Careers event schmareers event. That has been the general consensus I’ve found of people my age when discussing events they have been to ‘geared towards their future’. These events always have the best intentions set on providing advice about your career, with the aspirational stories of speakers from the company who were, not so long ago, ‘sat where you are now’. However 9 times out of 10, the events I have attended inadvertently highlight, not the accessibility of my desired career, rather highlight the difficulty in obtaining the dream job. This is because the main advice is usually “go the extra mile” and the extra mile is, unsurprisingly, never clearly defined.
Thank goodness then for the Marie Claire career network. Having attended (and written previously about) a careers event held at the London magazine HQ I was excited about the prospect of attending one in New York (where I am based for the year).
The event entitled The Power of Presence was jointly hosted with LinkedIn. This partnership, cemented the event’s success as it not only told you that you needed to go the extra mile, but showed you ways of doing so. While the event was targeted at more of a young professional audience than a student audience, the advice is invaluable in attempting to secure a job as well as for progressing at work.
The event was hosted at the Ann Taylor store on Madison Avenue and the combination of the glamorous young Marie-Claire-reader professionals and the attractive waiters serving champagne and mini hotdogs the atmosphere was, quite honestly, delightful.
The LinkedIn team had a panel of computers set up giving attendees the chance to have their profiles reviewed and the opportunity to ask questions. There was also a Marie Claire photographer taking headshots to give your profile the appropriate professional aesthetic. These were both welcome features of the evening, evidenced by the long line that remained throughout the evening.
The discussion itself started with the main question: ‘why don’t women get ahead at work?’ The answer, they said, had to do with Executive Presence. Marie Claire partnered with CTI to conduct a study in which they interviewed women in top positions and asked them ‘what are women doing wrong?’ The answer they received was that women aren’t carrying themselves like executives. Three of the top factors they identified in creating an executive presence were:
1) Communication: Whether speaking to an audience, client luncheon, or being an active participant at a meeting.
2) Confidence: What it takes to be a leader, do you carry yourself with grace under fire?
3) Reputation: Digital reputation is the first thing that is considered when applying for a job – you will get ‘Googled’. ‘Appearance’ was stated by 60% of people in the survey, to be the most important factor when considering executive presence. There comes a point in the interview process when every applicant is good and therefore the subtle factors matter. These subtle factors include dressing correctly and looking put-together (i.e. no chipped nail polish and having your hair cut regularly).
The speaker then moved to the LinkedIn expert Nicole Williams who discussed ‘managing your professional brand online’. She said that looking at someone’s profile online if you’re recruiter is like going on a blind-date. The majority of people on LinkedIn are ‘passive job seekers’ meaning that people are either students or already in jobs but your profile will still be looked at by talent recruiters if you have a full profile. It is therefore important to communicate your brand. If you share something once a week using the updates tool your profile is ten times more likely to be viewed. However, Williams stressed, it is important to identify this is not like Twitter and you should only share things that are career or industry-related.
Finally she shared that fifty is the magic number of connections needed. This is because it allows you to view second and third tier connections and therefore gives you access to a wider network. Williams stated that you must be strategic with who you invite to be a connection and to ‘think big’. If you want to be connected with the Editor of a magazine that you have aspired to work at forever, then send an invitation and write a personal message. You have nothing to lose and potentially (and eventually) that dream job to gain!