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Posted May 19, 2016 by

Soft skills in the workplace: IBM offers tips to candidates

When entry-level candidates apply for jobs, they often claim to have great soft skills. However, after employers hire candidates, they may find that candidates don’t have the excellent soft skills they boasted about possessing. This creates a problem for employers in the onboarding process and afterward, too, as they are left to deal with new employees lacking basic soft skills required to adapt to the workplace and corporate culture.

Can the new employees interact well with their teammates? Are they capable of making strong decisions on their own without input from management every step of the way? Do new employees manage their time well, resolve conflicts as they arise, and communicate clearly, effectively, and appropriately with clients and coworkers? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ employers have big—often expensive–problems on their hands.

Pete Joodi, Distinguished Engineer for IBM, provides entry-level job seekers and employers with insight into why soft skills matter so much in today’s workplace, particularly in the field of information technology. In this interview by Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, Pete Joodi discusses the soft skills dilemma.


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At IBM, Pete Joodi, Distinguished Engineer, focuses on research and innovation in information technology. He focuses on optimization strategies; his goal is to find ways software and technology can improve energy efficiency, cost containment, and compliance.

Pete mentions that within the last 50 years, the world has truly expanded thanks to technology. We need to know how to work with each other now more than ever. This is the reason soft skills are more important than ever before.

IBM conducted a study in 2014. One of its findings indicated that soft skills are in great demand by employers but are most lacking in students graduating from institutions of higher education today. Pete Joodi doesn’t see this as a negative finding, however. Instead, it indicates an opportunity for growth and improvement for employers.

At IBM, the focus is on leading and contributing to technological innovation in the ‘cognitive era.’ Candidates applying at IBM need the following soft skills in order to succeed: communication skills, teamwork and collaboration skills, problem-solving skills, adaptability and flexibility skills, language and translation skills, ability to interact well with colleagues and clients, critical thinking skills, and conflict resolution skills.

Truly, soft skills are highly relevant at IBM. The world is more complex than it was, but it’s also more rewarding to work in the world today. In order to create consumable products, IBM and other companies must hire candidates with excellent soft skills.

For more details about how to improve your soft skills, transferable skills, and non-verbal skills, visit CollegeRecruiter.com, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

 

Posted May 17, 2016 by

How to have a great first day at work: Part 1

Congratulations on landing your first full-time entry-level job after graduating from college! Woohoo! This is a huge milestone in your career journey.

Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking. Remember the feeling you had when you started high school? You might feel a little like that on your first day at work, minus the horrific acne and monstrous crush on your neighbor.

This video, hosted by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, is one of two videos offering help to recent grads starting their first entry-level jobs. Here are five ways you can ensure success on your first day at work.


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1. Dress well, sleep well, and feel well.

Get a great night’s sleep the night before your first day at work. Certainly celebrate your new job with your friends and family, but celebrate at least two days prior to your first day. Wake up in plenty of time to get ready for work. We all have those days when we don’t like the outfit we selected for work, and chances are, it will be your first day of work. Give yourself at least 20 or 30 extra minutes to get ready on your first day at work.

When you look good, you feel good. Dress up (at least a little bit) on your first day at work. Wear an outfit that fits into the company’s dress code, but spend a little extra time fixing your hair or makeup. It doesn’t hurt to feel great when you’re going to spend all day long in training sessions, meeting new people, and looking people in the eye.

2. Arrive early.

Arrive at least 15 or 30 minutes early on your first day at work. This helps you to avoid showing up late due to traffic problems or getting turned around. It’s common to feel disoriented when you are in a new town or don’t know which parking lot to use. How far will you have to walk from the parking lot to the building? Are there designated parking spots? Don’t park in those! Knowing this information in advance is helpful. Arriving early gives you the opportunity to network with coworkers and eases nerves.

3. Prepare an elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a 30-second spiel explaining who you are, where you’ve been, what you do, and where you’re going in life or at work. Preparing a brief elevator pitch related to your new position will come in handy when you’re being introduced to multiple teammates, supervisors, and colleagues repeatedly throughout the day. Chances are, you’ll be asked the question, “So who are you? What is it you’ll be doing for us?” Be prepared with a smooth response.

4. Smile often.

When shaking hands and delivering that elevator pitch, smile. Smiling improves your mood and the moods of those around you as well. Start off on the right foot on your first day at work by spreading cheer and goodwill to people around you.

4. Be positive no matter what.

Whether you have to sit through eight hours of training, which you find incredibly boring, or whether you arrive and find that your desk is not set up at all, be positive. Not many people enjoy working with negative people. Avoid making negative comments, regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. If you need to ask for help, do so politely and quietly. Avoid making a scene in a fussy or dramatic manner right off the bat. Very few things leave a bad taste in employers’ mouths as a new employee who begins complaining before she’s even begun working.

For more suggestions on starting out strong in your new entry-level job, visit our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 

Posted May 03, 2016 by

5 onboarding tips for recent grads

So you just landed your first entry-level job and are graduating from college soon. Congratulations! You’re completing two major milestones simultaneously. After you celebrate, settle in, watch this short video hosted by Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, and read this brief article before showing up for your first day of work.

What is “onboarding?” Why should you care about it? And how should you prepare for it?

According to The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), onboarding is “the process by which new hires get adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their jobs quickly and smoothly, and learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to function effectively within an organization.” Thankfully, most companies no longer have a sink-or-swim mentality regarding new employees. They have recognized the costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and training new employees, and they want to retain top candidates. In order to do so, they attempt to help new hires transition into the workplace as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

That’s the good news for you as a new employee.

That doesn’t mean you don’t have a part to play in the onboarding process, though. Here are five quick tips to ease the transition from recent grad to entry-level employee.


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1. Onboarding is a two-way street.

When you’re a new entry-level employee, you’ll have a reasonable amount of jitters on your first day of work (and beyond). You’ll feel concerned about what to wear, who to talk to, and how to behave during meetings. This is totally normal.

But if it eases your mind, just remember that onboarding—the process of acclimation—is a two-way street. Your employer is just as concerned about making a great first impression on YOU as you are about making a great first impression on her. Does your new employer treat you well on your first day? Did your new coworkers greet you or ignore you? Did your supervisor have materials and office supplies waiting for you, or did you have to wait for three days for a computer to be set up? These might seem like minor details, but they’re really not. Pay attention to the way you’re treated.

There are many common onboarding mistakes employers make that reflect negatively on the employer and affect their ability to retain great employees (like you!). The way your employer (not just your supervisor, but everyone in the company) treats you speaks volumes about the corporate culture and work environment. This helps you make your decision about whether this company is a good long-term fit for you as an employee.

2. Don’t glaze over during orientation.

Even though orientation at many companies can seem a little dry (okay, ahem, boring), the information covered can actually be important. While the information covered may not be presented in the most entertaining manner, it’s probably information you need to either perform your job well or to function well in the workplace. Either way, attempt to pay attention rather than zone out by playing with apps on your phone. Not only will you appear to be a more engaged employee to your new employer, but you’ll also retain more of the content covered (which might come in handy later when you’re expected to remember it).

3. Stick around during breaks/lunch.

It’s easy to give into the temptation to skip out during breaks or during lunch and dinner invitations, which are totally optional, but that’s when you have the opportunity to truly network with your coworkers and supervisors. Not only will you build genuine working relationships with others, but you’ll also learn more about company culture by attending these “off the record” events. You’ll see people’s true colors and be more likely to enjoy the next day’s “on the record” events if you connect well with your coworkers over dinner the night before.

4. Ask questions.

If you’re sitting through a training session or orientation workshop and feel confused or have a question, speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Many new hires often feel too intimidated to ask questions and wind up struggling in the workplace for weeks, or even months, as a result.

If you’re too intimidated to speak up during a large meeting, take notes and ask your supervisor questions later.

5. Get a mentor (or two).

Many companies now provide new employees, particularly recent college graduates, with official mentors. However, you may want to consider seeking out your own mentors. It’s never a bad idea to find one mentor in your company (someone with at least a few years of experience) and another mentor in your “dream” career field. This person might wind up being your career mentor for life, so select someone you truly admire and whose career path you may want to emulate. A career mentor can provide guidance from time to time and advice when times are tough in your career journey. It helps to hear an objective voice and encouraging word from someone you admire.

You’ve already done the tough part of landing a great entry-level job; just continue preparing yourself for those first few months of work as you transition into a brand new employee. You’re going to do a fabulous job.

For more onboarding tips, read our blog and connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Posted February 13, 2016 by

Balancing academics and work as a college student

Photo of Anthony Taylor

Anthony Taylor, guest writer

Students go off to college, but it’s not the rosy life they see in the movies. There are bills to pay, tuition to afford, books to buy, and honestly, balancing finances at a young age is hard. Studying in college and concentrating on getting good grades is tough enough without throwing in a job into the mix. But the money has to flow in to either support the family or to support getting an education. Whatever the reason, here are a few tips to help college students juggle their working and studying lives.

1. Find a job with flexible hours: Let’s face it; students are in college now. There will be coursework and assignments with tight deadlines, and studying should always be a priority. An education will serve as the building blocks for the future so students shouldn’t push it in the backburner. They should find jobs where they can easily accommodate their studies, too, so neither one suffers. These jobs could be within the college campus, as those kinds of jobs understand the balance between work and study, and they can help college students manage their homework.

2. Manage time wisely: With so much on the line, it is wise to have a good time management schedule. College students should know where they spend their time. Many successful people plan nearly each moment of their day to get the most out of their 24 hours. Many times we end up wasting time and not realizing it when we could be putting it to good use. Use lunch breaks to catch up on math homework, or grab a few hours of work during a long lunch break in college. Those few hours can add up during the week. Students need to keep checking in to see if they’re on track per their schedules to know they’re not overcommitting themselves or falling short of their goals. If students know they function better in the mornings, they should get evening jobs so they can do coursework or assignments when they’re fresh and vice versa.

3. Have family support: This goes without saying; without a support system, college students will find it very hard to adjust both lives alone. Students should inform their managers at work, friends, or family to support them in this decision, and help them both personally and professionally. This kind of support will help students infinitely when they feel the pressure is too much, or they need help with managing homework.

4. Know what they want: College students should choose jobs wisely if they can. Students should think about how what they do now could benefit them in the future. Remember, everything can be added to their portfolios. If working in a store, think of inventory – managing time and stock. All of this could and should be interpreted as work experience, and this could boost entry into the working world by gaining experience, references, professional growth, and of course, the money.

5. Be creative in getting homework done: By having a job, college students are effectively cutting down on their study hours. Students must be smart about juggling their time, and try listening to lectures while working. They should also keep their managers in the loop so they get that support system. This way, students can learn, revise, and perhaps even do homework during work hours, which don’t require much brain activity like sorting mail, etc.

6. Take a mental break: It is important to have some time out from studies. Always having studies/ homework on the mind will stress students out, especially if they know they can’t do it during work hours. Allow a study free zone while at work. Know there is nothing students can do about it, so they should give themselves permission to relax. Many times we block ourselves, and take on more stress over things we cannot control. Those moments students are not thinking about studies could benefit them in the long run. This way, they can approach their assignments with a fresh mind.

Smiling college students holding hands at graduation courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

7. Stay focused on the end goal: The end goal should be graduating. Many times, once students start working, they find it hard to stay focused on education. It becomes easy to forget about studies and think about short term benefits, such as getting paid. This spending power lets many people forget about graduating. College students must find ways to motivate themselves. Keep pictures of graduates at their ceremonies or photos of people who managed to reach the pinnacle of their careers to have an aim and a goal to reach.

8. Research on future courses: Students should find courses relevant to them and their future interests. Don’t choose a random course because friends are taking it, or because somebody else has a strong opinion about it. Students need to discover what they are passionate about and what they see themselves doing in the future. Doing some research on courses will help them achieve their future goals.

9. Be smart financially: Money can flow through college students’ fingers like water if they’re not careful. Keep track on spending and where the money has to be allocated. If there are bills to pay, keep that money aside, or pay off debts before doing anything else. This helps students become more financially independent. This not involves their weekly paycheck, but also their tuition. Most colleges have hefty fees so be sure to enroll in a program where there are future benefits. Don’t get a job and go into debt due to careless spending, as this will cause a downward spiral.

10. Be passionate: Happiness can only come from within. College students should be passionate about the courses they will be taking; passion will get them through tough times. If students truly do something they love, they will excel in it. Be happy at the workplace. Find a job that is mentally stimulating or has a good work team. This makes a huge difference in students’ mental health and happiness, and when they’re young and balancing their work and study lives, this is very important.

The balance for managing studies and work can be a fine line, and one that should be carefully monitored so college students don’t end up suffering by their decision to work. This has become a recent trend, as many young students have bills to pay, and this enables them to gain work experience while also getting homework help and inspiration from their coworkers or family.

Need more tips for college students, check out College Recruiter’s blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Anthony Taylor is a writer, student and editor on student’s writing website. He loves reading, writing motivational stories and spending the time with his family. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+ for more interesting stories.

Posted January 26, 2016 by

How to make the most of professional networking events

If you’re like one third to one half of the U.S. population who consider themselves introverted, discussing professional networking events—whether career fairs, meet and greet hours held at conferences, or even happy hour with coworkers or potential employers—induces slightly sweaty palms. Networking events are often referred to as “shmoozy events” because of the negative connotations associated with networking.

Done the right way, professional networking doesn’t have to be socially awkward; you don’t have to push yourself on others or worry about saying exactly the right thing at just the right time in order to land a job or get a raise. It is important to remember, though, that first impressions are made within the first seven seconds of meeting someone. That’s a powerful statistic and one that sticks; the primacy effect (the tendency to remember what we notice first, whether it proves accurate or not) has lasting impact on our brains.

This brief video provides college students and recent grads with simple, easy tips to implement at networking events. These tips are especially helpful if you’re a networking newbie, about to graduate and begin networking as part of your efforts to find your first full-time job.


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1. Eat prior to arrival.

While light to heavy hors d’oeuvres are often served at most networking events, it’s never a good idea to arrive on an empty stomach. Be sure that the snack you choose isn’t heavy on onions or garlic-laden, though; you don’t want to carry offensive odors to your networking event.

Arriving without an empty stomach will help you feel calm and mentally alert. You will be more able to focus on potential employers, build connections, and enjoy yourself if you’re not hungry.

2. Dress conservatively.

Dress codes are all over the place for networking events. Play it safe and stay conservative, wearing business attire. You can’t really go wrong with a well-fitting business suit. If you want to dress it up, wear a brighter shirt or tie than you might normally wear, but don’t go crazy. Networking events aren’t the time to pull out your new sequined dress or to dress down either, thinking it’s more about socializing. Remember, you’re ultimately there to build professional connections; these connections might assist you in your job or internship search now or later.

3. Smile!

Smiling is the easiest way to let people know you’re approachable. If you’re introverted, intimidated, or simply not excited about the event, smiling is a great “fake it til you make it” strategy for making the most of networking events. You’re already there, so why not have a good time?

4. Go hands-free.

Keep one hand free at all times. If you must eat a quick snack, put down your drink in order to eat. Best case scenario, though, you will watch this video and read this article before you begin attending networking events, and you can adhere to tip #1 (eat prior to arrival). When you eat prior to arrival, you’ll find yourself able to more easily shake hands, exchange business cards, and carry a bottle of water because not carrying a plate of food.

Businesspeople shaking hands at networking event

Minerva Studio/Shutterstock.com

5. Prepare an elevator pitch.

At professional networking events, you’re most likely going to introduce yourself and be asked the question, “So what do you do?” repeatedly. An elevator pitch answers this question and then some. Your elevator pitch—if pitched properly, that is—communicates who you are (in terms of education and work history), what you do (related to jobs and careers), what you want to do, and why. It’s important that potential future employers understand that you have specific goals—that’s an admirable quality, one most employers seek in candidates.

Your elevator pitch should last no longer than 30 seconds (stay focused) and should end with a question. That question shouldn’t be, “How can you help me?” Even though we’re all seeking help from others in the job search process, the question should be focused on your new contact. Is your contact the CEO of a company? Ask him how he began his career in the business world. Ending with a question lets the other person know that you are not self-centered; networking is a two-way street, and getting to know your connections is vital to successful networking.

If your new contacts or potential employers want to get to know you further after you give your spiel, they’ll follow up with questions. On the front end, keep it short and sweet.

6. Talk less; listen more.

As the saying goes, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. As Dale Carnegie said in How to Win Friends and Influence People, “Talk to someone about themselves, and they’ll listen for hours.” General managers consistently rank listening as one of the top skills in the workplace, too. It matters, and people value you when you do it well.

7. Give and receive contact information.

Prepare business cards before beginning your job search or internship search. You can purchase very affordable business cards online from a variety of vendors or use a business card template available for free online. You definitely don’t want to arrive at networking events empty-handed, though.

When someone asks for your business card, it’s proper etiquette to ask for theirs as well (and vice versa). Don’t make it your goal, though, to procure as many business cards at networking events as possible. There’s no point in this behavior. Unless you actually established an initial connection with a real person at a networking event, a business card is just a piece of paper.

If possible, wear pants or a skirt with pockets or carry a small purse. You need a place to keep the business cards you gather. You might think of the whole “exchanging business cards” process as old-fashioned, but it’s still being done, and if you don’t bring cards to networking events, you’re the one who’ll be left out.

8. Call them by name.

When introduced to someone new at a professional networking event, call that person by name throughout the event. Not only will this help you remember the person’s name later, but it will also make that person feel recognized and provide a personal touch (give that person warm fuzzies), and there’s nothing wrong with that.

9. Follow up.

You don’t need to come home after networking events and immediately search for your new contacts on LinkedIn or Twitter, sending invitations like a stalker. Connecting on social media is part of networking, but following up has many layers. It’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy. Think carefully about each of your brand new contacts and how you might best connect with them individually before sending a mass email to 20 potential employers with your resume, references, and electronic portfolio attached.

Remember, networking—whether online or offline—is about building connections which hopefully last for a lifetime. These relationships are just like the other relationships you invest in; relationships require work, and relationships are about give and take. Those same principles apply to professional networking.

For more Tuesday Tips, follow College Recruiter’s blog and follow us on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Stick with College Recruiter as we help you connect the dots on your path to career success and introduce you to great jobs, internships, and careers. Begin your search and apply today!

 

 

 

Posted January 04, 2016 by

4 habits to drop before your job search

During January 2016, College Recruiter will publish content designed to assist college students seeking either entry-level jobs upon graduation or summer internships. For more information about January’s focus, check out “Connecting the dots: Creating a 2016 career action plan.

Guest articles published in January will cover various topics to assist students who are either about to graduate and search for their first full-time jobs or who are searching for summer internships.

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, guest writer

1) Not being able to work as a team

In college, students are often competing with their peers for honors or accolades. Most college students absolutely dread group projects, feeling that it’s unfair that they will all be graded together. This is a habit new graduates should drop immediately upon commencement.

In the job market, employees will be expected to work as a team pretty much every day. Although there will be some independent work, for the most part, departments will be judged on what they can accomplish together. Companies are thinking about their bottom lines and want to make sure deadlines are met and profits are made. Remember, there is no grading in the workplace; however, there will be the opportunity to move up in the company or be asked to leave it altogether.

2) Not taking time to climb the ladder

In college, freshmen become sophomores and sophomores become juniors in one year. Climbing the ladder in college is automatic, and students go from being totally inexperienced to being the oldest and most experienced in about four years.

In the workplace, climbing the ladder will take longer. Automatic raises are no longer standard, and employees may not be able to move up the ranks due to internal circumstances within a company. Someone doing an absolutely fabulous job may not be promoted because there simply isn’t an open position, and these days a job well done generally just means maintaining employment.

Employees who want to move up within the company will have to practice patience, perseverance, and creative thinking. The reality is some companies just don’t like to promote within; thus, employees may consider moving on to a different company once they have two to five years of experience.

3) Deadlines will always stay the same

For the most part, college students can hold their professors to predetermined timelines. The syllabus provides a list of deadlines that are basically set in stone for the entire semester. If the professor has stated that a 15 page essay is due the 8th week of class, they can’t just come in one day and say it’s due tomorrow. Finals are always given during finals week.

Things will not be the same once students become employees. A company may say that a team project proposal is due two weeks from now, but the boss can come in on Monday and say that something needs to be presented tomorrow at 9 a.m. sharp. In the working world, there are tons of different factors affecting timelines and deadlines such as budgets, client needs, and other departments within a company. New employees will have to adjust to being extremely flexible with deadlines.

4) Casual etiquette

One of the great things about college is that students can show up in jeans and a wrinkled t-shirt with a giant cup of coffee in hand; as long as they participate and know what they’re talking about, they often won’t be judged any differently.

This is not so in an office environment. Although coffee will be flowing generously, employees need to follow standard workplace etiquette and show up looking professional and prepared. In addition to looking the part, new employees need to make sure they are prompt, interact professionally and politely with their coworkers and supervisors, respond to emails and phone calls within a 24 hour period (at the latest), and get along with different personality types.

In college, students can choose who they spend their time with; however, in the workplace, they simply have to get along with everybody on their team.

Robyn Scott is a private tutor with TutorNerds LLC. She has a BA from the University of California, Irvine, and a MA from the University of Southampton, UK.

Posted December 18, 2015 by

How to eliminate stress at work

akansha arora

Akansha Arora

During the week, a lot of time is spent at work, and it is important that people have a stress-free environment there. Stress exists commonly at every workplace, and being efficient at your job can help you deal with it. But what about the environment; would you like to sit eight hours a day at a place where you cannot even smile at your neighbor? Of course not! Maintaining good relationships with colleagues creates a stress free environment and enhances your productivity. Here is how you can build good relationships with your coworkers. (more…)

Posted August 07, 2015 by

Entry Level Jobs 101: What You Need to Know for Career Success

real people at the office. female employee on duty.

Real people at the office. Female employee on duty. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

As a recent graduate, applying and interviewing for entry level jobs is the main focus of building your career. These positions provide an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills you acquired in college and become an expert in your industry.

Starting your first official job in the real world is different than working an internship and can be tricky to navigate at times. Here are a few tips to help you excel at the position and work your way up to a promotion: (more…)

Posted August 05, 2015 by

6 Terrible Mistakes Employees Often Make That Cost Their Promotion

female boss yelling at employee at work

Female boss yelling at employee at work. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Who does not want to get a promotion? Every one of us strives at our workplaces to get promoted or to find a better job. Why don’t all of us get a promotion that easily? It is probably because not all of us know what it takes for earning one. Career development is not something that people are taught in schools. That is one reason why many people are bad at using the right career development strategy. Even if you have the right skills, people fail in getting a promotion because of this problem.

But, you would stand a better chance of getting a promotion at your work now; all you need to do is to be aware of what is going wrong. Take a look at the following 6 most common mistakes that can cost you the promotion: (more…)

Posted August 04, 2015 by

Ten Tips For A Successful Graduate Year

Caroline Schmidt

Caroline Schmidt

For many graduates across the world, graduation signifies both the end of something and the beginning of something. For many it is the ultimate progression they have been longing for. A chance to step forward from what feels like a lifetime of learning and finally into a career. Here are some essential tips for your graduate job search success. (more…)