Posts Tagged ‘professional development’

First impressions used to happen as people met face to face. But in today’s world, people meet others way before that step.

Meeting people and getting to know them used to require both parties to be present. With all this “newfangled” technology, this is certainly not the case anymore. These days, first impressions tend to start with either a Google or Facebook search and a little stalking.

It is important to monitor what any outside person will find when they search you. Here are some tips I have found helpful to keep in mind:

  • Does someone else have your name? Be sure that when people search you, they are finding information about you and not the other 8 billion John Smiths that exist. Do something to stand out. Include your middle initial in your Twitter handle or LinkedIn profile. Use SEO to bump yourself up to the top of a search. Mashable can show you how
  • Clean up your social media. No drinking. No drugs. Easy on the language. Make sure you are always looking over what your friends post and attach your name to. Don’t be afraid to un-tag, delete posts and even de-friend if need be. Don’t let someone else taint your pages.
  • Make sure you are consistent. If you look like a raging lunatic on Twitter but your LinkedIn shows how you run your own business while your Facebook has you saving orphans in Cambodia, outside viewers might be skeptical. Play to your strengths while still being honest.
  • Keep track of where your name is. Set up a search on your Google Reader that shows when new web content contains your name. This will help to stay aware of how people might find you. If you have a common name, this is a good idea to make sure your long lost twin isn’t shaming your name.
  • Ask a friend to take a look. Sometimes we become desensitized to what shows up online. Have people of different ages tell you the first things they notice. Not sure if a photo is appropriate? Wondering if your LinkedIn profile shows off your best talents? An outside perspective always helps.

Another great way to check out how awesome you are online on Klout. By connecting your various profiles, they give you a score based on how influential you are with whatever content you post and how your connections respond to it. I’m still learning how to use it but my competitive nature has me doing all I can to bump up my score.


What tips do you have to make a great impression online? Let me know in the comments below.


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Applying for jobs gets really old really quickly. Unless of course you are in the public relations, media, marketing or advertising industry. In that case, job apps turn in to play time.

One of my most recent applications was hating on cover letters. That was when the initial moment of “I love this place!” set in.

Hiring agents get bored of reading them. Prospective employees get tired of writing them. Thus, a solution for us all: the creative cover letter.
Creative Cover Letter Image


My approach was simple. Show the company who I am and what I am about. Don’t waste words. Don’t waste space. Make it pretty.

The photos I included are all originals taken while I was abroad in Europe.

It was so refreshing to think outside of the very strict, three paragraphs, “Dear You, Sincerely Me,” look at all the reasons I’m great, perfect for this job, kind of box that the world has created.

I love any opportunity to step outside that box of conformity. I tend to tap dance on top of it anyway.

What job applications have allowed you to show your creativity? Let me know in the comments below.

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Reading a newspaper is fairly old hat. Sadly enough, most print media seems to be. I was in mourning when I found out that Newsweek mailed out its last ever print edition in December 2012.

But the immediacy of online news keeps the world up to date on anything and everything. I get my news mostly from Twitter  by following the best of the best. New York Times, Huffington Post, and CNN Breaking News just to name a few.

Political issues come up all the time. As a(n almost) college graduate looking for an entry level job (hire me!), I have been all over the internet. Over the past four days, everywhere I turn, I’ve seen the following image.

Equal Rights

Knowing the symbol, traditionally in yellow and blue, I was aware that it had to do with human rights but I didn’t know what was going on currently that prompted the wave of red across my social networks.

I immediately scrolled through my friends, looked over posts and comments and within moments I was updated. To quote Montell Jordan: This is how we do it.

While we may not understand the power or even concept of a true newspaper that can be held, millennials have a different (not worse just different) understanding of how to stay up to date.

We are an inquisitive bunch. And we don’t like when people tell us what to do. We like to think we are the original gangstas- that we found it all on our own. Hence, the internet. We scroll and click and use our attention deficit mannerisms for good not evil.

From a media consumer perspective, I appreciate that I’ve got the power to pull in what information I want. From a professional perspective, how does anyone get people to see their content?

It is a tangled web to weave. The key is to make people curious so that those consumers feel they have no choice but to pull on your content. Shoving material in peoples’ faces is just as old hat as newspapers.

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it is what has created awareness about Proposition 8 lately, and so many other current events in the past.

What have you found on the internet that has made you curious? Who does a good job of pulling you in to click around? Let me know in the comments below.

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It is officially spring break. Unfortunately, now is the time to accelerate the job search. No breaking here (aside from the fact that I will not be getting out of my pajamas unless absolutely necessary).

With a solid amount of open time, I am taking this opportunity to reach out to anyone and everyone that might help me. Not help in the sense of, “Poor me, find me a job” but more of the “I am really excited because I have a blank canvass and I get to decide how I’d like to proceed.”

The more I search for jobs, the more I realize I don’t have an ideal career in mind. There is no holy grail of positions, but rather many starting points that could lead me down multiple avenues. LinkedIn has helped me find what exists out there. Seriously, what did people do before LinkedIn?

Job Suggestions LinkedIn

Being so new, how am I supposed to know what I want? How am I supposed to know what even exists? Therefore, I am spending this spring break asking questions. The best advice I have to repeat to myself- “I am not the first person to have to do this job search.”

I am turning to the experts. People who have jobs right now all went through a time of not having one. I am filling my week with informational interviews to pick the brains of all those that came before me.

I have an open mind and a hopeful attitude. I have nothing to lose, only answers to gain. The following are my list of questions that will guide my brain picking process.

  • What is your specific title and what do your day-to-day tasks entail?
  • What is your favorite part of your job? Least favorite?
  • How did you land in this position?
  • How did you know this was what you wanted to do?
  • What are the people like here? Do you like the culture of your work environment?
  • Where did you look for jobs when you first graduated?
  • What advice do you have for me as an (almost) recent graduate looking to get into this industry?
  • Is there anyone else here at your company that you recommend I speak with?

This is one of those, “you can’t pay it back, you can only pay it forward” kind of situations. I am grateful to anyone who meets with me or even responds to my email, of course. But one day (fingers crossed) I will have a job. Someone will come to me for an informational interview and I will be ecstatic to return the favor.

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It was the moment I had been waiting for; the Whole Foods finally re-opened in Upper Arlington, Ohio. Unfortunately class prevented me from being a door buster but I wouldn’t miss opening day. Opening day is a sample-lover’s dream. A promotional item hoarder’s fantasy.

I regret to inform that Whole Foods left much to be desired in the name of marketing practices.

I can’t totally discount the samples and the exceptional customer service. As brands go, Whole Foods is consistently superior in their face-to-face customer engagement.

But what about the other forms of engagement? If I was social media manager…

There would have been a store opening countdown a long time ago. Each Whole Foods has a local account…except for this new one. (If you’re looking for a social media manager Whole Foods Upper Arlington, I’m ready when you are).

With signs and samples throughout the store, there were tons of opportunities to drive people to their website and/or mobile app.

Throw a QR code next to food displays to take people to a how-to recipe link. At the very least, place a Twitter bird in the corner of the chalk boards so we know where to find you!

One of their big promotional events being advertised across every Whole Foods in the country is today’s Parmageddon. It has something to do with cheese and breaking world records- two of my favorite things.



No better time than to ask for people to post their favorite recipes that use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on their Facebook page. Perhaps a photo on Instagram or Pinterest. At the very least, go for a hashtag.

Internet marketing and social media is only as useful as its user is capable. The world is lazy. It is our job as marketing professionals (ok my dream job- I’m working on it), to lead the horses to water and make it impossible for them not to drink.

We have to make it impossible for them to resist. We have to get in their heads and make them want to be part of our conversation. Social media should never be one way and always be top of mind.

Social media is the new “word of mouth.” We can make our messages spread like wild fire. With technology on our side, we can make content instant and get immediate feedback. Now more than ever we have an opportunity to get creative.

Whole Foods gave people a reason to talk and interact but without instruction on how to do it. All it takes is a “click here” or a “follow us here” and that’s enough to drive media use and inevitably brand loyalty.

What’s the best store opening marketing you’ve seen? Post in the comments below.

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As the job hunt gets increasingly more intense and my competitive spirit gains momentum, I’m starting to get a bit tired. It’s time to draw from inspiration. Who better than the one and only Michael Jordan?

Michael Jordan

Image courtesy of Eric Brown, BodyworkBiz Blog

Losing a basketball game did not make one of the best basketball players of all time a failure. As Michael Jordan and I are quite similar, I am extrapolating this to my job search. One bad interview does not make you bad at interviews.

As I prepared for my first official phone interview, I tapped in to all the tips I’ve heard about how to do it right. After I hung up the phone and let out a big sigh, I realized what else I could have done to prepare. And thus, my list:

  • Dress up as if it they can see you. A suit will put you in a professional mindset and give you an immediate confidence boost.
  • Smile as you speak. They can’t read your nonverbals so verbals have to come across even stronger. Facial expressions help portray enthusiasm.
  • Have responses at the ready. Prepare examples of successes, failures, goals, leadership, and challenging experiences.
  • Use your resources. They can’t see you so use that to your advantage. Have your computer in front of you, ready to look up anything. If they want additional writing samples, send them in the moment. They might ask about your resume; have it in front of you.
  • Have a glass of water close; nervous people have coughing fits.
  • Follow up after. Be sure to get your interviewers contact information and

Sometimes preparation can only take you so far. Unexpected questions happen and brain freeze sets in. To quote Dory from Finding Nemo, “just keep swimming.”

I swam my little heart out, answered the questions to the best of my ability and prayed. The phone interview did not advance me to the next round of interviews. Some might look at that as a failure.

But Mike and I use these failures to make successes happen for next time. I now have a game plan for phone interviews, one more experience under my belt and a bit more confidence than I had before.

For more interview tips, check out 7 Job Interview Sins You Cannot Make from New Grad Life

What interview questions have stumped you? Post in the comments below.

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Have you ever been at a social event where everyone seemed to be on their phones? It’s a tad ironic. The more social we try to be online, the less social we end up being in person.


Image courtesy of lolriot.com

Is there a wrong or right way to stay connected with everyone? Are there rules? Who makes them?

Unfortunately, manners are not as hard and fast as we’d like them to be. This is especially true for social media and phone use because of how new it is. There is nothing new about saying please and thank you. But having your phone out at the dinner table wasn’t possible until relatively recently.

Today’s rules seem to be very situational and context-based. For example, lunch with my grandma? Not a phone in sight unless you want to hear about it for the remainder of the meal (no text is worth that).

At a recent PR event, it was almost a violation of social norms if someone didn’t have their phone out. Communication professionals do their job by staying connected and consistent with online interaction and engagement. Clearly, it’s a hard line to walk.

Here are some tips to stay polite and professional.

  • Consider your company. If you are among peers who frequent phone use too, go for it. If there is a mutual understanding that being on your phone is okay in the given moment is acceptable, let those cues guide your choice.
  • Location, location, location. Are you in a religious setting? A professional networking event? A funeral? Put the phone away. If you are in a place where you’d like to maintain a level of respectfulness, play it on the safe side. You can never offend someone by keeping your phone in your pocket.
  • Give fair warning. Phones seem to be the lifeline of society; almost a security blanket for the “just in case” moment. If there is a time when you expect you’ll need to use your phone in a place that isn’t appropriate, let your company know that you might be interrupted by an important call.
  • Don’t be a wimp. If you are in a situation where someone is on their phone and you would rather they not be, say something. Help make the rule book about what is socially allowed by having conversations. Set boundaries and establish guidelines to avoid confusion.
  • Be in the moment. Keep in mind that you are where you are. Take advantage of the people around you. What might you be missing if you’re too busy retweeting a Kardashian?
  • Phones down in the car. Texting and driving has been proven to be just as, if not more, dangerous than drinking and driving. Nothing to do with manners, just overall safety.  Be smart.

Social media, texting and staying connected is current and normal. We have so many capabilities and so much accessible to us and it’s important we take advantage of that.

Just like everything else, there is a time and a place. Use your best judgement and when in doubt, err on the side of phone-less.

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