10 Simple Steps to Immediately Improve Your Professional Life

You’ve started your first big job and you’re excited about what the future holds. You’ve gotten your bearings in your new office and you’ve settled into the routine that comes with new careers and now you’re trying to figure out what happens next. Even though things are going great, could they be going even better?

Whether your professional life is going great or things have taken a turn for the worse, everyone can use some tips on how to escalate their career and professional life to the next level. Jack Kelly, Forbes contributor and CEO of CompliancEX, recently shared 10 simple habits that can have an immediate positive effect on your career and professional life. See below to read what he had to say:

Decide what you want to do with your professional life

Instead of sleepwalking through the motions, give thought to where you are and the direction you want to go in your career. Map out a plan that will enable you to achieve this goal. Then, start taking baby steps—one at a time. Each and every day, work on this goal. Just like you shower, shave and brush your teeth everyday, spend time analyzing where you are in your journey toward a better future and take a step toward actually achieving it. Some days, the steps will feel like a run, others a jog and a wobbly stumble other times. It’s okay, as long as you have the daily habit to move forward.

Take care of yourself

You are a finely-tuned machine. Nurture and fuel this machine everyday. Eat right, exercise, read, meet new people and learn something new. You will get smarter, more confident and have the mental, emotional and physical strength to help you succeed. You will need this when times get tough—and things will always get tough. If you are mentally, emotionally and physically strong, then you will have the ability to power through the obstacles.

Try listening to people when they talk to you

It’s easy to become complacent and smug in your own thoughts and beliefs. It is important to open yourself to new ideas and suggestions. By being receptive to co-workers, managers and others, it will help you learn and grow instead of stagnating. If you remain closed off, people will get frustrated and tired of dealing with you. You will also be perceived as stubborn, unyielding, resistant to change, obstinate in your opinions and unyielding. Clearly, these traits are not highly desirable by management and are an anathema to career growth. Think of this; what’s the harm in being polite? Listen to people and consider their views and thoughts.

Always be open to new ideas

Similar to listening, remain open to new ideas, as they may unlock the keys to your success. You never know who will give you some amazing insights that will propel your career forward. There is no need to have all the answers. There are so many bright people out there that could always offer something new and useful.

Don’t hate the haters and become a hater yourself

Life is way too short to spend it hating on others. Unfortunately, there will always be a large supply of people at work that are happy to see you fail. Some will go as far as attempting to sabotage your career. People will engage in nefarious types of corporate politics and duplicity. It can be easy to fall into playing this game and try to exact revenge against others. Avoid this temptation and focus on your daily habits. It’s useless to expend precious time trying to fight wars with co-workers, you’ll just drag yourself down in the mud with them.

Seek out mentors and peer groups to network with

You don’t have to do everything on your own. There are many smart and experienced people that would love to share their knowledge with a protégé. Seek out these folks as mentors who can share their accumulated knowledge and wisdom with you. These good-natured people take pleasure in imparting their knowledge with others. Then, down the road, pay it forward. If someone comes to you for advice, let them become your protégé. Also, try to seek out peers to network with and learn from. It is mentally, emotionally and spiritually helpful to surround yourself by like-minded people intent on improving themselves and growing their careers.

Keep your word

If you say something, remember to follow through and deliver. When you promise to get a project done by a certain time, make sure it is accomplished sooner than the projected date. A good rule of thumb is to under-promise and over-deliver. Exceed expectations and come in under budget. You want to be the person whom everyone can rely on to be trusted.

Stop comparing yourself to others

It is tempting to look at someone you went to high school or college with who is now a huge success and then compare yourself to that person. It’s a bad habit and trap to fall into. It will make you feel bad about yourself and crush your self esteem. Instead, be happy for their success and focus your energies on how you will build your own path.

Remember to share the credit

If you constantly steal the credit and hog the spotlight, nobody will want to work with you. Alternatively, when you share and spread around the success, everyone will want to partner with you.

Remain positive with everyone 

Most people trudge along acting surly, angry and ticked-off. These unhappy folks don’t even try to hide their negative feelings. Some people are actually proud to complain aloud about how overworked, unhappy, mistreated and aggravated they are. You need to do the exact opposite. It’s so simple; smile and be nice with everyone you come in contact with. Extend a compliment, offer a pat on the back and recognize a co-worker’s contribution. This doesn’t cost anything and these small little interactions will make the you the person that others want to be around.

To read the full blog on Forbes.com, click the link: https://bit.ly/2wQYSWH

From crunching numbers to helping people – Maranda Maynard, ARH Scholar

Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Scholars have a deep, long lasting passion for the medical field, even if sometimes it’s realized a bit later in life. Maranda Maynard’s family consists of a long line of medical professionals, and she says she always kind of knew she would end up in that field as well. Her grandmother retired from ARH in 1990 where she worked as a surgical technician.

“I think [interest in the medical field] runs in the family because my grandmother was a surgical technician for years,” Maranda says. “My mother is a circulating registered nurse in the OR and so I think it was almost inevitable. I shied away from it to try to do my own thing, but I didn’t like the corporate cubicle world.”

Before entering nursing school, Maranda earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. She worked for Community Trust Bank in the internal audit department for a little over a year before deciding to take a different path.

“I was 17 when I graduated high school and it’s hard to decide what you wanna do for the rest of your life,” Maranda says. “That’s when I was like, well what else am I going to do? I love math because no matter what country you’re in or language you speak math is math, it’s always going to come out the same. So I was like, ‘I like math so I’ll do accounting because I’m good with numbers,’ I didn’t job shadow first…I guess I just wanted to take the easier path instead of thinking about what I really wanted to do long term.”

Maranda will graduate with her Associate’s Degree in nursing in May of 2019 and she plans on attending the University of Pikeville to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Eventually she plans to earn her CRNA license and become a Nurse Anesthetist.

Maranda was one of the 11 finalists chosen among 72 ARH Scholars applicants. As an ARH Scholar, she will receive a financial reward of $5,000 toward tuition and living expenses while pursuing her nursing degree.

“I was absolutely elated [when I heard I was an ARH Scholar]!” Maranda says. “That is a huge weight off my shoulders, and a huge burden lifted.”

ARH is proud to support further education in the ARH communities and offer an opportunity these students may not otherwise receive.

“The competition was very intense,” explained Christopher Johnson, System Director of Employee and Labor Relations at ARH. “We are pleased to offer these awards in an effort to encourage individuals to pursue higher education.”

Maranda is excited to focus on making a difference in her community through a career she is truly passionate about.

“It’s been a long road to get here, but I think I’m finally where I’m supposed to be with nursing,” Maranda says. “When I worked in internal audit, I couldn’t handle sitting in front of the computer for eight hours a day…we didn’t get to work with customers or anything and I remember asking myself every day, ‘what difference am I making in someone’s life and in the world?’ When I decided to do nursing it just kind of checked all of my boxes. I’m up on my feet, I’m hands on, there’s that human interaction, and I’m in the position to make someone’s day better emotionally, physically, spiritually – just holistically.”

Maranda is extremely thankful for the opportunity to be an ARH Scholar and she is excited to finally work in a field where she feels she can make a difference every single day.

“[ARH Scholars has] made a world of difference for me,” Maranda says. “My stress level has been lessened significantly just knowing that I have a little bit of help for this final year of school. It takes my worry away from how I’m going to afford this so I can just focus on my studies and being the best student I can be.”

Story Published in Appalachian News-Express

Matt Williams - ARH Scholars Winner | Spring 2018

ARH Scholar employed in McDowell

Recently Matt Williams’ life has been a whirlwind of excitement. First he heard the news that he had been named a 2018 Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Scholar, he was then hired as a nurse extern for McDowell ARH.

As an ARH Scholar, Matt will receive a financial reward of $5,000 toward tuition and living expenses while finishing his associate’s degree in nursing at Big Sandy Community and Technical College. He plans to continue his education to receive his bachelor’s degree in nursing and eventually his master’s degree.

“I feel like ARH overall in the last two months has impacted my life in a way outside of healthcare tremendously,” Matt says. “Things would be very different if I hadn’t received this scholarship and if I hadn’t received this job through them.”

Matt’s interest in the medical field, specifically Biology, started at a young age.

“I’ve been interested in [the medical field] really since 6th grade,” Matt says. “I had a teacher who introduced all of us to biology and there was a lot of emphasis on human anatomy. This interest has carried on throughout my entire life.”

Matt has experience in various fields including insurance and construction. He spent a portion of his life watching and working for his father’s construction and excavation business where he says he learned to have a good work ethic.

Before pursuing nursing, Matt gained a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Morehead State University. After graduation, Matt began working outside of the medical field, but ultimately followed his passion deciding to pursue a nursing degree.

“I think my life developments and the things I’ve done, even though they may not be medical, have really prepared me to be a great nurse rather than just coming straight out of high school and becoming a nurse,” Matt says. “I would have missed out on a lot of personal development. I really feel like my life events have built me up to make me uniquely capable of taking care of people.”

While Matt is unsure of the ultimate career path he will take, he is excited to begin working at ARH. The experience of working in a hospital every day will allow him to learn what area he would like to focus on and where his passion lies.

“I’m absolutely thrilled because I’ll get all of these opportunities to practice my skills…I don’t have any experience as a nurse aid or really any medical experience other than volunteering and clinicals. I felt like at 34 years old it was really important that I be ready to hit the ground running when I graduate,” Matt says.

Matt is excited for this journey with ARH and says he is very grateful for such a wonderful opportunity.

“I recommend other students look into the opportunities ARH offers, whether it be for employment or a scholarship or anything else,” Matt says. “They’re really great for the area. I think things would be very different without them.”

Story Published in Floyd County Chronicle & Times

8 Values You Should Communicate In Every Job Interview

Interviewing is an inevitable step in every job hunt, so you need to make sure that you’re communicating the things that are going to make you valuable to your potential organization. Forbes recently published an article about the 8 values you need to make sure you’re communicating in your job interview that make you seem like a valuable prospect and we think it’s worth a read.

Forbes contributors David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom weigh in on these 8 values and communicate why they are important and why your interview panel is looking for them. Read the full blog below!

“I’ve had three unsolicited job offers in the past week,” Bridgette told us last week.

“I wasn’t expecting any of this. And, I haven’t updated my resume in nearly five years. And, I don’t know what to say in an interview. Am I basically thanking them for considering me?”

Those are great questions—especially when a company is trying to entice you to leave your current role. However, even though there’s a talent shortage, now isn’t the time to slack and assume companies will hire just anyone. Sure, they may have heard great things about you from a former coworker. They might have culled through your LinkedIn profile. And, they might already be sold on your existing resume and experience. But, they still want to know if you align on values.

When and if you respond to these recruiters or hiring managers, it’s still worth your effort to shine. Here are the top eight values we’ve found hiring managers are looking to find in new employees.

  • Loyalty: It may feel a little hypocritical to claim your loyalty to one organization as you express interest in a new opportunity. And, it’s okay to express it in a cover letter or phone interview. Tell the hiring manager that you don’t want to leave your current company, but you promised yourself you’d never close yourself off from opportunity.
  • Unique Contribution: Recall the aspects of your work results that only you could create. Maybe you offer value beyond the job description that very few, if any, can offer. Communicate these aspects—unique networks, special skills, work experience that may benefit the company, even if doesn’t typically fall into the job category.
  • Growth Mindset: It might not be the first thing you consider when communicating with a new company, but leaders are focused on the future of the organization, and seek people who are interested in growing inside the company. Try to keep your communication less focused on your personal growth (I want to be earning xyz amount in so many years) and instead focus on your growth on how you can help the company grow.
  • Self-motivation: While it’s easy to say you’re self-motivated, it’s a game changer if you can show it to a potential employer. Think about what you might be able to do for organization before they hire you. For example, if you work in social media, write a blog post. If you work in sales, make a beneficial introduction. You may never get paid for your effort, but you’re surely catch the attention of the company.
  • Honesty: Don’t lie to a potential employer. Ever. If they ever find out you’ve lied about a seemingly simple detail, they’ll start to question everything about you.
  • Positivity: Having sat across the table from potential hires, we’ve both been shocked by how some people believe complaining and negativity might be an attractive quality. We understand that while writing a cover letter, talking on a phone interview, or a face-to-face interview might make you nervous, it’s important to ignore those thoughts that say, “Oh, if I mess up, I’m doomed for life.” Be yourself. Use your unique voice. Be positive.
  • Dependability: How do you prove to a potential employer that you’re dependable before you have a job? That’s a good question because dependability is more than just showing up on time and sticking with a company for a while. Dependability also means doing what you say you’ll do. Promise to follow up with an employer in a unique way. Be precise, and follow through with that precision.
  • Team-Oriented: While a cover letter’s purpose is primarily to focus on your skills, talents, and values, hiring managers also want to know that you’re a great team player. Show this by communicating the appreciation you have for others who have helped you get to where you are today. Talk about current or former bosses and peers you’ve worked with in a positive way. Show your potential employer that you recognize strengths in others.

It’s true. Maybe in today’s job market—where companies are competing for and chasing down the best talent—you don’t have to try your best during the recruitment process. But, we like to think, in any endeavor—that you get back whatever you give. Show your values. Put your best foot forward. And, good luck.

Click the link to read David & Todd’s full blog on Forbes.com: https://bit.ly/2O3oJle

KayleeFannin_ARHScholars

Kaylee Fannin Named ARH Scholar

2018 ARH Scholar Kaylee Fannin has a long history with Appalachian Regional Healthcare—she was born at Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center in South Williamson.

“I love ARH hospitals,” Kaylee says. “I was born there, and several times when I was growing up I’d fall and twist my ankle and I’d go there to get an x-ray because I thought my ankle was broken. They were always nice and I was never scared to go…It has just always been a part of my life.”

She grew up in Phelps, Kentucky, and recently graduated from Phelps High School this June. As a student she had the opportunity to attend an early college academy through Pike County Schools where she first learned about ARH Scholars. Little did she know, she would learn of her acceptance into the program on one of the most exciting nights of her high school career.

“I was actually at my senior prom when I got an email saying congratulations!” Kaylee says. “I looked at my boyfriend and I was like, ‘Am I reading this right? Am I really a finalist for this? Did I really win it?’ I was so excited and shocked, I messaged my mom immediately and was like, ‘Momma I really won this scholarship!’ Because when we applied I didn’t really know if I had a chance at it.”

As an ARH Scholar, Kaylee will receive a financial reward of $5,000 toward tuition and living expenses while beginning her college career pursuing a degree in Biology at the University of Pikeville. Her goal is to ultimately become an optometrist and help children who have eye sight issues similar to those she dealt with as a child.

“I always grew up saying I wanted to be a doctor, but I didn’t really know what kind,” Kaylee says. “I went back and forth between being a dentist or an eye doctor. Then I talked about optometry for a long time…because my entire life I’ve had eye issues and constantly had to go to the eye doctor and get my eyes checked, so I kind of relate to that. I just want to be able to help people deal with something that I grew up dealing with myself.”

Kaylee received her first pair of glasses in fourth grade and upgraded to contacts in sixth grade.

“I went for a little while before I realized that I had an eye issue, but once my mom found out she took me [to the optometrist],” Kaylee says. “I noticed it myself…because I was having trouble seeing the board and things like that…but just never said anything about it because I was scared to get glasses.”

Kaylee plans to attend the Kentucky College of Optometry at the University of Pikeville and ultimately work in pediatric optometry. She hopes to have the opportunity to work with the school system to offer free eye exams to students in hopes that she can detect any eye issues they may be suffering from.

Kaylee is one of the eleven 2018 ARH Scholars chosen among 72 applicants.

“The competition was very intense,” explained Christopher Johnson, System Director Employee and Labor Relations at ARH. “We are pleased to offer these awards in an effort to encourage individuals to pursue higher education.”

“I feel so blessed to be accepted into [ARH Scholars],” Kaylee says. “I really didn’t know if I had a shot at it so I was super excited to be accepted.”

Story Published in Appalachian News-Express Staff Report

ARH Helps Blake Burke Bring Passion for Sports & Caring for Others Full Circle

Blake Burke is a recent graduate of Shelby Valley High School whose love of sports inspired him to pursue a career in Physical Therapy. Blake is one of the 11 students throughout the 12 ARH communities named a 2018 Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Scholar.

“The scholarships are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson, ARH Scholars Coordinator. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The Scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school.  One is payable after verification and the other is paid the following year. For this round, we had 72 applicants with 11 finalists awarded.”

As an ARH Scholar, Blake will receive a financial reward of $5,000 toward tuition and living expenses while beginning his college career pursuing a degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Business at Morehead State University. His goal is to ultimately become a physical therapist.

“I’m very grateful,” Blake says. “Any money is good money when it comes to college nowadays…I was pretty excited about it. It’s a great opportunity, especially for people who are going into the medical field. It relates to what I’m doing, it’s great for the community, and it’s a very good helping hand for people who are going into college.”

As an athlete playing basketball, football and baseball throughout his life, Blake can’t imagine not having the ability to walk or run. He has witnessed his grandmother go through physical therapy after having a stroke, an event he says really sparked his interest in the field.

“When I became a freshman in high school I knew I had to pick a career and at first I was interested in engineering, but I kind of realized that wasn’t for me,” Blake says. “My grandmother had a stroke a couple of years ago. She was also diagnosed with cancer right about that time. She went through physical therapy after the stroke and chemo therapy which made her 10 times as weak. I got to see a pretty good group of physical therapists work with her and rehabilitate her and I just wanted to be a part of that because I’ve been on the receiving end. I saw how she had to go through it and I really want to be able to help people with that. There are people who go through that every day.”

After completing his undergraduate degree, Blake plans to attend physical therapy school at the University of Kentucky. Ultimately, he would love to open his own private physical therapy practice.

“I just like to help people,” Blake says. “I understand it’s hard. Physical Therapy is not something that can happen over night. I just want to help people go from completely not being able to walk or do an action to being able to fully do it without help. I just want to be one of those people.”

Story Published in Appalachian News-Express Staff Report

Elizabeth Jones

Elizabeth Jones named an ARH Scholar

Elizabeth Jones is a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) at the Mary Breckinridge ARH hospital and one of the most recent ARH Scholars. After previously applying for the program, Elizabeth was ecstatic to learn she had been named a Spring 2018 ARH Scholar. Among 72 applicants throughout the 12 ARH communities, Elizabeth was one of the 11 scholarship recipients for this round.

“Oh my gosh!” Elizabeth says. “I cried for 30 minutes [when I found out I was an ARH Scholar], I was so happy. It’s been really hard trying to work and go to school and pay for school so it’s one less thing to have to worry and stress about.”

“The competition was very intense,” explains Christopher Johnson, System Director of Employee and Labor Relations at ARH. “We are pleased to offer these awards in an effort to encourage individuals to pursue higher education.”

As an ARH Scholar, Elizabeth will receive a financial reward of $5,000 toward tuition and living expenses while pursuing her nursing degree at Galen College of Nursing. She began the program in July of 2017 and will graduate this December as a Registered Nurse (RN).

Elizabeth grew up in Hazard and has been married to her husband, Charlie Jones, for 22 years. She has three children, one of which is also pursuing a nursing degree. Elizabeth’s passion for nursing was sparked at a young age, and in 2004, she began her career as an LPN working for a long-term nursing facility. In 2005, she joined the ARH family where she has worked ever since.

“I have always loved taking care of people,” Elizabeth says. “Even when I was little, if my mom or someone got sick I wanted to take care of them. It was just always something I wanted to do.”

Elizabeth’s favorite part of being a nurse is the impact she is able to make every day through her job. She is present for patients’ best and worst days and she is proud to offer the best care possible regardless of the situation.

Elizabeth is excited to further develop her skills to become an RN and continue caring for her community. She plans to stay with Mary Breckinridge after receiving her RN license to continue the good work she is doing in her local community.

“I love working at Mary Breckinridge,” Elizabeth says. “Everyone I work with genuinely cares about the patients and what is best for them. It’s not just a job to us. It’s hard to find an entire team of people with the same goal, but we all work together like family. It’s a small hospital and they need help, so I want to stay there and try to do the best I can for the patients in that area. [I want to] save lives. It’s amazing how many lives you touch when you’re in this field. If you can’t save them, at least be there for them when they go.”

Elizabeth is excited to continue her journey with ARH as both an ARH Scholar and Registered Nurse.

Story Published in Hazard Herald Staff Report

Nurse Hatton Reporting for Duty

McKinnlee Hatton – football player, musician and most importantly, future nurse – has been named a 2018 Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Scholar.

He grew up in Clay County and is a recent graduate of Clay County High School, where he played football as a left tackle on the offensive line. He says he loves spending his free time playing any instrument with strings and volunteers playing music at the local nursing home with his church, Turkey Foot Pentecostal.

McKinnlee’s interest in the medical field came after a traumatic experience when he was four-years-old.

“As a young kid, I hemorrhaged from a tonsillectomy and if it wasn’t for the doctors and nurses I probably wouldn’t be here today,” McKinnlee says. “I just want to help people and what really sparked it all was being a survivor because of the nurses and doctors.”

He was overwhelmed and happy after learning he had been named one of the 11 Spring 2018 ARH Scholars selected as winners. He was one of 72 student applicants entering the medical field from the 12 ARH communities chosen to participate in the program. As an ARH Scholar, McKinnlee will receive a financial reward of $5,000 toward tuition and living expenses while beginning his college career pursuing a degree in Nursing at Kentucky Christian University in the fall. His goal is to become a nurse offering the same kind of outstanding care as he received as a child.

“The competition was very intense,” explained Christopher Johnson, System Director of Employee and Labor Relations at ARH. “We are pleased to offer these awards in an effort to encourage individuals to pursue higher education.”

“The scholarships are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson, ARH Scholars Coordinator. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school.  One is payable after verification and the other is paid the following year.”

After completing his undergraduate degree, McKinnlee plans to pursue his Master’s Degree in Nursing and ultimately become a nurse practitioner.

“I want to be a role model for people,” McKinnlee says. “I just want to help others and to show how to be courageous and a good Christian person to other people.”

McKinnlee is excited to begin his college career, making him one step closer to fulfilling his dream of becoming a nurse and bettering his community.

Story published in The Manchester Enterprise

Skyler Richmond

Skyler Richmond Makes Strides Toward her Goal of Becoming an Osteopathic Doctor

Skyler Richmond has an innate ability to help people and loves to volunteer her time making others’ lives better. As a student and recent graduate of Summers County High School, Skyler volunteered with her school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and Beta club as well as an organization called the Yummy Bags Ministry, where she packed bags of food for children in need.

In addition to volunteering her time to help her community, Skyler graduated as valedictorian of her senior class. She maintained a 4.0 GPA from her first year of high school through graduation.

Her passion for helping people translates into her interest in the medical field. She plans to attend West Virginia University’s Institute of Technology in the fall to pursue a major in Biology. As an ARH Scholar, Skyler will receive a financial reward of $5,000 toward tuition and living expenses.

“I’ve always been interested in biology and sciences,” Skyler says. “I just really like to help people and that’s one of the most hands-on ways you can help people is through the medical field.”

After completing her undergraduate degree at WVU, Skyler plans to enter the Green Coat Program at the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Her goal is to ultimately become an osteopathic doctor and eventually a fetal surgeon helping women with reproductive health, delivering babies and achieving full-term delivery.

“I would just like to change the whole world of reproductive health and the birthing process because there are so many issues with it already…to make it seamless if that’s in any way possible,” Skyler says.

Skyler is one of 11 Spring 2018 ARH Scholars selected among 72 applicants from the 12 ARH communities throughout West Virginia and Kentucky.

“The scholarships are selected by the ARH Scholars Judging Committee,” says Danya Anderson, ARH Scholars Coordinator. “Once I receive the applications, I prepare them to be sent to the committee by making them a ‘blind’ application, which makes it fair for each applicant. The scholars award is paid in two installments of $2,500 directly to the school.  One payable after verification and the other is paid the following year. For this round, we had 72 applicants with 11 finalists awarded.”

Skyler is ecstatic to be named a 2018 ARH Scholar and is eager to begin her college career in the fall.

Story published in The Hinton News

Maximize Your Career Options With One Easy Step

When you’re job-hunting, you want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of every possible situation that could lead to a potential professional connection. This means that there is no real down time when looking for a job. Whether you’re at a coffee shop, at a cookout with friends or even a night out on the town, you’re always networking.

Forbes.com tapped published author and industry leader Dawn Graham, PhD, LP for her thoughts on how to make sure you’re maximizing your career options and she had one incredible tip to share.

Summer is made for being outdoors – BBQing with friends, running into neighbors, attending little league games, and casual conversations at the dog park.

While many discussions revolve around the latest heat wave or our kids’ summer camp escapades, these informal meetings offer a huge opportunity to positively influence our careers and the careers of those around us. Yet, most of us will miss it.

Here’s a test:

Can the people you interact with regularly – your neighbor, second cousin, the outgoing German Shepherd owner, your beloved hair stylist, or fellow book club members – verbalize what you do for a living in a sentence or two in a way that sells your value to others?

I’m not talking about the company where you work or a generic job title, but rather, can the people with whom you have an established (or at least baseline) relationship specifically relay the value you bring to your industry?

The truth is that many of the people closest to us, the ones we feel comfortable talking to and in many cases the ones invested in our success, don’t really know or understand what we do for a living. This means they’re unable to spot or relay opportunities that might be a match for our expertise. Also, we’re unlikely to be able to do the same for them.

Even if you’re not looking for a job in the moment, building a network of like-minded people can be very beneficial to your long-term career. Statistics point to the fact that you’ll be in a job search at some point in the next few years, and if the people you feel most comfortable around don’t know your professional value, they can’t help you.

Don’t wait until you need ambassadors to start creating them. While you don’t need to turn every summer social gathering or soccer practice sideline conversation into a business meeting, here’s what you can do now:

  1. Learn about your contact’s work. Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve been having conversations with someone for a while and don’t know specifically what they do. This is the entire point of this article – it’s pretty common. Simply say, “I’m sorry – I feel like I should have asked this earlier, but I really don’t know what you do at the firm downtown.” It will be rare that someone mistakes your interest as prying, so don’t psych yourself out.
  2. Share what you do in layman’s terms. Reciprocate and avoid using titles or industry phrases that may be meaningless to others. You may assume everyone knows what a programmer does, but your goal is to give someone the language to potentially sell your value, or at least be able to explain your role to another person. Sometimes an example goes a long way to opening the door to a great discussion (e.g., “Do you know those annoying pop ups that cover the screen when you’re trying to read a Facebook post? I program a software that removes them from commercial websites.”).
  3. Identify commonalities. Chances are there is some overlap in the people you know, vendors you use, places you travel, perks you receive or something else. The more you engage, the more likely you are to discover these similarities, which builds trust and possibly opens the door to new introductions for one or both of you.
  4. Ask about their future career goals. Since the average tenure in a role is about 4.2 years, it’s likely your contact will have some ideas about her next career move. Listen for opportunities where you might be able to assist with information, introductions or other ideas and support. If you can’t right now, make a mental note so that you can be helpful when the timing is right.
  5. Share your future career goals. Even if still hazy, confiding your plans in another can both motivate you to more forward and also might inspire a conversation that helps you to clarify your goals. Often we get stuck in our heads, spinning about the possible paths, so this could be an opportunity to both convey your intentions, while getting some objective feedback. People who aren’t in a similar profession can ask questions that others hadn’t thought to, which may enable you to see new possibilities.
  6. If the opportunity arises, take action. In some cases, you might learn about a way you can help a contact straight away. Don’t wait for the ask – many are uncomfortable being vulnerable and may shy away from being assertive or may not know what to ask for. Offer to help, perhaps more than once. If you’ve only been talking about casual topics up to this point, your contact may not want to inconvenience you, so be the first to speak up.
  7. Check in on occasion. While not every future conversation needs to turn back to business, make it a point to ask how things are progressing and what has changed. It’s tempting at social gatherings, sports events, or Happy Hour to steer the conversation to non-work topics since we’re trying to detach. That’s fine, but periodical check-in’s will open many doors for you and your network.

Many professionals dislike networking in a job search. That’s because it’s not meant to be a transactional activity in your job search checklist. Networking is about building relationships, consciously and constantly, so they’re there when you need them. It’s also about helping others to achieve their goals, which you can’t do unless you understand clearly what those goals are.

These seven steps can literally be completed in 10 minutes, or you may find that the conversations continue naturally over several meetings. If you don’t take the first step, you’ll never know.

And if the voice in your head says, “Yeah, but what if…he’s unemployed, she hates her job, it’s an industry I don’t understand, he should already know this…” – stop. Don’t let your discomfort dissuade you from having the conversation. The only way to build a relationship is to remain open to being vulnerable. And, many professionals’ careers are intertwined with their identities, so it’s flattering when others take an interest at a deeper level.

If you’re ready to open up your options to the 80% of jobs that can’t be found online, this is your ticket.

Happy hunting!

Click the link to read Dr. Dawn Graham’s original article on Forbes: https://bit.ly/2KJ9foF