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.

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Should the Holiday be Renamed Non-Labor Day?

This Labor Day, there’s not much to celebrate. According to a recent piece on Business Insider, which compiled alarming stats from various sources, there was zero job growth in the past decade — the worst 10 years on record — and two million people have exhausted 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, while another four million will do so by the end of this year. What’s up, America? How is it that the job picture continues to get grimmer and grimmer?

As co-authors of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work, we offer career advice to people at all levels through our book, as well as speaking engagements, coaching sessions and workshops, on how to land that dream job or client — or move up in your current position — by making yourself invaluable, unique and indispensable. But when the job market just keeps getting bleaker, how can you focus on the positive? How do you keep your confidence in tact when you’ve been pounding the pavement for months with no end in sight? How do you avoid letting the fear of losing business, staff or — worse — your job stand in the way of your success? In honor of Labor Day, here’s some hopeful advice and wishful thinking that the job market will rebound by this time next year:

1) It’s all in the spin: When you leave a job, lose a job, or can’t find one, think about yourself as self-employed versus unemployed. If you position yourself to the market as a freelancer or independent contractor, you’ll come across as more confident and likely more employable. Even better, rather than just collect unemployment and send out resumes, try to pitch yourself for freelance work — many companies who have had to cut full-time staff must now rely on less expensive outside contractors whose benefits and insurance they don’t have to cover.

2) Demonstrate value: Okay, so we thought we would never experience what we went through in 2009, with budget and job cuts across the board, but unfortunately we’re dealing with a potential double-dip recession. However, if you still have your job, be thankful and, what’s more, make sure you’re showing value to your company so that when they do have to evaluate headcount and performance, you’ll be the one they simply can’t do without.

3) Stay on the circuit: If you’ve been out of work for a while, don’t give up and sit at home wallowing. Even if you are happily employed, you must continue to connect with as many people as possible.  In fact, studies show that 80 percent of senior level jobs are filled with personal connections, so keep in mind that the bigger your circle, the more job leads you’ll get. Go to networking events, schedule informational interviews with folks in your industry, book coffee dates with anyone you think can help you and connect with people on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

4) Don’t get defeated: Even in challenging times, the best people — the ones who make a positive impact and stand out in a unique way — will ultimately get hired and promoted. While this Labor Day may be overshadowed by our high unemployment rate in the U.S., hopefully it will also serve as a catalyst to get Americans back into the workforce. Some of that will be up to the government, but some of it will be up to you and how well you leverage your skills, talents and connections.

How are you staying upbeat in a tough job market? Share with us here, on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).

News You Can Use: Forever Indebted — Rising Debt Makes Finding the Right Gig Vital For Grads


This past weekend, Meryl spoke to 175 seniors graduating from Ithaca College’s Park School of Communications, where she also earned her degree. She, like so many graduates, feels  connected — even indebted — to her alma mater for the experience and access that it provided.

Interestingly, this year’s graduating class is indebted in a completely different (and quite disconcerting) way. The Wall Street Journal reports that, thanks to rising costs of education, those graduating from America’s colleges and universities this spring share a dubious distinction: the most in debt ever. And, according to a recent poll, a staggering 85 percent of graduates will move back in with Mom and Dad to try to stave off financial ruin while seeking a job to pay off the monies owed.
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Tips from the Trenches: Six Ways to Further Your Career

Over the last few months, we’ve been asked to share our tips from the trenches at colleges such as Manhattan College, Montclair State, Rutgers (and soon Ithaca College) as well as to professional, creative and alumni organizations including Advertising Women of New York, New York Women in Communications and The Hired Guns.

Last week, Jessica moderated a career panel for her alma mater, the University of Michigan, and the panelists — all successful alumni in different fields, from finance and e-commerce to fashion and food — had some great advice to share on how to be your own best publicist. Here are a few highlights:

 

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One-on-One Interview: Dan Schawbel, Personal Branding Guru

In Be Your Own Best Publicist, we share tips and advice from friends, colleagues and key experts in PR and beyond. One person who has great wisdom on how to brand yourself is Dan Schawbel, the founder of Millennial Branding, LLC & author of Me 2.0. We caught up with him recently to get his insight about personal branding and leveraging classic PR and marketing techniques to stand out in the workplace.

What skill or technique have you, yourself, used to get ahead or get a job?

The best technique I learned was to gather new skills outside of work that would be relevant to my internal career path. I was stuck in a product marketing role and wanted to be in social media marketing back in late 2007.

By starting a blog, establishing myself on social networks, and then constantly marketing myself every single day, I became a better marketer and more valuable to my company. The result was that I was able to create my own unique role within my company called “social media specialist.” Ever since then, I’ve been following my passion, honing my skills, and have been continuously innovating.
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How to Kick-Start Your Career as the Job Market Rebounds

It was just reported by Crain’s New York Business that, for the first time in 19 months, the jobless rate in New York City has fallen below 9 percent (granted, it was at 8.9% for December 2010 but still…) and the national rate was at 9.4%, the lowest it’s been in many months. While this is still not what we’d like the figure to be and the decrease may be due to some folks coming off unemployment, it also could indicate a slow recovery and a job market that’s opening back up again.

With the new year up and running, it’s vital that the unemployed, underemployed and unhappily employed take stock of where they are and make a plan for their career future. Whether you need a job or are in one but looking to make a move, now is the time to get going. Here are a few ways to kick-start your job search for 2011:

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How Not to Burn Your Bridges in the Workplace

We once had a boss who, when an employee quit, was known to respond by saying, “I didn’t like you anyway” or by kicking the person out of the office. When it came time for us to turn in our resignation, we were petrified. So we made a case for why it would be better in the long run for us to get experience elsewhere so perhaps we could come back to the company in the future and be an even better asset. Guess what–it worked–and we’re still in touch with our former employer years later.

There are, of course, circumstances in which maintaining a friendly relationship with a former boss or employee is challenging (e.g. when a staffer stole business from the company; when a boss fired you without cause; when someone was verbally abusive or backstabbing when you worked together or was unethical in the workplace). However, in most cases, you can–and should–try to stay on good terms whether you’re the one leaving or being left. Why? Because it’s a small world and you never know when professional paths will cross again.  [Read more…]

Top Five Workplace Lessons Learned from 2010’s News and Newsmakers


With 2010 now receding into the rearview mirror, we can look back on the various triumphs and tribulations of the past 365 days. From pop culture to politics to personalities, there’s lots to learn from last year’s news and newsmakers, including: [Read more…]

Four Career Resolutions You Can Stick To

We all do it — make resolutions at the outset of a brand new year that often fall by the wayside before the end of January (why do you think the New Year is a peak time for gym membership sales but 60% of them go unused?). So how do you strike a balance between setting reachable and unrealistic goals for yourself? How can you approach the “New Year, New You” mentality for your career and actually stick to your plan?  Here are four ideas:

1. Think about what you’ve learned. At the beginning of every year, we each gather our teams together for a “What I’ve Learned” meeting, where everyone shares their top lessons from the past year. This is a great exercise for anyone to do because it enables you to step back and review how the last 12 months went at work and what enlightened you along the way. By discussing it in a group, you also get the added benefit of other people’s lessons. These key learnings — drawn both from mistakes you made and things you did well — will help you plan ahead for the coming year, avoid making the same mistakes again and find ways to put your helpful knowledge to use.

2. Give yourself a few attainable goals and one stretch goal. Even better than creating a laundry list of big goals (e.g. lose 50 lbs., start the next Facebook), many of which you may not reach, break them down into bite-size lists of two or three realistic goals per quarter (i.e. work out 2x/week and cut 100 calories a day, organize your office, spend an hour a day on strategy). Then, just to push yourself, add one that’s a bit harder to reach, what we like to call a “stretch” goal. It should be something that you strive to accomplish but will challenge you and get you outside your comfort zone. For example, maybe there’s an industry award that you’d like to win for your work that’s tough to get. How can you go about getting nominated or creating something good enough to be recognized in 2011?

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How “It’s A Wonderful Life” Can Help You Get Noticed or Rewarded at Work

‘Tis the season of Yuletide movies and the age-old insights they offer about love, celebration and family togetherness.  From  A Christmas Story to Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas to A Miracle on 34th Street, we eagerly watch the “bah humbugs” evolve into good tidings of comfort and joy.

But, can those same feel-good flicks offer ideas on garnering success and happiness in the workplace?

Absolutely – particularly in the case of  It’s a Wonderful Life, one of the most beloved Christmas films in America. The heart-warming (maybe an eensy bit sappy) Frank Capra classic that shares the story of George Bailey and his impact on the small town of Bedford Falls offers some key lessons that anyone can leverage to get ahead at work, whatever your denomination:
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