Making My Pod Pretty

photo (4)I like glitter. And pretty things.

This is how I tried to explain to a coworker in my “pod” why I spent my free time sticking stickers to tacks to decorate my desk. There was some judgement. Well, judge away. I find that when things are pretty (and organized and clean), I am my most productive and creative. So I take the time to surround myself with pretty things.

I’ll be brief, but I thought I’d share my desk decor.

Clockwise, from top left: (1) This little quote is a new favorite and inspires me to not only be the best that I can, but to show improvement—and ultimately get hired for realsies; (2) the DIY shiny thumbtacks referenced earlier, materials from Target; (3) my favorite picture of my family, from a trip to Baja, Mexico in seventh grade; frame from Marshall’s; (4) a soon-to-be-purchased, bright mouse pad, $12 on Etsy; (5) a leather weekly planner from Barnes & Noble; and a tea cup pencil holder, $3 at Marshall’s.

Pretty, but not too over-the-top. Just enough to make my desk feel like home. That’s a good thing, right? Comment with ideas for additional ways to personalize and decorate!

Statistics about the post-grad job search

dream-job-nowI’m no expert, but in my—sometimes frantic, sometimes incredibly organized—job search, I’ve learned a lot. Rumor has it that the graduating classes of 2013 and 2014 (to be honest, I’m not sure which I am) are entering the most promising job market since the economy went haywire. Which is great, let’s be honest. And thanks to Northeastern’s incredible co-op program (why don’t more school’s follow this model?!), graduating huskies are desirable candidates with almost two years of experience, despite being fresh out of school.

Since most of my peers are graduating in May, and thus just now starting their job search, I thought I’d share some fun tidbits and advice. And since I’m not an expert, I’ll share the cold, hard facts, and save my own observations and hard-learned lessons for another post. So readers, here are some statistics about the current post-grad job market:

The stat: More than 70 percent of jobs are found through networking. While the actual numbers vary (some claim the real number is 80!), all of the research indicates that at least 70 percent of jobs are found through networking with real people.

What this means: Spend 70 percent of your time networking (or at least more time networking than blindly applying for random positions). Find a job on indeed.com that you love? Then shimmy on over to Linkedin and use the “advanced search;” type in your target company, and your school to find alums that work at the company. Reach out to the alumni organization for an email, and viola! Networking. Other places to network include sororities or fraternities, alumni networks, social media, parents and parents’ networks, previous co-ops, and interest/professional groups.

Studies show that internal recommendations account for the most job offers, and external recommendations for the second most. So get out there and meet for coffee, tea, dinner, Skype, whatever. Even a blind email… If someone’s fighting for you from the inside, your chances are exponentially higher. And you have someone to get lunch with on your first day 😉

The stat: Seventy-nine percent of employers now conduct an online search of applicants. Seventy percent say they have turned down applicants by what they found online. However, only 7 percent of job applicants were concerned about their online reputations.

What this means: Um, don’t be among those 7 percent. Spend an afternoon going through and “purging” your online presence, untagging unflattering photos, deleting tweets that could be easily misconstrued, and polishing up your online persona. Google yourself. That’s what others will find, and if it’s unprofessional, then do what is necessary to clean it up. If you’re like me (sorry, one little personal interjection), and can’t delete your embarrassing middle school blog, then make sure it doesn’t show up on the first page of search results.

The stat: More than 90 percent of employers seek their assistant’s opinion when interviewing and making hiring decisions.

What this means: Make every bit count. If you’re lucky enough to be invited for an interview, don’t ruin it by blowing off the receptionist or assistant or janitor or doorman. They’re on the inside; you’re not. This also means no playing on your phone/iPod/iPad/dohiggie in the reception area. Bring a book, or take the opportunity to take notes, or observations about the workplace. Is it someplace you feel comfortable? Is there anything that might prompt a good question for your interview? Do the employees look engaged and supportive?

Also, I (personally… again, not an expert) think it’s okay to ask people like the receptionist or assistant if they like working there, have any advice, etc. Don’t be pushy—I mean, their opinions count, so don’t go asking them about salary or something wildly inappropriate—but they know the company and interviewer better than anyone.

The stat: Only 7 percent of women negotiate their starting salary, while 57 percent of men do. By not negotiating, an individual stands to lose more than half a million dollars by age 60.

What this means: Know your worth. the fact that so few men negotiate is astounding, and the fact that practically no women do is… disgusting, really. And helps explain the wage gap. Do your homework, and consider the following—what do similar positions at competitors pay? How might the salary be adjusted to reflect the cost-of-living for your city (a position at a company in New York will pay higher than that same position at that same company’s Florida office. Adjust accordingly)? Remember that this company gave you an offer. They want you. And if they can’t negotiate salary, consider benefits, vacation time, and moving up your review date, so you can be considered for a promotion sooner. There’s lots of great advice out there for you.

(**That being said, a word of advice from my career counselor: Don’t negotiate for the sake of negotiating. If it’s a fair salary, then go with it. And don’t negotiate with a company unless you really want to work there, pending some minor changes**)