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Business Officer Magazine

Special Afternoon Sessions Offer Professional Development

Monday afternoon options included 12 concurrent sessions designed to encourage personal professional development. Here are a few examples.

Preparing for Your Next Move

A session on "Understanding the Search Process" attracted attendees pondering a move up to a CBO position or laterally to another institution. Jamie Ferrare, senior vice president, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and Karen L. Goldstein, consultant with Witt/Kieffer, discussed what to expect from searches both with and without search firms involved.

The first stage, they said, is a thorough self-examination. Have you developed certain skills, particularly communication and leadership skills? Have you seized opportunities to work in areas beyond your regular responsibilities? Can you think strategically? Next, prepare your resume, have conversations with potential references, and develop a thoughtful cover letter that matches your experience with the job description.

If invited for an interview, do your homework about the institution and be prepared with two or three questions to ask the committee—since it's a two-way inquiry and you're also interviewing them. Remember that a campus visit will not be confidential, and that Google alerts will show up on your home campus.

The right "fit" is almost as important as the job itself, said Ferrare and Goldstein, and judging fit can take all the way through the process. Sometimes the difference between one candidate and another is that fit.

Finally, if you accept the offer, it's wise to plan for a transition period that might include some visits to get to know your new team and spend time with the president.

Face the Media

While dealing with the media can sometimes be a frustrating experience, business officers can prepare themselves in advance to control the message and the interview.

 "Put yourself in the shoes of journalists and you will realize that you would also be asking the same questions they ask you," said Andy Burness, founder of Burness Communications, a public relations firm based in Bethesda, Maryland. "Understand that they have a job to do. That should be the starting point for business officers."

Burness, who spoke at a session titled "From the Times to CNBC: Media Training for Business Officers," offered the following tips:

  • Be prepared in advance. Anticipate the toughest questions beforehand.
  • Have a message. Know your answers before the media start contacting you.
  • When a reporter calls, ask him what the story is about, who else is being interviewed, and the deadline. Tell him that you will call back in 15 minutes before you agree to be interviewed. Use the time to contact university relations.
  • Discuss with university relations what you have to say, and ask whether there are any problems with your answers. Work collaboratively with them.
  • Learn to control the interview by using the bridging technique. This involves acknowledging the question, finding a way back to your message, and then giving your message.

Be Social but Be Wise

"Don't put anything on the Internet that you wouldn't want to be seen by grandparents and grandchildren, employers and enemies, your priest, or the police," cautioned Patrick O'Malley, a consultant on social media and former vice president of operations for Northern Light. His hands-on session, "Social Media 101," showed attendees how their use of e-mail, text messaging, blogging, and social networking could affect them and their jobs.

O'Malley focused on the top five platforms he believes will be around the longest—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs—and discussed how they can help with career building.

The most effective way to use Twitter, he said, is to think of it as a search engine. Any business, institution, or professional, can search through this site for people who are talking about you. If you ever post anything negative about an employer—as did a young woman in an example O'Malley gave—and it's not properly restricted by privacy controls, the employer will find it.

For LinkedIn, O'Malley showed ways to maximize the advanced search feature while giving advice on how to build a database of professional connections. Anyone has the opportunity to use the site to connect with past, present, and future coworkers, friends, and industry experts. When looking for a new job, check to see if you share any common connections with people who work for the specific company you are interested in.

Blogs and YouTube are good ways to tell the world about your expertise, but be sure to use a common keyword in the title of a blog post or video that would be picked up by a search engine.

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