How to Finish 2011 Strong: Best Blogs, Books and Bits of Advice

Hard to believe it’s already nearly 2012. The holidays are always a good time to take stock of the past year and your accomplishments so, before you crack open the champagne, you may want to think about your goals for the coming year. Where do you want to go? How can you get there? Who can you rely on to help you? What kind of advice do you need to guide you?

 

As we look back on 2011 and our own accomplishments (most notably the publication of our first book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work), as well as our choices and key learnings, we thought we’d share some of our favorite founts of advice from colleagues, fellow career advisors and just plain ol’ smart folks.

While we believe the wisdom imparted in our book and blog posts is helpful to many, we also love learning from others who have interesting things to say about career, creativity and life in general. Here’s our short list:

 

 

Breakdown, Breakthrough by Kathy Caprino: We had the pleasure of serving as fellow advisors with Kathy in a Mediabistro Job Search Boot Camp this fall and were totally impressed with the advice she had to give to the students. Her book, Breakdown, Breakthrough, focuses on why women (though men can benefit from it as well) feel disempowered and teaches them how they can overcome their fears, obstacles and professional crises to find breakthroughs. As someone who spent years in the corporate world and had to navigate her own professional crisis and layoff after 9/11, Kathy went back to school to become a therapist and is now a successful career coach and speaker who draws from personal experience to help others.

 

Jonathan Fields: We don’t personally know Jonathan but Kathy Caprino actually recommended that we check out his blog and we absolutely love it (and then coincidentally saw that there’s an article about him in the January issue of ELLE magazine). He’s a former SEC lawyer turned entrepreneur and author/speaker on creativity, career, play and entrepreneurship who has written two books,  Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love, and more recently, Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance. While we have not yet read either, they are on our reading list for the New Year and should be on yours as well. In the meantime, you can read some great advice, insight and interviews on JonathanFields.com.

 

Lindsey Pollak: Our friend Lindsey is the ultimate expert on Generation Y and her book, Getting from College to Career, is a must-read for any college student or recent graduate, all of whom could use some advice on how to navigate a very tough job market upon graduation. Lindsey’s blog is also fantastic and, though we’re part of Generation X, we glean great career advice from it as well, particularly on how to manage Gen Y employees, which can present its own unique challenges to any boss with young people on his or her staff.

 

College Bound and Gagged: Speaking of college, another great book comes from a lovely writer/self-coined “Stand Up Psychologist” Dr. Nancy Berk, who interviewed us for her radio show this year. College Bound and Gagged is the straight-talking survival guide for anyone (read: parents) who are trying desperately to navigate the pre-college time and remain sane in the process.

Careerideas.com: Kim Styler, who spent years working in the magazine industry, started this resourceful website to provide a behind-the-scenes look at as many careers as possible to help others figuring out their own path to learn as much as possible about what it’s like to work in various industries — such as book publishing, PR, film, HR, technology, etc. There are hundreds of video interviews with successful folks in these fields (including Jessica!) who answer questions such as “Who should or shouldn’t go into this business?”, “What’s your typical day like?” and “What do you like best/worst about your job?” Even though we’re not looking to change careers, we have enjoyed watching many of these videos just to hear more about what different jobs entail. Note: You can watch snippets of all videos for free but if you want to watch the full-length versions, you do have to sign up for a monthly or three-month package, at $14.99/mo. or $29.99, respectively.

And then a few nuggets of year-end advice from us that we hope will help you prepare for a successful and exciting 2012:

Look Back/Look Ahead: Take some quiet time to write down what you thought really worked in your career/job over the past year and what didn’t work as well. Determine what you can do better/differently/more of/less of in the coming year that will make you more efficient and effective in your job.

Be Thankful: Reflect on the moments — both small and big — that made you feel successful in 2011 and the people who supported you, connected you to someone else, and/or gave you positive feedback that helped you stay focused on your goals. Then, send those people a thank you note. It may sound hokey,but they will appreciate it, and you’ll stay top of mind for them in the New Year.

Do What Makes You Happy: Most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else, so it’s important to be fulfilled in what you do. Think about what would make you happier in your career and what changes you might make to help you get there. It could be as minor as telling your staff that you need an hour of “quiet time” each day to focus on strategy and not be distracted by constant interruption or emails. Or, it could be as drastic as switching careers or starting your own company, as Meryl recently did after doing PR in-house and at agencies for several years. Now is the time to take a risk, make a change and figure out how to advance your career — and happiness — in 2012.

Have any New Year’s advice, book or blog recommendations to share? Tell us here, on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).

News You Can Use: Generation Sell, Share or Self-Employed? What People Saying About Gen Y

In one day, we read three articles about Generation Y in The New York Times and The New York Post — that covered topics from self-promotion and gossip to whether or not you really need to go to college to succeed. Here are the soundbites:

Millennials Embrace Entrepreneurialism & Salesmanship: On the front page of the Times’ SundayReview section, an article entitled “Generation Sell” by William Deresiewicz, paints Millennials as “polite, pleasant, moderate, earnest, friendly” and  comments that “We’re all selling something today, because even if we aren’t literally selling something…we’re always selling ourselves. We use social media to create a product — to create a brand — and the product is us. We treat ourselves as the business, something to be managed and promoted.” Our question is, “What is wrong with that?” In this extremely challenging job market that Gen Y is graduating into, if they don’t sell themselves, no one is going to do it for them. In order to get noticed, as we discuss in our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist, you must treat yourself as a product to be promoted.’

[Read more…]

Common Communication Gaffes: Oops…and How to Avoid Doing It Again

We’ve all done it — accidentally sent an email that we immediately wanted to retrieve.  In the world of instant gratification that we now inhabit, where we’re expected to respond in the blink of an eye and be available 24/7, it’s bound to happen. Case in point: the publicist who recently replied all to an email calling a blogger a bitch, not realizing that said blogger was one of the recipients. Oops!

We also recently read a post on Mediabistro about a young job-seeker who emailed a cover letter (of sorts) to a PR firm from his/her iPhone that was filled with embarrassing mistakes.

We’re not perfect either. In our book, Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, Jessica talks about the time she called a (now former) editor at one of her company’s magazines a jerk and accidentally included him on the email (sometimes multitasking is not a good idea!). So what can you do in these kinds of circumstances?

1) Apologize for your actions (aka stupidity). Honesty truly is the best policy when you screw up. After Jessica did the slow-mo “Nooooo!” once that email had gone into cyberspace, she picked up the phone and called the guy she had badmouthed, fessed up and said she was sorry. (By the way, he hadn’t even seen the email yet!  Awkward!) They ended up having a heart-to-heart conversation about how her staff felt he was treating them and he had had no idea he was coming across like, well, a jerk. Luckily, the situation led to the smoothing over of a bumpy relationship. But it easily could have made it worse — and it was certainly not the way she would have done it if she had had her druthers.

[Read more…]

How to Make Sure Your Job Search is More Treat Than Trick

Halloween is a holiday that has as many advocates as it has opponents.  But whether this year finds you donning a costume or simply reminiscing about those October 31sts of your youth, there are key professional lessons to learn from the age old All Hallows Eve:

[Read more…]

News You Can Use: First-Time Job Seekers May Be Struggling for a Reason

In this week’s New York Post @Work section, there’s a great cover story on how many young job seekers may be ruining their chances of getting hired because of various errors they make during the interview process. We’ve blogged about this several times before but it’s imperative that applicants learn to stand out to potential employers — and we don’t mean in a bad way!

Some of the common gaffes covered in the New York Post article include:

  • Spelling/grammar mistakes: It’s amazing how frequently job candidates submit written materials — whether resume, cover letter, writing sample or thank you note — riddled with errors. Even if you use the spell check function on your Blackberry or computer (and our guess is that most don’t!), read it again aloud before sending it and, even better, get someone else to review it first. If job candidates aren’t careful enough to check for mistakes during the interview process, they’ll only get worse once you hire them.
  • Dress for the job you want: We spend a whole chapter in our book Be Your Own Best Publicist on personal style and how to dress appropriately for an interview. We share advice from loads of fashion experts and they all agree that candidates need to be well-groomed, polished and stylish and not be tone-deaf when it comes to the industry or position for which they’re interviewing. For example, if you’re going for a job in a creative field, you may want to dress a bit more fashion-forward (but still no flip-flops, people!) than if you were applying to work in banking or the legal arena.
  • Come prepared: This seems like a no-brainer but endless job candidates apply for positions without doing the proper research on the company, the industry and the person with whom they land an interview (if they get in the door). Having just come from college, where students must do research and study in order to succeed, it’s shocking that recent graduates don’t realize that they need to put the same effort and preparation into a job search, particularly in a tough market where there are fewer jobs available.
  • Keep it professional: An interviewer is not your friend; if you’re lucky, he or she may be your future boss. So don’t get too chummy or casual during your conversations. Don’t discuss your personal life or ask about theirs. Don’t post about your interview on Facebook or Twitter. Don’t curse (yes, people have done this during our interviews!). And please don’t use emoticons in your follow-up email.

Many Gen-Yers suffer from a bit of culture shock when they enter the workforce after college; in most cases, just being “good enough” is simply not going to cut it. And any sense of entitlement certainly won’t either. Young job-seekers need to go above and beyond in order to make a good impression on potential employers. (We share lots of advice on how to do so in our book.) Because as the New York Post article ends, “Not everyone gets a trophy in the real world.”

News You Can Use: Fighting the Battle of Sexes When It Comes to Self-Promotion

In the “Workstation” column of The New York Times‘ Business section this past Sunday, Phyllis Korkki notes that “women need to prove themselves multiple times” in order to move ahead in the workplace, whereas men have much more latitude.

According to experts interviewed for the piece, we are still living in a world where being aggressive is a compliment when referring to a man and an insult when it describes his female counterpart. Executive coach Peggy Klaus adds that women spend more time praising others’ contributions than their own because self-promotion makes them uncomfortable.

[Read more…]

News We Can Use: Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. RIP Steve Jobs.

Last night came the news that the world had lost an extraordinary visionary, Steve Jobs.  The man responsible for everything from the iPad/iPod/iPhone to Buzz Lightyear  has moved from infinity to the beyond.

No doubt the tributes will be far and wide – highlighting his entrepreneurial prowess and his unparalleled creativity; his philanthropic drive and attention to detail; his strong spirit and unique support of burgeoning talent. There’s already so much on the books about his leadership, impact and innovation.

[Read more…]

News We Can Use: A Simple Way to Stand Out (AKA Jimmy Fallon Is Onto Something)

This week, the Postal Service shared that the average household gets one personal letter about every seven weeks. That’s a significant drop from 1987, when people received a letter about every two weeks. Makes sense, given that cursive writing itself may be headed for extinction; to date, 41 of the 50 states have dropped it from their teaching curriculum.

[Read more…]

On Our Radars and In Our Readers: Week of October 2

Whether for the government, a cause or  yourself, marketing in all forms is bubbling up in conversation this week.  Here’s the latest:

Thanks again to Gennifer Delman — virtual intern/future magazine editor/head of Hofstra’s Ed2010 chapter — for compiling the top PR/marketing news of the week!

See any other headlines/trends you want to share?  Post it in the comments or send it to us at BestPublicist (at) gmail (dot) com.