Self Care Tips for the Working Professional

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Me in front of Windsor Castle in England, August 2012 Go on vacation- it is part of self-care (plus, you deserve it you hard working millennial you)

Me in front of Windsor Castle in England, August 2012
Go on vacation- it is part of self-care (plus, you know you deserve it!)

This guest post was written by Northeastern University alum, Mary Taylor, a College Transitions Advisor at Tufts University. 

You’ve just graduated and landed your dream job! You are determined to make a great impression on your boss and colleagues and work your way up within the organization.  You show up to work early, stay late, eat lunch at your desk, and you NEVER call in sick.  You volunteer to work on extra projects and assignments.  You develop a great reputation in the office, but after several months you realize that you have no life outside of work.  You don’t know what your friends are up to.  You’re only home when you are sleeping.  Sound familiar?  If you don’t make some changes, you’ll burn out before you score that raise or promotion – forget about ever sitting in a corner office.  The truth is, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we will actually become less effective in all other areas of our lives, including our jobs.

Self-care can be difficult to prioritize, especially if you work in one of the helping professions.  Society may view it as indulgent or selfish, but self-care is different than self-pampering.  It means choosing and prioritizing positive behaviors or habits in order to create balance in our lives.  It is important establish these habits as early as possible.  If you are still in school, or on Co-op, this applies to you as well!  So how can you work towards implementing self-care into your life?

-Start with balance at work.  If you never say no, you will find yourself in a position where you don’t have the opportunity to say no – your boss and colleagues will just assume that you will take care of things or that you will be available to work late or on the weekend.  Put a lunch break or a coffee break on your calendar each day if possible.

- Be kind to yourself. If you make a mistake, it’s ok to acknowledge it and learn from it, but then move on.  Don’t say something or think something to yourself that you wouldn’t say to someone you love.

- Prioritize positive behaviors. This will mean different things for different people.  Drink enough water.  Actually step outside into the sunshine at lunch time – even if it’s only for 10 minutes.  Take a bubble bath.  Exercise.  Practice Yoga or Meditation.  Eat fruits and vegetables.  Call a good friend to catch up.  Get enough sleep.  Take a sick day if you are sick.  Go on vacation.   Pick something that is relaxing or feels good to you and do it on a regular basis.

- Be honest with yourself about your abilities and limits.  Consider both your physical and mental health.  Maybe you honestly love your job and really don’t mind working late.  That is great – prioritize yourself on the weekends.  Maybe your boss has offered you another opportunity to work on an extra project – consider saying “thanks but no thanks” once in a while if you know it will cause you stress.  As long as you are honest with him or her, this will not likely have a negative impact on your career.

Of course there will be times in our lives that will be hectic and things will happen that are beyond our control.  Maybe you’re at a conference or in a training and can’t get that lunchtime walk in.  Maybe you oversleep ( probably because your body needs it!) and miss your morning run.  It’s ok.  You will get back on track the next day.  Practicing regular self-care will have a positive impact on your personal and professional life.  Taking that 5 or 10 minute break will actually boost your productivity.  And you won’t have to give up your dream of that corner office!

Mary Lent Taylor received her M.S. in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University in 2011.  She currently works as a College Transition Advisor at Tufts University.  She loves to travel, and her favorite self-care behavior is attending a Sunday evening Restorative Yoga class.  She can be reached at mary.taylor@tufts.edu

Why Networking Is A Lot Like Dating: The Initial Approach Part II

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Last week we touched upon the social/in person approach to networking, or what I referred to as “happenstance”, where you meet somebody by chance or ideally, purposely put yourself in situations where you could potentially meet somebody that shares similar interests (networking event, student group, you get it).

Well, congratulations! You have now graduated to “the blind approach” and “online dating/networking,” so let’s get this party started.someecards-online-datingLet’s start with the networking equivalent to online dating: LinkedIn.  So you’re on OKCupid, or Match.com and you’re browsing profiles, looking for people with similar interests that catch your eye (Tinder is too shallow for this, sorry).  Let’s just point out the obvious: you’re not looking for your life partner. Yes, that person may very well be your soul mate, but for now you’re just looking for a nice date and some good food.  You find a suitable match; you send them a message and wait. LinkedIn acts very similarly, but instead of looking for potential future exes, you’re looking for people who either work in a place you’re interested in working, or in a position that you’re interested in learning more about.

Let me reiterate, you’re not looking for somebody to give you a job, but just trying to connect, learn about, and ask for advice from somebody in the industry.  Just like on the first date you wouldn’t ask somebody to be your bf/gf, you wouldn’t ask for a job during an informational interview– which is what these are called btw (if you don’t know what that is, I suggest you click the link above).  Networking– like dating– can be a slow process, you have to invest the time and energy to learn more about that person and company.  Then with luck and timing, it generally blossoms into something better.

Let’s say you are interested in working for Google.  Assuming your LI profile is sparkling the internship movie wilson vaughn and up-to-date, you decide to do an advanced people search and type “Northeastern” into the school and “Google” into the company section. Your search reveals that you actually have 3 first degree connections, and 15 second degree connections! (Who knew Aunt Sally had a friend that works at Google?) So you browse their profiles to determine which person’s profile appeals to you and who you think would be best to talk to in order to learn more about Google.  Pretty standard and the process is not too dissimilar from perusing OKCupid profiles.

The Career Development website actually has a guide and language you can use to help you draft a message to a person you may not know that well (or at all). Also, check the calendar for “LinkedIn 2: Advanced Networking” workshops, which run every other week to give you a more in depth look into how to navigate LinkedIn to connect with people.

So you send your message, and you wait.  Good for you!  You’ve “blindly approached” somebody online!  And similar to online dating, feel free to follow up after a couple weeks if somebody doesn’t respond. Maybe they didn’t get your message.  Just don’t be a stalker and follow up 3 hours later. Desperation is never attractive.

PS: if you are doing this at a networking event or family party, the same rules apply!  Don’t forget to ask for a business card and tell them you’ll follow up and keep them posted, that way they expect to hear from you.

Have you ever blindly approached somebody for an informational interview? If so, what advice do you have for others? If not, what are your reservations?

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

 

The Seven Deadly Sins of Office Kitchen Etiquette

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This guest post was written by Katie Merrill, an NU and BC alum and Academic Advisor for the Honors Program at NU.

image source: izismile.com

image source: izismile.com

I am inspired to write this post based on situations I have personally experienced through the past few years.  The sins I will address occur much more frequently, I believe, than the comedic stolen sandwich violation often depicted on TV (remember the Friend’s episode when Ross is ordered to get help with anger management because of his stolen sandwich?). The office kitchen is a privilege that can be immensely important for people looking to save money on buying lunch every day. Don’t abuse it, and definitely don’t commit one of these deadly kitchen sins:

 

 

1. Bring in all the yogurts. All of them.

The office fridge is the lost land of unwanted yogurts. Every Monday people want to make up for the nutritional wrong doings of their weekend, and they bring in 12 yogurts to guide them on the path of dietary righteousness. Yogurt is obviously a healthier breakfast than the bacon, egg, and cheese they want from Dunkin’ Donuts. What happens to these poor yogurt friends however? They get lost in the abyss of the fridge, never to be consumed. By Wednesday people are back to eating their Dunkin’ delicacies, done dieting for the week, vowing next week will be better and searching the grocery flyers to see where has Chobani on sale. I once threw out a yogurt that was 11 months old. I kid you not.

2. Cook scallops in the toaster oven.

Or raw steak tips. Or raw chicken. Really anything that ever lived and breathed that has not already been cooked in your home. I had someone in my office decide he was gong to eat healthier for the week by cooking fresh meals for himself at lunch; a great idea…for someone who works from home. This guy was trying to bake bone-in chicken in our communal toaster oven on his 30-minute lunch break. Wonderful to think of, knowing my English muffin was going to be toasted in the same appliance. I have never seen an office more passive-aggressively angry than the day he cooked scallops.

3. Save your soy sauce, mustard, and ketchup packets.

I know you want to use them again, and I know you think saving them, you will feel so good about being able to come to the rescue when someone in the office cries out that their tuna sandwich is dry and they just NEED some mustard to get by. But I am telling you now- you are NEVER going to use them.  Instead, they will accumulate in drawers, on counter tops, in the butter tray in the fridge, and in your desk. Let them go. Along with the Sweet n’ Low and free napkins from the takeout you got last week. Let them all go. You will thank me in the end.

4. Use it as a space to dump Halloween candy.

Or Christmas candy. Or Easter, Hanukah, Passover, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, your Birthday, etc. candy. After big holidays or events, the office kitchen becomes a dumping ground for all the things people don’t want in their own houses. I can remember dreading the week after Halloween at one office I worked at. The amount of candy that would arrive at work and be heaped into a pile in the kitchen could stock a movie theater. Ultimately, it just became a place for people to eat each other’s sweets. The same people who would come in with all their children’s picked over treats would be eating from the pile contributed by their colleague. Just say no. We don’t want your second-hand confections any more than you do.

5. Use any body and everybody’s salad dressing.

If it’s not yours, please ask. Do you remember going to the store and buying that? Then it’s probably not yours and you should ask. Nothing is as irritating as bringing out your salad at lunch only to reach for your dressing and realize that it is empty and your delicious lunch is now going to be just a pile of lettuce.

6. Think it’s okay for your dishes to sit in the sink overnight.

The sink has an expiration date and your mother/spouse/roommate is not coming by anytime soon to clean out your leftover pasta salad from your Rubbermaid container, so please do it yourself. You should do it right after eating, but on particularly busy days please do it before you leave that night.

7. Leaving Leftovers.

Did you know that 99% of food does not get better with age? Your mom’s lasagna will not be better if you leave it over the weekend. In fact, it will probably make you sick if you try to eat it, and then you will have to take a sick day, and then the office will get backed up with work…just don’t do it. The mold I have seen, the smells I have smelled, I’ve dealt with horrors no man, woman, or child should have to see.

The office kitchen is a shared space for grown-ups- act like one and your office mates will be eternally grateful. Bon Appetit!

Katie is an Academic Advisor for the Honors Program at Northeastern University. She studied art history as an undergraduate in Boston, and received her Masters degree in College Student Development and Counseling from the Bouve College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University. She likes to run and cook in her free time. 

Why Networking Is A Lot Like Dating: The Initial Approach Part I

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So let’s start with the initial approach.  Realistically, there are three ways to meet potential dating victims.  Two of which are very targeted and deliberate. The other one is more luck and timing.

  1. The first way (and the bravest if you ask me) is blindly approaching the person.
    source: tumblr, New Girl, Fox

    source: tumblr, New Girl, Fox

    This tends to happen at more casual outings and events etc. (this is actually way less scary at a networking event).

  2. The second way is online dating, aka OK Cupid, Match or some other constituent (LinkedIn and in some cases Twitter, is the online equivalent in the professional realm.)
  3. The final way tends to be more happenstance.  You meet somebody through a student organization or through a class project and hit it off.  Worst case, you’re at the same event and you’re both waiting in line for the bathroom (an unfortunate place to be in).

We’re going to focus on happenstance today and touch upon the braver approaches later. Let’s ease into this networking thing.

The initial approach, regardless of the circumstance, is generally awkward, but often times we walk away thinking (I hope), “that wasn’t too bad” or at least, “it could have been worse.”  And the person you were talking to on most occasions is generally nice and receptive.  It’s easier to meet somebody when you share a common interest.  “I met someone I would later date because we were in a play together,” says Amy Henion, a recent Communications grad, “we both obviously were theater geeks, and hit it off right away.”  Networking generally works the same way.

"On Wednesdays we wear pink!" source: perezhilton.com

“On Wednesdays we wear pink!” Mean Girls
 source: perezhilton.com

The easiest way to meet somebody is to go to events and join professional and student organizations related to your major and interests, thus, deliberately putting yourself in situations where it’s natural to meet somebody who is doing something you’re interested in.  Plus, you have that common thread now, so there is something to talk about aside from the weather, the Sox’s latest loss, or one of the Kardashians.

Example: if you’re a Physical Therapist or in any healthcare field for that matter, consider volunteering at the Red Cross, or for a big event like the Boston Marathon.  You’ll meet people with some pull and it looks good on a resume (just saying).

You can also tap the network you already have.  Lots of people get together through friends and networking is similar.  Ask former co-op supervisors, faculty, friends and even family if they know anyone working at “X” company.  Those are easy matches and generally lead to solid conversations.  Just make sure you follow through so you don’t make your friend look like a fool, or ruin a potential match made in heaven.

Do you have a successful “happenstance” networking story?  What are tips you would give and questions you asked?

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

 

When My Dream Job Wasn’t

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Photo Source: idaamerica.org

Photo Source: idaamerica.org

This guest post was written by BU and NU alum, Lindsey Trione. She now works in Greek Life at Texas State University. 

When I was looking for my first post-grad job I interviewed a lot…I mean a whole lot. I was applying to anything and everything that was close to what I wanted to do. I wasn’t picky about the size of the organization, the location, or even the living arrangements (in my field sometimes you get an apartment as part of your compensation). I just wanted a job.

Then along came my dream job. It was doing EXACTLY what I wanted to do for an award winning organization located in a part of the country that I preferred. I knew other people who had worked there and saw all of the great things they were doing, things that I wanted to be doing, and the national recognition they were receiving for their efforts. When I mentioned the posting to my mentor she told me about how highly sought after this position was and how she interviewed there but didn’t get the job. Even my parents, who don’t really understand my field, knew that this was a job I absolutely had to apply for. As you can imagine, my mind was racing “How awesome would it be if I got this job?”, “What could this do for my career?” and “I’m totally going to nail this interview!”

Finally, I managed to calm myself down enough to fill out the application. After what felt like weeks of waiting with no results I finally received that golden email asking to set up a phone interview. This was it! I made it past the first cut! I was ruthless in my preparations for the phone interview. I did practice interviews with friends, asked for advice on how to be successful in a phone interview, I even spent my commute answering questions I posed myself as if I were being interviewed in my car!

The best part was, once the phone interview happened I totally nailed it! My phone call was with my potential supervisor and I really had a connection with him. We discussed his organizational goals, my career goals, and my thoughts on best practices while still managing to have what felt like a real conversation. I ended that call even more sure that this was the place I wanted to work.

When I was invited to an on-site interview I was beyond ecstatic, like jumping up and down screaming ecstatic. I was going to actually visit this great place and meet even more people, people who could potentially be my future co-workers. However once I got there for my interview things started to feel off, the great connection I had made over the phone was almost non-existent.

The day started with a group interview with the staff I would be working directly with. I remember being asked how I would have handled a “hypothetical” situation. In my response I spoke of the best practices that were discussed during my phone interview and how I would use them to handle the situation. When I finished my answer I was met with silence and instead of following up they just moved on. My interview with organizational stakeholders wasn’t much better, except instead of awkward silences I was met with awkward jokes that I had no clue how to respond to.  Overall, the entire day was uncomfortable.

Afterwards I tried to convince myself that I was just really nervous or maybe I put this place on a pedestal with unrealistic expectations. Was I reading too much into their responses, or in some instances, their lack of a response? Slowly I started to realize that it wasn’t because I was nervous, or had unrealistic expectations, it was because this organization wasn’t a good fit for me. I learned that the job search isn’t just about who can advance your career and give you networking opportunities, it’s about where you feel like you can fit in. When I wasn’t offered the job I was actually relieved because I knew that I wasn’t going to accept the position if it were offered. I could no longer see myself working there, and those amazing opportunities I was looking forward to no longer seemed so amazing.

My search ended up lasting a lot longer than I thought it would and maybe that was because I became pickier about where I interviewed. When I did find my current position, I knew I had found the place that I fit in. I saw several people who took the first job offered to them and ended up leaving after less than a year; I’m happy to report that I’m not a part of that group. I love my job and I love my organization. Maybe it wasn’t what I had originally thought would be my dream job, but I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Originally from North Carolina, Lindsey earned a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Administration from Boston University and a Master of Science in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University. She found her dream job as a Greek Affairs Coordinator at Texas State University in sunny San Marcos, Texas. When she isn’t working with her students she can be found with her nose in a good book or playing with her dog Brett. Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LMTrione.

 

 

Why Networking Is A Lot Like Dating

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Generally, when I mention the word “networking” to students, a look of sheer panic fills their eyes.  It’s as if I asked them to recite the Declaration of Independence or some obscure Shakespeare passage.  As a Career Counselor, I am a huge advocate of networking, but as a Millennial myself, I understand the uncomfortable feeling of actually talking to a stranger in person, or even worse, over the phone (and I’m generally using a land line, yes, they still exist).

You don't have a target card?! source: reddit.com

You don’t have a target card?!
source: reddit.com

Over the course of my various career coaching/counseling appointments with students, I found myself trying to convince them that networking really wasn’t that bad and then, all of a sudden, it hit me (I knew that look of pure panic looked vaguely familiar). Networking was a lot like dating.  You know that moment when you think that guy or girl is kind of cute?  Maybe you’re in class or out with friends, and you’re just not sure exactly how to approach the situation.  “Should I say something, or no?  What would I even say?  Maybe they won’t like me.  Why did I wear this stupid shirt?”  I noticed a lot of my clients were having the same if not similar reactions/questions when I was encouraging them to network.  “What am I supposed to even say?  Why would they want to even talk to me?  I feel annoying.  Can I wear this shirt?”

My epiphany inspired me to write this series.  To give you a little preview, the next few posts are as follows and will appear weekly:

  1. The Initial Approach (parts I and II)
  2. The First Date
  3. The Courtship
  4. Let’s go steady

Stay tuned and hopefully I’ll hit two birds with one stone here.

What are some aspects about networking that freak you out?  What are some tips, for those of you who feel comfortable networking, you would give to green networkers?

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

Steer Clear of Creepers: Navigating Awkward Office Situations

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image source: http://duebymonday.com/tag/behavior/

image source: http://duebymonday.com/tag/behavior/

It was a Wednesday afternoon, 15 minutes before quitting time. I had just graduated high school seven days earlier and had started a summer job at a small newspaper. In the midst of packing up my bag to officially shut down for the day, the screaming started. Yells I never expected to hear in an office. The executive editor and senior writer were exchanging harsh words about not meeting the Wednesday printing press deadline. I was frozen at my desk in the back hallway. The exchange went on for almost 20 minutes. Once quiet was restored, I quickly snuck out the front, so thankful to be out of the office.

The next morning, while writing my first article, the senior editor came over and apologized for what I heard the previous day. She said it was the biggest argument the two of them had ever had. She said to expect an outburst between her and the executive editor once a month. Three days in and I hear a huge fight; is it really that bad here? I thanked her for the apology and warning but questioned the office dynamic.

Later that same day, the secretary came to the back to use the paper cutter and asked how things were going. She then brought up that if I ever see the accountant (who conveniently sits right by me) intently watching videos on his computer to alert her. He watches porn in the office. Woah! Hold on-I’m sitting right near a porn watcher?

For the second day in a row, I left the office with way too many questions about the atmosphere and lack of professionalism. I drove straight home and spoke with my mom about the porn-watching situation. My mother told me that I didn’t have to return to the office. I could quit and avoid the uncomfortable situation. Through tears, I told her that I was not about to forgo my dream internship, or what I pictured was a dream internship, because of a couple crazy people. She told me she would support my decision but recommended that I ask to be moved. There was no need to have me sitting in the hallway.

Friday morning on the drive to work, I went over in my head how I would ask to be moved. I told myself that unless I speak up, I would be on edge the rest of the summer, knowing the porn-watcher was too close for comfort. Upon arrival, I told the secretary I thought about yesterday and decided I was not comfortable being around a horny guy and asked if it was possible to be moved. Just then, the associate editor walked in and he immediately agreed that I shouldn’t be sitting back there. As a result, I was moved to an empty office up front.

Later in the day, the senior writer issued another apology, this time on behalf of the staff. She was sorry I had to witness a guy watching porn and that she also is uncomfortable around him. The executive editor apologized too, saying he was unaware of the situation but that it was taken care of. One week down, I left the office with so many uncertainties about company culture but I was hopeful the summer could only go up from there.

There were more arguments and more porn streamed but I just turned a blind eye. The experience I got from writing for a newspaper trumped the negatives. At the end of the summer, my mom asked me a very important question: Looking back, would I intern for the newspaper again? I quickly responded “no.” But then on second thought, I said “maybe.” I learned how to professionally deal with coworkers that I didn’t want to be around. I spoke up for myself when I saw inappropriate behavior. More importantly, I took advantage of interning for a newspaper and published many articles. By the end of the summer, I became the best intern they had ever had. I proved to myself that I can handle any situation and can only hope that I will never have to deal with a poor company culture again.

 This guest post was written by a Northeastern Student who wished to remain anonymous.  

 

Keep Calm and Don’t Punch Anyone

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stressed out guyThis guest post was written by graduate candidate and full time professional, Kristina Swope.

Well, easier said than done. On days like today, where the humidity is 450% and I’m drowning in schoolwork and job responsibilities, it’s incredibly difficult not to take down innocent bystanders. When the biggest urge you have is to karate chop a coworker in the side just because they exist, it’s time to stop, take a deep breathe, and think about what can be done.

We hear about work-life balance all the time. As a society, we talk about it constantly. It’s in articles, blogs, and often discussed in the workplace. The bottom line is the employee is responsible for their work-life balance. In theory, it’s a great concept – when you can swing it.

But what about days like today? What about sitting at your desk at 9pm, when the florescent auto-lighting in the office has turned off on you and five people are shouting at you via email? You feel run-down, like nothing can be done fast enough or well enough for anyone’s liking. By the time you get home, the most energy you can muster results in laying on your living room floor watching the ceiling fan spin around.

I’m guilty of all the above. On more occasions than I’d like to admit, I’ve been one step away from ripping my hair out, just because it would be less painful than the stampede of people. Instead, I’ve started using a less painful technique that has helped organize the millions of little tasks that have to be taken care of.

stressed out girlFirst, breathe. Close your eyes, stop yourself from reacting, and don’t allow your emotions to take you on a rollercoaster. No one actually likes to go upside-down anyway, it just happens and then afterwards we’re glad we survived.

Shut it down.  Even if you have a ton more to today, the best thing you can do for yourself is to shut down. Close the laptop, turn off the cell phone, and do something you truly enjoy. Whether that’s catching up on a show in a blanket cocoon because you never have the time, or it’s going out to dinner with a friend, it’s just what your soul needs.

Make lists. Once you’re ready to reboot, the best way to move forward is to organize yourself. If you’re juggling multiple responsibilities, it may help to make separate lists. Personally, I make one list of tasks for school, one for work, and one for personal. Looking at what needs to be accomplished on paper helps you get a better sense of timing and allows you to prioritize tasks across categories.

Finally, take action where you can. Look at your respective lists and see what can be done today. If you have three small personal tasks, why not stay up an extra hour or two and finish them up? You’ll be lying in bed thinking about everything you have to do anyway, so you might as well be productive. Not to mention, the feeling of crossing something off your list is surprisingly rewarding and one by one those tasks come off the list. Even though more will be added, it will prevent anything important from falling through the cracks. It won’t happen all in one day, but you’ll wield the lists slowly but surely.

Kristina is a full-time Market Research Project Manager in Philadelphia and a full-time student at NU pursuing a Master of Science in Organization and Corporate Communication, with a concentration in Leadership. Check out her LinkedIn profile here.   

Got an Offer? Ask These Questions

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Getting a job offer is and should be a time of celebration.  You have successfully navigated the interview process and an employer has determined that you, out of all the other candidates, are the person that they want for the job.  The offer represents a salary, benefits, and, for all of you graduating students, an end to the fear of being unemployed after investing time in your education.  However, don’t let the happiness of making it through this milestone cloud your judgment into accepting the offer automatically—if you do so you jeopardize your chance of negotiating, or making a carefully thought-out decision about your career.  After expressing your interest in the position and enthusiasm about the offer be sure to ask these questions:

images (2)

www.momtofitmom.com

1.)    When do you need my answer by?  Generally, the employer allows at least 24 hours and at most two weeks for a candidate to consider an offer.  By knowing how long you have to make the decision, you can notify any other employers that you’ve been interviewing with that you have been made an offer.  This way you can ask the employer if it is possible for them to get back to you within the set time frame, especially if one of those other employers is your top choice.  It also gives you parameters in which to think critically about how the job fits in with your career goals—could this job give you the skills that you want to gain and open up new possibilities for you career?

2.)    Can I receive the offer in writing and the benefits package? Knowing how long you have to respond to a job offer will enable you to carefully view the benefits/salary package in a timely manner and understand if it works for you or not. Keep in mind that salary is not the only factor that affects the overall offer. Benefits such as dental/medical coverage, vacation/sick time, tuition remission, and employer contribution to a retirement plan, among others, all add up.  If you aren’t satisfied with the overall package, now is the time to think through your negotiating strategy for your next communication with the hiring manager.

3.)    Who can I talk to if I have questions about the benefits package?  Sometimes the person offering you the position is not equipped to talk through the nitty-gritty of the benefits package.  He or she may then direct you to someone in the HR department that has a better understanding of the benefits available to recent hires.  Getting your questions answered about these benefits can ensure that you understand how all the pieces, such as salary/benefits, fit together with your offer.

Keep in mind that asking questions does not indicate that you are not excited about the offer.  It shows the employer that you truly care about your career by taking the time to do your research and understand how the position, salary and benefits fit in with your goals.  On the flip side, if you already know what salary a hiring manager is going to offer you and the benefits that go along with it, there is no need to hesitate when receiving the offer, if you’ve already thought critically about what accepting the position would mean for you.  Feel free to accept on the spot-congratulations, you’ve earned it!

Ashley LoBue is an Assistant Director at Northeastern Career Development.  A Boston College graduate, Ashley has over 3 years of experience working in higher education and is a proponent for international and experiential education