YOUNG TALENT: Brad Waldron of Ceasar's Entertainment in Las Vegas, spoke Tuesday about "Make them Forget the 'Young' in Young Professional." The program was offered as part of Slippery Rock University’s School of Business Week. Waldron spoke in Advanced Technology and Science Hall.
Business Week speaker offers job tips
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Brad Waldron, corporate manager of environmental affairs for Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, traveled from Nevada to Slippery Rock University this week to tell students exactly the same thing they have been hearing since childhood from their parents, grandparents and maybe great-grandparents: "First impressions are important!"
Waldron's address, "Make them Forget the 'Young' in Young Professional," was part of SRU's School of Business Week events and was designed to give students tips when applying for employment.
"This presentation is based on my experiences and interpretation of publications and trends and will help you gain insight without learning everything the hard way," Waldron said. "These are things I have learned firsthand because they went horribly, horribly wrong."
Dressed in a smart black suit and tie, polished shoes and recent haircut, Waldron urged students to prepare for job interviews by wearing the proper clothes, shoes and haircut. "If you haven't washed your hair the night before the big interview; cancel it," he said.
Waldron, a graduate of Saint Michael's College and Duquesne University, started his career at Petrol Rem. He worked at NGE, an environmental and geotechnical engineering firm for 10 years prior to accepting a position earlier this year with Caesars Entertainment, where he handles environmental matters for the company's worldwide operations.
He told the Advanced Technology and Science Hall audience that his credentials in offering employment advice came from having "made lots of mistakes and learning the hard way," enjoying a "successful career path" and the fact he has "been on both sides: candidate and manager."
"The most common questions I hear is, 'How do I prepare for a job interview?'" and said his standard answer is, "Constantly. You're always interviewing."
Waldron said job opportunities are often based on networking. "That network is built on your everyday image and the impression others have of you. Every interaction is a potential gateway to a formal job interview. The market is competitive; networking is putting your best foot forward - All the time."
He used a large pie chart to explain that first impressions, which take only seconds to form, may last forever, but can be controlled and managed, and are worth the effort to practice. "They are important," he said. The chart showed 93 percent of a first impression comes from non-verbal queues; only 7 percent of the impression comes from verbal actions.
"Over the phone, 70 percent of the first impression is based on tone of voice; 30 percent is based on your actual words," he said.
He provided a list of tips regarding appearance, including: Dress like a professional; learn to iron (and do it); get a haircut; sit up straight; lean into the conversation; don't cross your legs if you are a man, but cross your legs if you are a woman; keep your hands clean and neat; men should be neatly shaved or exhibit maintained facial hair; women should watch their necklines and hems; and everyone should "use a mirror. If you don't like what you see change it," he said.
Tips for what he called the "absolutely critical" handshake included: make good, solid contact; know where your thumb goes; be firm, but not crushing; eliminate limp or dead fish handshakes; and be conscious of gender.
Waldron told students to pretend they are a charm school valedictorian. "Use 'Please,' 'Thank you,' and 'You're welcome' in conversations." He said everyone should know how to make introductions and when to sit or stand. He emphasized they should turn off their cell phones and never use them during interviews or meetings. He encouraged them to have business cards available.
He said he was recently in a meeting where a high-level executive was dismissed after his cell phone rang. "Turn off your cell phone, not even vibrate," he said.
He also had a list of physical mannerisms to consider, including "be approachable; be confident, but not arrogant; don't fidget; do not chew gum; make eye contact, but not to the extent it becomes 'creepy'; smile and act interested."
Body language is important, he said, urging job seekers to avoid crossed arms, not putting their hands in their pockets or leaning back during the conversation. Waldron urged students to Google themselves to see what might be out there for potential employers to see. He also urged students to use social networking cautiously.
He said properly composed resumes are often beneficial during job searches and urged student to double check grammar and spelling as well as format. "List your volunteer work and organizational memberships, if appropriate. Do some research on the company before the interview and try to find out about those who will be conducting the interview - Google them," he said. Such research may turn up ideas for conversation - and show initiative.
He also urged would-be employees to read or listen to the news, consider the geography and events if interviewing in a different region of the country, and to pay attention to international affairs. "I look at Yahoo and USA Today everyday," he said.
He told the audience they will have to break some email and text messaging habits. When communicating to employers, complete sentences are expected. "You also need to learn when a phone call is more appropriate than an email."
Waldron said once employed, "It is important to ask for opportunities to show off your skills; and not to turn down opportunities. Appropriately offer to help others; listen to directions and follow them; and know what is expected of you and then exceed those expectations."