What You Will Find in First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates

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I created a resource primarily for college grads that are entering the workforce in an office environment at an entry level. But First Job provides tools and tips that can apply to anyone in a professional setting. At some point we all start out in an entry-level position.  Your career may begin working in an office, a laboratory, or a shop floor.  Perhaps you are sales representatives, or an account manager working in a retail environment.   Although my readers work in many industries, there is some common ground for all of us.  We need to communicate well.  We have to work in teams. We are expected to perform.  We have profit and loss responsibilities for business, or may even be given the responsibility for someone’s life.  The consequences of improper action are serious.

The book discusses items that a recruiter or hiring manager may not have told you about. They sold you on the company through stories about culture, experience, pay and progression.   You are trained in a special course of study, and so far have survived high school, college and family relationships. You haven’t lived on a deserted island so you basically know how to get along with people. What you may not be prepared for are the new work rules and the complexities of coworker relationships, so we will concentrate heavily on team interaction. No one really teaches you the basics in simple terms. After reading this book, you will find yourself more prepared to succeed at work.

Online credit card payments accepted for $7.00 plus shipping. I also have a bulk discount for departmental managers. To purchase First Job, email me at jmihalik@hlpsum1.com and I will send you an invoice.

I also invite you to join the LinkedIn Group called First Job After College, and share your experiences regarding funny “First Day” stories, or ask questions about what to expect on your first day, and receive advice from experienced workers.

About Joyce Jarek: Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college.

Devon’s First Day of Work – What is Your Story? ( #postgradlife #jobhunt #firstjob #graduation2015 )

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Devon was so excited to have a job offer come through. Best email ever received!   All the work he had put into college was finally paying off. He will have enough money to buy more than a burrito at Chipotle, books and beer money.   He was eligible for a car loan without a cosigner, and could pick up his first new car next week. Aahh – it will be nice to have a “real” grownup apartment away from campus too! Once he gave his verbal to the recruiter before Spring break, he thought he could cruise for a while and enjoy springtime on campus.

Last week, more emails began to roll in from his new employer. Every time he opened them, he felt apprehensive.  His parents had helped him to fill out that monster form for the FAFSA, but this seemed worse. The company sent documents weekly and expected a response right away. He felt like he was agreeing to terms at the new company that he didn’t understand, and wondered how it would affect him later.

Devon’s story may sound very familiar to you. It certainly reflected my story. I remember sitting down with a HR representative who gave me a pen and said “sign here”!  The only explanation provided was either “you have no choice” (code of conduct policy), or, “this one will be good for you” (enrolling into a 401K plan).

At some point we all start out in an entry-level position and meet new people and are handed new assignments. The first time you start a “real” job is the most unsettling.   Your career may begin working in an office, a laboratory, or a shop floor.  Perhaps you accepted a position as  a sales representative, or an account manager, or working in a retail environment.   There is common ground.  We need to communicate well.  We have to work in teams. We are expected to perform.  We have profit and loss responsibilities for business, or may even be given the responsibility for someone’s life.  The consequences of improper action could be serious.   What if I do the wrong thing, and will I even know?

Graduates are trained with skills in an area of study, but understanding company work rules and the complexities of coworker relationships will be new.  In my experience with interns and new hires, here are some common questions I encounter:

From Devon:

  • When can I have a day off of work?
  • Am I allowed to talk to employees outside of my department?
  • What is my assignment and when is it due?

From the hiring manager:

  • Why doesn’t Devon respond to emails?
  • How much time do I need to spend with him the first week?
  • What work shall I give him to get started, without overwhelming him?

Likely, everyone will be a little nervous.  Many companies have new-hire training programs.   However, no one can really predict or train on how department relationships and work assignments will be managed – each situation is unique.  My advice to the new hire –  be friendly, ask questions regarding what is expected of you, get busy right away, and listen closely.

I invite you to join the LinkedIn Group called First Job After College, and share your experiences regarding funny “First Day” stories, or ask questions about what to expect on your first day, and receive advice from experienced workers.

About Joyce Jarek: Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html About Joyce Jarek: Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html

The 5-to-1 Plan for Company Meetings

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Whether you are just gaining momentum at work or your energy burst in January is starting to fizzle, your company’s yearly planning meeting can be the time to refocus your work plans, goals and strategy. It’s a perfect opportunity for networking, training and collaboration.  I have some suggestions on how to make the best of it.

Here is a simple plan that you can keep at your fingertips.

Think of five People you want to get to know better. Whether they are coworkers within your group, recent hires at the company, or an executive in a different department, make a point to shake hands and ask, “What interests you most about this year’s meetings?” Be prepared to carry the conversation until it begins to flow, and then go out on a limb and ask a personal question. You may find a common interest to form a bond from.

Avoid the following four No’s: 

Don’t get caught checking your cell phone for messages and emails while a speaker is talking. All of the people who are dutifully complying with the “no tech zone” rule are watching YOU check your phone.

Don’t indulge in too many beverages! Something about all-day exhausting meetings and a “free-to-you” company tab may make whooping it up seem harmless, but, a little self-control at night will help you to be wide awake and ready in the morning.

Approach the meeting without negativity. Often we think we are too busy to spend a day or two strategizing. But this is an opportunity to get creative. Bring a blank notebook with you and write down anything that comes to mind. This will keep you focused on the speaker and presentations, and you may just come up with a new idea , product or process improvement that your company needs.

Remember an old adage – if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. This is a time to support company goals and the people that are helping the company to grow or change. Keep disparaging remarks to yourself. Negative Nancy is not on the invite list.

Arrive with three Goals for the meeting and leave with at least two Impressions. Formulate your thoughts of what you would like to accomplish during this time, and commit to coming away with two impressions of people, ideas or plans. Take a lessons-learned approach and be prepared to answer the question your boss is sure to ask – what was your biggest take away?

Finally, when you arrive back at your desk, begin to execute immediately one Action Item that you promised yourself to do or accomplish as a result of the session. It is important to start on it right away. As time passes, the feeling in your gut may dissipate. Go with your gut – after having a day or two filled with inspiration, be confident that it’s the right move.

How To Choose A Career Book

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There are thousands of career books on the market in the self-help category.  We often read books about how to achieve something we desire: I want to be 20 lbs lighter, I wish I had a high-paying job, or I want to have less stress in my life.   We gravitate to the ideal state and want to read about what it will be like when we get there.  I suggest that the best chance for eventually realizing this dream, is to start from where you are today, taking one step at a time.  The book you need is the one that gets you started.
Many of us are looking for tips  on how to advance in our career, find a new job, or become a better manager. A book with high impact will stress slow but steady improvements, starting with the job or skills that you have right now.

To find the right book, I suggest a quick self assessment:
1) What job do I have today? 
Are you an individual contributor or a manager of others?  How many years of work experience do you have?  What would be the next likely move for you?  If you are in an entry-level position, then reading a book intended for C-Suite executives may leave you confused about how to improve productivity and performance in your cubicle tomorrow morning.  If you are a mid-level manager, then you already come with a set of your own experiences which may go beyond the author’s recommendations.
2) What problems are you having at work today?
Take some time to study your environment at work.  Do you feel your place of employment or the people you are working with are holding you back?  Are you holding yourself back? Often our thoughts about others and our work location can give us the biggest tips on what we need to concentrate on personally.  How can a personal change impact the way I am viewed or treated at the company?   By exploring this line of questioning,  you probably can quickly identify what work skills need improvement.  If your desk at work looks like my teenage son’s bedroom, search for books about organization, productivity and time management.  If you are having trouble connecting to coworkers, search for books on teamwork and continuous improvement.  Identify what appears to be an external problem, and then internalize it.
3) What kind of learner am I?
Do you like short stories or thoughtful reads in small print?  Do you like the theory or fact-based evidence about success, or would you prefer light stories?  Would you enjoy reading about how others achieved success, or do you want the author to talk directly to you? The book that you are most likely to finish, is probably the right purchase for you, even if it is slightly off-topic.  You will retain the material and find something to take away, if you enjoyed reading it.
Congratulations!  Just by doing this short assessment, you have taken the first step  forward in your career.  You have identified what you want to work on, and can begin to search book titles.  I suggest reading a preview for each book where the title appeals to your situation while keeping in mind the type of style you desire.  Most booksellers allow you to read the first few pages for free, and you can determine the style, tempo and subject matter from what the author leads with in the first few pages.  That is how I wrote my book.   If the preview is short and to the point, the book will be to.  If the preview is personable or thought provoking,  so will be the next 20 chapters.
Good luck and connect with me online!

About Joyce Jarek:
Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1® Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  She enjoys mentoring her own team, and coaching new graduates who are entering the workforce and starting their first real job after college. To purchase First Job, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html

Coming Soon – Last Three Best Workdays of the Year, Improve #cubiclelife #worklife , #Career and #productivity

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Happy Holidays to all of my readers! Congratulations – you made it through the work year and accomplished your goals.  Given how Christmas and Hanukah fall on the 2014 calendar, it is tempting to extend winter break from now until January 5th. However, opportunity and award awaits those who save their paid time off for the months ahead and trek down to the office.

Let’s look at the top five productivity metrics for the last three workdays of the year:

  1. Less traffic lightens the commute. If you typically leave at 7:30am and return home at 6:00, this 10.5 hour day can likely shrink to 9.5 hour day with a 10% gain in your personal life.
  2. Few or No Meetings – do you celebrate when a meeting ends 15 minutes early because you just gained back 3% of your workday? Your calendar will be refreshingly clear and calm – offering more time to organize, clean up your work area and clear your head for the new year.
  3. Your employer will likely gift you with an opportunity to leave early on New Years Eve.  You can get paid for 100% of the workday with 75% of the effort.
  4. Reduce your unread or unanswered emails by 100%. Create a folder in Outlook named “Respond Soon” and add any issues to Task lists that can’t be resolved because your coworkers are out.  You can address them after January 5th.
  5. If you receive 100 emails a day, and 25% are daily email subscriptions, you can cut out 9,125 clicks in 2015 by taking an extra moment to unsubscribe from email notifications. Removal of these unhelpful distractions will allow you to concentrate on what matters going forward.

If these three performance-enhancing days can improve your overall well-being, then fill the new coffee mug up with a jolt of caffeine, pack a light lunch (not a bad time to start that diet), and immerse yourself into the serenity of your quiet work world.

Joyce Jarek Mihalik is a business leader in the real estate industry, creator of HlpSum1, Inc., and author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates. To purchase, visit www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html

#Graduation2015 – What’s next for #Career and #Worklife

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Over the last few months, many college grads have been posting about final exams and graduation celebrations on Instagram and Twitter, and I have celebrated along with you! I recognize mixed feelings across the country   Some of you are relieved, others are thankful and mostly everyone is excited about the future although they realize that they face uncertainty.   Now the work years are looming ahead. It is a daunting thought after seeing parents and grandparents work for a lifespan, often not retiring until 40 to 50 years later. The workplace can be a difficult place to navigate and many of you will start with limited experience.  I’ve created tips and  tools about how to approach the workplace, get to know coworkers and control your personal performance. This blog prepares you for the workforce. I also suggest picking up my book on Amazon called First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates and begin now to absorb this easy read. www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html  In the meantime,  here are three pieces of advice that I can give you today after you receive that diploma.

ONE – Don’t crash into your workplace reality with a feeling of doom.  Student loan payments, monotony and boredom are the largest frustrations I see for college graduates.  Like a postgraduate degree, your first job is another 2 to 3 year growth experience. It is not the rest of your life.  This is still a tremendous opportunity to grow and learn, test your ability to perform and evaluate if your major was a good fit after all.

TWO – Get some financial advice. I suggest adopting a frugal mentality your first year.  Building up some savings and paying down debt will have more impact on your financial health 20 years from now than you realize. Take pride in what you can save and how you could conservatively approach expenses like cars, eating out and apartment furnishings.

THREE – Although you will miss your old friends at college, take this opportunity to seek out new friendships.   Relationships built early will lead to these colleagues endorsing and supporting you in any work situation. Your work friends become allies and as your career progresses, you will need this support network to survive changes in the economy and changes in management.

I congratulate you for all of your accomplishments!  Keep in touch with this blog and let us know what your are experiencing.

Best Regards,

Joyce Jarek

#Career Thanksgiving Therapy for #postgradlife & #cubiclelife dwellers

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Having Black Friday off without having to take a personal day is one of the many things in corporate life that I am grateful for. Please “Like” this post and raise your thumb if you need a four day weekend – RIGHT NOW!

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Get ready, Launch, Gain Momentum, Pull Ahead

In my book First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates, I dedicated a section on keeping fresh at work.  In the self-help world, many will refer to this as work-life balance.  Many of us with competing priorities are frantically trying to live up to this standard and believing that it must be possible since so many refer to it.

Truth exposed – there rarely is harmonized balance between work life and personal life.  At any given point, work will win, family will win, or you will win!  And something will lose.  Thanksgiving weekend is when work loses.  The six million people that will board planes, trains and automobiles today are fleeing quickly, while “work”  awaits Monday in darkness, cold and stillness.  Don’t you feel better already with that imagery in mind?  Relax – you aren’t getting any farther behind and no one is  getting ahead of you this weekend since everyone is gone!

You can’t do everything well all at once.  This weekend is Thanksgiving Therapy for you and your family, but work or school must be prioritized next week.  You will need  to think about wrapping up year-end goals and hit it hard for the next two weeks before holiday joy sets in again.  Your personal life may lose for awhile.  Work isn’t a coast to the year end finish line – there will be a slight up hill climb to December 31, so give it a little thought today as you depart – commit to the sprint over the next two weeks before you begin to coast.

Here are some ways to make work lose this holiday weekend.

Wednesday – quiet catch up with your closest family members whom you haven’t seen for awhile.  Take someone aside for a coffee or a beer, be sincere, be loving, be real about what you are dealing with and anxious to learn about them.

Thursday – on this meat-filled holiday, absorb yourself into family and friends, and veg out on the couch.  After cooking and cleaning up – try doing nothing.

Friday – SHOP!   Give in to the madness!  But buy at least one thing that will center you as you sprint the next two weeks.  Some new tunes, a new coffee mug, a tablet?  Work is still losing – but there is just a hint of focus coming on.

Saturday – plan today something fun and different for Saturday.  What is the one thing you will talk about Monday over the cubicle wall when your coworker asks the ritualistic Monday Question – “What did you do this weekend?”

Sunday – Safe travels everyone, get home early, get quiet, get ready.

I wish you a blessed and safe holiday weekend and for the workforce who doesn’t receive time off because you are needed to make the world hum and buzz – I am thankful for you!

Joyce Jarek is the author of First Job: A Personal Career Guide for Graduates.  Pick up a copy as an early holiday gift for you through the link www.hlpsum1.com/first-job.html