Job Search Series – New Year’s Resolutions

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
-Oprah Winfrey

As we ring in 2014 later this evening, let’s celebrate the fact that with the New Year dawning we’ll have another opportunity “to get it right,” as Oprah says.

Everyone has his or her personal New Year’s Resolutions, but in addition to those time-honored pledges, students, new grads and young professionals have specific goals to accomplish. So, here are seven winning resolutions to help you hone such critical leadership skills as social and business etiquette, emotional intelligence and personal branding:

  1. Respect everyone. Respect is the basis of etiquette and a fundamental of empathy and ethics. You don’t have to like everyone, but you do have to treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Following this guideline will enhance your reputation and serve you well in both your academic environment and professional life.
  2. Reduce your dependence on your Smartphone. Are you “addicted” to your Smartphone? Maybe not, but you might be a tad too dependent on your personal device if you (a) must have it with you at all times, including in bed with you at night (not on the night stand, but in your bed); (b) cannot refrain from texting, checking your messages and emails or playing games during class, at mealtimes, when visiting with friends and family, in the office, when conducting business, doing homework or meeting with others; and (c) are overly distressed if your battery dies or you forget or temporarily misplace your device. Such over-usage of Smartphones and their like are diminishing face-to-face social interactions and relationship building, and contributing to an increasing number of college graduates’ inability to write in full sentences, use proper grammar or carry on a conversation in certain social and professional settings. Learn to manage your miniature HALs and don’t let them manage you.
  3. Dine together more often with your parents and other family members. Research over the past decade has indicated that teens who dine with their families at least three times per week benefit from greater academic achievement, increased psychological well-being, healthier eating habits and more positive family interactions. So, if you want to be smarter, healthier, more confident and relaxed, all of which will lead to a happier and more successful school, social and family experiences, polish your table manners and conversation skills and bon appétit!
  4. Get organized. Life moves along fast these days, so it pays to be organized. Your anxiety levels will decrease and your enjoyment of learning and working will increase if you can finish homework assignments accurately and completely on time or ahead of schedule. How much closer to your goals and graduation you will be if you meet with your college center for career development early to obtain assistance in preparing for your internship and to complete your resume on time. Or what a boost to your career to have completed all your job responsibilities expertly and on time, prompting your boss to nominate you to represent the company on a prestigious board. Start with two key areas of organization and you’ll be pleased to see an immediate improvement in your time management and quality of life: (a) Your Calendar – Setting up your calendar so that you can entering every assignment, appointment, social engagement and deadlines on it and keeping it current will put you in control of your life! Find the online or offline calendar or organizer works best for you and can help you achieve and maintain a balanced, doable schedule. (b) Your Locker & Backpack/Dorm Room or Office Desk/Files: The ability to find things is half the battle. Keeping your work area in high school, on campus and in the workplace neat and organized will help you to use your time to research, read and write instead of endlessly hunting for books, notes, materials and equipment. It’s a powerful feeling.
  5. Master the perfect handshake. You might wish to review this archived entry on “The Perfect Handshake,” and make a point to master this leadership skill, which is crucial to your career success. But, also keep in mind that there are many people who do not shake hands due to religious or cultural beliefs, disabilities, injuries, colds or flu or personal preferences. Consider the occasion, your surroundings what people are doing. If you notice that a particular group is not shaking hands, refrain; if you offer your hand and it is not accepted, gracefully and graciously withdraw your hand and cover the awkwardness with the appropriate facial expression or gesture. Be alert, aware, sensitive and kind.
  6. Dress well. You needn’t spend a fortune to dress well, but it’s worth investing a few dollars in a basic wardrobe, including accessories, that is appropriate to your job, whether you are student or professional. How you look at school, on campus and at your workplace can make you or break you. And, as for those first impressions: it takes a mere seven seconds to make a positive or negative impact.    
  7. Build and nurture your social and professional networks. Who do you know and who knows you? Document your network of contacts – personal, social and professional – and place them into three categories: Top Tier – those to whom you are the closest and who are the most important to you; Second Tier – those you know well, work with, see regularly or are in close touch; Third Tier – those you have met, are slightly acquainted, share something in common and who you might want to reach out to someday. Then, starting with the Top Tier contacts, ensure that you are treating them well, remembering things that are important to them, helping them when possible and in general paying attention. Use good judgment as you expand your network, and remember; quality over quantity. Apply this strategy especially to your online social networking.

Happy New Year to all!

Until next time,

Jeanne

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