Back to the Grind: Making Your Post-Vacation Transition Easier

It’s summer. And hopefully all of you will be able to get away for a bit to relax and rejuvenate. Bonus points if you’re able to REALLY check out and not be on email the entire time!  While you may be relaxed and rested, all good things must come to an end and the return to the office is inevitable.  Here are a few tips to help make the transition back to work at least a bit less painful!

1. Create a to-do list and leave it on your desk before you head out.
There’s nothing worse than forgetting what you were even working on before you left the office.  Make yourself some notes right before you head out the door so you can at least reorient yourself when you get back in to the office.

2.  To check email or not check email: That is the question.
Some people argue that just checking out of work totally is the only way to really get a break and rejuvenate. Others say that in today’s tech savvy world that’s not an option.  I go for the hybrid approach where I check email twice a day, delete anything that is irrelevant or junk and respond to any fires. Other than that I’ll get back to you when I return to the office.  If I go through things throughout my vacation I find I’m less overwhelmed by an overflowing inbox when I get back.

3. Don’t schedule meetings the morning you get back!
I’ve done it and it’s the worst. Who wants a 9 am meeting on a Monday much less a Monday after vacation? It may sound like a great idea when you’re heading out of the office on a Friday looking forward to 7 days and 2 tickets to paradise but, trust me, you’re not going to feel as motivated when you are sporting your tan at the water cooler instead of beach side.

4.  Have a day at home before you head back into the office.
A day to catch up on laundry, unpack, and get situated can help make the first day at work a bit less painful.

5. Schedule lunch.
Ease into your first day back by scheduling lunch with a colleague that you need to catch up with.  Combination of work + fun is ideal. Plus, you probably won’t have too much food in your fridge.

6. Work on your favorite projects first.
Which parts of your job do you love the most? What are your pet projects? Work on those to help get your head back in the game.

How do you manage your vacations and transition back into the office?  Any tips to share?  We want to hear! In the meantime, happy summer Hoyas!

 

image source: officelols.blogspot.com

The Wonder of Wunderlist

The Alumni Career Services team recently decided that we have too many to-do lists: some on nicely laid out agendas and printed out lists, some on post its, some in our email tasks, even some on the proverbial back of the napkin.  And the lists are all encompassing: immediate action items, things not to forget, ideas for the future, articles to read… I’m a big believer in process and we definitely needed a process.

A facebook friend mentioned that her husband’s company was using Wunderlist and she would get updates from him on household to-do’s and the latest need from the grocery store. Intrigued, I checked it out. And now I am obsessed.

Wunderlist allows you mange all of your post-its, napkins, papers, and e-lists in one place. It’s simple in its concept and interface but also has organizational capabilities that, let’s face it, post-its can’t provide.  Even better, it allows us to communicate as a team around tasks and action items, interesting things or people we come across, etc, so it becomes part of our shared and collective “brain.”

1.  Create multiple to-do lists for work or for home.  With the growth of technology, our work and home lives are continuing to merge. Why not have one system for both?  I’ve told the ACS staff specifically that they can use this tool to keep track of their grocery list, fitness goals, books to read – whatever is helpful to them personally in addition to professionally.

2. Create shared lists.  I share lists with each staff member so that we can communicate quick to-do’s or topics to discuss at our next meeting.

3. Assign tasks. Similar to creating shared lists, you can assign tasks to staff members.

4. Assign due dates. What’s a good to-do item without a due date associated with it?

5. Create sub-tasks. As with most if not all professionals, one to-do is actually about 10!  Keep track of each of the pieces of a project via sub-tasks associated with it.

6. Add notes. Remind yourself of context or special instructions that accompany a task.

7.  Email directly to your to-do list. This is probably my favorite feature. It saves things from dropping so far down my in my inbox that I forget to follow up. It also saves me from emailing little to-do’s to my staff – I just add to our shared Wunderlist.

8.  Access from anywhere.   Wunderlist syncs across your devices – phone, ipad, and computer.

9.  Filter  your lists.  Either view by category, starred, or today’s to do’s to help you prioritize your day!

There is a free version of Wunderlist in addition to a pro and “for business” subscription that have nominal annual fees associated with them and some enhanced capabilities.  Check it out: www.wunderlist.com

Using Wunderlist already? Let us know what features you like best and how maximize the tool!

 

 

Building Relationships At Work

work

As smart, strategic, and successful as you may be, often times getting things done is all about relationships: who you know, who you work with, who you can trust, and who you can rely on.  Building successful relationships at work is critical to your success. The bottom line is that if people like you and respect you they will be more likely to want to work with you.  If they want to work with you, you will be more likely to get things done. In a nutshell, it comes down to being likeable.

Being “likeable” has seemingly taken on bad connotations in the workplace… that you can’t be powerful or a leader if you are too nice… But being likeable in the workplace has nothing to with being too nice and everything to do with being respected, smart, fair, and a functioning contributor to the organization.  And being nice too can’t hurt.

Being likeable doesn’t have to mean that you are always in a good mood, that you don’t have high expectations, that you agree with colleagues 100% of the time.  Perhaps we should re-define likeable in the workplace to be respected, smart, fair, and a functioning contributor to the organization.   Likewise, being successful or powerful doesn’t have to mean that you are cold, distant, and aggressive.

And being likeable means that if disagreement does occur, it is less likely to derail progress and goals.

So, the questions become:
How can you balance being likeable with pushing forward on your priorities?
How can you say no or disagree but still be maintain critical relationships in the workplace?
How can you create relationships that further your team and organizational goals?

1. Build your brand
Be aware of, and continue to build your personal brand in the workplace. What are you known for? How would colleagues describe you?  Are you known for building bridges? Being innovative?  Diligent? High level strategist or detail focused? Once you start to understand your current brand (go ahead, ask your colleagues!), you can begin to either tweak, change, or build your brand. Check out this ACS webinar on the subject.  Having a great personal brand in the workplace can create a solid foundation for building relationships.

2.  Check in and reach out
Even if you don’t have a project that interfaces directly with specific colleagues at that moment, chances are you will in the future so keep those relationships alive and well in the mean time. If you see an article that may be of interest to them, pass it along… If they are in the midst of hiring on their team, keep your network in mind… Celebrate their successes even if they have nothing to do with your team… Send them a quick note to say hello.

3.  Use humor as a bridge builder
Diffuse tense situations when appropriate with a bit of humor. Not a stand up comedian? That’s okay… At least be willing to laugh along with those who are!

4.  Have perspective taking skills
We often get so wrapped up in our own projects, priorities, and deadlines that we forget to actually hear and digest what people are saying – both overtly and subtly.  Are they in the midst of a high pressure project? Understaffed? Dealing with personal issues? Who are their key stakeholders and how do they differ from yours? Understanding the various perspectives at the table helps make things feel less personal if there is disagreement. Understand how your role fits in with the overall organization (and in relationship to other teams).

6.  Honesty is the best policy
Instead of beating around the bush with colleagues, give them your perspective up front. If you own your perspective up front and overtly acknowledge the fact that theirs may be slightly different, you move the conversation into compromise and discussion as opposed to defense.

7.  Get to know colleagues outside of work
While everyone is busy and has multiple commitments outside of the office, taking advantage of office social gatherings – whether that is eating lunch together or or going to the occasional happy hour, is important to your relationship building.

8.  Don’t burn bridges
As infuriating as colleagues can be, in a world that is all about who you know it’s never a good idea to burn bridges. Networks among people in an industry and/or employer can be strong – don’t underestimate them.

At the end of the day, you may not always make decisions in the workplace that make everyone happy. Colleagues may disagree with you, they may even adamantly disagree with you. But if your colleagues respect and trust you, it will make it that much easier to swallow.

 

More Than Just Salary: Job Benefits to Consider


Negotiating your job offer is about more than just salary.  In order to truly understand your total compensation and bottom line in your bank account here are a few things to consider:

1.  Retirement Benefits
How much does the company contribute and how? Is it a pension or 401k plan?  Do you need to wait to be vested or does it start when you begin employment?

2. Health Care  
What plans are offered and how much is covered by the employer? Are your current doctors included in their plan? You may also want to inquire as to when health care benefits kick in (and when your former employer’s stop). For example, if your former benefits end on the last day of your previous job but your new benefits don’t begin until the 1st of the month after you start the new position this may be something to consider when negotiating start dates.  If you are NOT planning on utilizing the company health care plans because your spouse/partner covers you, you may be able to use this as leverage for a higher starting salary.

3. Flexibility 
In some cases flexibility is just as important as salary. Inquire as to whether the employer offers the opportunity to flex your hours or work from home. Some employers even offer the ability to work 4 10-hour days in lieu of 5, 8-hour days.

5. Transportation Reimbursement
Does the employer cover a portion of your commuting cost –  for example, subway fare or parking? Do they offer the opportunity to purchase these things pre-tax? If they do not cover these costs, what will your commuting expenses be compared to your previous employer?

6. Tuition Remission
Inquire as to whether the employer offers tuition remission and, if so, what the policies are. Things to consider:

  • How much do they cover and for what types of programs?
  • How long do you need to be with the company or organization before you can take advantage of this program?
  • Are there requirements as to low long must you stay once you complete the program?
  • Are there grade requirements?
  • Are you reimbursed for tuition after successful completion of the semester or does the employer pay up front?
  • Are there other options for paid professional development?
  • Are spouses or dependents eligible for tuition remission?

7. Relocation Reimbursement
Some companies will provide a stipend to cover moving costs. Can’t hurt to ask!

8. Vacation and Sick Leave
How much vacation and/or sick leave are you given as a new employee? Does it increase with time? Is it accrued? What are the standard set of company holidays?

9. Technology
Will the company/organization provide you with a lap top, IPhone, and/or IPad or reimburse you for service fees if you use your own? The little things add up!

10. Maternity/Paternity Leave Policies
Even if you aren’t considering a family in the immediate future, if you are considering a family at all this is a worthwhile policy to consider.  FMLA laws in that state will also play a role so look into your state’s policies.

11. Miscellaneous Perks
Depending on the employer they may have other interesting perks. For example, some private schools offer employees free lunch (again, it adds up!) or tuition remission for dependents. Other organizations offer paid time for volunteer activities, company cars, discounted gym memberships, discounted or on-site child care, even bringing your pet to work!

12. Profit Sharing or Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP)
ESOPsprofit sharing plans, and stock bonus plans all differ as vehicles for employee ownership and, depending on the company, this may be a consideration. 

13. Signing Bonus
If the salary is outside your desired range but you would like to consider the offer seriously, see if you can negotiate a one-time signing bonus with the company.  Since that money would not compound, it may be a one time cost that the company is willing to put forth in order to get you on board.   If a signing bonus isn’t an option, consider negotiating for a 6 month review with opportunity for a pay increase at that time.

Image source: www.social-hire.com

85% of Jobs Are Found Through Weak Ties

… In other words,  connections of connections… friends of friends... In the late 60’s Mark Granovetter became famous for uncovering the strength of weak ties in job searches. Basically, your friends of friends are going to be more helpful than your friends when job searching.   LinkedIn came along in 2003 and has made this theory tangible through its ability to show users a virtual network, getting from A to C through connections.

We recently attended a talk by John Hill, LinkedIn’s Higher Ed Evangelist.  A sweater vest and hoodie wearing alumni career services professional turned LinkedIn devotee.  In short, he gets it. He understands the power of alumni networks and the need to put those networks to work.  Here are just a few of his insights:

  • Over 280 million professionals are on LinkedIn. There are 844,000 current CEO’s on LinkedIn.
  • It’s all about a quality relational network not a quantity relational network. This isn’t a popularity contest and he with the most connections wins.
  • Your resume is currently your job search currency.  John estimates that in 5-10 years your personal brand and online footprint will become that currency.
  • Companies are beginning to slot people for interviews that didn’t even apply for the job based on their online professional brand.
  • Recruiters are pushing that LinkedIn become a normalized piece of the job search process and portfolio. They are using LinkedIn to source talent. Now more than ever, NOT having a LinkedIn profile is a red flag for employers.

The bottom line, he says, is that people need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Here are a few of our key insights that may help you better capitalize on the power of LinkedIn:

1.  Use Endorsements. Just maybe for a different purpose. We’ve all seen the LinkedIn “endorsements” pop up in our inbox.  There have been over 1 BILLION endorsements made on LinkedIn since it was rolled out. Sometimes (maybe oftentimes) these endorsements are from connections that we haven’t even worked with directly.  So, why do they matter?   They matter because they tell you (and others)  about your personal/professional brand – what you are known for.

2.The Alumni Network – There are over 76,000 Georgetown alumni and students on LinkedIn. Click on “Network” and then “Find Alumni.”  What you will see is a quick and easy way to visualize where alumni are, in what companies, and in what fields.  Simply click on one or more of the bars to drill deeper and reset the parameters. This also allows you to view a cross comparative list of schools who are similar to Georgetown in terms of career outcome. Take that, Harvard!  Note: You can change the school visual on the right to toggle between institutions you have attended.

3. Georgetown Alumni Group – There are over 24,000 alumni in the Georgetown University Alumni Group on LinkedIn.  Join the conversation, connect with alumni, start a discussion.

4.  Follow Georgetown University Page Follow the official Georgetown University page for university announcements, notable alumni and influencers, and use an aggregator for Georgetown groups on LinkedIn.

5. Follow Company Pages. Follow company pages to learn about company happenings and to do interview research.  See your connections who work for, or worked for, that company. Note: sometimes people who worked at the company previously are better able to give you a sense of the company. They no longer have a dog in the fight, as John Hill noted.

6. Leverage Insights. LinkedIn has made a huge effort to surface insights to allow you to stay better connected to those in your network.  New jobs, work anniversaries, moves, birthdays, and connections mentioned in the news are now push out to you in your profile and via email.  It’s all about relationship building and these are “prompts” for you to connect or reconnect with those in your network.  Use them.

7.  Follow Industry Groups. Learn about industry trends, buzz, and discussions. Don’t be an aggressive joiner though.  Ask for advice, not jobs. Listen first. Post later.

8.  Take a Cold Call to a Warm Call. Both the insights provided by LinkedIn (see #6) and the interests section, couple with the connection of Georgetown can quickly take a cold call to a warm call (Thank you, John Hill, for that catchy phrase).  While LinkedIn can help manage your contacts, remember, sometimes to connect effectively the conversation happens offline (via phone or in-person).

7. Compile Your Treasury. LinkedIn now allows you to upload powerpoint presentations, links to your blog, videos, etc, effectively creating a portfolio of your work. Use it!

8.  Use It, Students! LinkedIn has added student verticals to help make your profile robust. You can now include projects, languages spoken, publications, and organizations to your profile.  Just because you are a student doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a LinkedIn profile. It’s a red flag if you don’t.   You can also rearrange the blocks in your profile to re-order based on importance.  Thanks, LinkedIn!

9.  Track Your Outreach. You can use LinkedIn not only as a connection tool but a relationship management tool if you leverage the “notes” section for each of your contacts to track correspondence, etc.

So, tap into the power of the hidden job market by making strategic, quality, connections through relationship building. Tap into the power of your network and your network’s network.  And do it now.  People need to build a network before they need it so its there when they do.  Thank you, John Hill!

Top 15 Tips for New Professionals

Top Tips for New Professionals

Georgetown prepares its graduates to be men and women for others. To work toward social impact. To think. To analyze.  To dissect. To debate. To learn. To explore. To synthesize. To question.

I am continually amazed, even after 8 years of working at Georgetown, just how impressive our students are. They are literally building wells in Africa, starting companies, solving medical problems, creating national headlines, and leading movements for change.  They are smart. Educated. Thoughtful. Accomplished.  Socially conscious. Skilled.

As well as Georgetown prepares students to leave the Hilltop, the fact remains that going from backpack to briefcase, campus to corporate, can be eye-opening.  Even if you’re smart. Even if you’re accomplished.

Here are a few tips, based on the benefit of hindsight, as our seniors begin to think about leaving the Hilltop in a few short months:

1. Under promise, over deliver.  Manage expectations.

2. Good news travels fast, bad news travels faster.  Your boss doesn’t want to be the last to know. Say sorry.

3.  Be hungry. Come in early, stay late. You won’t always have the luxury of time but you do now.

4. Send thank you notes. Your mom was right.  They go a long way.

5. Dress for the job you want. Not the one you have. Leave the bar-wear at home.

6. Find a mentor/advocate/sponsor. And know the difference.  And know that you don’t need a signed piece of paper and a handshake to have someone be your mentor. They may not even realize it. And that’s ok.

7.  Learn to navigate ambiguity. Don’t let it paralyze your progress. Keep moving.

8.  Do your time.  You may not get a promotion in 6 months, or even a year.  Manage your own expectations of success based on your company culture, industry, and position.

9.  Re-learn how to write.   You’re not writing your thesis or history lit review.  Keep it short and sweet.

10.  Steer clear of the office gossip.  It will do you no good and it may actually be bad for your career.

11.  Anticipate needs.  Of your boss, your teammates. It sets you apart.

12.  Start to think about your personal and professional brand.  You get to reinvent yourself when you start your first job and you don’t get that opportunity very often.

13.  Manage up.

14.  Be confident. You went to Georgetown.  You are smart. You were hired for a reason.

15. Be humble.  Just because you went to Georgetown doesn’t mean you have all the answers. Know what you don’t know.

image source: http://www.evolllution.com

Make Your New Year’s Career Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about eating healthy and working out. Consider making some work resolutions too to maximize your career. Apparently you are much more likely to achieve a goal if you take the time to put pen to paper (or keyboard to screen as is the case here). In the spirit of the New Year and in the hopes that posting these will make us that much more accountable, below are our staff resolutions. We hope they inspire you!Bridget Holmes, Senior Director, Career Initiatives
Be more organized.
I used to be able to remember my to-do list, birthdays, and my grocery list without even writing it down.  Now, with working full time and having two little ones at home, my memory is just not what it used to be!  Here are some tips:

1. Maximize your calendar.  Utilize your calendar system to keep track of all dates and deadlines that are important to you – even birthdays.  If you utilize Google calendar in particular, it makes it easy to share dates, deadlines, and meetings with colleagues.
2.  Maximize your email.  Color code your emails by category, file them to make it easier to find.  It’s the little things that can make a big impact. Use the task list in either your email or calendar to keep a running list.
3. File things.  Electronically.  While paper may never go away, having a scanned copy of some of those important documents can save you from a panic attack later.
4.  Take notes.   Meeting after meeting means you may not remember the action items from your 9am at 3pm.  Keep a notebook, take notes on your IPad, whatever works for you – just be consistent and keep it all together. Follow up meetings with typed notes to those in attendance to keep everyone on the same page.
5. Keep lists. To do lists, project lists, grocery lists, etc.  I never met a list I didn’t like.Sarah Hay, Assistant Director, Alumni Career Services
Time Blocking
Having both internal and external clients and stakeholders in addition to the interdependent nature of many of our projects makes it easy to get derailed from your daily to-do list. 2014 is going to be all about time blocking for me. Over and over again in the Webinar Program, we hear presenters discuss the importance of only checking email at set intervals, and not treating every request as urgent.  Some strategies for achieving this goal:

1) Update your to-do list. Often.
2) Prioritize. Check in with your manager to to understand prioritization of projects and deadlines
3) Respond to emails in order of importance/urgency, not time
4) Recognize first, respond later. If  you are coming close to the end of the day but need to respond to emails, send brief responses letting the person know you saw their note and will be responding soon.  If there is one urgent item in their email, respond to that and tell them you will send a more thorough response later.
5) Make more internal phone calls.  Sometimes a task can be crossed off quickly if you can speak with a colleague as opposed to communicating via email.  It only takes a few seconds to try someone’s extension!
6) Step back from the inbox. Close out of email while working on projects and on phone calls.  It is too easy to respond to things that pop up in your inbox!
7) Less meetings.  Do not schedule meetings for the sake of meetings.  See our blog post on the topic!
photo source: prythm.com

Top 7 Tips for Getting Ahead During the Holidays

The holidays are a crazy time of year for everyone. There is lots to do but the overwhelming desire to check out at work until the new year can be overwhelming.  Here is some career advice for the holiday season – whether you are job searching or just looking to get ahead.

1.  End the year with a bang. When everyone else is just passing the time until the holiday, you can take the opportunity to make a big impact in the office.

2.  Holiday parties make for great networking.  Yes, the office holiday party can definitely help you make connections across the organization, but personal holiday parties can also be a great time to network and meet new people.

3.  Send holiday cards.  Holiday cards are a great way to reconnect with former colleagues, business contacts, and old friends.  Keep your network up by staying in touch.

4.  Don’t stall your search.  Most people assume that hiring stops during the holidays so they back off their search.  In some cases, things in your search may slow a bit but don’t let that stop you!  Make yourself stand out by continuing to pursue opportunities.

5. Make some new years career resolutions.  What are a few things you want to change or do differently at work next year?  Do you want to be more organized? Start a new initiative? Improve your customer service skills? Studies show writing down your resolutions make them more likely to happen.

6. Put on your 0ut-of-office.  People won’t expect an immediate response if you have your out-of-office notification on your phone and email.  You can also include any important year end information.

7. Rejuvenate. Take time to relax and enjoy your time with family and friends. Life is a marathon not a sprint -use the holiday to recharge so you can get back to work ready to take on 2014.

Happy holidays, Hoyas! We look forward to hearing from you in 2014! 

Photo source: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-12-04/features/ct-biz-1205-work-advice-huppke-20111204_1_holiday-party-secret-santa-fruitcake