Meet Kate Michaels, the Human Resources Lead for the New Jersey office of The Boston Consulting Group. Prior to joining BCG, Kate worked at MWW Group, a mid-sized public relations agency, as the Human Resources Manager. Prior to that, she held various HR positions within Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us. Michael’s holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Montclair State University in Organizational Communication. Here are few ways to make the most of your interview process, and enjoy the journey that lies ahead.
The interview process: From resume building to finding a mentor, cover letters and thank you notes, what are your key pillars for navigating your way to your dream job?
Getting your dream job is impossible without a strong resume. Make sure your resume is an appropriate reflection of you. Read it, re-read it, have other people read it, be honest, and keep in mind it will probably only be viewed for a few seconds. Keep an eye on the small details and make sure you can speak to everything on your resume in the interview along with what you’ve learned from each experience. If you are submitting a cover letter with your resume, make sure it is customized to the job and the company. It is extremely obvious when a generic cover letter is used. Don’t be afraid to be creative.
Make sure you take the time to prep for your interview. You should know about the role, the company, and who you are interviewing with. Answer each question honestly and thoroughly, but to the point instead of talking in circles. Make sure you let the interviewer speak, too.
After the interview, send customized thank you notes to each person you interviewed with. Remember the small stuff like the interviewer has two kids and their soccer game is Sunday. This shows you listened and that you genuinely care.
The job search: What are some of your tried and true methods? LinkedIn? Networking?
Networking is an important part of the job search whether it’s on LinkedIn, at an event, or even just a casual gathering. My best advice for networking is to keep in touch with people you’ve made connections with at your jobs over the years. Those connections can help point you in the right direction for your job search and also connect you with other people in their network. They can even come in handy to provide a reference once you land that dream job. If you are just starting your career, LinkedIn is a great place to start. Be sure to regularly update your profile, have a profile picture to make it more personal, and keep in mind, just like your resume, your LinkedIn profile is probably only being viewed for a few seconds.
Getting ahead and connecting with your boss: What are some tips for getting ahead at work and taking your responsibilities to the next level?
Accept the small ‘wins’ at work. Playing to your strengths is just as important as being aware of your areas for development. Continuously work to improve those areas and you will become an even more valuable asset. Along that same line of thinking, getting to know your boss is just as important as being self-aware. Develop a meaningful and trusting relationship while maintaining an appropriate level of professionalism. This level of comfort will allow more open communication and direct feedback between your boss and you.
Salary: What’s your best advice on how to ask for a desired salary? Or a raise?
People often don’t realize that with an offer or promotion, there is an opportunity for negotiation. Negotiating salary is one of the hardest things to do, particularly for women. It is important to know your worth and to have the data to prove it. Know what type of job you are going for and do your research. Salary negotiation is an art not a science. Just like you practice for an interview, practice salary negotiation. The same goes for asking for a raise. Make sure you have proof of your successful work history and above and beyond behavior and be ready to explain how you are working at that next level already.
What to do if you mess up: Things happen. What’s your best advice for a slipup on the job?
Accept the mistake, own it, and learn from it. Showing you’ve learned from a mistake can turn a negative situation into a positive attribute. Pushing blame can seem easier in the moment, but taking ownership will be beneficial for your career in the long run.
The best career advice you ever received is…
Believe in yourself. It sounds so simple, but it is extremely important to not only believe in yourself, but to also know your capabilities and worth.
First impressions are everything: Being that the event tonight features manicures, what are your thoughts on first impressions? How can someone make the best first impression?
First impressions are imperative and pre-planning makes them that much easier. While initial focus on your appearance is important, that shouldn’t be your main focus. Choose an outfit you’ll feel confident and comfortable in, planning right down to the jewelry and shoes you want to wear. The confidence you feel in this kind of outfit will be apparent to others. Be sure to show enthusiasm and be genuinely invested in all interactions.
Work Life Balance: Can you talk about this and suggest ways our guests can find that happy medium?
Establish your limits and figure out your method to unplug. Set clear expectations from the start with your boss, your team, etc. Find out their feelings about work life balance and try to align them with your own. I personally keep two separate phones: one for work and one for personal use. When I need a break and time to disconnect, I simply turn off my work phone. I give my personal number to key contacts in case of an emergency.
Mentors: Do you follow any blogs, or can you recommend any that our guests may benefit form if they are looking for a professional mentor, or group of professional women in their industry?
My mentors are everyone I’ve learned from over the years. They are the ones who have helped shape me as a professional and offered guidance throughout my career thus far. It is important to never forget them or their valuable advice. Mentors don’t have to be bosses or peers, though; they can be anyone from family members to friends who you look up to. If you are just entering the workforce, you can also look at celebrities you admire. I personally love comedy so reading quotes from strong female comedians like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, and Mindy Kaling help push me forward both personally and professionally.