Category: Networks, Mentors and Career

Actionable Tips to Grow Your Networks

Posted on March 24th, by Rita Trehan in Career Advice, Networks, Mentors and Career. 3 comments

“It’s not what you know, but whom you know,” is a phrase with which many of us are familiar, and in today’s hyper-connected world it’s truer than ever. The power of one’s network can’t be diminished, an essential part of professional life that can further your career like nothing else. The right network can solve business problems, expand your knowledge, and catapult your career. It’s a personal advantage that shouldn’t be understated.

With all that said, I find most of us relegate networking to the bottom of our to-do lists, buried under other items that require more immediate priority. But I’d urge you not to delay developing this powerful tool. Building and maintaining one is easier than you’d think and, as I’ve recently discovered, one of the best endeavors you’ll ever undertake.

In the past 18 months, I’ve spent a great deal of time building my own professional network. Truth be told, I previously gave little thought to the power and importance of my professional network when I was in a corporate role, but once out of the daily grind and starting my own enterprise, I’ve realized the incredible value of active networking.

With that said, I’m keen to provide some quick networking strategies that can help you build a successful network, simple time investments that should benefit you for years to come:

Market yourself – Begin by identifying what you have to offer. Look at networking as a way to build your personal brand, which in today’s social media-driven world is incredibly important. Your network is your means of building connections that matter, regardless of your current level or position, so take stock of yourself and understand what you bring to the table.

Know what outcome you desire – Networks work best when viewed as reciprocal relationships, and you should understand what you could contribute as well as wish to receive going in. Here are the criteria that shape my choices:

(1) I create networks that are international in scope because global reach is important to what I do
(2) I wish to connect with people keen to disrupting traditional thoughts and business ideas, sharing ideas centered on changing how we think about the world of work
(3) I wish to embrace connection with other senior executive women across various industries and interests. I am passionate about what women can do in the workplace, and wish to support other women in our professional endeavors
(4) I desire to build a powerful portfolio of HR professionals at various levels. Giving back to my profession and shaping its future direction is something I am keen to do.

Be clear on your objectives – It’s important to be clear on what you wish to achieve. If it’s building your personal brand, select connections that can raise your profile. Identify people of prominence, and not necessarily in your same field. Also, set clear goals for yourself when it comes to building this aspect of your personal life. For instance, this month’s goal could be connecting with five new female technology executives across the industry. This helps you stay focused and provides you with tangible metrics you can track.

It works if you work it – A network is not something you turn on and off when you need it; those who are successful know it requires a regular investment of time and effort. Be consistent, as you’ll have a harder time reestablishing connection if you disappear for an extended period of time. A minimum of an hour a day networking with others via social media and/or in person via events helps to build your network tremendously over time. View your networks like any important relationship: get to know them, learn what’s important to them, and assess how you can help them reach their goals. The more you give, the more you’ll receive. That’s the true ROI in networks.

What are some of the best ways to connect with people?
Connection is easier than ever. Social media and networking sites, numerous professional associations, charitable connections, online meeting groups based on interest, etc. Before you find yourself overwhelmed with choice, decide on which means suit your intended result. I’ve found LinkedIn to be a superior means of interaction, both professionally and personally. It keeps you active in the eye of a good number of professional bodies, and it’s a great means of maintaining your professional contacts. It’s also a bit less intrusive and overwhelming than email, which can be challenging due to the size of everyone’s inboxes these days.

Twitter is an acquired taste: you either love it or you hate it. For me, Twitter is less about building lasting networks than a means of receiving and sharing real-time information. If used for networking, be certain that communication stays brief, and move it into private conversation as swiftly as possible so others aren’t disconnected by a connection that’s best fostered one-on-one.

Measure the ROI of your network – It helps to periodically take stock of your efforts. Some tangible ways to assess good networking ROI include an increase in connections and social media followers; more requests to contribute and/or share your expertise; an uptick in invitations to network events and in-person gatherings; and an increase in opportunities and social events, from coffee dates to interviews and/or business meetings.

Creating an ecosystem of peers, mentors, business advisors, friends, and advisors will reap rewards far beyond your dreams if you take the time to develop your approach, work diligently, and nurture it well. This ecosystem can support your career for years to come and bear opportunities you can’t imagine. Start networking today!


Photo Credit

About the Author: Rita Trehan is the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at

Can You Meet For a Cup of Coffee?

Posted on October 29th, by Debbie Brown in Career Advice, Career Transitions, Networks, Mentors and Career. No Comments

Ever get that call from a former colleague or someone you recently met at a conference asking for that “cup of coffee?”  It is typically a code name for a job search, and I believe we should all be saying yes and be willing to support others in their quest.

But this post is not speaking to those of us taking the call – it is speaking to the caller.

Yes caller- I mean you- and how you may do a better job preparing for those coffee meetings so they are productive for both.  It surprises me how often I meet with people who are uncomfortable with or unsure how to make the most of our meeting.  Here are some suggestions for you to consider to make the meeting productive:

1. Have a target list of companies of interest in the industries you are pursuing.

When I meet with people that come to the table with a target list it helps me think of people I know to connect them to. These people may not be in the exact companies you list, however they will most likely be in the same industry. If you are a generalist that can cross industries that is great, however keep in mind that this list will help trigger new connections for you, which is why it is so important to prepare one.


2. Research the LinkedIn network for who you are meeting with to identify potential contacts of interest.

Connect on LinkedIn if you are not already connected and read through the contacts and make a list of who would like to connect to. We all know LinkedIn relationships vary across a spectrum, so the more names you identify the better your odds are of meeting more people.


3. Have jobs you are applying for handy with explanations for the feedback you are getting.

This could provide an opportunity for coaching and also prompt further discussions about potential opportunities.


4. Have an idea for how you may be able to help the person you are meeting with.

This one may go without saying, however  many people  do not do this . Even if the person you are meeting with says they cannot think of anything in the moment, I have been impressed with people that say that they have thought of a few things on their own (which may be handy in the future).


There are so many positive outcomes that can come out of a job search.  What are some of the best (and worst) experiences you have had from requesting or agreeing to a cup of coffee?


Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.






Approaching a Job Search after a Termination or Layoff

It’s usually easy to spot: the nervous jitters as he talks about his most recent position, the disdain he is clearly trying to hide about his supervisor or colleagues, the glossing over of the actual job conclusion.  By the time I ask, “ so what prompted you to leave” or “what brings you in today,” I can almost recite the words that always include “laid-off”, “let go”, “downsizing”,  “bad manager”, etc.  As a career coach, I encounter a myriad of clients who have a gap in their employment history.  Typically these clients address this issue with me in one of two ways.  They either shy away from the topic (think example above) to avoid mentioning it until half way through the appointment, after the resume review, or they bring it up immediately and we spend the better part of an hour talking about this event that has defined them for the past several months of the job search.

The whole “defining” aspect of a termination is the problem and the number one factor that gets in a job seeker’s way between knowing Ellen’s guest line-up on any given Tuesday and signing an offer letter.  Whether you actually introduce it at the forefront of every conversation that has a slight hint of a networking component OR you skirt away from this part of your past like you have a cousin in the mafia and are in witness protection, the emotion is the same – shame.  Shame seeps from every pore of your being if you let it.  It portrays a desperate need for any job and scares the heck out of any recruiter, hiring manager, or potential colleague.

So what is an innocent, talented, recently laid off employee to do?  Take a week off to sulk, lick your wounds, replay all of the unfair aspects surrounding the lay-off, and talk your nearest and dearest ears’ off about the numerous ways you saved the company X amount of dollars and are so much more talented than Ted in accounting, and then stop.  Stop venting.  Stop sulking.  Stop watching fluff TV all day.  Now follow these steps:

1.)    Wake up on Monday of week 2 post lay-off and go to a coffee shop.  Look around, watch the birds outside, read the business journals, and write down 10 jobs you want (in your field), and 10 companies you want to work for.  The key here is want.  This is your chance to choose where you want to and should be.  Don’t take this task lightly.

2.)    Then go on LinkedIn.  How does your profile look?  Is your most recent position up-to-date with the amazing achievements you accomplished?  How is your picture? Meaning: Is it professional (not a shot of you with your significant other cropped out from a high school reunion) and has it been taken in the past 5 years?

3.)    Now start reaching out.  Ask first degree contacts out to coffee.  Talk to them honestly and authentically about what happened, what you think you are good at, where you want to be, and ask for help.  People want to help.  Really they do.  Sometimes they just need permission to actually offer it.

4.)    Next do searches for contacts at companies you’re targeting.  Use LinkedIn groups as a resource to a whole new community of contacts and search those groups by job function or company. Then invite these potential contacts to coffee and do the same.  Be authentic, and give them the gist of the fact that your company had a downsizing and you are now focusing on these specific roles at companies like the one they work for.

5.)    Lastly explore the job aggregators.  What’s out there? What is trending?  Who seems to be hiring?  Apply appropriately and then circle back to step 4.

In a follow-up post I’ll advise on how to talk about a layoff to employers during an interview.  The main thing to remember about starting a job search after a termination is that this is an event that happened but you don’t have to let it keep happening to you every time you talk to someone.  Let the emotions that surrounded the event go and focus on all of the value you brought to your roles and the value you have to share with a future employer.  Surround yourself with people who remind you of your amazing attributes, read books and articles, and broaden your industry and business knowledge.  Oh yes, and by all means, turn off daytime television.


Photo credit iStockphoto


Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and  Brooks Institute, a well-known film, photography, and design school where she served as Director of Career and Student Services.  She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR, and Job Dig.



Compassion and the HR Professional

Posted on May 7th, by Bonni Titgemeyer in Business and Workplace, Leadership, Networks, Mentors and Career. 7 comments

It happens to all of us in HR at some point in our lives.  We find ourselves caught in an awkward position at work and we ask ourselves, “What is the best response here?”

I am talking about situations where compassion is needed, but with extenuating circumstances.  You’ve encountered the scenario before.  An employee confides something deeply personal:

  • A health issue
  • A break-up
  • Bankruptcy
  • An unexpected pregnancy

She is coming to you not really as a friend, but as someone who she thinks can help her.  She wants:

  • Advice
  • A break
  • Support
  • Shelter

She doesn’t know or understand the awkward position this possibly puts you in.  The information she provides may or may not be true.  You know that:

  • Her supervisor is at his wits end because her performance is so poor
  • She was late again three times this week
  • The organization doesn’t have a warm and fuzzy culture with flexibility
  • There are impending layoffs and her employment is at risk

What are your responsibilities in this situation?  How involved should you be?  How do you protect company interests while being a human being?

Human resources practitioners are not registered psychologists or social workers.  We are not “Mother Theresa”.  For most of us, our employers do not want or expect us to be advocates for the downtrodden, but we are expected to be kind, helpful and looking for the win-win.  We do not have a magic wand.  Therefore suffice to say that there are no clear cut answers about the level of compassion we need to provide in these tough situations, only possible approaches.

Here are some things you can do:

  1. To the extent possible, help her find professional help.  Does your benefit plan offer an EAP?  Are there help lines or government services available?  Is counseling a covered benefit?  Keep abreast of the resources available to a person in need and share them freely.  Short lists are better than single resources.  Encourage her to make the call.  That way, you don’t have to give advice or get overly involved.
  2. Are there small things you can do?  Can she borrow your office for 20 minutes to get her composure or to make a private call?  Is there some small token you have that you can give to her to show her that you and the Company care?
  3. Be clear about what you can and can’t keep confidential and your channel of communication within the organization.  For most employees, the role of HR is unclear, which in many cases leads to the risk that an employee won’t come and see us out of fear or mistrust, even when it is prudent that they do so.
  4. Encourage her to be discrete about whom she confides in about the circumstances.  The workplace is full of people who are your frenemies.  Your Company has policies regarding fair treatment but you can’t control everything.   While it has become commonplace for stars to rise out of their personal meltdowns, it is more difficult for the rest of us to do so.   Also a privately-managed issue will likely result in less workplace disruption.
  5. Be clear about the conundrum created when personal information like this is shared with someone in HR.  Ask for clarity on the reasons she came to you and what she expects your involvement to be. Be clear about what you can and can’t do for her.
  6. With regards to how the personal situation impacts her job, encourage her to speak with her Supervisor and to be open to possible solutions.  Offer to open the discussion with the Supervisor if you feel there may be a risk that the Supervisor may not handle the situation in a manner appropriate to the circumstances.  If it is possible, try to create clarity about the continuing performance expectations and work through strategies to address them.  Try to keep to as much of a third-party approach as possible.
  7. Get legal advice as needed.  There are a myriad of potential challenges that could present themselves if down the line she is terminated. It could be construed that you used the knowledge gained in the circumstances inappropriately with undesirable consequences.

Above all, be genuine.  The success of the outcome is in direct relation to your ability to:

  • Be compassionate
  • Think on your feet
  • Keep your head
  • See it through

Good luck!

Photo credit iStockphoto

{Career Transition} Get Your Story Straight

Posted on February 27th, by Maggie Tomas in Networks, Mentors and Career. 1 Comment

Students and clients come in and out of my office with the common agenda: the intent to talk about career transition.  These transition goals can take many shapes, such as moving from a generalist role to an analyst role, moving from a specialist to a manager, and often segueing out of one function and into another (think finance to marketing).

Regardless of the type of change they are looking to make, my advice is always the same: Get Your Story Straight.

When you are seeking to drastically alter your job responsibilities and are hoping someone will have enough faith in you to know that you can successfully make that leap (on their dime) you better have a compelling story.

Your pitch should outline three major points:

Why you want to make the change.

I often liken a great positioning statement to a funnel.  This is your story, but not your story as told to a new acquaintance at an office party.  It is your story extremely focused on how it relates to the position you are seeking. Every sentence you share should have a purpose in that it moves you towards the end goal of X position or Y company.  Irrelevant information (undergrad major if completely different than goal, a timeline of every job you have had and all major responsibilities, where you lived for a brief stint) have no place in this statement.  Instead share bits of information that help the listener understand more about why you want this role and why that is interesting.  For example:

Having grown up in rural Minnesota, the farming industry was a key economic force in my town and I have had a keen interest in this area since I drove my first tractor on my uncle’s farm.  After graduating with my MBA I plan to take this interest and passion to the grain industry in a finance role where I can utilize my previous analyst experience in a strategy role to impact the growth of an industry so rooted in small town America.

Proven success in core competencies of this new role

Pepper your positioning statement with ke

y achievements that showcase the skills necessary for success in the desired role.  Instead of saying you want a role in consumer insights because you are data driven, prove it by stating “I quickly learned my knack for analysis after spearheading a project where we analyzed seasonal purchasing data to better understand consumer trends when planning our customer incentive programs for the winter holidays.”

Conversation points to show you have researched the company:

The theme of your story should consistently display your knowledge and understanding of your desired company, industry, or function.  A former financial analyst who is looking for a business development role at an interactive marketing company should make sure the story shared includes a passion for the impacts social media is making on business, an interest in marketing analytics and an appreciation for a start-up culture.

Networking and interviewing is all about relationship building and successful story sharing.  When in a job function transition it is imperative that you have a story that weaves together past experience and education in a way that explains why you are looking for a different role and more importantly why you are qualified for this new opportunity.  Finally, don't be afraid to own your story.  I have found that those that can successfully combine honesty and relavancy often are the most likely to land the best positions for their skill sets and in the long run are the most satisfied employees.

About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara, and  Brooks Institute, where she served as Director of Career and Student Services.  She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR, and Job Dig.


Resolve to Quit Sabotaging Your Success

Posted on January 1st, by Hanadi El Sayyed in Networks, Mentors and Career. 1 Comment

I was chatting with a colleague over coffee discussing how stressful 2012 was. We chatted about the targets we missed, the challenges we faced, and we went on and on with an amazing crystal clear memory of everything we knew we could have done better. We suddenly stopped and gazed astonishingly at each other. Just the day before, both of us were awarded by the CEO for our achievements in 2012. And here we were, less than 24 hours later, sounding like total quitters instead of behaving as winners.

When did we learn to become so harsh on ourselves and why do we do that to ourselves?

I went home thinking whether this has got to do with us women so passionately engulfed with proving ourselves and our capabilities in the workplace. In the midst of it all, have we become blind to our success stories that we fail to promote them, celebrate them and more alarmingly, reward ourselves for them?

The answer is an unfortunate, “yes” and this is a fact regardless of which part of the world we come from, our culture or our background. Women are raised to constantly watch what they say, cautioned against strong personalities, taught to remain low key, to name a few.

There is a plethora of business literature and research describing the challenges women put up with in the corporate world due to stereotypes and perceptions, male dominance, limited opportunities, lower wages compared to male colleagues and the reasons behind it all. As undoubtedly and genuinely that these challenges exist, it is not my intention here to go over these. My real aim is to initiate our thinking process by asking ourselves the following question,

“What has each one of us done to bring a change to our situation?”

Let’s face it, for a lot of us, we fear being judged so we react in manners that may further contribute to our withdrawal into our own caves rather than pushing us out into the front rows. Here are some of the behaviors we should consider reshaping, changing and even stopping those which are nothing but self-sabotage:

  • You quietly and eagerly wait to be assigned to a project. You know you can do it, so you hope that your boss recognizes that. Wrong. Go after the opportunity when you see it, do not wait for it to knock on your door. This will do miracles if you are a team leader. It reaffirms you as leader of the pack.
  • You dread to fail even before starting. You become risk averse and dare not to think out of the box

    . Think again. It’s perfectly ok if you fail. Failure is all about lessons learned and can only make you stronger. Your resilience level is an indication of your leadership skills. So even when you fail use it to your advantage.

  • You do not celebrate your success. You achieve a difficult target, and if you are lucky enough your boss recognizes that, otherwise, your achievements go unnoticed. Whilst it’s not realistic to ask for that pat on the back every time you lift a pen, please stop being modest and reserved when it comes to major accomplishments. Celebrate your success with your team, family, and even friends. Be self-appreciative before you ask others to appreciate you.
  • You are quiet in meetings. Do you offer your opinion only when asked to?  Or do you not know when – or how – to interject in a conversation? Time for a change here, too. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Yes it can feel very intimidating at first but by practicing the use of some idioms in the right context such as “I’m thinking out loud” or “I’m playing the devil’s advocate here”, or “it might be a silly question…” will help you overcome this fear and seamlessly insert you in the discussion. You owe it to yourself and your team to let your opinion be heard.

Don’t be afraid to disagree on a business related matter as long as you do it in a professional manner. If you want to point out a wrong thing being said, do that without being offensive or defensive. Discussions can sometimes be aggressive, so avoid emotional pitfalls. And whatever you do, hold those tears please. Be assertive and remain in self-control mode.

With many of us in the process of shaping our resolutions, let’s agree on making the new year our year of small but effective changes. True, it’s a long and winding road ahead of women in the business world however by being able to adapt some of our behaviors to become enablers can only be of help to us in our journey.

About the author: Hanadi El Sayyed is a Senior Human Resources Business Partner working for Majid Al Futtaim Properties, the market leader in development and management of shopping malls in the Middle East. Based in Dubai she  specialises in strategic workforce planning and development with an emphasis on corporate sustainability and sustainable development. You can reach her on Linkedin or on Twitter as@Hana_ElSayyed.


{Women of HR Unwrapped} Fear Can Help You Grow

Posted on December 27th, by Lois Melbourne in Networks, Mentors and Career. Comments Off on {Women of HR Unwrapped} Fear Can Help You Grow

We are unwrapping some posts from the Women of HR archives for you this holiday season. Relax, enjoy and let us know if there is a favorite of yours you'd like to see unwrapped and run again.

How do you grow?

You don’t let fear get in the way of your doing what you need to do.

I have just worked through one of the hardest projects I have ever tackled in my life.  I learned so much and the stakes were VERY high. Yes, there were times that the tasks were daunting. Yes, there were times when it was scary, but it is what I needed to do, to succeed and to get through to the other side. There were times when I shut the door, whipped out the iPhone and played a few games of Sudoku just to pull my heart rate down. I was determined to do the very best I could and to make all the right decisions.

I think too often people let the fear of their own unknown capabilities stop them from doing what is needed, or it prevents them from doing quality work on a project or a task. They don’t know if they can accomplish something and they let the fear sit on that negative perspective of the challenge. Another way to look at something that you have never done before, is that now you get to learn something new. Now you get to grow.

It had been awhile since I had done something in business that really had a fear element in it for me. I remember my first trip to Europe was on a business trip that I did all by myself. It scared me.  All the firsts I had on that trip drove my adrenalin. I have never been afraid of travel to anywhere or into

any situation since then. I gained confidence. I remember the first international and the first $100,000+ deals I negotiated. They both made me nervous but they have lead me to relish, not fear, every customer conversation, the big deals and meeting anyone with any title from any walk of life.

I don’t really like the expression ‘facing your fears’ because that gives your fear a shape and presence that makes it even bigger. I think we need an expression more along the lines of “climb above your fear.” This keeps the awareness that we need to respect the trepidation, while using the endorphins to lift us up higher.

So the lesson I have now firmly cemented into my heart is that it is OK to have a fear of something if you use that fear to heighten your awareness and improve your performance. When you come out the other side of a project that  intimidated you, you will have increased confidence and a new perspective.

It’s called experience and it is earned.

About the author: Lois Melbourne, GPHR, is CEO and co-founder of the global workforce planning and analytics solutions company Aquire, mom to one terrific young son and wife of co-founder Ross Melbourne. She maintains a strong personal commitment to career education and small business development and is a frequent speaker, author of industry articles, and an avid blogger and networker. Connect with her on Twitter as @loismelbourne.

Photo credit iStockphoto


The Dressing Game: How to Dress For Success

Posted on December 13th, by Hanadi El Sayyed in Networks, Mentors and Career. 1 Comment

Power dressing can never be understated in the corporate world and we all know that. Coined in the latter part of the 1970, the term “power dressing” has been the dressing style of  those wanting to reflect a professional image, an elite status, influence and authority.

The impact of looking important on one’s career progression became a factor not to ignore by both men and women. While men have learned to master the dress game earlier and faster than women, one could argue though that sharply dressed or not, there are many obstacles women have to overcome in their struggle to rise up the food chain. My intention in this post is to draw us women’s attention to an important topic for some reason we still tend to ignore or let’s say not give it its real weight: Dressing for Success.

I was raised in a culture where knowing how to dress is crucial for success in every aspect of your life, personal and professional. You are free to disagree with this philosophy, I only base this on my personal experience how I have seen this at play.

As a Human Resource Business Partner, I realize it is not an easy journey for women to grow in the corporate realm. I also learned however that women must get their heads around some small yet effective ‘weaponry’ that could only make this journey a bit less painful.

Here are just a few tips and advices I have accumulated as Human Resources professional for each woman who reads this post to seriously consider:

  1. First impressions are real. And they last forever. Trust me. Research the employer and plan what to dress ahead of time before that interview. And whatever you decide to wear, ALWAYS make sure it falls in the ‘professional’ category.
  2. No jea

    ns please! I’m a true disbeliever of ‘casual days’ especially if your organization is of conservative nature.

  3. Conservative organization or not, and unless you’ve got a fab bod and work in a modeling agency, avoid mini skirts and tight skimpy dresses, low necklines and revealing clothes. I am not sure you can even wear them if you work in a modeling agency.
  4. Suit up when you are not sure what to wear for that important meeting. You can never go wrong when in a suit.
  5. Don’t be afraid to accessorize. Make sure it suits you and goes with your outfit though. NO noisy bracelets. They are very annoying.
  6. Corporate dressing doesn’t have to be monochrome unless your company dress code states that. Otherwise research fashion trends and choose what best suits you and your corporate culture. Know your colors.
  7. Check what the company dress code is and abide by it. It’s there for a reason.

Learning how to dress is an art worth mastering by both men and women. However, a word of caution here. This will never replace the fundamental role of individual performance, which remains by far the most determinant factor for career progression.

About the author: Hanadi El Sayyed is a Senior Human Resources Business Partner working for Majid Al Futtaim Properties, the market leader in development and management of shopping malls in the Middle East. Based in Dubai she  specialises in strategic workforce planning and development with an emphasis on corporate sustainability and sustainable development. You can reach her on Linkedin or on Twitter as@Hana_ElSayyed.

Photo credit: iStockphoto


Skip the Clichés in Your Job Search

Posted on December 6th, by Kimberly Patterson in Networks, Mentors and Career. 2 comments

It's common sense (well it should be anyway!) that job seekers shouldn't bad mouth former employers on a job interview.

However, when you're looking for a new job, there's always a good reason for it and you should be honest — in a professional way.  I'm not talking about getting into an hour-long drama explaining how tired you are of the office politics.

I read an article where the author stated you should use the following reasons to explain why you want to leave your current employer:

  • Seeking new opportunities
  • Looking for more responsibility
  • Interested in career advancement

Don’t get me wrong – these are very viable reasons to look for a new gig.  But they've been around for eons and are ultra cliche!  Everyone who doesn't want to talk about the fact that they hate their boss will use one of these reasons.  If one of these reasons are legit for you, skip the cliche and just provide an example.  For instance, share an experience about why you're ready to tackle new responsibilities and how it will add value to an organization.

Unless the person interviewing you has just fallen off of a turnip truck or is on their fir

st day of the job, they’ll want to know more.  It's best if it comes from you rather than having the interviewer make an incorrect assumption about you or your work.

And what if you really are leaving your job because you hate your boss.  Is it best to be honest?  Well, we'd like to think we could be because there is a laundry list of bad bosses out there.  But, like it or not, perception is reality and you'll be judged way too harshly if you were that honest.  In this case, my suggestion would be to think of the second biggest reason of why you want to leave your position and go from there.

The most important thing to remember is to be your real, unscripted self.

Photo credit: stock.xchng

About the author: Kimberly Roden is an HR pro turned consultant and the founder of Unconventional HR.  She has 25 years of progressive experience as a strategic HR and business leader.  Her hands-on and innovative approach allows her to create and deliver HR solutions to meet business challenges and needs by managing human capital, talent acquisition and technology.


Handling Gaps in Your Resume

Posted on December 4th, by a Guest Contributor in Networks, Mentors and Career. Comments Off on Handling Gaps in Your Resume

In the world of job seeking and resume writing, gaps in your employment history can make recruiters question you several times and think many times over before offering you a job. Everyone is aware of this and employment gaps are big stress factors for job seekers today.

Despite the fact the economy is recovering, job hunting is still a full-time job for many people. Job seekers quickly realize that they are at their most vulnerable point in life, and anything in the resume that sticks out will only cause more fear and stress for them. This stress can make them think illogically and differently from their usual pattern.

In many cases, it is the resulting panic of an applicant seeing a job gap that causes the most problems. There will always be certain uncalled and unplanned events in a person’s life. These events, like sick or dying relatives/family members, maternity/arrival of a baby, and layoffs, can bring about a big gap in your resume. Such gaps can surface no matter how hard you work, how responsible you are, or how diligently you plan your life. The key to overcoming such gaps is to not let it hurt you when you are searching for a job.

Remember that being out of work for a period of time does not mean you cannot keep yourself busy. Keeping busy means more than just staying at home and watching TV or playing sports. It means staying involved with your profession. This can help cover up the job gap and helps you re-enter the field where you work. It also keeps your knowledge updated and skills sharp.

Here are some tips to help you active in your profession and busy without a job:

  1. Take classes on subjects related to your profession.
  2. Volunteer in a related organization or mentor others.
  3. Attend semi

    nars and read trade journals and other publications in your field.

  4. Write literature about your subjects within your field of work. You can write for papers or magazine publications or even post them on blogs.
  5. Look for consulting projects/assignments to supplement your knowledge. You could end up gaining full-time positions as a result of a project.

If you have been working as a freelancer during the job gap, make sure you add the necessary details in your resume. Write down the assignment or project dates, functions, client names, and other relevant information. In short, treat your freelance work as you would treat a regular job.

If you have a large job gap to deal with, you could try experimenting with a functional resume or a chrono-functional one instead of a traditional chronological resume. Remember, however, that some employers and recruiters red-flag such resumes because they suggest that the applicant is trying to hide something. Chronological resumes are universally preferred because recruiters can easily read them and get the necessary information about an applicant.

Above all, remember to keep your network of contacts active before you need them as they can be very helpful in your search for a new position. Gaps happen. Prepare for them now.

About the author: Maggie Larson is a master’s level career counselor and an internationally certified as a Career Management Practitioner (CMP) by the Institute for Career Certification International. She was also recognized as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) through the National Board for Certified Counselors. You can check out her site at

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