Getting Out Of Your Own Way

“Note that this journey is uniquely yours, no one else’s. So the path has to be your own. You cannot imitate somebody else’s journey and still be true to yourself. Are you prepared to honor your uniqueness in this way?” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

cutest-baby-animals-1Everyone has that one friend who we perceive has it all figured out. For some people, a path to their dream career is paved — they know what they want to do and how they’re going to get there. For others, like myself, the future is muddled and thoughts are murky; I have to keep reminding myself that’s okay.

When I get overwhelmed by the fear I’m going to work at my supposed-to-be-only-temporary retail job forever, I, first, literally tell myself to “shut up” and then I tear myself away from the anxiety about my seemingly already failed future to focus on the present moment. There are so many articles on Mindfulness (TIME magazine even released a wonderful special issue on it) you can find online, but here are some of my go-to methods for grounding myself.

Invest in the Process

You might need to rework how you frame your goals. My favorite TED talk is “Plug Into Your Hard-Wired Happiness” by Srikumar Rao. In those 18 minutes, Rao bestows upon us the wisdom that it is fulfilling to invest in the process of getting somewhere, rather than focusing on the outcome. The “If-Then” model of “if this happens, then I will be happy” is a failing one because if “this” does not happen, you won’t be happy; however, if you pride yourself on every step you take to reach the outcome (which exists only to serve as a guide), you’ll be content to succeed or fail, seeing the latter as the start of a new path that will take you somewhere unexpected yet rewarding.

Put It Out in the Universe

There’s something to be said for verbalization. Declare your intent to the universe! How else will it know what to send your way? I’ve kept a fortune from a fortune cookie in my wallet for years: “Greet the world every morning with curiosity and hope.” One mantra Northeastern career counselor Sabrina Woods suggested to me is, “I allow for my highest possible good.” You can also develop your own.

Get Over Others 

The only person who has the privilege of living your life is you. So why let anybody else decide whether you’re doing something wrong? Stop comparing yourself to others. Why let other people impact that way you perceive yourself? Don’t allow someone else’s successes to be a measure of your own happiness. In order to find happiness, you must realize that you, yourself, are worthy of happiness.

Even though you might not be where you want to, keep the faith that when you invest in the process, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.

 

A graduate of Northeastern with a degree in English, Ashley used to be the News Director and a DJ for WRBB 104.9 FM, the university’s student-run radio station. When she’s not working at Apple, she writes for music blogs and builds her marketing portfolio. Informational interviews, cooking and rock & roll are some of her favorite things. Tell her what you’re listening to via Twitter @amjcbs or connect with her on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/in/amjcbs).

 

 

How to Ace a Job Interview…Tips from an Interviewer’s Perspective.

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We all know job interviews are terrifying. Just as many people have admitted they would rather die than speaking in front of an audience, same goes for interviewing for a job. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel as though I sweat more during a job interview than when I am jogging. The whole process is extremely terrifying, but it is something we all have to do. I am going to alleviate some of this fear and excess sweating, by listing several important tips I have learned as a practice interviewer.

FIRST, PRE-INTERVIEW PREPARATION:

1. Don’t lose sleep

The night before is literally the same feeling as the night before an exam or flight. You toss and turn, your mind is running, you keep thinking about the worst, you panic, you can’t breathe. This is where you have to stop yourself and say, there is nothing you can do about it right now, it is midnight, let your mind sleep. We all know sleep is very important, so make sure to go to bed at a decent time so you have at least 7 hours of sleep.

2. Wake up Confident

After all the chaos your mind and body dealt with before you finally fell asleep, you deserve to feel good about yourself as you begin your morning prior to the interview. Give yourself a pep talk and remind yourself of all the good qualities you have. Don’t start panicking and thinking about flaws or convincing yourself you are not good enough because you are only lying to yourself. You wouldn’t want someone to lie to you, so why lie to yourself?

3. Put on your best outfit

Make sure to pick out an outfit you feel confident in. It could either be a really nice shirt, a nice pair of pants or skirt. You can even have a pair of socks which are your lucky socks or something like that. It doesn’t matter as long as you have some extra support and comfort from your closet. Studies show that dressing to impress can definitely elevate confidence levels. Go out there looking like the next James Bond or Audrey Hepburn and get that job.

4. Be on time

Being on time is so important. It is better to be early than late. Be sure to set your alarm on time and have everything ready for the morning so you have less running to do. Being on time is also a very important way to show you are reliable.

NOW, THE INTERVIEW IN QUICK STEPS:

The first moments are crucial. The way you walk in and present yourself makes a big impression on the interviewer, so be sure to do these few things carefully in order to make a good impression:

1. Posture

you want to make sure you are walking into the room with confidence. Having a good posture enhances your confidence and makes you feel powerful. Trust me, it works.

2. Smile

A smile is a huge indication that you are friendly, confident and interested. Smiling is a great way to calm your nerves, because smiling increases dopamine levels, allowing you to feel and present confidence. #Science

3. Shake and introduce

It is important to do these two steps in unison. Reaching out your hand and firmly shaking the interviewer’s hand while introducing yourself loudly and clearly shows you are taking action first. You are showing confidence and allowing yourself to open up the conversation with a kind, professional gesture, instead of holding back and waiting for the interviewer to introduce themselves first.

4. Eye contact is everything

It is very important to make as much eye contact as you can. Having good eye contact shows confidence, attentiveness, and respect. Eye contact also shows trust. They say if someone is looking around and making little eye contact they are not being true to themselves as well as possibly not being honest.

5. Don’t slouch

It is important to sit upright and not slouch. Please don’t have your legs open or have your arms crossed, these are two signs you are not being professional nor are you taking the interview seriously. The more proper you are as ladies and gentlemen, the more professional you will look to the interviewer.

6. Prepare questions

It is extremely important to come to the interview with several written questions. You can Google some “interview questions” in case you are stuck, bring at least one interview question, it counts as interviewers find this preparation piece very authentic. It shows you put time into preparing for your interview.

7. Do your research

It is important that you research the company, position you are applying for and the interviewer. You have plenty of time to do a little research and write down some bullet points to keep as a reference in case you become nervous. It helps to know a little information about the interviewer too because it will allow them to share their experiences as well. As humans, we enjoy talking about ourselves, so spice up your interview a bit by directing attention to the interviewer.

8. Make a proper exit

Make sure once the interview has ended that you properly thank the interviewer, shake their hand firmly, smile and exit with confidence.

A little side note: always be yourself and don’t be superficial. As humans, we can smell out a superficial person. The interviewer will see right through you if you are fake. Just be true to yourself, be honest and take the time to make a good impression. Good luck!

Getting to “Hell Yes”: Negotiating While Female

This post is brought to you as part of the coverage for the Grace Hopper Celebration, in Houston TX.

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“You get what you incentivize”

The basis for a successful negotiation is all rooted in a methodical and well-planned approach. Leading off with a chestnut about Richard Nixon and his dog Checkers, as a cautionary note on how not to negotiate, Katherine Monson and Becca Dewey delivered an informative and entertaining session on effective ways for women to approach the bargaining table. The story of Nixon feeding his dog a biscuit as a way to stop him from chewing on the corner of the carpet, framed the discussion that negotiating is a process where success can be thwarted by rewarding unwanted behavior.  In Nixon’s case, as declared by his exasperated Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, all he did was teach his dog to chew carpet.

Calling on their experiences as negotiators for the aerospace, defense and entertainment industries, the speakers broke down the complex process in several understandable steps, relevant in salary negotiation or every day life.   Though the audience was mid-career women in technology they added that these concepts are applicable to anyone at any stage of their careers.

Avoiding the trap – Bargaining

When it comes to the concept of bargaining, two parties meet on some arbitrary level to achieve a stated position (Think buying a car). If this process gets prolonged it only incentivizes the most stubborn or deceitful.  For women engaged in positional bargaining, they can be perceived as selfish, pushy or greedy, which does not maximize value for anyone.

Negotiation is a framework with the goal towards solving problems, and women are just as successful as men when they choose to negotiate.  What does that look like beyond a back and forth bargaining session?  It starts with research and identifying what your interests are ahead of time. If you don’t know what your interests are then how will you know when you’ve been successful?

iceberg

“K&B Negotiation.  2016”

Interests – What do you care about?

Visualize negotiating as an iceberg and focus on the unseen part, below the water.  The stated positions (the part of the iceberg you can see) don’t explain why people are at the bargaining table and this lack of data can lead to unwanted results. By thinking about interests ahead of the process it provides a clearer picture of priorities (buying a house, saving for children’s education, vacations, etc)  and creates more options from which to build solutions.

With interests itemized you can then learn more about your counterparts by asking questions on their position. A helpful phrase to use in these discussions would be, “Can you help me understand…?”   or “What am I missing here?”. Depending on the situation, this could be an effective means of working with your counterpart to reach a solution, through talking about desired interests. Just make sure to clarify this is a separate stage of the negotiation and not the end point.

BATNA 

If the process reaches a point where both parties are not able to reach a suitable agreement there is a measure to help identify when it’s best to walk away. BATNA, or Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement is the point where one or both parties understand that not reaching an agreement is more desirable than reaching one. The indicator can be if a salary range or package offered will only generate bitterness or falls far short of accomplishing set goals. In those cases, maybe the status quo is the better deal.

For women, the speakers warned to watch out for the gender trap. “Women are socialized to work with people and be more empathetic. If you’ve invested a lot of time to talk and negotiate you may be tempted to fall into the trap of “take a deal, any deal!”  If that’s a situation you find yourself in, take a pause and assess if the conversation needs to continue.

zopa

“K&B Negotiation.  2016”

ZOPA

If both parties are able to articulate their goals and work towards a solution the next step is finding the ZOPAZone of Possible Agreement.   The ZOPA is a combination of variables that both parties are able to achieve to close the deal.  They may look something like taking a lower salary increase in lieu of receiving a deferred compensation plan, that provides revenue streams for retirement or children’s schooling, adding paid time off or subsidized transportation.  This is where due diligence and interest planning ahead of time come in handy, because it enlarges the pie to develop more opportunities.

Remember, negotiating is a process and takes time and energy to develop those skills. If you would like to learn more, take a look at the additional resources below.  If you would like to connect with Katherine and Becca, they can be reached at k.bnegotiation AT gmail.com.

Recommended Readings

 

Derek Cameron is the Employer Outreach and Partnership Manager for Northeastern University Career Development. When he’s not connecting with employers or blogging he’s trying to negotiate with his 6-month old daughter.