Top Five career tips for young professionals

Top Five Career Tips I am no longer a young professional. Once upon a time I was, but no longer. This past fall I signed up to be a mentor at my alma mater, Bethel University, and am in the process of mentoring a bright student who no doubt will do well in her career.  She is only a sophomore but is already doing informational interviews at top companies in the area.  I told her that not many people her age are doing that and she is already gaining an edge in finding a job after college.  All of this made me think of some tips for young professionals who are just starting out in their careers.  Some of these may even apply to all of us, regardless of where we are at in our careers. 1)  Know what strengths you bring to any environment you are apart of Before you ever get to a job interview, whether it be formal or not, know what you are good at.  Better yet, know what are you are great at.  If you have not already take the Clifton StrengthsFinder test and find out your areas of talent.  Then, work with a coach or mentor to refine how you use these talents and turn them into strengths.  If you can go into a job interview and be able to answer the question, 'What are your strengths,' you will already be ahead of many people who cannot provide good answers to this standard question. You should be able to talk about your strengths without mentioning what the strength name is.  There is no way of knowing whether or not the person interviewing you knows about the Clifton StrengthsFinder, but that should not preclude you from talking about your talents and how you use them. 2)  Have a mentor who helps you navigate your life and career When I started out in my career I worked for nine months as a temporary worker at Prudential insurance.  There was probably no environment that more resembled the movie "Office Space."  Looking back it is amazing that any work got done at all.  There was low supervision, lots of young professionals in tight quarters, and a general lack of direction from top management. I did not have a mentor who was helping me navigate this environment, either inside or outside of the organization.  There was no one challenging...
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Are we all exclusive in how we talk? Avoid Insider Lingo!

insider lingo In any group, organization, company, school, tribe, etc there is always insider lingo.  Insider lingo is a code that only people who have been assimilated into the group or tribe understand and can decode rapidly.  Almost any time I enter into a new setting I immediately notice what is familiar, and what is not.  Lingo and language often has subtle nuances that are easy to notice if you are new, but not even a second thought for those already 'in.'  Is this bad?  Is this good?  Neither probably, but it can be exclusive and limiting if you want to bring new people into your group, tribe, etc. In the past few months I changed careers and do strengths based organizational consulting full time.  Our company, Leadership Vision Consulting, works with the strengthsfinder to help people, teams and cultures become strengths based.  Do we have our own lingo at our company?  Absolutely.  Do I have to help connect people to what our company does and how we might be able to help their organization?  Yes!  Do I have to make sure our own insider lingo does not get in the way of their ability to understand what we do?  Absolutely. My New Job  As part of my transition to my new job, I have been doing tons of networking meetings and finding out so much about companies and what people do for a living.  It has been great to get in a bunch of new settings and find out how people are changing the world through a lot of new and exciting ways.  Minneapolis and St. Paul is a hotbed of innovation in so many areas including medical technology and more.  In many of the meetings I have been in there is a good amount of business jargon and insider lingo that is thrown around without a second thought if the listener understands what is being said.  It is usually possible to decode what the people are talking about, but if they head to the acronym world, that presents a whole new level of exclusivity. Exclusive Acronyms  Yah so in the first quarter we need to hit our SMART goals through our new NEC initiative and run any decisions by our CEO, COO, CFO and make sure the exec group approves our TNT based SME quickly and we get...
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If at all possible: REMAIN CALM!

Parking Gararge   A few weeks ago I was running right on time for a client engagement at the University of Minnesota and drove up to this parking garage.  Parking garages more and more are moving away from cash and are only taking credit cards.  So as I rolled up to this parking garage I realized I had neither - cash or credit.  My margin for being on time was low and I immediately felt my anxiety start to raise as I did not want to be late.  What was I going to do?  How would I park?  Would I be on time?  How could I remain calm and solve the problem? This could have gone a lot of ways.  In my youth for sure I would have blown my top and just gotten really mad and been blinded by pure emotion in a way that would not have helped me solve the problem at hand.  At any time in my life my anxiety over stress could have pushed me in a direction that might not have been helpful to solve this real problem.  Thankfully the last couple of years I have really pressed into the concept of emotional intelligence, or 'EQ.' All of us are familiar with the concept of 'IQ,' intelligence quotient.  What is your 'IQ?'  IQ is interesting to talk about, but many studies have shown that your IQ has little to do with how successful you might be in life.  What does have much more to do with how successful you will be in life?  EQ What is EQ, or emotional intelligence? "the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically." Do your emotions control you?  Or, do you control your emotions?  When I realized I had no way of paying for parking that story could have gone a lot of ways.  Getting mad or anxious would not have solved my problem, it only would have left me with the problem and no solution.  On top of that I would have ended up late to my client engagement - something we just do not do. If you are not controlling your emotions it will have an effect on your interpersonal relationships.  This has happened to me more times than I would like to admit in my own life.  These are lessons I can only learn...
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Why is finding a great job fit so difficult?

Paths Why do so many people end up in poor job fits? Over the past decade I have had the honor of working with dozens of organizations and individuals around the topics of maximizing productivity, increased self-awareness and more.  One thing that consistently happens whenever I visit any type of organization is that there are always employees are more engaged than others, and some that are actively disengaged.  What do I mean by actively disengaged?  These are folks that are in such bad job fits that they can't stand their job and bring down the morale of the entire team.  One consultant I worked with years ago referred to these team members as organizational terrorists.  Yikes!  After working with so many groups over time a few things stand out to me about these folks.
  1. They are likely in very bad fits for their unique talents.
  2. They may have a lot going on in their personal lives.
  3. They are stuck.
  4. They will not leave without help.
Managers who bring me to work with their teams can almost always identify these folks on their groups and want some outside confirmation that what they are seeing is accurate.  You know what?  Most times it is. If you go to work everyday and for the majority of your day you do not get a chance to do what you do best?  You are going to become disengaged, and perhaps, actively disengaged.  I read somewhere over time people who are put on performance plans (Human Resource speak for a last change) have only a 10% chance of rebounding - 90% end up getting fired or quitting.  Why?  Because we have waited until the bitter end and patterns have developed that are hard to change. If the essential functions of your role do not line up with who you are wired to be, you have little chance of making that job a place where you will be highly engaged.  So what can we do about this?
  1. Hire the right people in the first place
  2. Change the role to fit that persons unique talents
The second option is very challenging because many companies do not have the margin to make it work for that employee.  Which brings us back to #1 - hire the right person in the first place! When I look at hiring processes most rely almost exclusively on skills and experience and talk little about natural...
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