Prepare for work

On Nov. 22, the Wilfrid Laurier University Human Resources Network hosted the presentation “Brand Yourself”, featuring certified human resources professional Jeff Desbiens as part of their ongoing speaker’s series.

Desbiens, a manager of talent and workforce analytics for the Economical Insurance Group in Waterloo, addressed the room full of business students on the important steps in finding and accepting your first job after school.

“You’re all going to have to make significant decisions,” said Desbiens, explaining that these decisions not only influence an individual’s future career but also the companies they choose to work for.

“Never say no unless it’s really not a good fit,” Desbiens advised. “You don’t know what opportunities are in an organization until you’re [working] in the organization.”

Using himself as an example, Desbiens told the group that although he had graduated from a business program with a focus on human resources, his first job was in sales. He used the opportunity to his advantage and worked his way into a position in the human resources department in the same company.

“There’s more to a job than just a salary.”

Despite being open to any opportunities, Desbiens reminded the group to keep their goals in mind and consider “the upward potential” within a company.

Whether already working or just during the application process, making the right impression, particularly when it comes to first impressions, is incredibly important. Desbiens recommended that students have a clear idea of who they are in terms of their goals, values and interests in order to present that to prospective employers.

“Always be conscious of what you’re going to say [and] how you’re going to be perceived.”

Creating a good reputation stems beyond the interview or the office into the world of social media as well.

“Have your Facebook profile, have your LinkedIn profile and keep them separate,” he suggested. While maintaining a professional social life is necessary to be noticed in gaining consideration for promotions, leaving the not-so-professional aspect of yourself that may exist on Facebook is best left unaffiliated with your career.

In terms of interactions in the workforce, Desbiens explained that employees who are involved with a company’s social activities while maintaining their personal integrity ensure a more successful experience.

“When you make that choice to accept a job, jump into it,” he said.
If you want to move up in a company, going above and beyond what’s expected of you and bringing more value to the organization is imperative to succeed in the competitive nature of the entry-level job. However, Desbiens was adamant that should never forgo maintaining a healthy balance between work and a personal life and risking a “burn out”.

“Get in the habit of taking time for yourself,” said Desbiens. “If you have that right balance, you’ll be better set for success.”

Advice when entering the workforce

  1. Find your sweet spot
  2. The interview never ends
  3. Be respectful
  4. Own it
  5. Have integrity
  6. Know yourself
  7. Get involved
  8. First impressions are big
  9. Have a plan
  10. Be open-minded