This writer managed to snag an interview with LinkedIn’s resident career expert, Nicole Williams. In conjunction with being LinkedIn’s Career Expert, Nicole Williams is the bestselling author of “Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success,” and Secret’s Career Confidence Coach. Nicole’s resume further includes two other books, a place on Forbes’s Top 10 Career Websites for Women, and is a regular guest career expert on GMA, CNN and Today. Ready for the answers on how to navigate some of the most daunting aspects of your career? Well … read on!
Yvonne P. Mazzulo: When you’re just starting out in your career, what’s the best way to network?
Nicole Williams: Many young women think of networking as a dirty word, when in fact it’s just all about getting to know others and building relationships. Don’t get caught up in, “I need to get everything out there in five minutes” or that networking has to happen at the office or at a networking-specific event. Networking is a two way street, founded upon a real conversation. Build an arsenal of get-to-know-you questions ranging from “where are you from” to “what’s your favorite part of your job;” people love to talk about themselves and once you establish who they are and what you have in common, the conversation will flow more naturally. When you network at the dog park or coffee shop start with, “What a beautiful day” or “What breed is your dog?”
YPM: Companies may receive 1000s of applicants for one position and interviews can be difficult to land. What advice can you give to land the interview?
NW: It really can be a black hole out there for resumes so my suggestion is always to try and find a connection. Take a look at the companies and people you would like to work for on LinkedIn. Are you 2nd or 3rd tier connected (who knew that your uncle worked for IBM and is connected with the VP of Marketing) and or do you have an affinity ie: you went to the same college. If you don’t have a connection learn everything you can about the company and target your resume – use the same language the company does to describe your experiences and skills.
YPM: How can you turn an internship into a job offer?
NW: Think of your internship as an audition. I meet so many young women who go through their internship with the attitude of, “This isn’t what I want to do anyway” so they don’t perform to their full potential. No matter what the position and regardless of what you’re getting paid (or not getting paid), perform as if your career depended on it … it just might!
YPM: First impressions are everything, what are your top three dos and don’ts for that first meeting?
- Do a trial run and video record it: Have a friend or family member tape you answering a few classic interview questions while they or someone else records you on their phone. It’s so helpful to be able to look at yourself objectively. Is that the most flattering outfit? Does it ride up too high or does the blouse gap and expose your bra. Do you have a white mark on your dress from deodorant? These are things you want to know going into the meeting. And one thing you really don’t want to worry about is how you smell. Secret partnered with the authorities in taste & smell research (Monell Chemical Senses Center) on a recently published peer-reviewed study that revealed stress sweat odor causes people to negatively judge women’s confidence, competence and trustworthiness – perceptions we can’t afford to underestimate in crucial career moments and first impression meetings. That’s why I love the new Clear Gel form of the Secret Clinical Strength Collection (available now on Secret Store, along with more of my career confidence advice) to protect against stress sweat odor and white marks, to keep you feeling 100% confident.
- Do your research: Before the meeting, go on LinkedIn and check out the profile of the person you are meeting. You will make a great impression by knowing where they went to school or where they worked previously. Your interest and knowledge will come off as professional and flattering.
- Don’t focus on you: Be prepared with an arsenal of get-to-know-you questions. One of the ways you make the most favorable first impression is to focus on them … not you.
YPM: What’s the best way to ask for a raise?
NW: This isn’t a conversation you want to have on the fly. Schedule a time to sit down to discuss your performance – this also gives them a heads-up regarding what the conversation is going to entail so they can prepare. Before the meeting do your research. The primary thing you need to understand is the revenue model of the company you are working for and how your efforts have specifically contributed to the company’s bottom line. Money trades for money and if you want more, you need to explain how your efforts contribute to the company revenue.
YPM: How do you handle a difficult boss?
NW: It’s a tough one. If they are difficult because they are tough/hard on you, think of all the advantages that come with it in terms of learning and experience. This boss may see potential in you that you don’t and is pushing you to your limits to your advantage. If it’s simply a bad boss (to clarify, not abusive) find someone else to mentor with and learn from and take notes on what you won’t do when you become the boss.
YPM: How do you handle a difficult coworker?
NW: You can take one of two approaches. If the behavior is just annoying, move away from the problem as much as possible. Make it clear when they come to complain at your desk that you’re working and don’t have time to chat. If this person is demonstrating bully-like tactics you need to address it head-on. Tell them you don’t appreciate whatever it is that they are doing and just like in the schoolyard, they are going to move on to an easier target. If after attempting to address the issue yourself, and if this coworker is impacting your professional performance, take it to your boss.
YPM: What advice can you give for the work/life balance?
- Have a solid sense of priority so that when you are faced with a myriad of options to do, you know clearly where to invest your time.
- Focus on what you are doing. When you are at work, dig in and expect that your childcare will call if there is an emergency and vice versa, when you are with your child focus on them.
- Delegate. Be realistic about what you need to do and what you don’t need to do. For a lot of us it’s a matter of loosening the reigns of control in our personal and professional life and trusting the contribution of others. Also consider ways to tap into help to maximize your time in a certain area; it may be in your best interest to spend extra time on your project and hire someone else to clean the house.
YPM: What advice can you offer to women re-entering the workplace?
NW: Learn how to translate the work you did while taking care of your family into business-like terms. If you raised $10,000 at the annual school fundraiser, it’s worth mentioning.
For more expert career advice, visit Nicole’s website. Note: A very special thank you to Nicole Williams for taking the time answer questions and share her priceless advice.