My #1 Struggle with Being a Young Professional

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I guess you could say that this is a much more personal blog post than what I’m used to writing. I was struggling with a bad case of writer’s block until I reread my blog post from last week and I thought of this topic! Here goes…

Getting used to being a young professional has definitely been a learning curve for me. I’ve always been a server, and I’m used to living the server life: going to bed late at night, sleeping in during the day, working few hours and making good money. There have been many things that I’ve had to get used since becoming a young professional: going to bed at a reasonable time, waking up early, working 40 (minimum) hours per week and having to practice managing my income. But what I didn’t expect to struggle with the most was the confidence that I would need to gain in order to survive being a ‘young professional’.

Everyone’s heard these words at least once in their life, “What would you know? You’re so young”, “Just wait until you’re my age, then you’ll understand what I mean”, or “You did a really good job on that…especially for your age”. When I first started at Plan A as a Lead Recruiter, I was told by the women in the office that they had my back. They told me that they would support me in my decisions when it came to recruitment because they trusted that I knew what I was doing and they trusted that I had a good sense of judgement. But that was because they knew me. In the back of my mind I always worried that I wouldn’t be taken seriously by those who didn’t know me because I’m young. I was worried that people would assume that I lack knowledge or consider me to be too inexperienced to know what I was talking about because of my age.

It wasn’t until a conference last fall that my fear became a reality, when my boss Sheri was introducing me to a few gentlemen who worked for the Ontario Long-Term Care Association. When she introduced me as the Recruitment Manager, one man gave a slight chuckle and responded with, “What are you, seventeen?” That was it. That was the moment I had feared since the day I started working for Plan A. I could feel myself go beet red and I quietly answered, “No. I’m twenty-two actually”. The rest of my day was thrown off, as you could imagine. From then on out I thought, “If he didn’t take me seriously, no one will”. It hurt my feelings, it hurt my ego, and it killed my confidence.

Like I said, it bothered me for the rest of the day. I felt like I knew NOTHING and I felt like I was ‘less than’. But after speaking with the rest of the team, I forced myself to think of it with a ‘who cares’ kind of attitude. I know that I know what I’m doing when it comes to my job, and I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. I also know that my boss and the rest of the team trust that I know what I’m doing.

Since moving into my new role of a Solution Sales Specialist with StaffStat, the feeling of ‘what if they doubt me’ has been brought up all over again, but I know that it’s all in my head. To get over it, I remind myself of the following every day:

  • I know what I’m talking about,
  • I know the product I’m selling, and
  • I know I can do this!

TessaSignatureRevised

September!

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September is days away and I am excited! Some may think that is absurd; why look forward to the end of summer? I believe that there are so many reasons to get excited about September.

Today, on my blog post I will share with you why I love the return of September.

  1. Fall is my favourite season. Sure, summer is beautiful and I am grateful for everything summer brings but there is just something about the fall that rejuvenates me. It is time to break out the blanket scarves, sip and smell pumpkin spice, breathe in the crisp air and admire the beautiful colors.
  1. Return of routines and schedules. I am a sucker for schedules and organization. I thrive on structuring the daily living of both my personal and professional life. Of course the end of summer has us a little sad. My family enjoys the laid back lifestyle of summer but we all crave the need to get back to routine. This time of year, I have found it much easier to connect with business associates, customers and clients as most are returning from vacation and ready to resume business activities.
  1. Spirit of change is in the air. With the change in weather and change in leaves comes many personal changes. People are back to their routines, adjusting their lifestyles from the lax of summer vacations. In our business circle we often refer to September as the ‘Business New Year.’ It is an exciting time as we prep for networking opportunities and conference season. It is a time to practice self care and nurture our professional development, all to ensure we are all performing our best each and every day.
  1. Organization! Time to clean out the summer clothing and toys and replace that with a warmer wardrobe, new agendas, pencils and reading material. This is the kind of stuff I get excited about.
  1. I feel completely rejuvenated from vacation time with the family and practicing self care. With the structure, my organization activities and changes in the flow of daily life I am ready to take on the busyness of fall! 

In my recent conversations with friends, family, colleagues and business associates, I have learned that I am not alone in this boat. Many are equally excited for the structure and routine that comes with September and its trailing months. Of course, savour the last few days of summer but prepare yourself to make this fall the best one yet!

Cheers!

mandyblog

Happy New Year

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September for me is the Business New Year!  With the end of our fiscal year a week away, it’s time to make some resolutions that will not only keep my business on track but it will reaffirm our culture and create change that will continue to help my business evolve and shun complacency.

We start every fiscal year off with a ‘meeting of the minds’, where our team sits down to discuss the strategies of the year to come, to set the goals (large and small) to get us there and to divvy out the tasks.  Before we can go there, as the company’s leader, I have some resolutions of my own that will help me help my team to get us where we want to go.  Here are some of the things I think about before going into our annual business plan.

  1. Human Resources

Who’s presently on the team and who do we need to propel ourselves forward.  What positions do we need to hire for (or create) to keep up to the demand.  And who needs more hands in their position.

  1. Review the Pluses of Working with Plan A

Is Plan A really a great place to work (I think so!)?  Does each team member truly like their job?  This gives me a chance to make sure that the team sees the benefits in working for our organization and also to see if there are other things we can do to keep people inspired and motivated.

  1. Marketing

Each year my goal is to upgrade our marketing efforts.  This is the perfect time to take stock of the previous year and get ready to set some goals for this year.  This year I want to invest a little more time and money into marketing and checking in before the Strat plan makes sure I have an idea of what our budget is and where we want to take this business!

  1. Get connected

To me, the end of summer is also the beginning of the networking season.  I like to make a list of people I want to reconnect with or meet for the first time, as well as the upcoming events and networking opportunities that present themselves.  I like to keep myself and my team engaged by attending events that are aligned with what we do.

  1. Expanding my Business

I know we’re going to expand but how and where and with who?  I need a clear picture of where we’re going before we sit down and plan so our team can help me figure out how we’re going to get there.

Business New Year is one of my most favourite times of the year.  I love everything about my businesses: the solutions they bring to LTC, the people I’ve inspired to bring the vision to life and the community I’ve chosen to build in.  Each year promises to be more exciting and this year is no different!  One of my favourite quotes is “failing to plan is planning to fail”.  Stay posted to find out where our plans take us in 2016/2017!

SheriSignature

Make Things Happen!

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I’ve always referred to September 1st as the Business New Year! While I’m 100% certain I didn’t invent the concept, I sure do like to celebrate it! It’s the perfect time to set some new professional goals AND put them into action. This is the time to make your business resolutions, reset your frame of mind and make things happen. Here’s my list of 7:

  1. If you’ve got a good idea, take some kind of action on it right away. Too often good ideas slip away, either due to momentum (it was exciting at the moment, but less so now) or just through forgetfulness. So when you have a good idea, tell someone, devise a plan and stick to it!
  2. Keep it real. When people skip over the uncomfortable struggles and difficulties they faced in becoming successful. It makes the victory seem too magical and “meant to be”. When you share stories of your achievements, make sure to leave the tough parts in. Be an inspiration to others by keeping it real.
  3. Never get defensive. You should behave in such a way that if you’re ever called out on what you’ve done, you can look the other person in the eye and own up to the error. Quickly move on to detailing a solution ensuring that the same mistake never happens again.
  4. Find out what’s going to be on the test. Make sure you know what metrics, feelings or judgements will define your success, and concentrate your efforts there. Stay ahead of the game rather than trying to play catch up!
  5. There is something valuable to be learned from everything. Even with menial tasks, be they boring, impossible, unrelated to your normal responsibilities or just plain tedious, you won’t waste your effort if you learn something from your actions. It might be a skill, an insight about people, or just a deeper understanding of how a system works. In any situation, there’s always something to gain. It’s just a matter of perspective.
  6. If you’re achieving 100% of your goals, you aren’t thinking big enough. Only by really pushing yourself will you discover what you’re truly made out of. Whether it’s a workout, a deadline or a business deal you’ve got to go out on a limb and reach for more than you think you can get.
  7. When the right opportunity arises, seize it. Once in a while, a very special opportunity emerges – to travel somewhere, meet someone special, do something amazing. When you get that gut feeling that this is a big deal, do not hesitate to drop everything else you’re doing and pour all your energies into wringing that opportunity for everything it is worth.

The challenge: make a list, develop a plan and make it happen!

melblog

Eat. Beach. Sleep. Repeat.

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The summers at Plan A are pretty freakin’ hectic and with the end of summer approaching, I find myself struggling to put work aside to hang out with my family for a week of holidays.  Of course, the week of holidays is vitally important.  It has to be.  My 8 year old daughter isn’t going to stay little forever and I would be doing myself a huge disservice by not taking a break with her!  No matter how busy it is at work I have to remind myself that taking a break far outweighs trudging along without any energy.  

As challenging as it is for me to get away, here are the benefits I always come back to after a week away:

My body and brain are recharged

Being a business owner involves a high level of thinking every minute of every hour of every day.  After doing this for a few months straight I become mentally blocked.  The best way to get my hamster moving again is to step away from the business and make it my goal to digitally detoxify.  Changing my normal routine gives my body and brain the break it needs to boost my creativity and inspiration and I get to return to work with a renewed sense of energy, focus and drive.  

I discover new inspiration

I find the best way to unlock my creative and innovative energy is by changing up my every day activities.  Taking a holiday allows me to try something different – whether it’s a new activity, meeting new people or simply trying a new restaurant – learning something new always sets my imagination off.    

Stepping away from the issues

A holiday allows me to take a break from the issues, clear my head, reflect on what’s working (and what’s not) and focus on solutions.  I always spend the last week of August away from the office, regrouping my thoughts for what’s to come in our following year.  September marks a new business year for me and taking a break allows me gather my thoughts as we plan ahead for the year to come.  

Fostering the businesses growth

As the owner of a rapidly growing business, taking a holiday gives me the chance to see if the people on my team have what it takes to keep the business running while I am away.  I always end up pleasantly surprised at how well the business operates when I am gone.  It empowers my staff to make decisions and reiterates to them that I trust them and that I really do have the best team for my businesses!

Holidays are not just a chance to re-energize for my business; they are a time to re-energize for the people I love!  Making memories, spending quality time with my kiddo and reconnecting with the people are another reason for my business’s success!  So happy holidaying!

SheriSignature

 

4 Ways to Boost Your Confidence

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Confidence is something that everyone struggles with, whether we like to admit it or not. Every once in a while we hear that little voice in our head that whispers, “But what if you fail?” or “Come on… You know you won’t be able to do that as well as the next person”. I’ve experienced issues with confidence in many different areas of my life: sports competitions, school presentations, exams, Toastmasters, conferences with work, my physical appearance etc. I remember when I was in college I was preparing for a presentation that I had to give later that week. I barely slept the entire week before and eating wasn’t even an option. I practically begged my teacher to allow me to present solely to him between classes and when he said no I was holding back tears.

What if I screw up? What if I forget what I was going to say? What if everyone laughs at me or stares with blank faces because they’re confused or embarrassed for me?

I was shaking in his office while trying to think of another way to convince him to let me skip out of the in-class presentation. He looked at me with a confused expression and then he said something that stuck with me through my final year of college and into my professional career: “What are you so afraid of? Everyone else in that room is going to be scared too, but no one is here hoping to see you fail”.

That was when I realized it was all in my head. It was a lack of confidence in myself that made it so difficult for me to feel comfortable doing something as simple as speaking to a group of classmates that I spent the majority of my time with for the previous two years. It had nothing to do with the people around me and what they thought, because really I had no idea what they were thinking; that was the turning point for me.

Since that day, I’ve read tons of blog posts and articles on ways to boost my self-confidence. Not all of the tricks have worked for me, but I thought that today I would share four tips that I’ve implemented into my own life that have truly made a difference for me and my self-confidence:

  1. Practice makes perfect. A quote that I find goes well with this point is, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Although you aren’t able to practice everything that you may lack confidence in, when you are able to, DO IT. This is something that I struggle with because I am the master of procrastination, but that also comes with practice. The more you practice or rehearse whatever it is that that’s stressing you out, the more confident you will be when it comes time to present, act it out, speak etc. It’s hard to be confident when you feel as though you won’t do well at something.
  1. Surround yourself with positivity and think positively. Being around negativity can have major negative effects on your life and your confidence. If you’re constantly surrounded by family members, friends or co-workers that tear others (or you) down, have negative outlooks on life or enjoy making jokes at someone else’s expense, it’s time to separate yourself from them. I know, this is easier than it sounds; you can’t choose your family and you can’t choose your co-workers. But if you have the ability to choose whether or not you spend any additional time with them than is necessary, take advantage of it.If you find yourself in a situation that makes it difficult to think positively, force yourself to find a way to spin it into a positive. Again, this can be difficult, but it’s something that can be practiced and learned. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Eventually you will find yourself seeing every situation in a positive light!
  1. Take care of yourself. If you’re feeling down in the dumps on a particular day, take it upon yourself to change that. There have been days when I’ve gotten out of bed and I just know (or I think I know) that it’s going to be ‘one of those days’. What I find helps me, is if I take a long, hot shower, take my time doing my hair, and dress nicely. These all may seem obvious, but the better you look, the better you feel.
  1. Learn something new. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I LOVE learning new things. By saying this, I don’t just mean that I like learning how to play new sports or card games. I love reading articles and newsletters on topics that I’m not familiar with. It always seems like after I’ve read about something new, that topic then comes up in conversation. There’s no better feeling for me than being able to say, “Actually, I just read about that! This is what I learned…”

As someone who’s struggled with self-confidence in different areas of my life, I’m always interested in learning other ways to boost my self-confidence or “de-stress”. If there’s something you (the reader) would like to share that’s helped you with your self-confidence, please add it to the comments! I’d love to hear about it!

TessaSignatureRevised

How to Use LinkedIn to Land Yourself a Job

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Are you a recent graduate on the hunt for a job? Or perhaps you’re unhappy in your current position and are seeking a change. In today’s post, I will discuss how to use LinkedIn to help you land yourself a new career!

Whether you’re fresh out of post-secondary, or have many years of work experience under your belt, personal branding is an important investment that everyone should make. What is personal branding, you ask? In a nutshell, personal branding consists of establishing a reputation and identity to build trust and interaction with others. You can build your personal brand in a variety of ways, such as creating a personal and modern website, ramping up your social media profiles, creating a blog, etcetera.

So where does LinkedIn fit in with all of this? Simple. It’s another method you should use to build your personal brand. Your LinkedIn profile is a great source to get your resume seen by the masses. Did you know approximately 94% of recruiters are on LinkedIn searching for prospective hires, but only 36% of job seekers have joined this networking platform? It is obvious a huge supply/demand gap exists, which is why you should be taking advantage of it. Here’s how:

  1. Create your account. It’s simple. Visit LinkedIn.com and fill out the basic required information to sign up.
  2. Fill in the details. Beyond the basic account information, begin to fill out your profile. Be sure to follow general resume building tips and keep it simple: don’t use long-winded paragraphs, try using fewer succinct sentences or bullet point lists, and only list relevant and pertinent information. It’s not necessary to share specific details about your sports awards from high school. If you’re drawing a blank and don’t know where to begin, try using a physical copy of your resume and working off of it as a starting point.
  3. Add a photo of yourself. People are much more likely to interact with someone who has a photo. It also instills trust into others when they can put a face to a name. A few tips: try purchasing a corporate photo session to keep things professional instead of posting a selfie, and use a headshot rather than a full body shot.
  4. Use keywords in your headline. LinkedIn relies heavily on keyword searches. The keywords you use in your profile are what will lead people to your profile. Avoid using overly pretentious words such as “guru”. You should think of your headline as the objective portion of your resume; explain who you are, what you do, and the value/benefits you can bring to your future employer. Try to avoid using the personal pronoun “I” and instead speak in third person. Consider using these templates:
  • [Job title/expertise] who [does what] for [client/project]. [Proof] ex: Founder at ABC Company specializing in staffing LTC homes in the North. Winner of Entrepreneur of the Year 2015.
  • [Keyword] | [Your specific benefit] ex: Marketing Consultant | Focusing on social media and SEO.
  1. Ask for recommendations and insert a simple quote from your references for each job you have listed. You can also endorse people you personally know for skills and they will likely return the favour.
  2. Use the background image strategically. Instead of just uploading any random, visually appealing photo as your header/background image, use a photo editing tool such as Canva.com to create your own background image that highlights your name, achievements, skills, etc.
  3. Speaking of networking, do it! LinkedIn is a great networking tool, especially for those who may be more reserved or uncomfortable being in large networking environments. It’s easy to network on LinkedIn: join relevant groups, follow industry leaders/influencers, interact with others, post updates, and publish articles.

Once you have created or revamped your profile, start putting it to use by searching and applying to jobs, and start connecting and communicating with recruiters of companies you are interested in. Good luck!

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