came up with my next steps. It would be great to get your advice.
Your manager: OK, I can share my thoughts.Let's talk.
Once you meet, discuss how your manager can support you. Come up with suggestions, be specific. Say, for example, that you would run the upcoming initiative, and are looking for your manager's advice on strategy and once it starts, weekly checkpoints to get his advice on progress. Talk about looking for encouragement. Explain how you feel about his comments but never dismiss his feedback. Instead, suggest one-on-one feedback sessions once a month where your manager will give you aggregated feedback and you will share how he can support you best. Be positive, honest, and take control over the situation.
The second thing you should do is assess your partnership with your manager. Why is your manager not supportive? Is it something you can address? Maybe your manager is threatened by the fact that people come to you for advice and not to him? You can address this easily by routing all questions to him first. If he is genuinely doubting your loyalty and is competent, this would repair your relationship. If he cannot answer the questions and redirects everyone to you, this will be noticed immediately, and may make the situation seemingly worse.
Well, this is only for your benefit because it will give you a clear answer: do not waste your time with this person. Move around in the organization or move on, choose to stay until things change for you or act on this - this is a complex decision depending on many factors. I plan to cover this topic in one of the future Tips in the Advance Your Career section..
- Mariya Breyter
Q: I am an experienced network admin but it has been over a year after I have been laid off my job with a large telecom company and I cannot find a new one. I would take any job by now, but prospective employers are turned off by the gap on my resume now. What should I do? (Thomas R. Selzner)
A: Thank you for sharing your concerns, Thomas. I agree with you: it is a tough experience to go through, and the goal of this web site is to equip you with the information that will help you in making your job search successful from now on. Actually, all you need is a strategy, and then a plan to execute on it, review progress at every step, and pivot as needed.
What do I mean by saying it has to be strategic?
First, you want to prevent yourself from searching for a job while being unemployed. This fact is a significant drawback on your resume for many employers. Luckily, this happens less nowadays because layoffs have, unfortunately, become a norm of today's professional life. However, there is still there a prejudice and if someone has been laid off, the value of this person as a professional is frequently being questioned. Significant gap in employment is one of the most significant "red flags" on someone's resume.
This is why my advice is to start looking for a new job once you become aware of layoffs coming up. If it is unexpected and your job search is not progressing as fast as you expected it to, you can start your one-person consulting business or become a freelancer and bid for work on elance.com, guru.com or a similar site, and create continuum in your professional life. I am sure there are multiple opportunities for network admins to take short-term projects while still looking for a job.
Other steps include:
1. Update your resume, then ask your friends and interviewers for feedback on your resume, and update it again. We will cover this process in detail in one of our upcoming tips. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is in sync with your resume and other online resources. Search for your name online and ensure consistency. Make sure your online image is stellar. Update your bio on professional associations' sites.
2. Reach out to your connections on LinkedIn, send personal e-mails to your former coworkers, join and attend local meetups, conferences, professional associations, and other professional events. Be active online including LinkedIn and other forums. If someone is a software engineer, the advice would be to contribute on GitHub to create and enhance your professional name. Inform your connections that you are looking for a job - references are your best opportunity!
3. Get feedback to ensure that your expectations are realistic. Use your former colleagues and peers as advisers. Are you looking for a job that is in sync with your proven job record? If there is a gap, get certified, trained, take online classes, and include it in your resume.
4. Use a well-balanced set of online job boards - LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, etc. and make sure that you use the ones that are specific to your job responsibility as well. Check them daily and apply immediately. Target your introduction to each employer. Cover letters, though not as important and years ago, still matter for many employers. Reference your publications, web sites, other online contributions when you apply. Make yourself stand out from other applicants but not overdo this by links to your personal events and excessive self-marketing.
Other steps are as important:
- Successful phone screen;
- Your "elevator pitch";
- Interview preparation for 100% success;
- Winning interviewing strategies;
- Post-interview analysis, actions, and follow up activities;
- Offer negotiations;
- Acceptance and preparation for your first day;
- Your first 90-day plan.
Look for further details on these steps in our Get Your Dream Job Tips postings.
- Mariya Breyter
Q: Right now though I am about to change my job for the forth time in less than two years. And all of those have been full-time permanent jobs. In all cases, this has been my decision. I am a strong performer, and when I leave each job, both my managers and peers are sad I'm moving on. While I miss people, I am not sad at all. When I left the first job on this list, I made a "victory dance" which made my colleague who drove me to the airport laugh. When I left the previous one, I had to spend two weeks at home recovering from the enormous stress that came with it.
A: Hi Sandy,
The way it sounds to me, you have to learn how to make better "arrival" decisions than "departure" decisions. What do you want to achieve in your professional career? What is the trajectory you've designed for yourself? What are your aspirations and drivers?
This would be the first step for you. Spend some uninterrupted time self-analyzing. What does make you happy? Do you enjoy meeting new people and facing new challenges? Then a consulting job may be the answer, just make sure to negotiate ability to choose local clients before you accept an offer if this is what matters to you and your family. Many large consulting companies (and some smaller ones) will be very comfortable with such a compromise. Do you like getting into fine details and becoming an expert in your subject matter area? Then a corporate job with a reputable company would be an answer - just don't panic and leave after each reorg, because this is a feature of today's corporate world. Do you have entrepreneurial spirit and unlimited energy? Then a startup may be an answer.
Most importantly, if you did not have an answer before your started this journey, now you should. You have learned a lot in the last few years about yourself and things you will or won’t compromise. Hence, step 1: spend some time analyzing and finding out what you value in your professional life. Create your "career trajectory" with immediate and longer-term goals. Concentrate on what matters to you. If it is a title or compensation, ask yourself five "why's". Why does the title matter to you? Would you be professionally happy if you have the title with no or limited decision making abilities? Would money make you happy if you come every day to the job that you hate? If it is flexibility, look for a company that offers that. If it is being able to make a difference, look for an open-minded employer. Be honest with yourself and maybe even brutal - this is the exercise you do not need to share with anyone.
Now move on to step 2. As I mentioned, your focus should be "arrivals" not "departures". Select a list of companies you want to work for - specific ones or the type. Do not look elsewhere and make a commitment not to make any impulsive decisions. If you were able to find multiple jobs in a short time span, you are probably a good interviewee and a good specialist. Do not fear unemployment, fear poor employment choices. Make a commitment to make your next move a meaningful one. Ignore the distractions and move towards your goal. And good luck!
- Mariya Breyter
“When you were made a leader you weren't given a crown, you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.”