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Follow-Up: The Networking Edition

No matter how skilled you are with face-to-face interactions, relationship building is a skill that can take time to master and some finesse to pull off. Although good follow-up can still be unwanted but it doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Let’s take a quick look at different types of follow-up that can strengthen relationships.

 

Immediate Follow-up

Social Media: Once an event is over, connect with everyone on social media ASAP. Unless someone specifies otherwise, start with Linkedin. Send a short note; “Great Meeting you at [Insert punny name of happy hour), looking forward to keeping in touch." They will most likely accept the connection. Then in a couple of days you can follow up with a more targeted message.

PROTIP: Follow the social media of any companies where you just made connections. You can use the content shared there to strike up a conversation later.

Pretty sure I'm the only millennial left who still struggles with Snapchat

Pretty sure I'm the only millennial left who still struggles with Snapchat

Email: If you have someone’s email, you can also keep the first message short, but you may want to add an ask. “It was great hearing you speak about [topic], I would love to discuss [more specific topic] over coffee or tea? Are you free in the next couple of weeks?”

Phone: Call a professional contact during work hours and leave a voicemail if they don’t answer. This way, you don’t encroach on their personal time. Your voicemail should be short and sweet, leave your number and email twice. 

ProTip: When you receive a phone number, ask for the best time to contact them on the spot so you're not left wondering. If you're uncomfortable calling, connect on Linkedin first and try to schedule a time over direct messages. That way both parties can be prepared for the call.

If you can’t tell what sort of relationship you have with someone (especially if you're going to call them), lean toward being more formal.

                                 

                                 

Long Term Follow-up:

Unanswered Messages: Sent an email or a DM and didn’t get a response? Feel free to send another message within a week, which can be slightly longer.

“Hello ____, just wanted to follow up in case this slipped your radar! I would love to schedule some time to meet with you. [Etc].” This draws attention to the fact that they haven’t yet responded, but is still calm and friendly. If you have sent two messages (and perhaps one through another medium if you’re dedicated) let it rest for a while. Try again in 2-4 weeks when they’re schedule might have lightened.

Busy Schedules/Being put off: The higher up on the foodchain someone is, the busier they'll be. Handle people's schedules with respect, don't hound a COO who was kind enough to offer a twenty minute phone call. Sometimes, this may mean checking in with them monthly and scheduling something far in advance. On the other hand, if someone repeatedly cancels or postpones a meeting with you it could mean that they don't want to meet.

You have one of two options, you can spend your time with an easier contact (which is totally valid), or you can rethink your strategy by creating more value and incentive for the person to meet with you. This may include letting them know you'll check in next month and taking some time to gain their interest. 

Keep your contacts warm by...

Nope, not like that.

Nope, not like that.

Sharing Content: The easiest (best way) to keep a contact warm is to speak with them. Any deeper connections you create make you stand out and help you form a stronger bond with your contact. Slide into their Linkedin DMs with a relevant article (something related to one of their posts, hot news in your field or a personal interest they have (bonus points if its a shared interest). Pair the content with a thoughtful question. “This is Zuckerberg’s latest commentary on social media in education. I thought ____ was interesting in particular. What do you think?” In addition, share and comment on the articles they share. Be bold and ask a question directly on their post, why not? It’s more of an excuse to DM them and get a convo started one-on-one. At the very least, they’ll remember you.

Inviting them places: Going to another event? See if they want to tag along or if you'll run into them. This sets you up to say hello and it may even inspire them to say hello first. You can try: “Headed to ___. Hope to see you there this year!” or “Hey, did you know about this? [Link to event]. They’ll be discussing [insert topic of interest] and I thought of you. Will I be seeing you?”

Show up to support them: If you know they’ll be speaking somewhere or going to another public event that you'll be attending, say hello. If they're hosting an event, let them know you'll be seeing them there or even check for volunteer opportunities to get a closer look at the action. After a while, you’ll become a familiar face. 

Informational Interviews: One of the best ways to make connections AND learn something is an informational interview. Often, when people don’t want to talk to you about a job, they may be willing to answer questions about their company and their path to success. Furthermore, everyone wants to be appreciated as an expert in their field and for some that can mean giving advice to an upcoming generation of industry professionals. You can try messaging like this: 

“Hello ____,

Hope all is well. Just read your article on _____ and I was so inspired by your story. I’d love to ask you more questions about your experience/journey. Do you have any time in the next month for a 20 minute phone call?”

If there is no content to reference you can say things like “I found you through [group] and your path to be CMO at _____ is really admirable!” or “Came across your profile and noticed you’re a Product Manager for [company you love], would you be willing to talk about your experience?”

PROTIP: Don’t ask for a job out right. Establish that you recognize they're expertise.Weave information about yourself into further conversation naturally.

Worried it won't sound natural? Let's chat!

But what if your network is full of great contacts who are ice cold?

These can cause some of the most dreaded awkward moments in networking. What do you say when you connected with someone on Linkedin but never conversed or when you want to contact an old colleague you haven’t spoken to in years? How do you pop up out of the blue without seeming insincere?

 

Rules of Thumb:

Acknowledge the Awkward: It immediately takes the edge off things (not to mention it’s polite) when you begin the message with

“Hey _____,

How are things? I know it’s been ages since we spoke but I came across an article you wrote and had to reach out.” Whatever the reason for thinking of them, be honest about it. The finesse comes with how you talk about it. “I see you work for Amazon and I really want to work for them,” is very different from “Noticed you’re a Media manager over at Amazon. I’m looking to get into media and would love any advice you can give me!”

Dress up your Ask: Networking is, at its core, a conversation. Conversations take listening, understanding and patience. Asking someone for a favor takes a set up, it needs cushion. It behooves both parties to bother with “small talk”—take a few moments to learn more about the other person. Not all contacts turn into something valuable but those that bring value have been properly nurtured and cared for.

If you want to work for Amazon, “I’m looking to get into media and would love any advice you can give me,” would make a great set up for an informational interview. However, you can be more direct (without being invasive) and say “Noticed you’re media manager over at Amazon. I’m mid-job search and would love to get some insight into the culture and expectations over there. Could I pick your brain?”

Need more help? Sign up for the Newsletter below for my 100 Tips to Better Networking.

Get tongue tied in a crowd? Head over to the Products page for a Guide to Public Speaking.

 

Otherwise that's the end of our networking segment! I'd like to leave you with one last piece of advice; don't overthink it. If you second guess yourself you invite everyone else to join in. Be your biggest supporter. Set yourself up for success.

-Cairo

Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another steppingstone to greatness.
— Oprah
                       BYEEEE! 

                       BYEEEE! 

Cairo AmaniComment
5 Ways to Leave a Conversation

Striking up a conversation is hard but ending one can be even harder! Maybe the conversation is a dead end and we don't want to seem rude. Maybe we're very interested but know we need to work the room. Whatever the case may be, many of us struggle when it comes time to say goodbye and the results can be painful. 

                                                   I know, Girl, I know. 

                                                   I know, Girl, I know. 

Protip: Your time is just as valuable as anyone else's and you're equally deserving of respect. 

I've heard a lot of horror stories from women who were blatantly disrespected in interviews and at events. If someone is speaking over you, ignoring you or saying offensive things, you don't need to worry about being polite when you leave. #FuckEm

But when the conversation's good and you're just worried about burning a bridge, here's 5 (perfectly acceptable) ways to leave a conversation. 

1. Hold that Thought

It can be tempting to respond when asked a question--especially if you have a good answer. If you're trying to leave the conversation, however, it might be the perfect time to keep your opinion to yourself--until next time. 

"I actually have some thoughts on this but I should make my rounds. Where's your office located? I'd love to grab some coffee and follow up." 

2. Leave on a Laugh

People are distracted when they're laughing and you can use that to your advantage. If you're feeling awkward about leaving a conversation, announce your leave right after you've all shared a good chuckle! People will associate you with a positive shared experience.

"Guys, this has been really great! I have to walk around but I want to keep in touch, do you guys have Linkedin?" 

3. Ask for Their Card

While it's tempting to just hand yours out, if you really want to connect with the person you have to take charge of the situation. Once you have something of theirs, an email or number, feel free to leave them with your info.

"I hate to cut this short but I'd love to keep speaking. Do you have a card?" 

4. Reel Someone Else In

If the person is rambling or you realize you're not a good fit for the conversation, bring someone else in and facilitate a conversation between the two of them. once they're caught up, politely excuse yourself in any of the aforementioned ways. 

"You should meet _____! I think she'd find your thoughts on native advertising really poignant." 

5. Grab the Lull

Conversation comes in waves, learn to recognize the ebb and flow. When the conversation hits a lull, a quiet moment or the conversation has gone scale (you've dwindled down to small talk), say in an upbeat tone "So this was great, I'd love to keep in touch." Being excited about exchanging information assures you leave on a positive note.

 

Need more networking tips? Sign up for the newsletter below and get my 100 Tips to Better Networking

Not enough? Let's chat! 

You got this.

-Cairo

The most effective way to do it, is to do it
— Amelia Earhart

 

 

 

Cairo AmaniComment
The Perfect Pitch

So tell me about yourself.... 

Everyone's (least) favorite question. It can go wrong so fast. There's no guidance on how to answer and we're often left unsure of what the employer is looking for.

That's why a pitch is so important. But we don’t want to brag, we don’t want to sell ourselves and we don’t want to be rejected. So what do we do? We push through and keep in mind that the rewards far outweigh the obstacles. You'll use your pitch in face-to-face networking, interviews, cover letters and online profiles--basically the entirety of your job search. Therefore mastering your pitch is an invaluable part of getting your dream career.

A good pitch, like anything worth doing, takes hard work; drafting, editing, rewriting--and it will change throughout the course of your career. At any given point, though, it has three crucial aspects. Make sure yours hits all three marks. 

1. It Tells a Story

It doesn't quite matter where the story begins but it should always end with where you are at the moment you're pitching. Your story always leads to the opportunity you're seeking. 

Example: My mom traveled a lot for work so we often stayed in hotels. I got really into the travel experience when I was older, gathering favorite airlines and hotel experiences--a weird hobby for a teenager. I always did the booking because my mother complained booking online was so difficult to do online--and it was back then. [...] Which is why I'd love to bring my sales skills to Triptease!

Pro Tip:

Not everyone is following a life long dream. Don't be shy if your dream just realized. There's nothing wrong with "After five years in sales, I realized my real love is working with people and demonstrating the value of a product. Implementation management is more my speed." 

2. It Showcases Your Skills

This is arguably the most awkward part of the pitch. It's where you have to master talking about yourself in a way that makes you comfortable--because your discomfort will show in body language or speech patterns! So find the wording that's right for you first, then worry about your future employer.

Example: I worked as a travel agent for about 4 years which was great. It's a sales environment and I'm a people person who does well under pressure, so it was a match made in heaven.

Pro Tip:

Start casual, as you would in "normal" conversation and build up to a more formal response. Your formal response might be used on a cover letter but it wouldn't fit for a happy hour networking event. 

3. It Shares Your Goals

This is key and my favorite part! You want to leave the listener/reader with an idea of where you're headed next. It's a call to action with a loose opening. They can either say "Oh! Have you checked out_______" or they can say "That's cool!"(If the pitch was good, they'll remember you for later).

Example: I'm transitioning to engagement management for travel companies because it combines my deep understanding of the industry on a professional level with my personal interest in it as a consumer. 

Pro Tip:

Speak in definites. "I'm trying to become an engagement manager" vs. "My next move is engagement management". 

 

You pitch yourself more often than you realize. Saying "I'm a software developer but I'm transitioning to cloud consulting." is something you might say over drinks. It's casual but it's technically still a pitch. (Not saying it's a fabulous one)  It tells someone what you do and where you're headed. Normalize the conversation. Think about how often you're out to dinner or drinks or even at work speaking to someone in a no-pressure environment, where you discuss your skills and interests.

Your story doesn't change, just the people you tell it to. Don't be shy--own your past, present and future. Give yourself permission. 

Leave your pitch in the comments and I'll give one point of feedback! 

Want more help? Schedule a session with me!

Public Speaking not your thing? Head over to the shop and grab my guide! --> www.applyandcommand.com/products

 
 

 

-Cairo

 

There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.
— Rihanna
Cairo AmaniComment
5 Keys to Better Networking

Networking can strike fear into the hearts of even the most confident women.

It’s understandable--for most, networking looks like a room full of hundreds of people in business wear asking strangers for favors (which is terrifying).

Thankfully that’s not quite how it works. (Well, okay, it is, but there’s an art to it!) As we tackle this topic across the newsletter, the blog, and social media, we’ll breakdown networking for what it really is: human interaction. And you (probably?) do that every day.

Let’s start with a quick checklist for making the most out of your networking experiences.

1. Stay in Your Comfort Zone

Networking happens in many different forms. Some networking happens face to face, some over the internet. Other types are one on one and some are in groups. Some have guided schedules and curriculum and others allow you freedom to do as you wish. Some networking happens through organizations (saving you a lot of time and effort) and some networking has to be sought out by the individual). 

There's a type for everyone and NO ONE has to be good at them all. The only networking that can benefit you is the networking where you're comfortable to put your best foot forward. If you're not ready for face to face, pick a different route--give yourself a chance to shine at it or it will color the rest of your experiences.

2. Have a Plan

Go into the activity knowing what you want to accomplish. *Hint: Don't pick "Get an job/interview" as your goal. Having a plan means you always have something to go back to and draw on if you get stuck which can provide some comfort in tense situations.

Set realistic goals. You will most likely hit them or exceed them. Ex: "I want to leave with at least ten business cards and successfully connect with 7 on Linkedin." 

or 

"I want spend 30 minutes this week reaching out to people on Linkedin for informational interviews." (you deserve an option that doesn't require pants!)

3. Prepare your Pitch

Ah, the "salesy" part of any networking that pretty much everyone hates. A strong pitch doesn't sound like a "pitch" at all, meaning you don't sound like a used car salesmen. A good pitch sounds like someone you just met at a bar asked you what do you do for a living and you told them what you did and naturally expressed what your next move was. That's it, I promise. 

Knowing how to speak to your talents ahead of time will make the whole process easier. We'll be covering how to build a great pitch in next week's blog! 

4. Recoup

Even if you're a networking pro, you should take some time to yourself after an event or after an activity to reflect on what worked and what didn't work. You can also use your recuperation time to do something that calms you down if networking made you anxious or if something went wrong.

And, of course, use it to reward yourself if something went very, very well! 

5. Repeat

Networking takes time and the key to good networking is consistency. So if you have one thing you like put yourself on a schedule and make it a routine. It could take years or it could take days. You won't know if you don't keep at it. 

Stay tuned to Instagram and Facebook for more tips all this week! Want one on one help with your career? Schedule a free consultation with me! 

-Cairo

I have a personality defect where I can’t see myself as an underdog. It’s because of my parents. They raised me with the entitlement of a tall, blond, white man.
— Mindy Kaling
Cairo AmaniComment
7 Traits of Commanding Women

Part of the inspiration for Apply & Command are the many people who were kind enough to compliment me on my confidence. In addition, the brand was inspired by those who were surprised to find out I’m not (most times) as confident as I seem! 

Even your heroes have weaknesses. 

Confidence issues plague our community, largely because our histories are often so ingrained with being submissive, quiet and “proper” (whatever the fuck that is). Overall, society tends to praise women who are shy, demure, and "lady-like" (again, wtf?) because those characteristics are seen as more attractive. Many business skills like negotiating, public speaking, leadership, etc aren't seen as "lady-like"-- that keeps us behind in the workplace. 

Studies have shown that men tend to overestimate their skills and abilities while women underestimate. Studies have also shown, however, that women make better leaders than men.

 

There’s a chance that if we were better able not only to speak to our qualities but be confident in enforcing them--we’d stand a better chance at getting what we want in our careers. I help my clients apply for jobs they want and command their way to them through effectively selling their skills, developing more positive views of themselves. Here are 7 traits of a commanding woman.

1. She has a vision:

You can’t reach your goal if you don’t know what it is. While it seems simple, many of us go day-to-day at our job with no idea of the bigger picture, so we waste our time when we could be planning for the next move. Understanding what we want out of life puts us in control to cater our present toward a better future. 

Solution: Make a 1 year, 5 year and 10 year plan if you’re ambitious. Keep a detailed log (doesn’t HAVE to be a journal, I keep goals in my iphone :)) and make check lists when you can, both daily and for the long term. It feels good to check things off. There’s science behind it.) If you don't know what you want to do at all, assess your skills and interests. Make yourself a project that you own from start to finish.

2. She’s always learning:

I stress this a lot but it’s important. You can never know too much. Learning new things can help you get ahead in your current job and build toward future positions as well. In addition, adding to your expertise on a subject can tremendously boost your confidence when you have to speak in public spaces. 

Solution:

Grab that knowledge. You don’t (always) need to spend thousands of dollars on an extra degree. This is the age of information. If your current employer doesn’t offer a professional development stipend, consider groupons, online courses and tons of free academic papers, ebooks and articles on topics you love. In addition, lectures, panels and presentations are great for learning AND networking.

3.  She supports other women:

We don’t get anywhere alone and if there’s no solidarity among us then we contribute to the systems that hold us back. It doesn’t mean you can’t be competitive, it means you understand competition has a time and place. In addition, forming bonds (whether they are friendships or professional relationships), help us advance and learn more about ourselves. And you should always be an expert on yourself. 

Solution:

Go the extra mile for your women co-workers. I especially respect administrative assistants in my place of work. I make sure I say hello, ask politely for things (and make sure it’s in their job duties in the first place) as well as offer to get coffee/lunch for them when I can. You don’t need to be everyone’s best friend but taking the time to ask how things are going can go a long way.

4. She admits her flaws:

This can be tough to do but chances are if you spend plenty of time denying your shortcomings to others, you’re also denying them to yourself and if you deny them you can’t sincerely work to fix them. A commanding woman acknowledges her mistakes quickly because the faster she does, the faster she can learn from them and improve.  

Solution:

Taking constructive criticism is hard. Listen first and ask questions/dispute later (even if it’s in a separate meeting entirely). It’s okay to say “Thank you for this feedback. I would like some time to think it over. Could we meet again to discuss?” In addition, be honest when you make a mistake-- “I didn’t know”, “It wasn’t me” or “This happened because [insert excuse] can really hurt people’s view of you. It’s best to immediately take responsibility for something and promise improvement.

5. She prioritizes herself:

“Self-care” is overused but not without reason. Our culture idolizes exhaustion and we shouldn’t. A commanding woman finds success at work because she takes time for both herself AND her career.

Solution:

Take your lunch break, take a nap, eat a good meal, hang out with your friends--do things for yourself and don’t be swallowed by ANY job--even if you love it. Love yourself more. 

6. She’s persistent:

You know the drill, if at first you don’t succeed.... Few things worth having come easily and a commanding woman knows success takes hard work. Therefore, we have to be willing to put in the time to get the reward. It can be frustrating when you feel like you’re being thwarted time and time again but failure isn’t a bad thing, it’s one step closer to where you need to be. 

Solution:

Analyze your failures. See where you went wrong and why--then strengthen those qualities. Passed up for a promotion? Ask to meet with your manager and see how you can improve. Second time applying to a job and still no response? Connect with current employers and ask for informational interviews. 

7. She says "No":

This can be so tough in the workspace. Whether we’re being given work that’s not our responsibility or someone is slipping some emotional labor onto our plate, we have every right to walk away, every right to say no. Of course, standing up for ourselves is a skill that has to be honed but it’s not at all impossible. 

Solution:

Don’t be afraid of awkward silences after you refuse something. Don’t follow up with “I’m sorry”, or “If that’s okay with you”. Give the other person time to respond. If you’re in the right, you deserve to be listened to. *Note-- some environments call for people to take on extra responsibilities and wear many hats. Note the culture and climate of your environment when you turn something down. At any rate, if you're over worked talk to your managers about it. 

 

Time to exercise these traits. Walk into work like the boss you are!

“We should not wait for someone else to come and raise our voice. We should do it by ourselves. We should believe in ourselves. Yes, we can do it.
— Malala

 

 

Cairo AmaniComment
5 (of ten) Resume Problems You Didn't Know You Had

And how to fix them

Here you are (again) sending out applications and getting nothing but form rejection emails--if any response at all. You’re being consistent, your writing is excellent, you’re following up politely-- but nothing. You’re beginning to doubt yourself and your capabilities. 

 

But for real, girl, how’s your resume lookin’?

I’ve been people’s go-to resume reviewer for years because of my writing background and I soon found out a well written and visually pleasing resume is important--but it’s not everything. So here are five common mistakes I've seen that I love to tackle.

1. Format

A recruiter only reads a resume for an average of 6 seconds. And my experience in recruitment supports that; not only is a hiring manager skilled in what to look for, they’re usually skilled in where to look for it. So how do you solve a problem like format? Positioning is everything. You should understand how a resume is read in order to put your most valued info in the best possible spots. You control your image and employers are eager to see you!

2. Font

In the quest for more interesting design, I’ve seen candidate after candidate experiment with Goudy Old Style, Comic Sans (yes, still it plagues us) and Word Art (*rips hair out*). Let’s not, okay? Cool. A resume is useless for a million dollar candidate if it’s illegible.

Pro Tip: The most important things on your resume are (in order) content, format and design. Say the right things, put them in the spotlight and then worry about aesthetics. When you are ready to tackle fonts, here’s a great article--complete with supporting research--on the most easily read fonts.

MMM FONTS

3. Templates

Often, when a resume suffers from 1 and 2, sometimes it's because of because of 3. There are tons of sources for free resume templates but choosing a good one is almost an art. Picking the wrong template is easy and you can find yourself with one that is difficult to print or doesn’t work as a word document.* On the other hand finding a great template is hard work so I’ll be sending my trusted sources in this week’s newsletter (5/24).

*Pro Tip: I say send out PDFs 99.9% of the time! But word documents can be handy when working with recruiters

4. Length

Cutting your resume is tricky business. I’ll tell you right now, smaller font is not the answer. (Please. Please don’t). What you choose to remove and what you choose to keep should be strategic decisions that push you toward your goal (so don’t just remove or add things at random). Every word counts.

5. Content (but not the usual)

Yes, you’ve heard to make sure you list accomplishments and not just duties and responsibilities but have you been warned about having an “interest/hobbies” section past a certain age and job level? There are lesser known pieces of content that sometimes go overlooked, such as what to leave in the absence of a break in employment, things to say in your header, appropriate websites and social links, etc. Ask yourself "is  this my best professional self?", "Is this relevant?", "Does it need explanation?". If you’re worried you’ve said too much (or too little) on your resume, contact your Resident Resume Content Queen.

 

 An eye catching resume can get you ahead of the game so you CAN and SHOULD be creative, it just takes some expertise to get it right. You got this.

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.
— Katharine Hepburn


Suffering from one of these or sure your problem is in the next 5? Subscribe to my newsletter below for the rest of the list plus free resume templates.

If you need more than a template to get where you’re going, please schedule a free consultation with me so we can chat about your dreams.

 

 

Cairo AmaniComment
A Seat at the Table

The truth is...

Millennial women are being overlooked.

 

We hold 53% of entry level corporate jobs, but only 37% of mid level positions and, sadly, an unsurprising 26% of Vice President roles. Until there are drastic changes made at an institutional level, women have to continue to fit themselves in. We have to continue to take space for ourselves which is much easier said than done. (But, we’re doing pretty well so far!)

 

Still, these sorts of statistics show a deeply bedded inequality higher up in the corporate world, which for us can seem like an impossible obstacle to overcome. Many of us will branch off and start our own businesses--not that this path doesn’t come with it’s own glass ceilings.

But entrepreneurship isn’t everyone’s path, some of us have passions we want to pursue under the tutelage of the greats in our respective fields--how do we get them to notice us?

 

I read an article a while back that spoke about how small talk benefits men more than women. We’re not necessarily hurt by it, but it also does nothing for us. It gives male negotiators a boost though; they close larger deals. Time and time again, we’ll hit these subtle double standards and sometimes we’ll hit huge double standards. We’re running ourselves raw working harder and longer while our male counterparts thrive and do less work.  Women can’t get away with a little effort. Often times we can’t get away with “average” effort.

 

We need to do more, we need to do the most.

 

#DoTheMost2017

 

Surviving in a workplace that means to swallow you whole requires getting creative about how we view and present ourselves as professionals. First impressions matter, yes, but the next four impressions matter more. Eventually people will forget the mistake we might have made on our first day because it was one mistake, or maybe two or maybe even three. But shifting our focus from worrying about our mistakes to focusing on being consistent with our successes often means an erasure of negative or uninspiring impressions we may have made.

 

Being consistent with our successes doesn’t mean we need to close every deal, or steal the spotlight in every meeting. It means keeping up the practices that support our best qualities.

If we’re the organized office manager, our work space should be flawlessly under control at all times. If we’re the don’t-take-no-for-an-answer new business rep, we should be a master at controlling conversation and if we’re the marketing coordinator who always brings the latest trends to the team--every content/google alert we can set up should be bombarding our email to keep us abreast of what's hot in the streets.

SO...

 

Figure out what it is you want to be known for--and go be the best at it.

 

Here are 5 self-work activities to bring us closer to being our best professional selves:

 

  1. Read a Book: We can’t learn everything in a blog post. When I was looking to switch to sales full time, I read about 4 sales books, in addition to listening to some Ted Talks and podcasts. I did the same as I transitioned into recruitment. As a writer, I learned I couldn’t write anything good if I wasn’t reading anything good and sometimes, when I need to try something new, research brings me comfort, understanding and a sense of direction. Consume everything you can.

  2. Take a Course: A friend of mine recently switched from sales to marketing. She got a few online certifications in addition to taking on extra marketing related duties at work. This lead to me taking some courses but also devouring webinars. Not every webinar was for me but I got a lot from them. Some courses were free, others I paid for. Invest in yourself. It’s not a bad way to spend money.

  3. Organize your space: We’re not the boss yet but we are in charge of our desks. Take ownership of the space and ask your office if they provide organizational tools; folders, paper organizers, highlighters etc. If you’re a stationary junkie like me, you might come to your first day with a bag full of items to set up your desk. Am I organized all the time? Nah. But I get it right pretty often and it's totally worth it.

  4. Maximize your Out-of-Work Time: It’s important to take a break. If your job is also your passion and you have side projects in the field, designate certain days for work so that you’re always taking time to rest. Overworking ourselves doesn’t guarantee any more productivity. (In fact, in many cases it’s proven to be harmful. So chill out.)

  5. ABL-Always Be Learning: A successful woman is a smart woman and a smart woman is always learning something new. Proactive activities that increase your knowledge base encourage other habits like asking high level questions, learning research as a second language, and staying humble while still owning your knowledge.

In conclusion...

To companies, we’re a product they’re paying for; we provide a service that should be unique to us as individuals. Practicing activities like those above help us build our brand as employees and the way we brand ourselves defines who we become in the workplace. This is particularly important for women as we sometimes struggle to talk about ourselves (it feels like bragging, it feels wrong). We can suffer for our shyness. But we don’t have to. By focusing on taking control and initiative on smaller things that directly affect us, we gain the courage to take risks and reach for bigger things we want out of our careers.

These baby steps take us from being outside the party to crashing convos in the middle of the dance floor like the dynamic, magical creatures we are. We don’t have to be shy about demanding what we deserve. We don’t need to be wallflowers when it comes to our careers. We’ve spent too much time unsatisfied and unhappy. We get to be loud now. Go ‘head girl.

 

Squeeze yourself in.

-Cairo Amani

I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.
— Maya Angelou

 


 

Cairo AmaniComment
Work Smarter Not Harder

The Importance of Planning Our Success

I’ve tried to become a recruiter at two separate points in my life. I failed the first time and I know exactly why. I wasn't smart about it.

I first attempted at 23, a year and some change into my first job out of college. I’d started as an office/community manager and “advanced” to sales and marketing.” (I say “advanced” because there was no pay raise and I was still doing office manager work). I was emotionally exhausted from being at the front desk every day, isolated from my colleagues (I managed a building alone at that point), and grossly underpaid. And while I probably could’ve asked to be switched fully to sales or marketing, I knew the office management would never be dropped from my duties. I also knew I didn’t want to sell real estate anymore and at the time I didn’t want to sell anything, so I applied to marketing jobs...

….without gathering my many blog posts, tweets and facebook statuses/campaigns into an organized and impressive portfolio.

 

 

I got no responses. I gave up. I started to consider the companies around me. I’d started as an office manager in a more corporate space, but had since moved on to manage the building housing startup companies. I became obsessed. The CEOs were so young and the companies were so cool. It was against my contract to work for any of my tenants so I looked for similar companies instead. Before I was moved to work alone, I had become friendly over time with the recruiters of two staffing companies, one for temp to perm office admins and another for home care. I watched candidates go in and come out. I got to hear about the best and worst interviews, about the joy of finding a match and the stress of a slow week. I’d always wanted to try it and there was no time like the present.

So again, I sent out my resume. I was sitting on a gold mine of entry level talent--experience with public speaking, cold calling, handling difficult clients, negotiating, training AND interviewing. I don’t know if I mentioned any of that in my cover letters. I’m pretty sure I was writing things like “I’m a hard worker” and “Very punctual.” I’m pretty sure I was still talking about my high school job at a toy store.

I did it wrong.

No one I was interested in reached out to me and all the jobs I didn’t want assaulted my phone. (Why did I EVEN APPLY to jobs I didn’t want?!!!???) On top of that, I’d had enough with faking a smile at a desk job every day for--barely-- 33k a year. I was done with it.


 

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So I quit my job and took about six months off, surviving off savings with plans of launching my own business. Was I successful? (hint: No). Again, lack of planning and direction was my downfall. I went back to the tedious process of sending out resumes. I was depressed and completely unenthused about any of my job prospects. Again, I was ignored by the jobs I did want but hunted by the jobs I didn’t want. So I made my first effort to be smarter. I assessed everything.

What am I good at?: Sales, marketing and customer service.

What do I refuse to do?: More sales. More office management

What do I need?: More money, no dress code (yes, this was a NEED).

Primitive and a little sloppy but it got the job done. I eventually eliminated marketing also because I didn’t feel qualified to work in the field and would've had to take an entry level job. I wanted my next move to be upward and taking another entry level job to work my way up (to where??), wasn’t an option for me.

I focused on customer service something I had plenty of experience in.

Interviews and offers began to roll in. Suddenly I was speaking with people from Google, Handy and Quirky. I did two weeks at a call center and quickly learned culture and environment were VERY important to me.

My next job met my pay requirements, dress code requirements, exceeded my benefits requirements and turned out to be the most amazing work experience I’ve had to date. I stayed there over two years.

 

I'm saying it took about two months to get a job once I set some intention. I had tapped into what would become a powerful weapon on the job battlefield but I didn't know it quite yet. 53.7% of american women are unhappy with their jobs. Women are feeling lost, stuck and frustrated. Being able to assess a situation and reinvent the way we present ourselves as a professionals can help pull us from the pit of job despair.

Having a plan provides guidance, comfort that we have options and a goal, as well as supports a mindset that welcomes challenges and change. Because we have a plan, and because we know how to plan, unexpected bumps in the road aren't so scary, we'll just adjust our plan. Or maybe, if we're really good, our plan accounted for the bump!

While planning is in my nature (almost to a fault) and I know that I like it more than most, I still think planning our careers shouldn't ever be viewed as a chore but as an exciting first step in changing how we live our lives. It means not waiting for a promotion but presenting why we should have it. It means challenging the status quo. Planning our careers is a statement, we’re letting the world know we’re in control. We’re looking at the glass ceiling overhead and vowing to shatter it.

“The thing women have yet to learn is that nobody gives you power. You just take it.”-Roseanne Barr

-Cairo Amani

 

Cairo AmaniComment
Welcome to Apply & Command

Hey there,

Welcome to Apply & Command, a coaching service for women who are ready to take control of their careers. It’s been a whirlwind getting here, from the birth of this concept to its fruition as a business. It’s been a personal, spiritual and professional journey figuring out how to effectively share an age old message in a new way: 

I built A&C on the basis that the above statement is always true and when we begin our journey knowing this truth, we achieve our end goals faster, easier and with more satisfaction. Millennial women suffer in their careers because they lack direction and are unhappy at work. We’re bombarded with article after article about gaining confidence, dressing the part, and being a ‘boss bitch”. But we need more than a few mantras and inspirational graphic quotes about believing in ourselves. 

It's not enough to tell us to follow our dreams because we’re complex, life isn’t always linear (neither are careers) and sometimes you don’t “use” your college major. Yeah, some of us are meant to have more than one job at a time, others are meant to run our own businesses and others still are destined to create a unique space for themselves that we haven't heard of before. But all of us are in this together and all of us deserve the skills to get what we want out of our careers. 

 

I have a degree in creative writing and after graduation I went into real estate while working on getting published as a Sci-fi and Fantasy author. For most of that time, I dreamed of being a recruiter, completely unrelated to my education and a position I didn’t know how to attain. When I left school, I had a lot of dreams but no direction and no one to get me there so I had to do it alone. But each time I set a new goal it was easier to reach. I fought to get better at it. So can you. 

While many coaching services are targeting women, I'm specifically targeting the tough ones. The women who are done with being unhappy in their careers or with feeling like they'll never reach their goals; those of us determined to work hard and want to form an aggressive plan for professional satisfaction. Because Apply & Command is about choices. 

It's for the young woman bartending while studying for the bar exam; for the single mom who needs help building baby steps for her business, for the mid level exec who knows she deserves a promotion but doesn't know how to get it, for the college grad asking herself “What now?” 

Because that's the woman who is ready for a challenge, the woman who is ready to stop waiting and ready to start taking, the woman who’s ready to apply herself and command what she wants out of her career. 

We all want more and we can have it if we do the work. We're going to work smarter not harder this time, though. It’s fine if it takes help. In fact, we need to be helping each other. 

Let’s do this together. 
 

Your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have power you need to empower somebody else
— Toni Morrison

- Cairo Amani

Cairo AmaniComment