M is For Milestones


The month of May is indeed a time of celebration; a salute to accomplishments. The Kentucky Derby, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and, of course, college graduations. Perhaps the “M” in May stands for milestones.

For more than 30 years we have been privileged to mentor dozens of college graduates whether by coaching to fine-tune their career path and goals, increasing their presentation values by working with them to craft an exceptional resume and concise messaging tools or by welcoming them to our Clear Seas PR team; nurturing and growing their talent, developing skills, confidence and setting goals for a career plan.

As mentors we are proud of our young professionals’ achievements and growth. We find coaching and mentoring both rewarding and therapeutic. Through this we have cultivated a stable of assets to polish the rough edges, strategically position the candidate and bolster their salability. Here’s what we know.

The Plan:

Not everyone coming out of high school has a definitive plan that will guide them through and then out of college nevertheless a comprehensive understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses. If this was the case more, than less, would be seeking a degree as a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker. We help dozens of aspiring young professionals build their career footprint every year. So…

· Leverage your course of study; create opportunities. Seek out internships. If a practice area is of interest and you thrive; build your capabilities with a second internship.

· Let passion guide you. If you are reticent to declare a career path but let’s say you love the outdoors; seek out internships and/or summer jobs that fill your interests and soak in passion.

· Evaluate your interests, your strengths and your goals. Evaluate geographies; big city, mountains, coastal and industry hubs. Evaluate your comfort zone; big companies, post-graduate degrees, community (friends, family, familiarity). Evaluate where you want to be in one year, three years, five and then ten.

· Build your tool box.

o Create a resume framework that solidly represents who you are and what you’ve done. Keep it to one-page.

o Build in competencies developed through academic, internships, intra-disciplinary activities, community and social leadership, sports and personal interests.

o Craft a Professional Summary and Fields of Interest statement that is customizable to different prospects and career paths.

o Create introductory copy blocks suitable to target prospects. Sell yourself without overselling. Define and clearly state your competitive edge; why would you be of value and benefit a potential employer.

o Create an online signature:


Class of 2019

Name of College

Email and phone number

o Craft a customizable, clear, concise thank you note. Send it immediately upon hearing from a prospect.

o Never send references with your resume. If asked for them then you have a second chance to engage with a prospect and exchange information.

o Speaking of second changes to engage – During your interview constantly be on the lookout for ways to engage post-interview. It could a be a follow-up to a question or forwarding a relevant article. Stay on the radar. Stay top of mind.

o Create a file of targets, what you sent, who you sent it to, when you sent it, what you heard back, when you need to follow-up and what feedback you received. (Create a job search spreadsheet.)

· Know your value; understand the marketplace.

o Based on marketplace considerations (cost of living) and your personal expenses and liabilities set a target salary range you aspire to. Do your research to see what the range is for your position in each market.

o Don’t be “that idiot.” When asked what your salary expectations are in Greenville, North Carolina don’t triple the number as if you’re going to be living in San Francisco. Be reasonable. Have reasonable expectations.

The Polish:

The axiom “you have one bite at the apple” or as Will Smith in HITCH would say, “One dance, one look, one kiss, that's all we get.” Be prepared; be presentation ready both in person and with your digital footprint.

· Do your homework. Understand what your target company/employer is about. What’s their mission? Who are their consumers, customers and/or clients? Dive deep into their growth and performance. Research their leadership, recent hires and what employees have to say about them.

· Seek out access points. Do any of the key executives, leadership or your college alumni have overlap, common boundaries and/or interests?

· Take a look in the mirror. Sartorial and Social

o For guys – that navy blazer, the one you’ve worn since high school, is likely in need of a freshening dry cleaning if not replacement. Go to Joseph A. Banks, Men’s Warehouse or a Brooks Brothers outlet and invest in a suit and a new dress shirt, matching belt and dress shoes. Remember you can express yourself with socks and a tie! Go crazy.

o For ladies – button up and cover up. The coterie of sun dresses, cowboy boots and synthetic fabrics should be sidelined for a time. Invest in a suitable day dress, slacks and a nice sweater or crisp blouse; simple but fashionable footwear. Freshen your look think understated elegance and determination.

o Freshen your look from top to bottom and everything in between.

· Short of re-reading and studying Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers run through your proper etiquette protocols. Potential employers often take prospects out for lunch or dinner. It’s not always to “get to know you” as it’s often to see how you perform in a social setting. In a 2016 New York Times interview Walt Bettinger, President & CEO of Charles Schwabb said he invites potential candidates to breakfast but arrives early and instructs the manger to purposefully mess up the candidate’s breakfast. "I do that because I want to see how the person responds," he tells Bryant. "That will help me understand how they deal with adversity. Are they upset, are they frustrated, or are they understanding? Life is like that, and business is like that. It's just another way to get a look inside their heart rather than their head."

· Where do those social media footprints lead?

o Get a pedicure for those footprints. Dive deep. Sanitize. Promote and do good. And do good.

o If you’ve been cavalier, reckless on social media it’s time to cull the posts. Family, dogs, outdoor activities and defensible thoughts play well on social media feeds.

· Create a “position statement.” You never know when an “out of the blue” question will come up.

o Be conversant. Be able to clearly state your interests, experiences, goals and aspirations.

o Make lists – sports, vacation destinations and restaurants, favorite books and poets, movies, television shows. Hobbies, pastimes and collections. Dive into quirky trivia. Be able to talk to a wide range of topics and current events.

o For instance, if you’re interested in branded marketing it’s probably good to know the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s first name (Poppin’ Fresh) or the year Budweiser introduced the Clydesdales (1933). Do your homework!

Life’s Lessons Learned:

Having mentored and coached hundreds of young professionals we have a go-to list of Life’s Lessons Learned.

· Be decisive when it matters; flexible when necessary

· Only dead fish swim with the stream

· Champion achievements; learn from mistakes

· Find your competitive edge and build on it

· Stay up on current events; draw opinions, be able to defend them and balance information

· Never call out sick unless you have wet plaster, fresh sutures or an illness worthy of coverage on CNN

· Look in the mirror

· Be a career builder rather than a job seeker

· Fine tune your leadership skills while always being a team player

· Subscribe to Sam Walton’s Sundown Rule – why put off until tomorrow what you can do today

· Play fair; be direct but don’t ever be mean

· Respond to emails and return calls by the end of each day

· Make a plan that builds from one year to three years to five and then ten years; track it and adjust as needed

Let us know how we might be of service. We have a proven record of accomplishment cultivating and developing young professionals.