Professionalism

This is a big topic, and one I’m really excited to cover, because I think it’s something a lot of people get wrong, either because they’re misinterpreting the advice they’re given, or because they’ve never been given any advice at all.

Growing up, I was taught a very specific way to be a professional. I was taught to have the right handshake, present a professional (safe) appearance, keep my demeanor pleasant, and have a strong, knowledgeable presence. I appreciate the advice and coaching I was given, but as I grew older and held more positions, I found that the conventional wisdom on professionalism wasn’t working for who I am and the industry I’m in—in some ways, it was holding me back. So, while handshakes, appearance, demeanor, and presence are important, I firmly believe there are a number of ways to be professional.

Moreover, I think there are many ways to be unprofessional.

In this series, I want to cover both sides of professionalism. I hope to provide tips that you can mix and match to best benefit your personality and how your industry operates, and to give you concrete examples of how not to behave or present yourself. Of course, there are some tips that won’t work in practice, and some warnings that may not apply to you; but while nothing is going to work 100% of the time I aim to give you the most tried and true tips.

If there are any specific scenarios you would like advice on, please don’t hesitate to send them to me!

The Job Search: Where to Start?

Now that you’ve done some introspective, critical thinking about what your ideal future career might look like, it’s probably time for some of you to start looking for your next job (or even your first job!), which will lead you ever closer to the ideal. For those of you who enjoy the job you’re in but who want to pivot or advance, don’t worry! We’ll circle back to you in a bit.

However, dream jobs, or even great jobs, aren’t necessarily lying around on Craigslist (though it’s always worth a look!). It’s going to take a bit of searching (well, it wouldn’t be a job “search” if it didn’t, right?), and, like any explorer, you’ll need to arm yourself with the right tools.

With The Job Search series, I want to examine the job search in-depth, from structuring your search and creating and curating your online presence, all the way through your interview and hiring process to the signing of your contract. By examining both how the job search is “supposed” to look, and ways it works in real life, I hope to offer you tips and strategies to be able to capitalize on your effort and time. I’ll start by focusing on searching for part-time or full-time employment with a traditional employer, but I’ll also cover freelancing and contract work, too.

For now, take a moment to look back at the lists you’ve made throughout the last series. You’ve just spent a lot of time thinking about what’s most important to you in terms of what you enjoy doing, how you like to spend your time, and what you want your future to look like, and now it’s time to bring it all together. Pick out the top 5-10 most critical items for you across the list, and make a master list. This will be your map to check against when evaluating jobs, from looking at the job description, asking questions in the interview, evaluating company culture (in-person if possible, on Glassdoor or through other reviews (preferably peers or company staff/alumni) if not), and negotiating your contract.

Again, I’m going to stress that nothing will be perfect — not even a “dream” job. And job searching is where privilege will become extremely, and unfortunately, relevant. Those of you who can afford to live in or move to a big city where your industry is located will have a much easier time of it than those of you who live in smaller towns/have limited resources for relocation. However! By thinking of each job as a puzzle-piece of a larger career, and by creating different mixes of your master list of wants, you’ll be able to still develop skills and resources that will get you closer to your ideal.

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so next week, I’ll be starting with the basics: Structuring Your Search. Until then!

Welcome to Rank Up!!!

Hello all!

Welcome to Rank Up!!! A blog to help you get the most out of your career, including your personal and professional life.

I’m sure you have a few questions.

Who are you?

I’m Lauren Scanlan, a nearly-thirty who has made my way through a couple different jobs and schools to finally work my dream job in publishing. I am also someone who is interested in developing myself and others, whether that means learning new skills, making new connections, or passing on a few nuggets of hard-won wisdom I’ve gained from the past few years.

What is this blog?

Rank Up!!! is meant to help you use your time and resources wisely to become the person and professional you’d like to be. This isn’t a blog for “making it to the top,” necessarily, or to help you land the job — though I certainly hope I can help you do those things, too. Instead, the focus is primarily to give you the tools, tricks, and advice to help you make your way effectively and healthily in your own career, whether that’s as a freelance artist or as an ambitious lawyer. I will also cover personal development, as well as concrete advice for job seeking and advancement in both a full-time and freelance setting.

Who is this blog for?

Anyone, though I’ll primarily be addressing those starting out in their careers, or who have the first few years under their belt, but are not sure what the next steps are. I will have tips for students, too, but it will not be student-focused. I hope, however, that any reader can learn something!

What makes you qualified?

Nothing special! I’ve just put time and energy to myself, and it’s panned out. I’m lucky to have been raised by parents who found personal and economic success in their own career paths, and I’d like to share the privilege I’ve had of learning at their knee to others who haven’t had the same opportunities. I am a personal believer that schools, whether it be high school, higher education, or even graduate school, do not do enough to prepare their students for the professional world as it exists today, and I hope to help bridge that gap with what I’ve learned and what I’ve been taught by my parents, as well as other fantastic mentors and hard-working peers throughout my life.

That being said, I’m always learning, and I may get it wrong. I realize I do come from a place of great privilege, and I’m not always going to get it right. If you have a different experience, I would love to hear it!

How often will you update?

Once a week, every Wednesday. You can read it here, but also, please do subscribe by email so you don’t miss a post!

Where can I go to read more?

I’ll be posting recommendations on my favorite books, articles, podcasts, and more, to the pages under “Recommendations.” Please check them out!

Why ‘Rank Up’?

The term is borrowed from some of my favorite video games, the Persona series. Every time you level up a friendship, you gain a rank in that relationship. I loved the idea of “ranking up” my own life, and I hope I can help others rank up their lives and relationships as well.


 

I wish you a happy, healthful, productive, and fun 2018. Here’s to the new year!