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Archive for December, 2011

The Value of Networking

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

How do I make connections and find a job?

It is not just what you know, it is who you know.

What Is Networking?
Networking is the process of making contact and exchanging information with other people. It involves building relationships and creating a personal set of contacts that may be able to help you in some way and that you may be able to help in some way.

Networking is attentively and consciously meeting people, being interested in them, remembering who they are and what they do, and exchanging information with them over time.

 Why Network?

According to numerous studies conducted by career counseling professionals, almost 80% of job opportunities are not advertised.

Networking can be used in many ways in your job search and throughout your career to:

  • Conduct field research – Learn about a specific field that you are interested in.
  • Explore careers – Learn about what types of work exist in different fields.
  • Obtain information about organizations – Learn about an organization for which you might want to work.
  • Obtain career advice – Ask people in the world of work about how you might prepare yourself for a certain field or position.
  • Seek job-search advice – Ask for suggestions of people you might contact for information about job or internship possibilities.
  • Create your own job or internship – Identify an activity or a type of work that you would like to do, and find someone who is willing to let you do it.

Networking Etiquette And Guidelines:

No matter who you contact, etiquette is important in building and maintaining relationships.

  • Be well prepared. Be able to articulate as much as you know about what you are looking for in your career, job search, etc.
  • Always be professional, courteous, and considerate.
  • Be interested in the people you meet. Most people enjoy the chance to tell you about their own careers and activities.
  • Be genuine. Possess a sincere desire to learn. Be honest in asking for advice. If you are only interested in asking for a job, it will show, no matter how you disguise it.
  • Be gracious. Write a thank you letter when people take time to meet with you.
  • Stay in touch. Update people in your network when you make significant progress in your research or job search.
  • Give back. Know enough about the people you meet to keep their needs in mind as you continue to network. You may be able to pass on ideas, articles, and contacts that will interest them.
  • Use good judgment about the amount of time you request when you contact people. Do not overstay your welcome, and do not “return to the well” too many times.

For a great opportunity to network and further develop your networking skills come out to the Student 2 Business Event at the London Convention Centre on January, 26th.  For Details visit http://www.s2b.ca/

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Change Your Mind – the impact of Positive Psychology on Career Goals

December 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I attended a presentation this week by Kim Edwards, a PhD candidate in the Department of Clinical Psychology.  It was one of those presentations that sticks with you for the rest of your life.  The concepts with respect to positive psychology are really quite simple.  We just need to “change our minds”

When thinking about career goals and career development, far too often we focus on our areas of weakness.  What we need to improve upon. What went wrong in a situation. What we didn’t do well.  What positive psychology seeks to do is change the way we think about ourselves.  Instead of focussing on what we aren’t good at, we should focus on what we are good at.  Simple right?

In her presentation Kim asked us, “If your child came home with a report card that had “A, A, C, F” what grade would deserve our greatest attention”.  As much as I wanted to say, given the topic of the presentation, that I would give the most attention to the “A”, in reality, I know that I would be focussed on the F.

So when you get your grades for your first term courses and you see an A, A, B and an F.  What will you do? Probably, like me, focus on the F and then lie awake at night worrying about how that is going to effect your overall average, your application to grad school, the rest of your life. . . Essentially, your career is now over before it even began.

It is not to say that we should ignore our short-comings, but rather, we need to focus on our strengths and try to moderate the areas where we are not as strong.

When we look at our potential in a work environment, the vast majority of  people think that their greatest capacity for growth is in the areas that they are weakest.  The reality is, however, that our greatest potential and growth comes from our strengths.  No matter how hard you work at it, if you are just not good or not interested in something you are less likely to succeed. Whereas if you spend time further developing competencies and preferences that you already have, you will find that you become exceptional; that you advance beyond your expectation.

Furthermore, if we focus on finding a career that draws on our strengths on a daily basis not only are we more likely to succeed, but we are more likely to be happy, energetic, productive, profitable, patient with customers and clients and have fewer sick days.

So if you find that you are great at writing essays and terrible at retaining information that revolves around numbers and statistics or vice-versa, embrace that.  In numerous interviews that I have conducted with successful, happy people, when I ask them what advice they would  give to young people, just about everyone has said, “follow your passion and you will succeed.  Do what you are good at.” Now we have some scientific research to support those assertions.

If you would like to look a little further into the concept of positive psychology or would like to take some tests that help to draw out your strengths try the two sites below.

Authentic Happiness http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/questionnaires.aspx

VIA Strengths profile https://www.viame.org/www/en-us/getyourviameprofile.aspx

Kim, at the end of her presentation, left us with this quote:

“People don’t change that much.  Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out.  Try to draw out what was left in.  That is hard enough”  (Buckingham and Coffman, 1999, p.57)

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