Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Top 5 Most Employable Skills for Today's Job Market

The holiday season is upon us and if you do not already have a job, you will be looking for one, and if you have a job already, you may be looking to pick up a part time job. Believe me, employers want to hire you but they also want to make their businesses more productive!

I am looking for a position that will eventually be a career but while I am in school, it is more practical for me to look for a position that is part-time or that has a flexible scheduling, that limits my options.

Here's the big question we are all searching for the answer to....

How does one stand out among such a huge pool of jobseekers?

The top five most employable skills a jobseeker can have today may surprise you!

Top Five Most Employable Skills for Success

1. Communication - 
Written and verbal communication is highly important to employers, that's why I have it listed as numero uno! A company wants to make sure you will represent them well whether you are writing an email, on the telephone or addressing others in person. I suggest a course or a group dedicated to public speaking, I am attending my first Toastmasters meeting this Thursday to hone my skills. For written communication, I would suggest becoming friends with a local professor in your field and asking them for small written assignments that will allow you to practice writing concisely.

Toastmasters International

2. Basic Accounting - 

Every company has a bottom line! It is important that you are able to comprehend how the company works to achieve it's bottom line and if you can suggest ways to help them improve on it, they will love you for sure! One of the first courses you are required to take in most MBA programs is an Accounting course. Of course, there's a catch: Not every position will put you in front of the CFO, so use the same approach and apply it in theory if you are applying for an entry level position. You should be able to walk into any department at any level and give them one suggestion as to how they can improve on what they're doing.

3. Problem Solving - 
An employer is not looking to hire you if you are going to create problems for them, they want you to solve the ones that they already have! It is refreshing for an employer to hire someone who can think through an issue and find a way to resolve it effectively and efficiently. Being able to quickly identify the problem and use the information at hand to put forth a solution is what will separate those that want to be there from those that do not.

I know that I am trying to become more efficient in conducting a SWOT Analysis which identifies the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of anything. You can perform a SWOT Analysis on yourself or on a business/organization.
Here is a link from of a SWOT Template: SWOT Worksheet

4. Research and Critical Thinking - 
With the new internet savvy generation, research has become a lost art. Most of the resources that have been available in the hardcover books in the library are now available online. Knowing how to use the resources of the internet and the physical library to conduct accurate research is priceless to any employer, no matter what the position is. What makes research priceless is when it is applied to real situations that the company is experiencing. The keys are to separate relevant information from trivial, determine it's accuracy and relate it to other information that will ultimately result in Problem Solving.

5. Self-Management and Relaxation -
How you manage yourself implies how you will handle whatever position you are in and the responsibilities associated with it. A structured and disciplined lifestyle is attractive to most employers because it insinuates that you manage time well, that you make the most of the time you do allot for a task and that you are well organized.

Striking a good balance is what everyone would like to do in life and everyone's work-life balance is unique. I believe that it is most important to carve out time in your schedule to unwind and relax. You are the most important factor in the equation of success. Relaxation should act as a "reboot" for your week and refresh you so that you can continue to operate at the same level of excellence!

Question to the Reader:

What are some ways you work to improve yourselves and become more competitive jobseekers?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Driven to Succeed...But Why??

Greetings everyone!
There is a question I always like to ask myself...Why have I set goals for myself?

My conclusion is that my drive to succeed is not really for personal recognition it is for what others have sacrificed for me, to have the opportunities I do/did have. My great grandparents and my grandparents and parents all worked hard to achieve a little more than the last generation...this is what pushes me through the difficult days. 

I've noticed, the older I get, some people are just complacent with the life that they lead and do not have any desire for more. What is better to me, is not perceived as better to them. The need to live a certain lifestyle does not motivate them the way it motivates me...

People do things for different reasons: sometimes it's to prove to themselves and others that they can accomplish something, sometimes it's just for monetary gain or fame. Other people do things because it is purely what they want to do and others do things because their parents want them to do something else! 

I do not know if anything is wrong with being motivated the way I am but I do want to change my perspective. I would like to shift my motivation to working hard to be as Christ-like as I can be during my time on this earth but I still want to provide for my family members, present and future. 

My greatest accomplish, no matter what pushes my achievement, will be in the number of lives I have touched in a positive manner. All I want is for God and my family to be proud of me at the end of my days. 
To the readers:
  1. What drives your success?? 
  2. What motivates you on the really hard days?? 
  3. What do you want your legacy to be??

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fall Hairstyle Dilemma


For a large chunk of my life I have worn my hair naturally. I have had every style of braid and twist you can imagine and all before the age of fifteen. I first decided to relax my hair because I wanted the luxury of pulling my hair into a ponytail when I would workout or have a basketball game, it was never a decision to conform. By the time I entered college, I was ready to "go natural" again. I let my perm grow out while I wore micros/box braids. During college I wore box braids, cornrows, afros and even a dry press in the cooler months. Thank goodness my decisions were never made because my hair was unhealthy, it was just something I wanted to do.

I have always had a battle within myself over how to style my hair. My fear has been that natural hairstyles will not be accepted in a white collar environment. It may be my imagination but I have always felt like I was treated differently with a natural hairstyle as opposed to a relaxed style.

Natural hair was accepted at Spelman College (the best HBCU for black women!) but how acceptable will it really be on Wall Street?

Now, I am twenty-six years old and in business school. I am actively looking to start a career and build a brand for myself.
My dilemma...I want my hair to grow during the fall/winter season but I do not want to wear anymore braided styles!!

I hate the idea of wearing a weave but I do crave the length. My new mission is to nurture my chemically processed hair to promote growth. I am developing a new haircare routine that will include:
  • Plenty of moisture for my hair and scalp
  • Relaxers every 10-12 weeks
  • Flat ironing no more than 2-3 times a week
  • Washing 1-2 times a week.
  • The product line I will be using is Carol's Daughter because Lisa Price uses a lot of natural ingredients and all of the product reviews have been great! 
Carol's Daughter Website

Has anyone else felt like they were treated differently because of the way they decided to style their hair? How does your hairstyle reflect the environment you live and work in?

Check out this article:
Stop Apologizing for Being Black: Natural Hair in the Workplace

Check out these testimonials:
Natural Hair in Corporate America

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Versatile Blogger Nominees...

My Nominees Are...

The Versatile Blogger nomination has been bestowed upon me by Tai Nycole! The Versatile Blogger award goes to a fairly new blogger trying to make a difference. Tai Nycole of Stranded:A Healthy Hair Journey is a long time friend of mine and is a wonderfully insightful person!

In order to accept the Versatile Blogger Award, there are a few directions one must follow:
1. Nominate 15 bloggers who are relatively new to blogging. I'm listing 16 that I have become a fan of from being a #BLMGirl! 
2. Let the nominated bloggers know that they have been nominated.
3. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
4. Thank the blogger who has nominated you.
5. Add the Versatile Blogger Award picture to your post.

Here are my 16 bloggers that you need to follow:

1. Stranded: A Healthy Hair Journey

2. Fabellis
3. The Real Chocolette
4. Spoon Full of Sugar
5. Longing 4 Length
6. Beatrice Clay
7. Food Fashion & Flow

Now, this is the part where I share 7 random facts about myself...
1. I am just learning how to apply make-up and it's only because I was a tomboy for a long time and I am finally ready to break out of that.
2. Even though I am an '80's baby and I love hip hop, most of the time I prefer any jazz to rap. I guess I have an old soul.
3. My actual blogging is so inconsistent because there are so many topics I would love to write about - fashion isn't my thing so that will never be one of them.
4. I think the best reading comes from the Bible...Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth but compelling stories too!
5. Even though most view me as very mild mannered, my temper flares very seldom but when it does, I hate the person I am.
6. I secretly hope to have a career in performing arts later in life (acting or playing an instrument).
7. I am a coffee fanatic. It's my unhealthy addiction but I love it! The best gifts or gestures for me will always include coffee.

Even though I thanked her on Twitter at the time of the nomination, I would like to thank Tai Nycole for the generosity of her nomination! I promise to make you proud mama!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Wyndham Championship Golf Tournament

Network Growth

Sergio Garcia wins 2012 Wyndham Championship
in Greensboro, NC (Sedgefield Country Club)
While the golf pros battled the rainy weather during the Wyndham Championship this weekend, I was fortunate enough to find myself in a suite on the 17th hole, networking with people from all backgrounds and professions. The common theme was GOLF and I know close to nothing about that!

I do know that Sergio Garcia won the tournament, but instead of pretending to know all about the sport, I allowed myself to use my lack of knowledge as a conversation starter. With so many golf enthusiast attending the tournament, it was a great way to start a conversation.
Ballybunion Golf Course, Ireland

One gentlemen I met during the rain delay, shared how passionate he is about golf and the trip to Ireland he took to play eight courses in nine days. He promised to pass my contact information on to anyone he thought might help in my internship search.

I made two other connections that afternoon. One was a connection that would help me in my personal life and the other was an Alumnus of the MBA program I am currently in. Adding Alumni to my network is one of the most important things I believe I can do because they have been in the same position I am in now and have been successful in their lives after graduation.

I am excited to use sports events as networking opportunities, especially once I found out that the Giants vs. Panthers game on September 20th will also be an opportunity to meet UNCG Alumni. I was going to be in attendance anyway! Let's go Gmen!

If I could change one thing to make the experience better, I would have made sure I attended the event with business cards in hand. I was asked for a business card multiple times and once I realized that I was unprepared, I ordered them right away. I am all set now. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's Not What You Know, It's Who You Know


In all aspects of life, who you know will put you in the positions you find yourself in. Anyone can benefit from networking when the right effort is exerted. The key to networking is to associate yourself with people who are in positions or have the lifestyle that you would like for yourself. 

When the importance of networking was first stressed to me, it was displayed as a web or social graph.
 This social graph shows one person being the center of connection for everyone touched by the social graph, that is their network. The more people you know, the larger your network will grow because for every person you add to your network, you gain their network as well. This is vital in the quest to broaden, begin or change a career.

After the social graph was shown, the "elevator speech" was next on the agenda. Here is one that I used to use:

"Hello, my name is Cherisse. I am currently a student at Spelman College pursuing my undergraduate degree in Economics. After graduation I would love to return to New York, where I am originally from, to pursue a career in Investment Banking as a Research Analyst."

It is a quick (thirty second) summary of what you're doing now and what your goals are that can be said to someone while riding in an elevator with them from one floor to the next. Now, the elevator speech can be translated to a Summary on your resume or your LinkedIn page or a Bio on Twitter. 

Here are a few things that I feel are very important to how you approach building your network:

1. Make sure all of your marketing materials are up to date, without typos and have a clean & concise format.
(Resume, cover letter, business cards, reference list, social media pages, blogs and voicemail messages)

2. Always appear clean and well put together, not only when you are attending events, but all the time - you never know who you will run into at the grocery store.

3. Practice your "elevator speech" in front of the mirror until you feel that you are delivering it effectively.

4. Take advantage of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to market yourself in a positive way. Even if you cannot expand your network with a face to face opportunity, you can use your friends and mentors to expand your network through social media. 

5. Join professional organizations that coincide with the career you are pursuing. You will be exposed to people who have done exactly what you are doing and who can be a mentor to you.

More exposure will lead to more people knowing how valuable you are as a person, an employee and an entrepreneur. Networking puts you in position to let others know that you can be a benefit to their organization and for you to learn the tricks of the trade. I have learned from workshops and experiences that there are different levels of networking and each day brings a new opportunity to attend an event or take advantage of a casual meeting. 

Here are my top networking opportunities:
  • Conferences
  • Professional Organizations
  • Gym/Fitness Classes
  • Interviews
  • Introduction through Mutual Friends
  • Seminars
  • Social Networks
  • Sporting Events
Please read the article below for more on the value of networking:

Please leave comments and questions! I will be happy to help anyone develop their networking skills!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

One Shot At Success

The Start-Up of You

No matter what it is you are trying to do with your life or who you are, everyone needs a personal marketing package (PMP). Our PMP shows others how much we value ourselves and that we know that we have that special something that will positively add to the common goals we share with the other party. We all have one chance to make a great first impression on a potential employer, school admissions officer, a potential client or even our potential in-laws. This entry is going to outline what you should have in your PMP and how each entity will add to your self-value.

In an article from the New York Times by Thomas Freidman, "The Start-Up of You," Freidman poses the questions (employers) are asking about you:
  1. Can this person add value every hour, every day - more than a worker in India or a robot computer?
  2. Can he or she help my company adapt by not only doing the job today but reinventing the job for tomorrow?
  3. Can he or she adapt with all the change, so my company can adapt and export into fastest-growing global markets?
Today, job seekers are constantly having to reinvent themselves, their images and their knowledge base. Being a job seeker, I am in the midst of doing the same thing. During my Master of Business Administration program, I will be tailoring my own PMP and sharing my process with you so you can develop your own.

Look for article and book reviews, networking skills (social media networking too), interview questions and stories, resume and cover letter tips, features on key individuals, as well as style and etiquette tips. I will be reading the book "The Start-Up of You" by LinkedIn's founder, Reid Garrett Hoffman and co-authored by Ben Casnocha and doing a review soon, so look forward to that and read it with me!