How to Survive Being the Newbie at Work

Times are constantly changing and employment is not as stable as it used to be. With the average person set to hold a total of eleven jobs in their lifetime, it is important to have an understanding on how to approach a new team and make a good impression… You’re bound to be a newbie more than once in your career. Evidence shows that over 89% of hiring failures are directly related to poor cultural fit. By making time to build solid relationships, showing enthusiasm for your team, stopping to listen, and showing initiative, your chances of becoming an equal member of the team increase dramatically.

  1. Build Relationships

We have all heard the popular saying, “Together we can move mountains.” As the newbie of the group, one of your first responsibilities is to work on building solid relationships with your new team members. It is important to establish your place on the team on a professional level, as well as build connections and bonds with your co-workers on a personal level. Taking the time to do so will not only help you find your place in the group, but it will solidify your team as a whole. With a third of your life being spent at work, it is imperative that you step away from your desk time to time to get to know those around you.

 

  1. Show Enthusiasm for your Team

When trying to make a good impression, nothing works better than to have a positive attitude and outlook on your new position and team. Although joining a new team can be a bit stressful and overwhelming, coming in with a positive attitude and open mind can give you the opportunity to show your team members that you are eager to get started and make a difference.

  1. Stop and Listen

When joining a new team and organization, there is so much to learn. It is important that you ask plenty of questions, but it can be just as important to take a few moments to simply listen to those around you. Your teammates have been where you are at one point in time and know exactly what you are feeling. If you take the time to simply listen to their stories, experiences, and suggestions, the road to becoming a part of the group will be much shorter.

  1. Show Initiative

Success comes to those who are proactive, which is why it is so important to show initiative right out the gate. Being willing to jump in and take on difficult challenges shows your team members that you are a hard worker who is an essential part of the team, just like them. Don’t let the amount of time you have worked for the organization and team determine your success and opportunities. Jump in and prove that you can add value.

With job security decreasing and the number of jobs in a person’s lifetime increasing, it is crucial to have an understanding on how to approach a new team and make a good impression. By making time to build solid relationships, showing enthusiasm for your team, stopping to listen, and showing initiative, your chances of becoming an essential member of the team is greatly increased.

An Hour With Herm Edwards

Herm Edwards. You may recognize that name as the defensive back for the Philadelphia Eagles where he recorded 38 career interceptions between 1977 and 1986. Or you know the name from the numerous coaching positions he had from San Jose State, to the Chiefs, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets. If you’re an ESPN regular, then you know Edwards for his analysis work on NFL Live, SportsCenter, Audibles, and ESPN Radio. But our Executive Vice President in Marketing and Technology, Greg Dean, got to know Mr. Edwards as Herm, the guy sitting next to him at the airport after being the closing keynote speaker at DSCOOP San Antonio this past weekend.

DSCOOP wrapped up their annual conference on Saturday with speakers among Edwards like Laura Schwartz, Kevin O’Leary, and Steve “the Woz” Wozniak. With all of his experience in the football industry, it’s no wonder why DSCOOP, the collaborative community for HP customers, experts, partners, and leaders asked Mr. Edwards to close out their conference with the topic of leadership. While his speech involved a lot of sports analogies and metaphors, everyone in the room was captivated at Herm’s way of storytelling on leadership. A direct quote from his speech: “The essence of leadership begins with integrity and vision. Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked. Good leaders can lift people’s expectations and performances.” And my goodness, if he didn’t lift people’s expectations after that speech.

With traveling for lectures about twenty times a year, Herm Edwards has his leadership speech down pat, but that doesn’t stop him from showing his genuine care and love for what he does and the people he speaks to. His greatest takeaway is the understanding that a huddle involves every player to be focused on the play, that everyone’s feet must be pointed in the same direction, and that no one is bigger than the team itself. See what I meant when I said he uses sport metaphors?

But the greatest part about meeting and listening to Herm was? Greg says his way of storytelling, his passion for football, and his genuine care for people. “Talking to him for an hour felt as though I was talking to a friend I’ve had for 15+ years,” says Dean. And that just might be the greatest part about Herm Edwards. He’s a football almanac and can help you with your Fantasy draft, has years and years of playing and coaching professional football, but most importantly, he’s a down-to-earth guy who cares about his family, his friends, and his fans.

Holiday Party Success

Having a Successful Holiday Party

The end of the year holiday season is a time for celebrating, so why not get your company involved? It may seem like a dreary task that you don’t want to even get involved with, but it doesn’t have to be. By focusing on non-specific to any religion decorations and food, and by getting your employees involved in the decision making, you can expect a happy and well attended holiday party. Here are a few tips to help in having a successful holiday party.

Budget

Choose a budget that works best for your company and plan around that budget. Whether it means exploring less expensive venues, or just cutting back on the party costs, make sure you stick within your budget. An easy way to keep your holiday party within your budget is by considering a potluck or an in-office lunch party. Management can pay for the cost of a lunch or have each employee bring a dish that they enjoy and share the wealth! Another easy way to cut expenses is by using your own decorations or bringing your own source of music rather than hiring a DJ or band.

Show Your Appreciation

Seeing as it is the season for giving, your employees will appreciate a gift that shows your appreciation for all of their efforts. While many companies give their employees gift cards or bonus checks, it doesn’t necessarily mean you must give financial gifts. Consider giving your staff the gift of more time off. If possible, offering your employees an extra day off between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be much appreciated. This will allow your staff to get some extra holiday shopping done and will make them happier, and possibly more productive the rest of the time. If you can’t offer these types of gifts, a personal holiday card hand written from management is just as appreciative.

Things to Avoid

Make sure that your holiday party isn’t a Christmas Party in disguise. Make sure that the food and decorations are not specific to any religion. This will allow your employees to feel more comfortable if they have religious differences. It’s important to also have a variety of beverages, including non-alcoholic for those who don’t drink. If you feel as though you can’t completely take out a specific holiday, consider having a New Year’s party to avoid it all together. Secret Santa’s and gift exchanges can make some employees uncomfortable. The best way to go about anything is by finding out what your staff really wants in a holiday party. We suggest sending out a quick and easy survey to have your employees fill out anonymously with their desired date, type of food, venue, and activities include. This way, you will be sure to please everyone.

The end of the year should be a joyous time for everyone, so be sure to keep your employees in mind when putting together a holiday party. The holiday party is a great way to get more interaction between employees, boost morale, and relieve some much needed stress that the holidays can bring. Do you have any traditions or ideas that weren’t mentioned? We’d love to hear!

Tales of the Hiring Process

Last week I dropped my first born off at college for her freshman year.  Beyond the emotional aspects felt that day and in the days since, I started thinking ahead about her career and how she might approach job hunting and college in general.  I have been debating when to begin, and how much, to share from my experience as a hiring manager at DME.

Over the past month or so I have been trying to hire a non-entry level marketing coordinator to replace one who unexpectedly left for a different market and for a different position.  Much to my chagrin, the hiring process has mostly been quite frustrating.  I thought I had crafted a well-written, well-defined description of just the type of person, skills and experience needed.  Near 100 resumes later, at least 90% of which didn’t really come close to meeting my needs (why do these folks who have zero marketing experience waste their time and mine?)  I found two, yes only two, of genuine interest.  The first one interviewed was a strong choice who ultimately cancelled a second hiring interview the night before it was scheduled.  The second candidate was also a good hire and I came away impressed, except for one thing, the candidate solved needs that I anticipate I will have in the near future but not the ones I have today, or really yesterday.

So the question for a week became, do I try to shoehorn someone in and teach them to handle what I need now and reap the true payoff later?  Or wait for that one frustratingly elusive resume to hire that works best now.

Fortunately, stalling for a few days to make a decision allowed the “hiring god of the perfectly-timed resume” to deliver the needed goods to my inbox.  Well, a perfect resume except for errors that were not caught.  Would you interview someone for a writing-based, detail-oriented position that can’t get their own resume right?  Normally I wouldn’t.  But this time intuition said, “Let’s take a chance here”.  One interview later, where the resume faux pas was addressed, and humorously explained to my satisfaction, I made my decision.  The offer letter was accepted and my marketing team will be stronger for it.  The moral of this blog is sometimes you just have to take a chance, go against the grain, don’t judge a book by its cover and/or insert any other cliché you like here.

Next, when the time is right, I can turn my hopes toward hiring the shoehorn candidate to make my team even better.  Wisely, I did explain with total honesty the situation to candidate #2 and I will hope it works out for all of us.

So how does this relate to my daughter heading off to college?  The best wisdom I can share is that she uses her college years to take chances and have an open mind to experience everything she possibly can…knowing this as she texts yesterday, two days into her college career, about volunteering next summer to teach English in Cambodia. Never leave a stone unturned.

 

Why You Should Stop Talking

We all talk. A lot. We want to have the answers, be the problem solvers for our customers. But we don’t always have them, or we do, but we can’t find the time to execute them. Our plates are full. Always.

So maybe we should shut up. As the old homage goes “actions speak louder than words”. That project you’ve been putting off. Do it. You say you have a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Honor it. Be a man or woman of your word. You could tell a customer or a peer how great you are all day long, and a lot of time as marketers that’s what we do: All.Day.Long., but don’t let that be all you do. Make sure you can back up what you are saying with policies, ethics and skillsets.

It sounds simple, and we all know it in theory. Of COURSE you don’t want to lie to anyone. Duh, it’s bad. But if you are honest to yourself, how often do you do it? Marketing walks the fine line of truth and exaggeration.

Getting out of your comfort zone or going the extra mile often results in great things. Shoulda, woulda, coulda doesn’t get you anywhere. Once your reputation is tarnished, whether as a company or an individual, personal or professional, you’ve just added extra hurdles to overcome. Not that those hurdles are fatal, but sometimes you are too tired and too downtrodden to jump them. So why set them up in the first place?

Be a doer. Be a goal setter. Excuses don’t cut it in the professional world and talk is cheap. Lead by example and success will follow. An outstanding reputation and unprompted peer or customer reviews mean much more than anything YOU could ever say about YOURSELF. Bottom line: Let your actions do the talking.

7 Steps for the Perfect Resume

If you are looking to transition jobs, one of the first things to consider is updating your resume. Hopefully you’ve been updating it regularly, but if you are like many of us, you probably haven’tyou’re your resume is out of date, It can be a daunting task to whip it back into shape. To help, we’ve compiled some tips of how to perfect your resume:

 

  • Update Regularly

Updating your resume regularly makes it easier and less time intensive when applying for a job. If you haven’t updated since you applied for your current job (may it be a couple months, a year or multiple years) it can be a daunting tasks. Adding, removing, organizing… it all takes time to get it perfect.

  • Write a Cover Letter

Cover letters are a necessity in my opinion. It shows you take the extra time to tailor your resume to a specific company and position. It also communicates how your skills on your resume correlate to the actual position. You can also include ancillary information that might make you unique that wouldn’t belong on a resume.

  • No Objective Section

With a cover letter, an objective section is fairly obsolete. Most hiring personnel will tell you that an objective section does not influence their hiring decision. Not including it frees up some extra space for you to include more experience.

  • Use Present and Past Tense Properly

If you are currently working, write your job description in present tense. For previously held positions or past education it goes in past tense. Simple as that.

  • Proof, Proof and Proof

As someone who often gets to read hopeful applicant’s resumes, I can promise you nothing gets you in the “do not contact” pile as errors in your resume. Make sure everything is spelled correctly, not just with spellcheck, but reading through to catch mistakes that might spell out other words correctly. And please, please, PLEASE, learn the correct usage of there, they’re and their. Also how to properly use its and it’s, and to and too. All of these are very important when applying for a job.

  • Have Others Proof

When in doubt, ask someone else. When your resume is nearing the end stages of being complete, have someone else take a look at it. Mother, brother, husband, wife, friend or even your kids. Suggestions for improvements or catching of errors can come from unlikely sources. Better safe than sorry!

  • Check Formatting

Along with proofing, make sure your formatting is consistent. If one section uses bullets, use bullets in the other similar section. Make sure similar information is all aligned properly and watch out for hanging words or even sentences. If your resume has one sentence on a 2nd or 3rd page see what you can do to prevent that.

 

 

Have suggestions? Share your go-to’s when updating your resume below:

Customer Communication: Balancing Distance and Efficiency

Is your company a local business? Or are you a regional or national entity who’s target audience resides outside of your immediate location. With the growth, and then explosion, of technology over the past 20 years, the ability to communicate and work with far-flung customers becomes easier every day.  You may even have customers, including some of your best ones, that you have never met in person…just various communications with disjointed voice over the phone, or maybe just an email signature.

The 90’s brought fax machines, computers, bag phones, cheaper long distance phone rates, scanners and other technology innovations, to the current electronics such as smart phones, Wi-Fi, social networks, technology continues to allow us to be ever more efficient and always connected. Location is no longer a selling hurdle to overcome.

With so many communication channels, we now rely on asking customers how they prefer to be communicated with. In using site tracking software, we see the majority of people prefer email communications.   For many, it seems like giving out an email address is far easier giving up a phone number.

So email it is, for the majority of communications.  On occasion a phone call may be needed to clarify a process or discuss specifics… That is if they don’t let it go to voice mail and then email back the answer.

Am I saying that the technology progression in customer communications is a bad thing?  Not necessarily.  If the customer is getting what they want and are satisfied with the process, then all should be happy.  It also allows one to work with more customers at a time which should mean more revenue and profit.  More efficient, right?!  Regardless, do your due diligence in reaching out other ways to make sure you provide a well-rounded customer service experience.

Older generations know the value of a phone call and how it lends itself to better communication. Even better is getting out and meeting and greeting your customers, shaking hands and looking them in the eye. While Generation Y may not place the same value on face-to-face interactions it is important to maintain these relationships with your Seniors, Baby Boomers and Generation X customers. The bonds forged will be much stronger.

How to Handle a Bad Business Break Up

So as much as we would like to think we only suffer from breakups in private areas of our lives, a break ups are probably more common within the business world. Just like your personal break up experiences, sometimes it’s mutual, but most of the time it’s not. When you enter into a business relationship most people don’t go into it expecting it to expire, or if there is an end date, there is always the option to continue on.

Business is built on passion, so it’s natural when something affects your business, emotions often times get heated. So how do you handle a break up from our of the blue?

 

  1. Try the golden rule. No matter what side of the break up you are on (being broken up with or doing the ending) treat the other how you would want to be treated. Depending on why the relationship is ending this may be harder to do than it sounds. Both parties can make it difficult to end a relationship and can choose to hold the other side responsible for different costs, make data impossible to retrieve and other headaches. These difficulties can sometimes be avoided (or at the very least, minimalized) by just being courteous.

 

  1. This may seem like a no brainer, but it is often neglected. If it’s appropriate, let them know where it went wrong and how they can improve for the next time. Don’t drop off the earth no matter how frustrated you may be. For starters, there are usually contracts and legality in place to prevent this, but even if there is not… refer back to number one.

 

  1. Focus on the positive. Since break ups are hard all around concentrate on moving forward. If you are a customer, remember that you will be finding a supplier that will be more suited for your specific needs. If you are a vendor, move forward with finding customers more in tune with your product or service.

 

Hopefully, bad break ups can be avoided all together by both parties having an open line of communication and consistent contact with each other. No relationship is perfect and there will be bumps on the road, so working through them then and there guarantees a higher success rate.

Expectations vs. Reality: My First Marketing Job

One thing that your college professors forget to mention before you make that big jump into the real world is that your college education, no matter how hard you may have worked, will not completely prepare you for your first job. Don’t worry! All of those hours you spent in the classroom and downing large iced coffees in the library did not go to waste. Plenty of useful skills are learned and plenty of valuable experiences are had during those four years. My point is, you simply do not know what your job is going to entail until you are completely immersed in it. You must instead approach that first job as an opportunity to continue your education, because the reality is, just as much learning occurs outside of the classroom.

I joined the staff here at DME a little over a week ago as a marketing coordinator. After graduating from college in May of last year, it was a challenging eight months before I received my first real job offer. I had completed marketing internships and even worked as a freelancer for a few different businesses. In my mind, I knew enough to be successful in my new role at DME. It wasn’t until this past week when I had my official training that I learned how much I have to…well… learn.

What occurred to me during those two days of meeting and speaking with the leaders of each department within the company was that being a part of a successful business is more than just knowing what the company’s product or service is. It requires knowing that the Xeikon printer does not handle solid colors as well as the HP Indigo printer. It requires knowing who receives the information about an order and to whom they pass it on along to begin production. It requires knowing the ins and outs of the entire company so that you are not just a piece of a puzzle but instead an influential member of a team, collectively trying to bring the business to new heights.

A college education is invaluable. As a student of marketing, I learned the vocabulary, skills and applications to survive in a business environment. What college cannot provide for you is a class that specializes in DME or a class that specializes in teaching you how to do your job at whatever company you may end up at. Each industry and each individual business does things differently and the only way to prepare yourself for the unique qualities of a business is to absorb all the details once you have the position. Easier said than done for sure.

One thing is certain, your first job will be nothing like the way you expect it to be. When you accept the position, expect to succeed, expect to meet a wide array of people, but above all else, expect to learn.

 

Did you have a different experience with starting your first post-college job? In what ways were your expectations different from reality?

 

The Best Hiring Practices For Your Dream Team

Today, as I was browsing marketing articles, I came across a LinkedIn post where the author discussed his hiring procedures. He commented that he doesn’t make a final decision on hiring a candidate until he has taken them out to lunch. At lunch, he notices how the candidate interacts with wait staff, how they go about making decisions and their table manners. He sees these menial interactions as a great predictor of how an employee treats their coworkers (upper and lower), handles difficult tasks and respects the job given to them. I found this to be a very thought provoking idea.

The article also made me think about my own personal hiring practices, as well as those of my fellow managers.  How do you address hiring new people? Do you take into consideration how that person will fit into your job culture and how well they play well with others? Judging these attributes can be hard to determine in an interview setting where everyone is on their best behavior. In the instance someone on paper is great, and has the skills needed to complete the job, doesn’t get along with people in and out of your department, what do you do?

Recently, I have found myself hiring a handful of people per year. However, with the economy and sales picking up in DME’s market, I expect that number to increase in 2015. Generally, in a downturn, you are letting staff go. But this often leads to being stuck without the right people on your team, which can lead to productivity loss. You may say yes laying off people helps the bottom line, in that you are eliminating the B and C players and only keeping the A’s.  If this is your plan, my last post talks about doing more with less staff.

As I said, eliminating staff can still be beneficial with the right approach. However, I took a different tact during the downturn.  I actually interviewed more during the economic downturn.  For positions filled with employees I felt were not a right fit for DME, I constantly was on the lookout for talent that could match and exceed what we currently had. Often, I found better talent for less money which in turn improved productivity, moral, creativity and ultimately the bottom line.  And as things improve economically my team will be rewarded.

Another hiring benefit of financial growth is the increase of competition. You are now not looking only at people that are currently unemployed, but at people that are looking for a change of pace and feel secure enough to look around.  So how do you attract those hires that can best help you?  Personally, I am interviewing even more for two reasons. I need to add back staff that were lost and to encourage growth of the company. New hires come from:

  1. Employment Requests. Have a generic email (like careers@dmedelivers.com) that people can submit resumes to even without an open position. Just make sure you save them for when the time is right.
  2. Job Listings. An obvious one, but if you are looking to fill a position, post it on your own website, social media, and job boards (Monster, Indeed, CaeerBuilder, etc…). You never know where a quality person might come from.
  3. Personal Connections. Think about whom you know and might fill a spot in your team. Knowing someone socially is a great predictor of how they would be in the office.

Ultimately it pays dividends to do your research and be patient for the right hires. I’ve vowed that I want the best team possible and without being open, I won’t find them.