Kim Shepard (2/2)

Career Profile: Analyst in Leadership Development

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Kim’s Top 3 Tips for Personal Career Development

Kim had lots of great advice both for those already employed, and those just starting out.

Tip 1. Find a job, not an industry.
In many cases, our job searches are guided in an industry-centric model from the start. Through school and approaching graduation, the looming question of, “What field do you want to go into?” directs us to think in terms of sectors, not skillsets. Reverse this! Do you love pitching new ideas to people or compiling the definitive report on a subject? Changing from within or without? Writing, coding, researching or face-to-face with people? Self-knowledge of this type, Kim believes, is more likely to lead to employment satisfaction. Forget the filters, and practice translating the skills you love into the lexicon of multiple industries instead.

Tip 2. Resumes: not all about you.
Go beyond revising an objective statement, and pull out the linguistic toolbox for each resume to ensure that your skills, experiences, and accomplishments are a best fit for the specific position you are applying for, and resonate with the ultimate reader. Before submitting, have you:
Tried to think about what this person’s daily life on-the-job is like?
Matched specific words and qualifications from the job description to your resume?
Drawn attention to experience and skills that are most applicable to the position?

Tip 3. Always Be Linguistically-Engaged (ABLE)
Maintain the mindset of an interactional sociolinguist and consider yourself in a continual state of participant-observation. Include both your organization and your role within it as part of your study by making an intentional effort to understand the company’s culture and how you operate within its context. Ask questions such as:

  • What are our goals? What is our institutional narrative? What do we want it to be?
  • How do different groups within the organization communicate?
  • What do we talk about? What don’t we talk about? Why?

Final words of wisdom from Kim:
On job satisfaction: Here, I am able to develop professionally in the way I want and do not feel like I’m stuck doing things that are stifling my growth.
On starting small and learning-as-you-go: I learned from the ground up what you need to know to do HR by working at a startup. People in general was my job. It was not only a skills builder but also a career builder for anyone else looking at [my resume] – training, payroll, recruiting, I could do anything.
On being found: I didn’t know anything about or have any interest in financial services – Goldman Sachs found me. I was contacted by a recruiter after putting my public resume on job sites and within days I was contacted about a contractor position and scheduling interviews.
On ‘what are you going to do with that?” You can do whatever you want with a degree in linguistics. It’s all about how you position yourself, which is inherent in linguistic, and your experience. I try to ask myself, what are my tasks today and how do those things relate to my training?