Want to be known as a superstar professional but don’t know where to start? Cassandra Morello, Senior Marketing & Program Specialist, has been where you’ve been and shares her soft skills focus areas that’ll get any young professional up to speed.
Your first focus? “One thing I would advice young professionals in the early stage of their career is to focus on their interview skills.” We know that interviews can be intimidating but it’s not about answering the question perfectly. Cassandra reflects that “while employers seek young professionals with an impressive resume of technical skills, soft skills are critical and of equal importance.” What exactly does she mean by that? Well, the way you answer the question is just as vital as the answer itself.
Every part of your presentation matters to make the best impression. The simple things can make a difference such as being outgoing and friendly with the employer: ask about the weather, plans for the weekend etc. That will show you can be outgoing and work well with others. — Cassandra Morello
Last but not least, don’t forget to “ask questions. There is no harm in profiling your potential employer and certain questions are essential to you as a potential employee. For instance, how long have you worked here? What key lessons have you learned? What inspires you? What don’t you like about the job? What do you look for in an employee? How do you like to be managed? Establishing those questions off the bat and listening to those answers helps better understand the work culture and manager you may work for. Afterwards, send a thank you note and re-iterate what you talked about.” Remember that an interview goes two ways: you’re there to impress and also find out if the role is right for you.
Gearing up for a video interview and don’t know what to expect? We’ve got you covered with our blog here: What Are Video Interviews, How Do They Work & Why They're Here to Stay
Cassandra reflects that “As a young professional entering the workforce, I was eager to roll up my sleeves and get down to business but quickly learned that there were areas of my role that I was not great at.”
Being proactive in your professional development means identifying what you need to work on to succeed in your current or future role. Knowing the problem is only the first part of the equation. “As a Category Specialist, daily sales analysis is a big part of the role and at the beginning, I struggled with this as it involved complicated excel charts and macro formulas. In order to improve, I brought this issue up to my manager and recommended that I job shadow other Category Specialists to ask questions about Microsoft Excel or general category management best practices.” Take a note from Cassandra’s book and bring solutions to your manager so everyone knows you’re working on improvement.
There’s many resources out there that can help you so make sure to think outside the box. “Plus,” Cassandra continues, “I decided to sign up for a Microsoft Excel class which I attended in the evenings. Over time, my performance in this area dramatically improved. Looking at numbers daily and utilizing those areas of support was greatly beneficial and over time, led me to become more analytical and comfortable with numbers in my respective categories.” She conquered her weakness rather than letting herself be overwhelmed.
Having a similar problem? The good news is that CMA offers all sorts of learning opportunities like one-day seminars, subject-specific certificates like Digital Marketing, or for the more eager and seasoned marketer, the Chartered Marketing Designation program – and they’re all online!
Taking a class is a big commitment so why not push it further here on a CMA NXT? Don’t just take our word for it. Cassandra reveals, “Now that I look back at the early stages of my career, one of the things that I wish I would’ve known is being able to truly prepare myself for the workforce with the help of a platform like CMA NXT.
This platform provides the tools, insight, and preparedness for young professionals and helps them become successful with everything from colleague experiences, tips on resume writing, professional communication and so much more.
I wish post-secondary schools and the education system would implement the learning that would better prepare this generation of future leaders into the workforce. When I entered the workforce for the first time, there was a lot of learning and there still are moments of learning every day, both good and bad experiences that I build on that help make me a stronger professional.”
Your core values as a professional will shape how you react and perform. Cassandra identifies three core values she believes is important for any professional to have:
Last but not least, Cassandra recommends using something she calls an achievement list. “It consists of all the accomplishments I have made throughout my career so far and the results achieved including problems that arise in my career and the solutions I took to solve it. It serves as a great way to add to your resume and share it with potential employers.” Plus, on the tougher days where you’re feeling discouraged, it’s a great way to remind yourself what you’ve done and what you’re capable of.
Want to know more about Cassandra's professional journey and how she overcame the hiring/experience paradox? Read her full story now!
As the semester winds down, you realize your professional image still needs work. If you’re wondering what to do next, maybe it’s time to start working on your brand.