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July 31, 2007

Alumni Book Review: Women: Are your "nice girl" habits holding back your career?

A book review by U of MN Alum Stacy Lynn Bettison (U of MN 99)
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Are you sabotaging your career by being too nice? Have you considered that the way you act, think, sound, look, respond and market yourself are critical to not only landing the right (and best) job, but also to advancing your career?

Several years ago I discovered a fabulous book by Lois P. Frankel, PhD that made me realize that I had developed a few habits that weren’t serving me well. Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers is a must-read for any professional woman, at any stage of her professional career. The book is particularly helpful to young lawyers who often establish their credibility not only in the typical setting of strategy meetings with colleagues and clients, but also in the world of office politics (where your credibility is just as important).

In a very readable format, Frankel sets out 101 mistakes women make and offers coaching tips on how to change the unproductive behaviors.

For example, the long-winded voicemail – ever leave one of those? According to Frankel, rambling voicemails undermine the effectiveness of the message and make the caller look indecisive. After reading her admonition against trailing voicemails, I immediately implemented her best practices. To this day, on any particular call where I sense that I may be susceptible to leave a rambling voicemail, I simply jot down the key points I need to make so that my message is pithy.

Another mistake is the limp handshake – ever offer one of these? I have received limp handshakes from my male counterparts, so I don’t think this problem is peculiar to women. Nevertheless, we women need to offer a strong handshake to everyone we encounter. A strong handshake sends a message of confidence, control and competence.

One final example: qualifying what we say. Frankel says that women “calm their fears about being too direct, opinionated, or committed? by using qualifiers such as “It’s kind of like . . .?, “We sort of did . . .?, “Perhaps we should . . .?, etc. Qualifiers weaken the message, and who wants to send a weak message? Instead, she suggests that opinions be spoken directly, “in clear, certain terms.? And, if taglines are really necessary, Frankel suggests effective ways for using them without invalidating the message.

To a certain extent, we all have mannerisms or habits that probably don’t serve us well in all aspects of our careers. But we women, even with our whip-smart intellects, our many accolades, and our winning personalities, may have been conditioned at some time or another (our girlhood, according to Frankel) to behave in ways that diminish our potential. With Frankel’s keen observations and coaching tips, however, unproductive tendencies can be easily transformed into effective habits that establish instant credibility and help get you closer to that corner office.

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Stacy Lynn Bettison (U of MN 99) is now Communications Counsel with Rotenberg Associates LLC, a communications firm that provides clients and their attorneys with sophisticated communication strategies for their critical issues and during times of crisis. She has served as President of the University of Minnesota Law Alumni Board of Directors.

July 20, 2007

Future lawyers should build networks now

From Minnesota Lawyer
By Dawn Wagenaar | July 16, 2007

Because they've grown up with a lot of communication tools, young attorneys often have a natural instinct for building social networks. This strength, however, may not be leveraged by the firm until it is "time�? for those attorneys to bring in business -- traditionally when they are promoted to a more senior position.

There is nothing traditional about the coming decades in our labor pool, however. To prepare themselves well for leadership, attorneys in their 20s and early 30s need to take the initiative now to build a network of professional contacts. This is key for future business development as well as for their careers.

Here are a few ways that they can prepare themselves.

To read more click

linked with permission. July 20, 2007

July 16, 2007

Articulating Your Transferable Skills

Webster.com defines the word 'skill' as "to separate, divide; archaic: to make a difference". My take on the word: "a specific ability or abilities used to distinguish one task from another to make an impact."

Communicating transferable skills - which are drawn from experience acquired from previous jobs, volunteer opportunities, and so forth - to potential employers is a challenge many students face. This difficulty often arises during the process of preparing resumes, writing cover letters, and participating in job interviews. It is the responsibility of the candidate to explain how his or her previous experiences and education will benefit the firm or company. Or, as the Webster definition asks 'how can your skills fit and make a difference'? When communicating your skills, think about what potential employers will be looking for specifically when they are reading your materials or listening to your interview answers.

The following link provides a list of legal skills that attorneys possess (click "Skills & Abilities" tab). Of course, this list is not comprehensive, but a good place to start. http://iseek.org/sv/Careers?id=13000:100115

After reflecting on the skills that are needed in the legal field, take a look at the skills you have to offer from your past experiences. Note any transferable abilities that employers may find interesting and useful. The following additional resources may be helpful as you identify your own skill set.

http://www.quintcareers.com/transferable_skills_set.html

http://online.onetcenter.org/skills/

July 13, 2007

Learn About NALP

In case you haven't heard of NALP or have a vague idea as to what this organization is, we strongly suggest you visit www.nalp.org ASAP and become familiar with the various resources available to you.

Note that "The National Association for Legal Professionals (NALP) was organized in 1971 to promote the exchange of information and cooperation between law schools and employers. In order to advance those interests, the Association has developed these "Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities"