ASK Experience Series: Communication

In the newest HireDePaul Blog series, the Alumni Sharing Knowledge (ASK) Program will be hosting interviews with alumni designed to bring DePaul students access to unique career advice and professional insight. In the first installment, we spoke with Margaret Batkiewicz (‘74) about her career and the importance of good communication in the workplace. 

Margaret spent most of her career in global employee communications, creating internal messaging to keep employees informed and up-to-date. When asked about the importance of effective internal communications, Margaret told us that “a company that communicates well with its employees is going to do better, [improve] morale, and have less turnover.”

This messaging came in many forms, one of which being a regular newsletter sent out to an international audience of employees. With such a diverse audience, it was important that she communicated consciously, ensuring awareness of cultural and linguistic differences. By consulting with company leaders from the various geographic regions she was communicating with and sending out surveys to employees, she was able to successfully navigate this unique challenge throughout her career. With that, however, comes the joy of communicating globally. 

“I met so many wonderful people and learned so much about their cultures,” Margaret said. 

From there, Margaret went on to discuss communication as a whole and how it can make or break a company. 

“Communication is essential to the success of a company,” she said, “whether it does business locally or globally.” 

But what is good workplace communication? Good communication skills vary by industry, position, and workplace culture. However, there are some good practices that can be applied to any professional environment:

Tone and Volume

Be conscious of the tone and volume of your voice when communicating with colleagues. There is some truth to the old saying “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Pay attention to your tone, watching out for any unintentionally negative, unenthusiastic, or accusatory intonations. As you get more comfortable in a workplace, continue to practice respectful and sincere communication. 

Be Concise and Definite

Avoid any superfluous information. Communicate with definition, avoiding language that may unnecessarily extend or worsen periods of uncertainty like “maybe” and “probably.” In some instances, informing your coworker that you are unsure of an answer is equally appropriate to providing that answer, as long as you come back to them with that answer once you have it.

Practice Good Listening Skills

Listen closely and attentively while showing interest in the topic and respecting the speaker. Ask questions to clarify information you may have missed. Paraphrase what you have heard and repeat it back to the speaker to ensure understanding. 

Give and Receive Feedback

Be descriptive and clear, while avoiding judgmental language. Be open to receiving feedback without defensiveness, allowing for the other person to address all of their points before responding. Remember: address modifiable, not unchangeable behavior. 

For more information on career readiness, make sure to explore the HireDePaul Blog. To connect with alumni like Margaret and practice your communication skills online, check out the DePaul ASK Network!

Self-Care for Your Job Search

By: Jen Fleming, Education, Nonprofit & Government Career Community Advisor

The job search can be stressful. The transition process and vulnerability can bring out anxiety. Here are 5 tips for practicing self-care during the job search to ensure you don’t burn out.

1. Find a Mentor

You will have a lot of decisions to make! Mentors can help you pinpoint job opportunities and evaluate offers. They may point out things that are not even on your radar (e.g. one job offer includes great health care coverage but your other offer pays a slightly higher salary with no health coverage). Mentors can also assist with career advice and share industry specific information regarding trends or potential interview questions to impress a hiring manager. Don’t have a mentor yet? The ASK Network is a great place to find one!

2. Have Fun

Make sure you’re having fun with the experience! An upbeat attitude will help hiring managers notice your talents, passion, and drive. Get involved in volunteering or attending professional development events related to your career interests. Not only is it a great way to meet people and network within your industry but it also gives you unique topics to discuss in an interview.

3. Limit Your Time Spent Applying

Rather than spending hours on end applying to every single job you can, be strategic. Consider the types of roles you’re most interested in and qualified for and keep your focus there. The best piece of advice I ever received about the job search was a mentor telling me to limit it to 2 hours a day. This advice gave me permission to focus on other aspects of my life and stop feeling guilty about taking breaks from my search. Too much time spent on the job search can quickly lead to burn out and frustration. Set goals and boundaries on how much time you’ll focus on your job search each day.

4. Be Intentional

Self-care looks different for everyone but, it should be something that rejuvenates you (for some people it may be reading a book, listening to music, walking your dog, getting dinner with friends etc.). It’s truly individual; take some time to think about healthy self-care strategies you may already do but haven’t necessarily identified as such. If you don’t think you have any, start a list of things to try and keep track of your feelings after doing each. Choose something that you enjoy and gives you energy to keep moving forward.

5. Celebrate the Good

There will be ups and downs. Doing self-reflection after each experience can help you keep track of what you’re doing well and identify areas for improvement. Make sure to celebrate each of your wins – big and small. Maybe you made it to a final round interview and did your absolute best but didn’t end up getting the offer—celebrate your accomplishments, learn from whatever you can, and keep going!

 

The Career Center will support you in a variety of ways including connecting you with employers through networking events and job fairs as well as providing individual career advising. Many students visit us for mock interview practice, feedback on resume and cover letter writing, and to ask questions about navigating the job search process. We can also help you explore how your interests, values, skills, and personality fit into different careers.

Schedule a career advising appointment on Handshake today!

“What Are You Doing With Your Life?” 5 Ways to Answer When You’re Not Sure

Spring Break is right around the corner! If your plans include seeing your family, chances are they’ll ask what you plan to do after graduation. When you’re not quite sure or are still weighing options, this can be a stressful question to answer.

Taking time to explore is actually a really smart approach to planning your future! Consider the following strategies for helping family see the value of active career exploration:

1. Explain the value of self-assessment: Knowing your values, interests, and personality will help you evaluate your fit with potential career paths (as well as sell yourself to potential employers down the road). Share the results of your career assessments with your family. Haven’t taken one yet? You can access several assessments via FOCUS2 online to get you started!

2. Explore together: Log on to the ASK Network and browse the platform with your family. As you read the career profiles of our volunteer alumni mentors, discuss what seems interesting and not so interesting about the paths they’ve taken. Make a plan to follow up with the mentors that intrigue you the most.

3. Ask about their exploration: Have an impromptu informational interview by asking friends and family to share their own career path. How did they end up where they are and what other options did they consider or try along the way?

4. Shift the conversation to skills: Family may be surprised to learn that 9 of the top 10 attributes sought by employers are transferable skills like communication, problem solving, and the ability to work as part of a team. These are things that are woven throughout the undergraduate experience regardless of your major. By building these skills you’re preparing yourself for success across industries.

5. Let them see your progress: Sometimes your family just wants to know that you’re setting yourself up for success. By letting them know that you’re tapping into the resources here at DePaul, you’ll help them gain insight into your approach to exploration. Tell them about your recent appointment with an exploration advisor. If you haven’t done this yet, make an appointment with us today!

Happy Exploring!

Hilarie Longnecker & Ed Childs
Exploration Career Community Advisors