A Spirit of Helpfulness (as my mother calls it)

Something I learned the hard way was to be as helpful as you can, even if it means going to the ends of the Earth and back for someone. 

Having a spirit of helpfulness is not only good for the people you are helping, but it’s good for you. It turns you into the “go-to” person, which just means you are reliable and have a proven record of being so. What does having this spirit look like?

1. You’re asking a lot of relevant questions when assisting someone.

2. You’re constantly aware of the needs around you, whether that means listening in on a business conversation that isn’t private, but is being discussed near you or you’re always thinking “Okay, what can I get done now since there’s some down-time?”

3. You’re always asking “How can I help you?” (that’s a given)

4. You find yourself being nice and still helpful to a rude person or client. It’s hard at times, but in the end you won’t be to blame in any way if you’ve done all you can. And if you are you need to question whether the company you’re working for values its employees the way you deserve.

5. People are asking for your name at the end of a phone conversation in a good way. If they are important people they could spread your name to people higher up in your company and suddenly you’re the angel of the group. 

I’m convinced that if more people in the business world, and working world in general, had a spirit of helpfulness we wouldn’t have as many issues with rude people as we do these days. People get frustrated, and we’re told not to take it personally, but sometimes we decide to give people a taste of their own medicine. If we remember the larger picture of why we are doing our jobs then we can remember to have this spirit, covering our butts and working to better the working world one-by-one. 

Tips for Craigslist Job Searching

1. Sometimes when the company name isn’t listed on a listing it’s because it’s a very-well known company and they don’t want to become overwhelmed with people applying. 

2. Make sure you pay extra attention to the details of the listing. Most of the time they’ll tell you what they want in the heading of your email and how they want to receive your resume.

3. I find that I only apply to the listings that sound professional. If that doesn’t make sense you haven’t been on Craigslist as often as I have apparently. I think if the posting is very wordy and doesn’t just “get down to business” chances are I wouldn’t like working with/for the person that posted it. That’s just me though - I like the bottom line when it comes to my future.

4. Try to apply for the most recent listings. The further back you go on Craigslist the greater the chance they’ve already filled the position. If you’re desperate though it doesn’t hurt - but it could just be a waste of your time.

5. Remember: job searching IS a full-time job. Apply for jobs in the morning - take a break for lunch - apply to a few others, and then wait during the afternoon for people to write you back. This is how it works for me!

From your experiences, what advices can you give young professionals wishing to start a career in New York City -- things you wish you knew before you arrived in the City and observations about the culture of New York?

I can tell you there are many things I wish I knew before starting a career in New York. New York can be pretty brutal - and people would tell me that and I never believed it until now. I think the honest-to-God thing I wish I knew was the completely real possibility of getting laid off from a job. You think about it and realize there are 8 million people in New York, and they all gotta work somewhere. So, the competition here is crazy - and the horrible economy is no help. New York is incredibly fast-paced and one mistake here could cost you your job. I came to New York having experience since I was a junior in college, working my butt off my senior year only to find that coming here I could (and still am) a government statistic - part of the 8% unemployment rate we all know too well. 

I think the best advice I can give someone wanting to start a career in New York is to be prepared for more rejection than you’ve ever had in your life. I’m honestly not trying to sound negative in any sort of way, but that is the reality. On a more positive note, if you want this - and I mean this has been a dream of yours for your entire life like me - you have to do anything and everything in your power to stay here. 

I’ve learned through my experiences that there is a reason I was drawn to New York, but it could very well be a very different reason than I thought. 

Do Yourself a Favor, Be a Temp!

Hey guys!

After taking a while to concentrate on getting my life back in order, I’m finally back, writing from my very own work desk :)

Today, I want to focus on one way to find a job that not a lot of people think to do. And that would be TEMPING!

Yes, that is how I found my current job. I looked at my bank account, said “I need to do something productive so I can eat,” called my staffing agency and started accepting temp jobs as a receptionist. I didn’t really think these jobs would turn into anything and continued to interview (and interview and interview…) for other jobs. However, in a span of about a week I was waiting on 3 interviews, 2 were taking too long to respond to me and the other I didn’t get, and lo and behold a company I was temping for offered me a temp-to-perm receptionist gig at their office. BAM! I got a job at the 4th largest advertising firm in the world.

The Lesson:
Don’t overlook temping! It’s the perfect way to get your foot in the door at a world-wide known company, meet most of the employees, and gain a knowledge of how the company operates. That way if you choose to move up in the company you will have a leg up (or internal referral) on anyone else that tries to apply for that job.  

Please Note:
Many many people start at reception or some sort of admin role when they’re first starting their career. It’s perfectly respectable, and you have every chance in the world to move up if you choose to!

If there is a company you know of and desire to work for, but they do not have a "careers" section on their website, what is a good way to connect with them and ask about any opportunities? I have sent e-mails to a few companies like that before, but have never received a response. Thanks!

That’s a great question! My advice would be to look up the company on LinkedIn. It’ll show you who works there and hopefully provide you some emails for you to contact who can point you in the right direction. Thanks for writing in!

What to Do When the Unexpected Happens

First off I’d like to apologize for abandoning my blog for the past 3 weeks. It is my unfortunate responsibility to inform you that I was recently laid off from my job, and giving young people career advice was the last thing I thought I should be doing.

Now for a lot of people you have no idea what it’s like to be laid off from a job. Let me come up with a few metaphors/similes to describe the experience: 

1. It’s like you were just punched in the face by your best friend.
2. It’s like playing soccer and the ball was kicked by the biggest kid on the other team and it hit you square in the gut knocking you to the ground.
3. It’s like a large bandaid on a hairy arm being pulled off slowly instead of quickly.
4. It’s like your favorite TV show going off air and leaving you with a cliff-hanger - never to be resolved. 

My life flashed before my eyes.

In other words, it took me completely by surprise and kinda kicked my ego in the butt for a few weeks. 

But, I’ll be the first one to always say “Everything happens for a reason.” For those of you that know me personally, you know that I genuinely live by this principle every day.

I’ll also be the first one to tell you that yes, my morale hasn’t really been the same, but 3 hours after I got laid off I applied for a job, 1 week after I had an interview, and now I’m networking 24/7 working my butt off to find a job that I really want to do now.

So in light of this situation I’d like to give you all a few pointers I wish I had taken when looking for jobs specifically, because they can protect you in the future.  

Things to Ask BEFORE You Accept the Job
  • Is there any room to move up in the company?
    You want to make sure there’s room to grow so you can improve your career.
  • What would be my exact job description? 
    This is important to know because if they don’t have a good idea of what they want you to do, you’re at risk of possibly losing your job in the future.
  • Is this a good learning environment where I can improve my skills?
    You’re new to the work world and need an environment where there are people higher than you and can take the time to teach you the ropes without holding your hand.

Warning Signs at Work that Mean You May Want to Start Job Hunting Again

  • You’re losing clients
    Losing clients means your company is losing money.
  • No new clients are being obtained
    This goes with the first one. Obviously no money is coming in.
  • They aren’t hiring anyone else after you.
    Refer to the old saying “Last one hired, First one fired.”
  • Executives are talking about struggling for finances.
    They’re going to get their money from somewhere, refer to previous bullet point.

I think the most important take-away I have from this experience is that it isn’t a misfortune; it’s an opportunity in disguise. Even though for a little while I felt like I failed at something miserably for the first time in my life, I realized I hadn’t failed at all. It was simply an issue with finances.

I did everything in my power to do my job effectively, and in the end economic difficulties are not my fault. 

Even though it is truly hard for me to believe sometimes, there is not one successful person in this world that has not struggled at one point or another in their life. 

Many of my own personal friends have been laid-off at one point in their lives, and they came through shining - doing something they live for now. If my experience can lift up at least one person then there is no embarrassment or failure in my story. There is only inspiration, support and a rousing round of applause for the phrase, “It gets better!”

Asking for contacts

A question I’ve recently received was “how do I connect with my old boss and ask her for any contacts she has?”

What a great question and a step in the right direction!

This can be extremely tricky and it’s hard to know what is going to work to your advantage. The thing I find most helpful is to approach an old boss or colleague on a very casual basis.

If you’re using email you’ll want to write something like this:

[Person’s name]

How have you been? I hear the company is doing very well and just wanted to check in with you since I’ve completed my internship. (Ask them something personal you know about them ie: How’s your baby? How’s the new house?” etc).

Since my internship I’ve…(put in here a BRIEF description of what you’ve been doing) and I’ll be graduating in May. I plan on moving to New York (or whichever city/place) and would really appreciate if you’d be willing to be a reference for my job search? Also if you have anyone you think is looking to hire I’d love their contact information so I can reach out to them!

When I’m in the city again we should meet for coffee and catch up. Have a great day and I look forward to hearing from you soon!

This is a very casual email, but it has a productive tone to it as well. This sort of thing works well on the phone as well if you’re more of a phone person. I am an expressive writer and prefer email to best get my message across.

When asking for contacts from an old boss it’s important they know you are willing to do all the work if they are not willing to reach out to their contacts themselves, hence the line “Also if you have anyone you think is looking to hire I’d love their contact information so I can reach out to them!

Another important factor is to consider your old boss’ usage of LinkedIn. The job seeker mentioned above had reached out via LinkedIn. It’s something not many people will tell you but the actual person on LinkedIn that you are contacting may not be the person updating the account or even looking at their LinkedIn!

CEO’s and higher executives in the company don’t want to be bothered a lot of the time with that kind of thing, and will relay it to their marketing personnel to manage. So here’s my advice:

Try to always get a direct email address for the person you are reaching out to!

Follow-Up Emails

The follow-up email can be drafted as follows: (once again I don’t claim to be an expert, but I am pretty good at hearing back from people if I really need/want to speak with them).

[Person’s Name]

Just following up from my email I sent you last week. I’m very excited to start my job searching and any contacts you’re willing to lend out would be great. I know you’re very busy, but if you get a chance to send some over I’d really appreciate it.

Hope all is well, and I hope to hear from you soon!

These emails should be sent no earlier than a week after the first one was sent. A week is standard. If they don’t want to speak with you, they won’t respond or they’ll directly tell you to leave them alone…trust me, they’ll tell you.

Happy job hunting, and stay positive ;)