There is a thought that job search during pandemics is much more difficult. Many people lost their jobs and many more are about to lose. However, the opposite is true as well. Gaining new skills and/or landing a new job has never been easier. A lot of people I coach and people I know were able to get new jobs with top employers. For those in technology, Facebook, Amazon, and other major tech companies are hiring like never before. Interview process is fully remote so you can have multiple interviews during the day without scheduling and traveling hustle. Finally, you can invest extra time to do your research or listen to free online advice related to specific company you plan to interview for. Below are the five tips that will help you land a dream job.
Tip 1. Decide on your options
If you are in the beginning of your career, invest time in gaining new certifications or taking online courses. AWS offers free cloud courses followed by an exam around $100-150, which would boost your IT resume. There are project management courses, which will allow you to take Scrum Master or Project Manager certification. There are courses for librarians, optometrists, or teachers - all available online. The sky is the limit, depending on your interests. If you are mid-career, think of several options, e.g. a teacher and an administrative position in education.
Tip 2. Craft your resume
Your resume is your business card. If your skills and the way they are presented (both equally important) do not stand out in the first 20 second, you've lost. Take time to download one of modern resume templates from a site like this and edit the resume in such a way that reflects your skills and experience. It never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes - use your spouse, your friends, or if you have no nearby experts, pay $25-30 to have it checked by an expert on a site like guru.com or freelancer.com. If you have several potential paths (e.g. a teacher and educational administrator above), create two very distinct resumes highlighting relevant parts of your experience, and put them in separate folders on your computer, rather than labeling them as Name_teacher and Name_admin, because this will be visible to your recruiter. One rule: never lie on your resume! Besides ethical aspects, all this information is verifiable nowadays. I've seen people losing excellent offers not because of lying but because of minor inconsistencies in their resumes. Take time to remember all the dates of your employment and names of your employers correctly. Apply to 3-5 positions per day, with individual attention for each role, using keywords and expressions for your job description, and highlighting your experience relevant to the job. Keep a list and record outcomes. Review the list weekly to identify the trends and steer future job search accordingly.
Tip 3. Apply fearlessly and tirelessly
Take time to do online research and apply to the companies that you know and the ones that you may not yet be familiar with. Research LinkedIn, search on Google Jobs, create alerts on Indeed - constantly scan the market for more opportunities in your area. When you apply, fill out employer's form, even if you have already uploaded your resume with all the information. In many cases, people do not take time to fill out all the employment data in online forms. If you are not willing to invest 30 minutes in applying for the job, how would you expect your potential employer to take time to speak with you? As you are applying, do your research on Glassdoor to check the company your are applying for. I had a recent case when a colleague of mine applied (and got selected) for a Board of Directors for a diversity non-profit, which turned out to be solicitation for funds. Save yourself time by doing this research and checking company reputation before applying, and once you do, ensure that you invest time in understanding the job description and the needs of the potential employer. It's never a bad idea to add a cover letter, even if many companies are not asking for it nowadays.
Tip 4. Invest in your interview
Once you landed an interview with a company, take time to prepare. I usually advise to allocate 2-3 days to prepare for a specific entry level position and 3-5 days to prepare for a mid-career position. This is specific to each company and position that you apply for. If you apply for Google, Facebook, or Amazon, you will get a package from their internal recruiter with a set of links to review in preparation for your interview. Review the links and watch relevant videos. Check if there is external reputable source available. For example, there are excellent free sources to get advice on Leadership Principles and behavioral questions in Amazon interview, such as this one. Google sends you a set of links about the company - super helpful. You can usually find helpful information on Glassdoor and other job sites. After the interview, always follow up with Thank You emails - those usually won't change the outcome, but it is a good way to show your interest in the company for further interaction with them.
Tip 5. Raise your brand and build your network
Finally, as you are going through your job search, do not forget to invest in your professional brand and build your network. Most of the job opportunities will come from and through your network or via recruiters discovering your profile on LinkedIn. Ensure that you do it right - optimize for key words for the role that you want to play, create a compelling title, proofread, and test several options. Your LinkedIn profile is your business card. If you've optimized it well, set it to Open for Job Search and ensure that you receive at least one relevant outreach per week. If it is less than that, something is wrong. Send me a link and I'll share the feedback, or ask your friends to take a look.
Attend professional events and let other attendees know that you are doing job search. There are excellent conferences (now virtual) for job search such as the the Grace Hopper Conference and there are hundreds of free meetups on meetup.com - now global. Search by the name of your occupation, join 2-3 meetups per week, select 1 or two that you find most helpful and informative, and nourish this relationship. This allows you to learn, share, and build your professional expertise while growing the network.
Share your own experience - submit a take for a conference, record a professional video on youtube speaking about any aspect of your profession (if you are an optometrist, share your advice on selecting glasses, if you are a teacher, share your teaching techniques, if you are a carpenter, give tips to beginners in this area or new homeowners) - there is always something to share. Rehearse, get feedback, and do it well - and then post this link on your resume and your LinkedIn profile. This will establish you as an expert in the area.
Wishing you success in your job search! I know people who are interviewing with 5-7 companies at a time and selecting the best job offer out of a list. Do not get discouraged by rejections - learn from them and adjust your job search accordingly.
Hope these tips will help you. Use all of them in combination and reach out with any questions or to share your own experience.
- You career coach,
College is behind you. This has been a draining and sometimes overwhelming but overall amazing experience for you. You've got your dream offer and are ready to start a new job. It seems that everything that was challenging and overly demanding is behind, the goal is achieved, and your professional life is starting now. Unfortunately, this assumption is fundamentally wrong. It is too early to relax. You journey just starts here. And depending on how prepared you are for it, you will either succeed or fail.
The goal of this site is to make sure that you are well prepared. From basic communication and presentation skills to building relationships with your colleagues and company executives from Day 1, you need to know what type of environment you are entering and what is expected of you. And similar to your appearance producing a long lasting impression almost immediately, your first months on the job will determine your future success with your new employer significantly. So let's make sure you are well prepared!
This section includes career advice that was introduced by me as part of a Leadership University in a number of companies as well as world-class research in the field. You are getting all this information for free, as part of my desire to support the community of young professionals. If you want to give back, feel free to post comments, share your experiences, ask questions - let's talk, and the more we talk, the more others will benefit from your experiences and the more successful you will become in achieving your own success.
The next posting will describe the first 10 categories for professional advice you will see on this site. Feel free to suggest categories and share your challenges and questions.
The first ten most important topics for career advice for young professional entering their first job that we identified are listed below. We used a number of criteria to come up with this list. This included chronological criteria such as "Your First Day on a New Job" and statistical (most of college graduates consider themselves great presenters and frequently fail their first meeting with company management by not being able to read the audience and respond well) as well as emotional intelligence in targeting your communication to your audience and ability to read your audience that is another frequent failure points.
Every week, there will be two new tips posted so that this site has its first 100 tips by the end of 2016. We will structure these 100 tips in such a way that there may multiple tips related to one competency, so the way titles will be organized is <competency>:<tip>. While competencies will be familiar to you, the tips are intended to be fresh and as practical is possible with a lot of examples from our personal career as well as stories shared by students at a Leadership University session.
Your input into the topics and the content is greatly appreciated. Let's make this conversation interactive, as every conversation should be. Share your experience, ask questions, make this helpful to you in your career growth.
Having that said, the list of the first 10 topics:
1. Your first day on your first corporate job
2. Communicating with business executives
3. Your elevator pitch
4. Building relationships
5. Creating and delivering effective presentations
6. Building relationship with your manager
7. Creating an atmosphere of trust and respect
8. Providing effective summaries
9. Giving and receiving feedback
10. Reflecting on the shadow that you cast
See you soon with the topic #1: Your first day on your first corporate job
Try to arrive 15 minutes early, but don't call for the person who is supposed to meet you until 5 minutes prior to your scheduled time. And your smile and a firm (but not too firm) and professional handshake go without saying. These are professional courtesy rules, but it's worth remembering those on your first day at a new job.
You landed a great job right out of college! There is a good chance you've interned there, and maybe even more than once, so it feels you have it all covered. All the uncertainty, nervousness, the need to impress is over. Now you can relax and enjoy. Is that so? You've probably guessed that the answer is "no", Your journey is just starting. It's a multi-year journey with a goal of discovering yourself. A journey to a successful and rewarding professional career full of accomplishments and failures, achievements and disappointments. Some days you will feel victorious and some days you will come home defeated just to learn from your mistakes and accomplish even greater success.
The goal of this web site is to support you in building your trajectory for success, in helping you discover your strength and use them to achieve your professional dreams, in being yourself and learning from you past experience, and in realizing your professional dreams and "casting the shadow" that will make you proud. Our objective is to support you in being yourself and making a difference. Your first day at a corporate job is your first step on this path, and even if it may feel that you are well prepared, this may not be the case. What is it that you need to know?
Below are seven rules to make your first day at your new job super successful: You can turn this into a checklist or even build a plan around it - use the option that works best for you.
The way to approach the list below is a 3-step strategy:
- read the list and think it through (answer the question "What does it mean for me?");
- make it your own (some items need more details, some are less relevant);
- plan for it (as you think it through and then apply it to yourself, create a task list and plan for the time you need to implement those tasks. The best way to plan it is in reverse chronological order from your start day or any vacation you are taking prior to that):
1. Do your research. You may think you know everything about the company but chances are you do not. Re-review their corporate site, onboarding materials if available, google for the company and your department. Learn corporate values and be prepared to recite by heart and reference them.
2. Connect with HR and find out where/when to show up and what to bring in on your first day. Normally you need to bring your passport or other way of employment authorization.
3. Get in touch with your boss. Reach out by e-mail or via LinkedIn, express your excitement about joining the organization, your loyalty and dedication.
4. Get internal advice. Reach out to people you know within the organization via internships or previous experience (e.g. your former college mates) and ask for their advice as you are joining the company, Check the Glassdoor reviews,
5.Connect with people you know within the organization. Check LinkedIn for any 1-degree connections and reach out to them. Schedule lunch or informal get together with them, if they are available and welcoming.
6.Create a list of people you would like to meet with. Use LinkedIn, your interviewing experience, and the advice you got above.
7.Write down your long-term and short-term career objectives. Where you want to be in 3 months? 1 year? 3 years? Write this down for yourself. If you have enough information, plan your first 90 days. Check this blog for an experience report on the first 90 days planning.
I did not include obvious items such as dressing right on your first day, bringing a notepad and a pen and ideally, a nice professional folder to keep your papers in. I get a lot of questions about how to dress for your Day 1, and my advice is to dress one tiny step up from what you observed when you came to the office for your interview. If the dress code is casual and relaxed, wear slacks but not jeans on your first day. If the dress code is business casual, wear a shirt or a blouse but don't wear a tie or a dark suite. If it is business, this may require a tie for men and formal business attire (skirt or pant suits with a blouse) for women. It will all depend on your new company's dress code and the cultural norms of your office.
When I come to a new job, besides bringing passport and Day 1 supplies, I take my coffee mug with me because many companies have gone green, and you won't find a paper cup in their pantry when you grab a coffee there with your new colleagues, but this may be an overkill. Other than the coffee mug, I do not rush into bringing my personal items
Feel free to share any experience or advice that you have below.
There is a reason this topic comes up as your #2 tip next to your first day at a new job. Even in a huge corporation, business executives want to be aware of the promising new joiners who with proper mentorship and support will skyrocket to become the future of this company. Some of you will join your first job as a participant of one of executive programs rotating through the company to take a leadership position over time within a predetermined path. However, you do not need to be part of an executive leadership or any other career development program, to get support of your company executives and get your career on a fast track.
With that, you can either skyrocket your own career or miss your chance without even noticing it. Below we will cover three topics:
- how to prepare?
- how to make it happen?
- what to do and what NOT to do?
1. How do you prepare for your chance? There are three steps:
Step 1. At any moment of time, be ready with your "elevator pitch": who you are, what your role in the company is and one recognizable fact about yourself that is easy to remember, In the Tip #3 we will talk in detail about what to include in and how to present your elevator pitch. Rehearse it weekly, while your driving to work or before you go asleep. Set up time, update it as needed, and be ready whenever you get a chance.
Step 2. Learn how to target your communication to your audience. Executives have the shortest attention span. Their time is most valuable, so once you get the opportunity, do not engage in telling a long story about your hometown or about your sister in college. Share your "elevator pitch" and prepare to listen, engage, and relate to your executive. Do not ask for favors, do not get too wordy, do not complain. Relate, make yourself memorable, stand out, show your passion and empathize. Ask questions, share successes, suggest support. Most importantly, do not overextend the time you got. Check the non-verbal clues. If the executive looked at his/her watches while talking to you, get the hint. Your emotional intelligence is the key here, not your job performance.
Step 3. Know your executives. In order to relate to your executives, you need to know who they are and what they value. I still remember this company that I joined on a Wednesday years ago. It turned out that they just moved to a new location and every Wednesday evening, they had "wine and cheese" party at a new floor with a group sitting on this floor introducing themselves. On the exact day I joined, I got an e-mail inviting everyone to join accounting department on the 5th floor. I hardly had anything to do with accounting professionally (except getting my paycheck) but I decided to go and meet my new co-workers. I asked my new colleagues if they are going, but no one was interested.
Ask yourself, what would you do? It's your first day at your work, there are "wine and cheese" Wednesdays every week, so you can go next Wednesday or the Wednesday after next and so on. None of your colleagues are going so you'll be there alone. You are exhausted because your Day 1 at a new job is most likely loaded, so you are ready to go home rather than spend an hour after work hanging with people you do now know drinking cheap wine in work environment. I did not think this way. The way I looked at it: wow! I am so lucky! It's my day 1 and I already have a chance to meet new people outside of my department! Plus wine and cheese sounds very nice (I obviously chose the right employer!) and so I went.
When I came to the fifth floor, there were very few people there, so we started chatting right away. Then, I got to the counter to grab some cheese and there was someone else over there grabbing his snack. This gentleman looked at me and said he name was John and asked me who I was. I shared my elevator pitch and we had a nice conversation with John about the future of education (it was an educational company), the benefits of running (it turned out he was a runner), and about my onboarding experience. Why did I start with the elevator pitch, you ask? Because I reviewed the company web site and LinkedIn profiles of its executives prior to joining, and of course, I recognized John, the CEO, and I was aware of his passion for running, and the rest of the conversation just developed organically, and we both enjoyed it.
The next thing I knew in a couple of days that I was invited to an introductory meeting with John, the CEO, then I was invited to present to him monthly on the progress of the initiative I was leading, and within months, I moved to a managerial role (I'd like to think that this would happen anyway, but this encounter gave me the exposure I needed to make this move fast and easily).
If I did not go to this seemingly unimportant event on my Day 1, I would never know that I missed my chance.
2. How to recognize your chance?
The previous example is helpful in understanding that you should never shy away from any exposure, no matter how new to the company or how busy you are. I recall an instance early in my career when we were getting ready to launch our web site. We replatformed and rebranded the whole company website for a large corporation, and that night was the launch day. We were working with a vendor, so there were few people on the floor involved in the effort. I was in charge of a team of business analysts who built the logic for this huge news and marketing site, from data feeds to editorial content. A big part of it was the logic of importing historic news releases for the last ten years so that the users would be able to search for them on the new site.
The day of launch, two things happened. First, we had a visit of our CIO scheduled who was expected to tour the floor and meet with personnel for 30 minutes. Second, we found out that there was an issue with our logic for importing historic news releases, so they were not searchable on the new site. We were all trying to find out a solution when CIO came to the floor. I told my team of Business Analysts that it is up to them whether they choose to participate in this informal get together with CIO or stay with me and fix the issue. All of us stayed except for one analyst (let's call her Ankita) who chose to go meet with CIO. The rest of us worked hard, we came up with a fix, and in the evening, we went live with the new web site - a huge win for the whole company. We worked on this project for 6 months, and the last month, I almost lived at work since our Project Manager left on a 3-week cruise, so I was both leading BA team and performing project management -working with the vendor, communicating progress to executives, taking care of issues.
Out launch was a huge success, except for one hiccup. There was an issue with RSS feed for data import so we almost rolled back, and then I came up with a solution to point the section of the web site that was populated by the feed to the old site so that we can fix it as an emergency release, and we went live. I felt victorious! It was my first project of such magnitude, it was my first time in a dual role, and I felt that I saved the day. I was thinking about talking to Ankita who was the business analyst responsible for both RSS feed and the import of historic releases, the functionality that jeopardized the launch. Well, I felt excited and proud until the next morning.
In the morning, CIO issued an e-mail congratulating Ankita on a successful launch of the company site based on his conversation with her at the previous day event, our project sponsor announced a monetary award to both Ankita and the missing project manager who has not even come back from his long-term vacation, and my boss promoted Ankita to a full-time position with the company. My name was not mentioned anywhere. This was so unfair! I felt overlooked and unrecognized. I switched the department and eventually left the company. Meanwhile Ankita made a great career with this company, and within a few years became a manager, then a director, and as of now, a company VP.
Years after, I do not feel that I was overlooked or unfairly treated. While I learned this lesson firsthand and made it my primary responsibility as a manager to have people properly recognized and fairly appreciated , I now recognize our individual responsibility to "promote" ourselves and make our successes known. My mistake was to decide to skip the event with CIO to win 30 minutes of work time on the short-term problem. I did not recognize the chance, and it is no one's fault I paid for these 30 minutes with 6 months of hard work and hurt feelings and eventually my future with this employer. Recognize your chance and make use of it.
Sometimes I get the following question: if you do not get a chance, how to make it happen? There are multiple opportunities to ask questions at Townhalls and company events, to stop by and have a conversation at a company outing or a holiday party, to reach out with your ideas, to write an e-mail, or stop by their office (or ask their assistance to have an introductory meeting scheduled, depending on company policy). You can volunteer for a charity event or submit a blog on a company site, but whichever option you choose, do not go overboard and stay relevant. Otherwise, you will achieve an opposite effect. The following section describes things that can go wrong with your exposure.
3. How to use your chance?
In the sections above, we discussed the topics to share in this brief exposure: your name, role, your or your team's accomplishments, the best practices you introduced, your support of the most recent initiative, the feedback from customers, the hobby that you share - anything that is relevant. Just be brief, be prepared to listen and interact - and then build on what is happening. Most importantly, be mindful of not achieving the opposite effect to getting a chance with your executives.
What NOT to do? When you get an exposure to your company's executives, do NOT do the following:
1. Complain. Do not complain! This is not the venue. Come up with ideas, suggestions, feedback - this time is a great opportunity to achieve those objectives, but do not complain - about departments, people, vendors.
2. Discuss your manager. Do not discuss your manager. Any feedback is better when done directly. If your manager is violating any rules or showing disrespect to you, talk to them directly, then involve HR if needed. Your executives are not HR managers, so there is no reason to involve them in addressing HR issues.
3. Escalate. If there is a specific issue to be resolved, deal with it directly. If you cannot, bear in mind that once you share your issue with an executive, you escalate it to them for a follow up action. Do not try to deal with consequences of your escalation by saying "I did not mean for him/her to get fired". The moment you mentioned the issue with this person, to your business executive, you made a decision to escalate over several ranks of command, and this is a sign of mistrust to every manager on the ladder between you and this executive. If you did not mean it this way, either you are not smart enough or not telling the truth. In either case, don't ask for sympathy.
Getting exposure to your company's executive is a great chance which many new joiners miss without recognizing that they just passed on a great opportunity to be mentored and supported by senior executives. This opportunity can accelerate your career by years - don't miss it and once you get it, use it wisely!
Everyone (or almost everyone) is aware of the "elevator pitch" concept but very few people are successful in taking advantage of it. Your success will be defined by two contradictory factors:
1. Your level of preparation, and
2. You ability to act based on "what is happening".
How is that possible? Actually, both are linked and the second one is not possible without the first one. At each moment of time, you need to have your "elevator pitch" ready: thought through, rehearsed, up to date. Ideally, you have several "elevator pitches" based on the "persona" (or the type of person you are talking to). It could be a C-level executive who does not know you yet, or a head of your department who knows you but does not get to talk to you frequently, or a client, or an important stakeholder in a specific project. Have several version of your elevator pitch ready. This could be:
"Hi, I am Stephen Jenkins. I work in the Credit Compliance group. We just launched a new application for small business. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. 150 new subscribers in the first 10 days. Would you like to come to our product demo on Monday?" (this is for your company executive who may not know you)
or a similar version for Jeff, a company client who you've met before: "Hi Jeff. Remember me? Stephen Jenkins from Credit Compliance. How is your experience with us? (Pause to listen to Jeff's remark and respond accordingly. Then, if situation permits, describe the new product functionality, if applicable, and invite Jeff to your demo.)
But most importantly, listen more that you talk. "Elevator pitch" is not for you to talk, it is for you to seize the opportunity and use it to establish relationships. Remember, people like the sound of their voice most.
Once you get to speak, introduce yourself. Start with an informal greeting: weather, family, latest company's town hall, competitor's announcement - anything that is relevant to the person you are speaking with. Continue with the first two points most important to you and be prepared to turn this into a two-way conversation, or give an opportunity to your counterpart to share their thoughts. Make this experience positive and memorable to both of you. Listen and tune in.
And finally, be smart in creating such "elevator pitch" moments. Don't miss on opportunities to do so. Obviously, don't stalk your executives. When forced, these encounters always feel disingenuous and will hurt you rather then help you. However, if you are invited to an executive meeting, reach out to one or two stakeholders to get their buy-in and advice in advance and use this opportunity to introduce yourself, if this is within the company culture. If you come to an executive meeting, come 10-15 minutes early, and you will be amazed by the meaningful conversations that you will get involved in prior to the meeting and the relationships you will start building. Never miss on a chance to meet an executive or to ask a question that you are interested in. And always make sure to come prepared with your "elevator pitch".
When you start your professional career and think about your success on the job, you probably think about impressing others with your knowledge, abilities, enthusiasm, positive attitude, and your relationship with your colleagues, clients, and executives is not on the top of the list. And this is not because it is not important, but mostly because you believe that if you have everything mentioned above (knowledge, abilities, enthusiasm, etc.) these relationships will naturally get established. You could not be more wrong.
Here's an example from a recent client of mine. She is a naturally nice and caring person and she always identifies herself with the team she is part of. She likes to bake, so she used to bring cookies and cakes to work. She is empathetic, so she used to listen to her colleagues stories, sometimes at the expense of her personal time after work, and encourage and support them. She collected money and bought gifts for their birthdays, and she thought that she is surrounded by warm loving people who care about her as much as she cares about them. And then an accident happened in her family which caused her to miss two weeks at work. Her boss who she supported so actively refused to give her any flexibility with work time or to allow her to work from home. Her teammates who she considered almost family refused to take over her projects temporarily to help out in an emergency. Her world was falling apart and even more so when she decided to leave, and her colleague told her the team was relieved to see her go. He said, "We loved the food that you bring and that you always listen to our problems, but you work hard and establish such a high bar that the rest of us look bad."
We may sympathize with my client above, but we should not. While she cared about her team on the surface, she failed to establish trusted relationships with them. When you join a world-class company such as a Big 4 consulting giant, your day 1 of training starts with this one: importance of building relationships. It does not start with sales tactics or consulting techniques - relationship building is prioritized above everything else.
So what does it mean to build relationships? Does it mean to learn person's name, the names of their kids, hobbies, and stop by this person every week to say "hi" and to ask how family is doing or invite to lunch once in a while? Well, maybe yes, but this is not what is meant by relationship building in a professional environment. The importance is placed on creating trusted lasting relationships, whether it is your client, colleague, or boss. Openly exchanging information, supporting when things gets rough, taking over a task or two without announcing it to the world, giving advice, providing a template, fixing compilation error - doing whatever it takes to genuinely help this person succeed.
In my recent experience, there was the following example: an internal recruiter was working with a hiring manager to fill a new position. They collaborated well until the recruiter mentioned in a weekly update to his boss that this hiring manager's calendar is almost completely booked and he is concerned that some of candidates won't wait until she is available. Recruiter's manager escalated this problem to the manager of the hiring manager informing him that this person's availability puts the whole hiring process in jeopardy. Eventually, the relationship was broken resulting in inability to collaborate in the hiring process. Meanwhile all the recruiter had to do was to tell about his concern directly to the hiring manager who was unaware of his challenge.
This does not mean that you should always be unnecessarily nice or not raise concerns or not provide feedback. Raising your concerns directly to the person in a positive way is a sign of respect. Raising concerns to this person's supervisor (even indirectly, such as in a weekly report) before talking to this person damages trust and is not helping in building healthy relationships. If you feel that someone is not fully honest (e.g. withholding important information or not sharing meeting details), call this person out, but do it as a question in a respectful but committed way and in private.
Build relationships via collaboration, through inspiring others, by thanking them when they support you. Do not assume that relationship building will come by itself, it requires gentle nurturing and care.
We normally think of presentations as something very formal and corporate. However, our first rule about presentations is that they have to be relevant. Depending on your audience, goals, and environment, you may want to consider any possible means of delivery including non-verbal, experiential, or co-created presentations such as a tour (I've done Agile presentations as a tour of physical facility for a co-located company with walls covered with agile artifacts - product backlogs, tasks, sprint goal posters, burndown charts - those who are involved in agile delivery framework will understand what exactly I am talking about) or an experience (a "marshmallow challenge" is a great presentation of team dynamics and team-building tools).
However, in most cases we use specific conventional tools for presentations - from MS PowerPoint to Keynote to Prezi. No matter which tools we use, the rules remain the same. There are many books about running successful presentations, but in this blog, I will summarize 7 "presentation non-negotiables". While you can alter your presentations, the rules below are "a must":
1. Define the topic and the goal/objectives. Every presentation starts with a clear goal: why am I doing it and what outcome I want to achieve? This does not depend on your topic. If I want to talk about a topic, do I want to help participants understand the context, learn about the topic itself, introduce my own original view, or argue with an accepted point of view? What is my specific set of objectives: do I want to establish myself as an authority in the field or demonstrate that I am an experienced speaker, am I using this venue to build partnerships, or is it a sales pitch?
Frequent mistakes. As common sense as it is, most of presentation mistakes happen in this area. If it is a sales pitch to a client, then the client may not be interested in you sharing the industry overview, they want to hear your offering and pricing. If you want to establish yourself as a speaker, it has to be entertaining and engaging as much as it is informative. If it is educational, it can't be overly complex, no matter how deep your expertise is. These are just some of the mistakes inexperienced presenters frequently make.
Solution. There is an easy way to resolve this: before you start working on the presentation: start by identifying your goal and define three take-aways you want participants to take away from your presentation. If you want to sell a product, you may want your audience to be
2. Addressing presentation to your target audience. As common sense as it may sounds, presenters frequently fail to "put themselves in their listeners' shoes."
Frequent mistakes. I've heard many sales pitches which started with explaining my area of expertise to me. Initially, I found it amusing. Then, I realized that for sales people who are doing the pitch, it is a new area so they start their presentation with basics not realizing that I leave and breathe this topic every day. Their inability to understand my needs as a customer is a significant red flag for me.
Solution. I am going to offer two easy solutions. Create a catchy and informative title for your presentation that reflects your user needs, and build the presentation around the title. Feel free to user questions or dilemmas as titles if you know that this question is of concern to your audience. How do you know what is of concern? The answer is easy: use a survey. Your listeners may enjoy pre-presentation survey if it is brief, easy to access, and provides an opportunity to share their opinions. Online tools such as surveymonkey or google forms will make it easy for you and for your prospective listeners.
3. Mode of delivery. Your way of presenting material is the key to your success or failure. This includes everything: are you noticeably nervous? are you in loss for words? Are you too loud or so quiet that listeners have a touch experience listening? are you dressed too formally or too informally depending on the environment? are you naturally engaging or confusing or boring?
Frequent mistakes. We've heard too many presentation which sound interesting but it is hard to get through the personality of the presenter who reads the slides with multiple bullet points, cannot express their thoughts, repeats the same statement multiple times, and provides excessive amount of details. I recall a large conference where one of the speakers presented his company's case study for a new tool they adopted recently. It was a cutting edge tool at that time and their experience was remarkable, but the speaker was very nervous, did not look at his audience, did not pronounce his statements clearly, and while the content was interesting, everyone felt similarly uncomfortable listening to his presentation. He was a senior director with a large company, so the disconnect between his role, expertise, and his level of discomfort as a presenter was striking.
Solution. There is only one solution to this problem: practice. Some people need to practice 10 times, and for some 2-3 times is sufficient. When we practice, we do not just memorize our statements, we think, modify, update, and target our message. I normally have three phases of practicing my presentations: talk it through, rehearse in front a mirror, and then with my colleagues asking for their feedback.
4. Presentation quality. Presentational aspect of presentations is very important. There are many good books on presentation patterns: when to select a specific pattern and how t o customize it. When detailed bullets may be possible for an internal office presentation where details are important, more than five bullet points will look too busy on your conference presentation.
Frequent mistakes. One of the most frequent mistakes of inexperienced presenters is a presentation deck that does not look good: excessive amount of details and related bullets and small script, or misaligned colors, inconsistent font or style.
Solution. Consult a professional or your colleague(s) before sending our your deck and incorporate their feedback on consistency of fonts and colors, quality of images, and its verbiage. In addition to that, never forget your original goal for the presentation, and target your presentation accordingly without cluttering it with secondary information.
5. Clear message. Once you are clear on your objectives and the target audience, it is time to reflect this clarify in your presentation. Do you overcomplicate it or overload with text and images. Use very few slides, so that you have 1-3 minutes per slide minimum. Keep the original objective and 3 take-aways from the first non-negotiable in mind and leave the slides that support this objective only within the deck.
Frequent mistakes. I've heard so many exciting and engaging presentations when I was not able to recall what it was about next day. These presentations were overloaded with great information which I was not able to parse because the message was not clear to me.
Solution: For any presentation, simlicity and clarity is they key. There are several ways of providing simple and powerful messages: images, music, quotes - use them. Be very clear in your intentions - you can even start or end your presentation with your goals and expected take-aways.
6. Impactful Message that resonates with your audience and makes them think.The goal of any presentation is to make impact on the listeners and make them agree with the opinion or suggestions of the presenter, or validate it. However, presenters who are passionate about their topic are frequently too didactic or controlling when they share their message. Either they preach to their audience or treat them as if the presenter is an expert and the audience is new to the topic.
Frequent mistakes. There are two absolute worst things you can do as a presenter. The first one is to think that you are better (more knowledgeable, better prepared, or more advanced) than your audience. If you look down at your audience, you lose them before you even start. The second mistake is to preach and tell rather than co-create and collaborate. Your audience members are listening to your presentation because the topic or you as a speaker are interesting to them, so all you can do is to show them the nest
Solution: Involve your audience. Ask questions during your presentation where they can respond describing your rxperience, do online surveys, use tools such as polleverywhere, kahoot,com or socrative. Listed to what your audience has to say and pivot accordingly.
7. Follow up. Even if you follow the advice above in full, you won't succeed if you do not follow up. At least, there is a reason you are doing this presentation.
Frequent mistakes. I've seen outstanding presentations and did not end anything. Just a conference-level presentation on the topic, and no next steps, no collaboration, no learning. How to avoid that?
Solution: agree with the audience on method of follow up and provide contact information. This is not trivial: the goal of presentation is presentation itself. Is it right? No, of course this is wrong. Once we are clear on this role, let's start providing objective-driven expectations. Do you expect your listeners to get in touch with you? Provide your contact information. Was it a sales pitch? Define next steps (any additional information or follow ups). Was it at a conference? Get feedback and discuss which is the next conference you are going to as a speakers, and once you do all of this, put action items on your calendar to take care of these follow up items and keep your team updated.
I have no doubt you have your own "non-negotiables" you'd like to add to the list. Most importantly of all, this has to be a genuine message which you are excited about and believe in.
In a modern work environment, the concept of management is being continuously revisited. Hierarchical relationships are no longer effective. Management 3.0 is all about promoting self-organizing teams, giving decision-making power to individuals, and building a collaborative work environment. In 10-15 years, we may no longer have managers in a way we current understand this concept, just mentors who provide feedback and support less experienced employees in building their professional brand.
It is important to build positive relationship with your manager so that you can advance professionally and achieve your career goals as well as make a positive contribution to the team and your organizations. According to statistics, 70% of employees decide whether to stay in their roles or move on based on their relationship with the immediate managers. In the book, Multipliers, the authors, Liz Wiseman and McKeown define two categories of managers by exploring why some leaders (“Diminishers”) drain capability and intelligence from their teams, while others (“Multipliers”) amplify it to produce better results.
The first type drains intelligence, energy, and capability from the people around them and always needs to be the smartest person in the room. These are the idea killers, the energy sappers, the "diminishers" of talent and commitment. On the other side of the spectrum are leaders who use their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them. When these leaders walk into a room, light bulbs go off over people’s heads; ideas flow and problems get solved. These are the leaders who inspire employees to stretch themselves to deliver results that surpass expectations. These are the Multipliers
If your boss is Diminisher, move on. If you like your company and your job, try to stay within the same company and move to a different group or a different manager, but do not stay with a Diminisher. It is hard to stay motivated with someone who wants you to follow directions and does not allow you to implement your skills and fulfill your aspirations. You can invest time and effort in educating this person, but this may not be the most effective use of your time, especially early on in your career. If your manager is a Multiplier, invest time in building close professional relationship. and trust with them and receive mentorship and support from them.
How to do it? Below are 5 easy steps:
1. Help your manager to know you. In our previous tips we covered an "elevator pitch": a brief statement about yourself, who you are and what you bring to the table as a professional. Are you great in data analysis and manipulate Excel pivot tables with ease? Are you a pro in making PowerPoint or Keynote presentations? Are you great in Spanish? Maybe you are a natural facilitator? Share you talents.
2. Discuss your professional aspirations with your manager. Where you want to be in 1 year? 3 years? at the topi of your professional career? Do you want to become a subject matter expert, no one can complete with? Do you want to become a brilliant strategist leading organizations? Do you want to start a new company which will live through generations? Share your aspirations and help your manager understand how they can support you in building relevant skills and gaining experience you will be able to apply to these areas.
3. Establish culture of a continuous feedback. An important point is that you own this relationship, not your manager. Rather than expecting your manager to give your instructions or answer your specific questions, support them in building the culture that you would like to work in. Provide your feedback and ask for feedback continuously. Accept this feedback with gratitude and adjust what you do and how you do it, based on that. Ensure that instead of annual performance review, you have ongoing feedback conversations with your manager and stakeholders.
4. Volunteer. If your manager needs your help or is asking for support, volunteer. Your manager has a significant responsibility and it is in your power to help. Be generous, but not because you want to score higher with your manager but because you want your manager, your group, your customers and stakeholders to be successful. However, if you do not have time or do not have skills to provide support, do not volunteer. or suggest to stay in support role. It is most important to meet your commitments.
5. Align. Be a true team player. Alignment is most important. In so many instances we observe star players who move in their own direction. These are Diminishers. Being a solo star does not move the team forward. Align with your manager and your team in moving forward, otherwise you will become a single component optimizing against the team, not in support of it. Talk to your manager whether you are directionally aligned and if not, spend time to listen and to understand.
We hope that these principles will help you establish productive professional relationship with your manager who will multiply your talents and support you in achieving your aspiration.
About the Blog
The difference between our career advice site and many others on this topic comes from the fact that it is not written by a career consultant who has limited experience with achieving career growth in a professional environment. This site comes from an industry expert who achieved career progression step by step and learned the lessons that are now generously shared with you.
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