Thursday, February 18, 2016

What’s Next? 3 Simple Career Planning Tips for New Grads

Have you recently graduated with your degree? Congratulations! What a wonderful accomplishment!

Now that you are done and you have some "free time" on your hands, you might find yourself asking “What’s next?”  What new opportunities are on your horizon and how will you seize them? Whether you are a career changer seeking new employment or someone established in your field trying to decide whether it is time to seek new pastures, keep these 3 simple career planning tips in mind:

  • Learn about yourself – Many of us launch a job search without really knowing what we want. We just know that we want something else.  The CareerBeam self assessment tools available on the WGU Career & Professional Development website are a great place to start the process of career exploration. You can gain valuable information on your temperament, personality, interests, skills, and talents. CareerBeam also has assessments to help you define your industry, leadership, corporate culture, and networking preferences. By learning about yourself, you will gain greater clarity and be able to formulate stronger career goals.
  • Stay up-to-date – Staying current in your field will help keep you relevant and more competitive when you are looking for a new position or a promotion. The WGU Career & Professional Development Center offers two excellent resources:
    • The Riley Guide is a curated career management e-library that houses the latest information on career management resources for a wide variety of occupations. Simply use the alphabetical index to locate your area of interest and you’ll be directed to the best sites available. 
    • CareerBeam’s Industry Reports offers profiles covering more than 1000 industry segments. Profiles include in-depth national and international information, creating a comprehensive suite of data that is continuously updated. An added bonus: all reports include “call prep” questions which is helpful in preparation for networking and interviewing.
  • Get involved in your profession – Taking time to engage in your profession not only keeps you on the cutting-edge within your field, it also allows you to network with other professionals and develop your professional brand – all of which can advance your career!  A great place to start is LinkedIn where there are a plethora of groups that cover almost every occupation and industry imaginable. Try participating in groups by posting discussions or answering questions posed by other members. Be sure to check out additional professional development resources on the WGU Career & Professional Development Center website, including college specific links to professional associations, continuing education opportunities, and job boards.

WGU graduates have access to all the resources and services offered by the WGU Career & Professional Development Center. Make an appointment and a CPD Specialist can help you create your career plan, explore options, and assist in the design of your job search. We look forward to working with you!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Can We Talk? The Art of Conversation

Before people used social media, there was social engagement to build one’s network of friends and professional colleagues. Dale Carnegie, award-winning author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, said if you want people to be interested in you, you first must be interested in them. The art of conversation seems to be pushed to the back burner in today’s texting culture. Conversation is an important and necessary skill for today’s professional. The following are a few tips to start and engage conversations so that you can win friends and influence your professional networks:
  1. Flattery Will Get You Everywhere! Compliments are a great way to lead into a conversation. Starting on a positive note is always the perfect first step into a discussion, and it makes the person feel good about themselves. Be careful, however, to make sure that your compliments are sincere and genuine.
  2.  Small Talk Can Have Big Effects. Deep and meaningful conversations often start with small talk. Talking about the weather, your hometown, or the event you are attending is a great way to build rapport. Not only can this skill help pass the time but it is also beneficial in the workplace. 
  3.  Dance Through Your Conversations. Engaging in conversation with one other person or a group is much like dancing, there is a leader and a follower. These roles can easily change, the follower can quickly become the leader. To allow for an easy and fun experience, ask questions but keep it light. Pay attention to the conversation and listen for opportunities to ask questions. “Oh, I find that very interesting, can you tell me more about ____________________”.
  4.  Stay Engaged. Showing interest in the people with whom you are talking is the best way to show your professionalism.. Finding common ground is a good way to remain in the discussion. Keep your phone out of the conversation. Nothing kills a networking conversation quicker than checking your email or texting. If it is necessary to leave the group, politely remove yourself by saying, “Excuse me but I need to step away. It was nice chatting with you.” If you are able to return and re-engage in the conversation then simply approach the group but don’t interrupt a discussion already in progress.
Following these suggestions can help you feel more comfortable at professional and social gatherings. You can use these tips to start building your own conversation “rules” and starters. Remember to collect business cards and to have your own business or calling cards available to follow up with new friends.

For more information and tips on small talk and networking conversations, use our WGU Career & Professional Development resources and if you want to practice with some simple and light conversation starters, contact us for an appointment to chat!