Local experts help you plot your steps to success
By Katheran Wasson
For BG Magazine
Young professionals are smart to stay on the lookout for their next career moves — but that isn’t always easy, despite an improving job market. So two local experts are offering their advice for plotting your steps to success.
Caroline Francis, career counselor with University of Kentucky Alumni Association (ukalumni.net)
Fausto Sarmiento, president of the Lexington Young Professionals Association (lypa.org)
The top suggestion from both experts is the same: networking.
Francis said most jobs are found that way, and many companies are offering employee bonuses for recommending successful hires. All the more reason to keep in touch with people from all aspects of your life – high school, your college fraternity or sorority, neighbors, church, hobbies and volunteer work.
“When people learn your reputation … anyone can be a potential link to a job opportunity,” Francis said.
Sarmiento echoed that statement. Although social media is a popular way to connect professionally, he said meeting people and shaking hands is still crucial to getting ahead.
“The key thing is to be engaged, be involved,” Sarmiento said. “They can achieve that by participating in a trade association, joining an organization like LYPA or volunteering for different tasks at their place of employment.”
Here’s the experts’ additional advice for young professionals on the job hunt:
• Get out of the house and get in front of people.
Francis suggests grabbing coffee at least once a month with someone outside your network, representing your company in the community and serving on boards. Sarmiento said LYPA tries to schedule three events per month “to get members out of their normal work sphere” and allow them to meet other young professionals.
• Make the most of social networks.
A solid LinkedIn profile is crucial these days, Francis said, as is contributing to group discussions on LinkedIn. “LinkedIn really is your friend,” she said.
• Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
“One thing I’ve noticed is that the entrepreneurial bug has really bitten Lexington,” Sarmiento said. “Young professionals are … stepping outside of the corporate ladder and really designing their own futures.”
• If you’re looking to move up in your current workplace, Francis suggests finding subtle ways to promote the work you’re doing, asking for additional responsibilities or “stretch assignments,” and letting your managers know early on that you’re looking to grow professionally.
She suggested finding something each quarter to boost your resume, such as taking a seminar or training to publishing an article relevant to your field. Volunteer strategically to build your resume and do things so you’re “seen as a rising star,” she advised.
“In this day and age, people change jobs on average every 3.5 years, so it’s our
responsibility to manage our own careers. Nobody else is going to do it for us, so we need to be proactive.”
• When it comes to salary negotiations, do your homework. Know the market, what you’re worth and what sets you apart from the competition.
“Ideally, you want to wait until an offer is made to you, and then from there you can negotiate,” Francis said. “Role play that conversation beforehand, and just be confident in what you’re worth.”
• Pay it forward. If you can help out a friend, colleague or acquaintance with his or her job search, do it.
“We all need to be doing anything we can to help others,” Francis said. “It really comes back around.”
Entertain colleagues Kentucky style at Keeneland
Lexington young professionals know it can be blast to take a break from the office and spend the day at Keeneland, but it’s also a prime spot for entertaining corporate guests.
“I think people find the best way to network is to let loose and have a little bit of fun,” said Kate Bunnell McLean, meeting and event planner for the Central Kentucky equine industry landmark.
The Lexington/Kentucky Room is a public dining area that gives guests a bird’s-eye view of the racetrack, and the Phoenix Room overlooks the paddock.
Private dining is another option. There are spaces for large groups with trackside views and a variety of suites and smaller dining rooms for a more intimate experience, McLean said.
Keeneland hosts approximately 300 events a year on its grounds, McLean said. The meeting and event team is ready to help groups plan their visits and can coordinate special touches such as bourbon tastings, private tours, extended hours at the gift shop and gift shop discounts for large groups.
“There are a lot of ways – especially if you have out-of-town guests – to make it a really unique, Kentucky experience,” McLean said.