This week I get to address four groups of 30 local high school seniors.
The occasion is what the school district calls Career Days. Presentations are made to all four high school grades on various topics, to include:
· information about specific jobs that are available locally – what the job pays, what the duties are, what education and/or experience is required to get the jobs, etc.,
· information about further educational opportunities after high school – trade schools, community college, four-year universities, etc.,
· information about obtaining financial aid for further education, and
· “life skills” required to GET a job and to be successful in the workplace
My topic is called “Getting the Job.” I’m going to cover all the usual stuff about resumes, job applications and interview dos and don’ts. But I also plan to hit them with some life philosophy.
I plan to start out by telling them, “I’ve been a human resources manager longer than any of you have been alive. I may not have ‘seen it all,’ but I’ve seen a lot!”
My tips and advice are specific.
“Do not even TAKE your cell phone to an interview, but if you do take it turn it OFF! Do not DARE answer it if it rings, unless you can tell me you’re expecting an emergency call.”
“Leave the cologne and after-shave at home. If I detect any odor during your visit, it should be the smell of soap.”
“Do not assume your Sunday best clothing is appropriate for an interview. If in doubt, call and ask what the interviewer would prefer you to wear.” (At my plant, if you came dressed in a coat and tie in the Texas summer I’d think you had a screw loose!)
“Fill in EVERY blank on an application. Use “N/A” if appropriate, but put something in there. Otherwise I'll think you're careless.”
“ALWAYS print ‘Open’ in the inevitable blank asking for ‘Salary Desired’.”
But before I talk to them about the actual interview I will ask for a show of hands of those who consider themselves shy. Then I plan a 2-minute lecture on the fact that they can CHOOSE not to be shy! No, it isn’t easy. Yes, it takes some practice and some work.
I used to be shy and scared to death to speak in front of a group. But in the Navy I was an instructor in the Flight Training Command, and had to give training lectures to student pilots. Sure, I stumbled and fumbled at first, but I quickly realized that was stupid! These younger students didn’t know as much as I did, and if they laughed at a gaffe, so what!? I didn’t get sick and die.
I watched others and learned both good and bad ways of handling awkward situations in front of a group. And in a fairly short while I became good at speaking in front of others, and proud of it! People would come up to me after a presentation and compliment me on my delivery.
And guess what? I haven’t been shy since. (Maybe a bit of an arrogant egotist, but hey, who’s perfect?)
So, you high school seniors, DON’T be shy. Shyness is NOT an endearing quality in the workplace or in life, and it can hold you back in your career. Get over it.
Okay, end of lecture. I’m looking forward to what kind of reaction I get from the students. Each “talk” is only 25 minutes, so I don’t know if I’ll get everything in or not.
I’ll let you know.