June 25, 2018

Career AdviceProfessional Development

The Top 9 Professional Advice Tips From an Expert Communicator

By: Beverly Hallberg

We all have a story. Mine goes like this–I moved to DC as a 20-year-old California transplant, wide-eyed, nervous, and hoping to change the world. My most important priorities included bracing for the cold weather and trying to figure out what everyone meant by “fake it till you make it.”

Almost two decades later, I think it’s safe to say that DC is home. I’ve built a communications firm, created a life, and now have the unique opportunity to reflect and offer advice. And that advice always starts with communication. Why? Because one of the most important things I’ve learned is that our success, regardless of career choice, is largely determined by how we interact with our bosses and colleagues. I truly believe that if you can communicate well, you will have a better title and a bigger paycheck.

If you’re looking to climb the career ladder, here are my top communications tips:

Getting the Job

-Always be early. If you’re on time, you’re late, so plan to arrive 15 minutes early for every appointment. Doing so makes you appear calm, cool, and collected. You’ll have time to remove a coat (if necessary), use the restroom, silence your phone, and shift all materials to your left hand so you can shake the right hand of your potential employer.
-Maintain eye contact. The first impression matters so much, and eye contact goes a long way to build your confidence as well as the confidence of the person who may extend you a job offer. Don’t look at your feet or the ceiling; look directly into the eyes of the person interviewing you.
-Do your homework. Research the organization as well as the interviewer. Highlight what the organization does well but mention ways your unique skills may help them advance in an area or two. And please have an answer for “What are your weaknesses?” The correct answer is NOT “I don’t have any.”

On the Job

-Be mindful of social media. Your boss isn’t paying you to produce content for your personal accounts, so limit the number of times you post during work hours. If your work product starts to suffer, and your boss is able to monitor how active you are on social media, a correlation will be drawn that doesn’t land in your favor.
-Take notes. Take detailed notes when receiving an assignment, and don’t forget to ask about deadlines. If you follow through before your boss has to follow up, you’ll be marked as the dependable employee and move up the ladder at a faster pace.
-Be a team player. It’s easy to monitor a coworker’s work product and decide whether yours is better. If you feel like the boss doesn’t notice your success as often as you’d like, remember that the quality of your work speaks volumes. Don’t take it upon yourself to tear down a coworker’s effort in order to praise your own. Instead, work hard, keep your head down, play well with others, and trust that your success is seen and appreciated.

After the Job

-Limit yourself to a two-drink maximum. Networking events almost always provide alcohol, and it’s ok to say yes if you know and abide by your tolerance. Drinking with colleagues or clients helps to create shared experiences and establishes trust, but the perception quickly changes if you appear tipsy. It’s always a safe bet to err on the side of sober, especially at a days-long conference.
-Again, be mindful of social media. I don’t just mean when you post but what you post. If that beer-chugging photo from college didn’t prevent you from getting hired, a beer-chugging photo at last Friday’s happy hour may reflect poorly on you and your employer. So, post fun pictures, but know there are limits if you want to be taken seriously.
-Look for opportunities. So much about work is who you know. Even if you’re technically off the clock, be mindful of who you’re talking to and how they may be a good connection in your current job or future opportunities. The more people you can bring into your network, the more valuable you’ll be to your employer.