Lessons from My First Job Post Grad

By Communications Collaborative on June 08, 2017

As of this May, I’ve been out of school for one year. And while I’m by no means an expert on all things post grad, here are a few lessons I’ve learned during my first year at my first "real" job. Lessons that college, while preparing me for many things, could not have taught me.

Grades don’t matter. You are about to leave behind a benchmarking system that has measured and defined your success since the age of five. This is not bad news. In your first job, your performance will be tracked, but by an entirely new set of measures. Look for a job with clear role requirements and goals, so that you always know how your company and manager define your position’s success.

Once you land in a job, maintain an open line of communication with your manager—keeping in mind the “right” amount of checking in—so you know how your attitude and day-to-day contributions are being perceived. Your performance absolutely matters. It’s just being measured in a new way.

You don’t know everything. I don’t mean to imply that every graduate thinks they know everything, but I do think that many of us graduate thinking we’re expected to know more than we do. If you find a job in an environment that encourages questions and invests in training (an environment I highly recommend), the team around you won’t want you to know everything. They want you to learn through osmosis, observation and engagement. They want you to dive in, ask questions and learn from mistakes.

Building relationships is critical. More critical than I ever realized. Even with the permeation of technology, nothing supplants face-to-face interaction and phone calls. These are the cost-of-entry modes of communication in the workplace. It’s not always about how fast you can get a task done or checking off a “to do.” Particularly in my industry, (creative and marketing staffing), listening to and reading people will make or break a job placement. The most successful people I’ve observed in the last year find a way to get their job done, while still establishing a great rapport with everyone around them—managers, coworkers, clients, etc.

You are your own best advocate. I feel the need to quickly clarify that I don’t mean march into your boss’s office every other week and “advocate” for a raise. Advocate for yourself by speaking up if you have a question. Or, when given an opportunity to weigh in, be honest. There are lot of jobs you can do, but if you’d like to land in the job you love to do, be sure you are vocal and put yourself on a track that aligns with your strengths and passions. And as you move forward in your career, empowering yourself to speak up will be incredibly helpful in salary negotiations.

You have a job to do. It may sound trite, but it dawned on me this year that I’m getting paid to do a job. I’m getting paid to learn new skills. It’s my responsibility to maximize my role and contribute. Clearly, there are opportunities to receive positive reinforcement, praise, and maybe even rewards, but day in and day out, I’m being paid to show up and do my best. If school is about personal success, your job is about how personal success impacts other people—your organization, your peers, your managers, your clients.

 

How I perform my job directly impacts my candidates’ ability to find work. So, it’s real. A person’s livelihood. So, whatever you do, be sure you’re committed to contributing. And recognize the difference between a job you’re good at (and willing to learn) and a job that is never going to be a good fit. No need to bang your head against a wall if the first place you land is not the path for you. You have a job to do. Be sure it’s the one you want. 


Catherine Ryan is a Recruiter for Communications Collaborative. She places top creative and marketing talent at the leading brands, in-house agencies and external agencies in MA and RI.

 

 

Why You Haven’t Heard Back on a Job You’re Perfect For

By Joyce Bethoney on May 04, 2017

“Genius does what it must, talent does what it can.” Edward Bulwer-Lytton

One of the most frustrating realities of looking for a new job is applying for a role you think you are perfect for, and then never hearing back. 

While every situation is different, here are three of the most common reasons why your phone might not be ringing…

Right experience, wrong industry. I hear from many a jobseeker, “I have all of the qualifications included in the job description! Why am I not hearing back on this?” Here is one possible scenario. If you are a senior-level social media manager at a nonprofit and apply for a Director of Social Media role at a large financial institution, odds are slim that you’ll get a call back. From my experience, hiring managers want people with experience in the same, or at least a similar, industry. Does this mean you can never change industries? Absolutely not. But be prepared for your search to take longer, a lateral rather than an upward move and more scrutiny around why you are right for a role in an industry that is not represented on your resume.

The “I’m sorry…and you are?” resume/LinkedIn profile. Be concise and specific about what you do in your resume, LinkedIn profile, and any other online/offline representation of your background. If you are too vague about your experience and skillset, hiring managers and recruiters will likely skip over you. Employers seeking great talent want specificity. They want to quickly understand what you do and if you match their criteria. This isn’t to say that you should “niche” yourself right out of a host of viable roles, but if you’re not clear on the sweet spot of your capabilities and skillset, you’ll likely get lost in the shuffle of worthy candidates.  

Too much fluff. Keep it short. Keep it sweet. Keep it simple. Don’t overinflate your roles and responsibilities. Your resume should be a snapshot of your experience and critical day-to-day functions. Everyone considers themselves hardworking, efficient and, in my area of recruiting, creative. Assume those are givens. Focus on the tangible attributes and accomplishments that make you stand out.

The time it takes to look for a new job is precious. Be honest with yourself and your future employer(s) about the roles you are appropriate for, and put forth the effort it takes to develop a resume, LinkedIn profile and portfolio that clearly showcase what you can do.

 

Joyce Bethoney is Director of Recruiting at Communications Collaborative, a Boston-based creative and marketing staffing firm.

Do I Need a New Job?

By Eric Gendron on April 11, 2017

“I think I need a new job.” We all say this. We say it when we’re angry. We say it in jest. We say it to family, friends, random strangers on the train if we’re having a particularly rough week…

But determining when and if we actually need a new job can pose a real challenge. Discerning a bump in the road from a reason to leave is not always easy.

In working with hiring companies and jobseekers for ten years, I’ve found a good place to start is with a simple checklist (or “gut check” list) of the most basic tenets of any position. Ask yourself…

Do you…

-like your boss?

-enjoy the work you’re doing?

-like the people you work with?

-have perks/benefits/compensation commensurate with your experience and value?

If you answered yes to all of the above, clearly, you are in the right place.

But what if…

-your commute isn’t great?

-you’ve hit a plateau and are ready for a new challenge? 

These criteria are more nebulous. For the commute, many companies are now working with employees on work-from-home solutions and flex hours. Before you decide that it’s either your sanity or the commute and you have no choice but to leave, talk to your manager. If the other aspects of your job are going swimmingly, it’s worth discussing your options before embarking on a search.

Likewise, if you feel like you need a new challenge, opportunities may exist at your current company. Perhaps you can change teams or clients. Move to a new department. Depending on the size and scope of your organization, making an internal move may be the path for you. If you’re happy with your situation overall, it’s likely your company is committed to employee growth and willing to find new opportunities so valuable people stay.

And the final, arguably most telling questions to ask in any “Do I need a new job?” quandary…

Do you…

-feel underappreciated?

-have a pit in your stomach every Sunday night?

-feel your coworkers are adversarial/the environment is toxic?

-know you are grossly underpaid?

Answering “yes” to even one of these questions means it may be time to look. This isn’t about the ups and downs of any role, occasional professional conflict, or moving for a $5k raise when you otherwise love your job. If you dread going to work every week, receive little to no recognition for the work you’re doing and haven’t had a raise in ten years, there is something better for you. Know that you deserve more and will find it. It just takes the energy and confidence to look.

Make a Comeback in Your Job Search

By Joyce Bethoney on February 14, 2017

 

With the amazing Super Bowl win by my beloved New England Patriots, I couldn’t help but think about big comebacks—and how the Pats’ history-making comeback could inspire even the football uninitiated.

I’ve been hearing from a lot of folks lately who are deeply discouraged by their job search. I see the frustration at all levels—senior, mid and junior. And this is where the Patriots come in. Their confidence, resiliency and ability to rally—all in the face of insurmountable odds—translated into jaw-dropping success. Their example of mental toughness yielding great results is a lesson easily applied to a job search.

Having confidence when things are going your way is easy. Having confidence when you’re down is not. Here are some things to remember to help you retain confidence (and momentum) during your search:

It’s temporary. Whether you’ve lost a job or are leaving of your own accord, a search is not forever. Give yourself moments to acknowledge the vulnerability and sadness you may feel, but then, let them GO.

Focus on the positive. When interviewing folks who are a bit down, I point out their positive skills and guide them toward their strengths. By focusing on positives and identifying fixes for weaknesses, you have a much better chance of staying upbeat and enthusiastic—two keys to finding a great job.

Have a plan. Develop a reasonable timeline/plan and execute it. You can’t look for a job ten hours a day.  Block two hours in the a.m. and two hours in the p.m. Set up time for interviews and network in your industry. Be proactive—get in front of everyone you know and ask for referrals.

Exercise. If you ever needed a release of dopamine, it’s now. And whether you’re still in a job or out of work, you need to get out and move.

Do something for someone else. While you may be dealing with your own struggle, take some time every week to do something kind for others. Volunteer at a dog shelter, visit an elderly person, shovel a neighbor’s driveway. By doing something, anything, for someone else, you’ll take the focus off yourself for a minute and reap the mental benefits that come with volunteerism and being a little selfless.

Keep the faith. Staying positive during a job search isn’t always easy. It can be incredibly hard work. TRUST that you will survive it. Believe that you have the mental toughness and fortitude to get through it. And if you’re down right now, it’s time to mount your comeback.  

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7 Things to Do Right Now If You're Looking for a New Job

By Mary Truslow on January 06, 2017

Is it just me or does this new year feel particularly introspective? Have you spent the last week thinking about goals and projects for the year ahead?

Should I take a trip? Is it time to renovate the kitchen? Is it time for a new job?

Sometimes “new year/new job” is a fleeting thought, but other times, January 1 is a catalyst for a career move that is a long time coming. If you’re serious about looking for a new role, here are seven things you can do right now to shift from musing to moving.

1) Know yourself and what matters to you. This may sound trite, but I cannot tell you how many jobseekers I speak with who, when asked what they want and what they’re looking for, honestly have no idea. Before you start your search, start with yourself. Determine what your strengths are, your must-haves, and your goals for your next role.

2) Research the market. Particularly if you've been off the market for a while, research the skills in demand. "Relevancy" is huge, so identify the language being used in job openings to emphasize your relevant, in-demand skills across your resume, LinkedIn profile, portfolio, etc.

3) Use your network. This has been said many times, but it can't be said enough. Your network is the best, most underutilized resource for finding a new job. But it requires outreach. Identify contacts/advocates at the companies you want to work for and connect. Or find someone in your network who has a connection at those companies. Maybe you pursue a referral or introduction. Maybe you secure an informational interview. Is networking intimidating? Yes. Is it impossible? No.

4) Google yourself. Before you start your search, make sure your social presence is...presentable. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all of it. In the marketing and creative industry, your social accounts are a great way to showcase your point of view as well as your professional and personal values. Just be sure that your presence is consistent, appropriate and true to you. (And if you have "digital" in your job title, know that employers expect more from you online, e.g. more than ten connections on LinkedIn.)

5) Have a strategy and a game plan. A real game plan. Complete with a "hire by" date. Putting a date on the calendar for when you want to be in your next job will help keep you motivated.

6) Perfect your resume, LinkedIn profile and portfolio. These tools should be clear, consistent and an honest representation of who you are and what you've done. Read your resume aloud. At the end of each point, ask yourself the question, "So what?" This exercise will streamline your resume, illuminate the value you bring and better prepare you for inevitable interview questions like—Can you tell me about a problem you helped solve?

7) Get out of your comfort zone. Here's the truth. Looking for a new job is daunting. Particularly now that finding a job requires more networking than ever before. But, I implore you, don’t settle for online job boards. Find new connections and reconnect with old. Take a class. Connect with me! Get creative and proactive. There’s something pushing you to look. So, work a little harder, take a few risks, and find the job you deserve.

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