Browsing articles in "Steps to Career Success"
Feb 26, 2014
Peer Career Advisors
Comments Off on Cover Letters – A Brief Overview

Cover Letters – A Brief Overview

To learn more about Cover Letter development and resumes attend “Play Up Your Strengths: Resumes and Cover Letters,” March 3rd at 3pm in Batza!

 

Most students learn the ins and outs of a resume before they even begin thinking about a cover letter. What is a cover letter and why is it so important? How do I craft a successful cover letter? These are all questions often asked by students applying to jobs and internships. What most might not realize is that a cover letter is equally as important as a resume. Informally, your cover letter’s job is to give the employer incentive to read your resume – it’s like the hook of a well-crafted essay. A cover letter can also be a great place to make personal connections with the job you are applying to or the employer that is hiring. A little less formulaic, the cover letter is an excellent way to round out your application and showcase all of your talents and hard work. Presented below are a few tips and tricks to help you begin crafting a successful cover letter.

If you have any further questions or concerns, come down to the career development office where we will be happy to assist you in any way possible. You can make an appointment by phone or simply by stopping in at the front desk. Or, take advantage of our walk in hours which are on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 2-4, and Wednesday from 3-5. We look forward to hearing from you!

 

1. Advertise Your Skills and Accomplishments

Advertising your skills and accomplishments early on in a cover letter works well to pique the interest of hiring managers. This is because many are more intrigued by intros that start with: “Searching tirelessly for a top-level executive chef with 20 years of restaurant, casino, and hotel experience? Look no further!”—rather than: “I want to thank you for the opportunity to apply for the executive chef position.”

Candidates have found that managers respond more willingly to the creative introduction that lists reasons they should be hired. Keep this concept in mind as you write your own.

2. Pinpoint Challenges You Want to Address

In the first sentence, you’ve likely touched on the second goal, which is to pinpoint challenges you want to address with the company.  But it’s not a bad idea to do it again.  You don’t have to talk about specific challenges in the introduction; this can be saved for later in the letter.  But you can touch on goals that any company in the field might face and why you want to tackle them.

Believe it or not, this can be accomplished in two brief sentences that read something like this: “Every restaurant faces its challenges in customer service, staff and budget management, and food execution. I am eager to take the reins with XYZ Restaurant and steer business in the right direction.”

3. Explain Why You’re the Right Fit

Next, it’s important to explain why you’re the right fit for the position. You can do this by noting that the company needs a qualified candidate to meet its agenda, then list three or four reasons why you’re the qualified candidate it needs.

The idea is to get right to the point of why you’re the perfect fit. No beating around the bush allowed—because hiring managers simply don’t have time to search for the message you’re trying to deliver.

4. Entice the Reader to Keep Reading

Finally, your goal is to let the reader know that your introduction is only the beginning and that you have more to offer. For instance, by stating, “I believe it’s never too late to develop strategies that lead a restaurant to greatness, and I am ready to utilize my long-term experience, intuition, and dedication to get the job done”, you could successfully convince a manager to keep reading.

(List courtesy of Jessica Hernandez; http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2012/04/12/4-goals-your-cover-letter-introduction-should-accomplish/)

Feb 26, 2014
Peer Career Advisors
Comments Off on “The Networking Challenge”

“The Networking Challenge”

For more information on Networking, attend “Networking: Face to Face and Online,” March 3rd at 4pm in Batza during Senior Career Week!

 

by Lisa Hinkley

Being a busy and slightly shy student, I found networking to be challenging, even when given specific recommendations for people with whom to connect. Ironically, my most important networking lesson came from a woman I had avoided contacting when I was a novice networker. Although I had shied away from reaching out to her, I came into contact with her through other means: I was assigned to work with her during an internship. Not only did she teach me much about the career I was considering, but she also introduced me to people who I needed to know in my field—including one who eventually had a role in hiring me for my first professional position.

What I didn’t know as a student is that people generally like to help others, especially when you make it easy for them.

Networking is among the most effective career development and job-search techniques. Many job seekers spend their time looking at job postings and want ads, but these seldom provide a complete job description. That’s where networking can play a role: Savvy students use networking to get the full story about organizations, positions, and career-growth opportunities.

Not only can you use networking to find jobs, but the information you learn through networking can help you craft your resume appropriately and give you an edge in the interview. (Although you are likely focused on your first professional job, remember that networking is important for subsequent jobs as well.)

If you are like many students, networking to learn about career options and job/internship leads is probably toward the bottom of your list of job-search tasks. Unfortunately, it may only emerge as important when you’ve exhausted your other options and desperation-or some twist of fate-forces you to try networking.

The fact is, if you are like many students, you probably use networking skills more than you realize. For example, to choose classes, you read through the course catalog, ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations, read “student only” sites with feedback on specific courses and professors, and (hopefully) talk to your academic adviser. Your parents also might offer their thoughts. This is networking. It is a combination of research, conversation, and analysis.

Make networking part of your daily activities

You can easily make networking a part of your normal daily activities. For example, it’s likely you’re being asked by friends and relatives about your post-graduation plans. This is a networking opportunity. Share details with them about fields or positions of interest to help them think of people they know who are doing similar work. Ask them to help you connect with these people, and then, follow through. (Uncertain about your intended career path? Not sure you can offer a clear answer to questions about what you want to do after graduation? Ask your career adviser to help you refine your interests and formulate a good response.)

Make the most of your networking

Finding people to contact is just part of networking. Try these quick tips to make the most of your conversations with networking contacts:

  • Send an e-mail to introduce yourself when requesting a meeting. Explain (briefly!) what you have in common and describe what you hope to learn through your conversation. Include a date and time that you will follow up by phone to schedule your meeting time if you haven’t heard back; then, follow through! (Because so many people don’t do what they say they will, this attention to detail is sure to impress.)
  • Research the industry, organization, and person you will be meeting prior to your conversation.
  • Consider information that you are learning in classes, internships, or student organizations that might be interesting to your target contact.
  • Make a list of questions to ask; if you are starting with a sample list of questions obtained from your career center or online, customize the questions to be specific to the industry and the person you will be contacting.
  • Treat professionals with respect. Use appropriate grammar and spelling when writing messages. If you’ve scheduled a meeting, don’t cancel. Arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Whether your conversation is in person, on the phone, or via e-mail, follow up with a thank-you note to show your appreciation and improve your chances of creating a productive relationship.
  • Don’t be discouraged if some people whom you contact aren’t immediately helpful. Be patient, and continue to develop contacts. Similarly, you might encounter people who you don’t feel a positive connection toward; in those cases, be polite, send a thank-you note, and move on. None of us can predict which connections will lead to meaningful outcomes, so use care to nurture your connections. Accept networking as an investment in your future that can produce results in the present.

 

There are a variety of places through which to find people to talk to about your professional interests. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn;
  • Alumni networks and campus mentoring programs;
  • Career fairs, employer information sessions, and networking events;
  • Professional associations related to your field of interest;
  • Friends/family and their friends; and
  • Community groups.

 

Lisa Hinkley is Director of Career Services at Lake Forest College.

 

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Feb 24, 2014
Peer Career Advisors
Comments Off on “10 Skills Job Seekers Need”

“10 Skills Job Seekers Need”

When it comes to a job seeker’s skills/qualities, employers are looking for team players who can solve problems, organize their work, and communicate effectively, according to employers who responded to NACE’s Job Outlook 2014 survey.

Employers who interview and hire new college graduates were asked to rank a job candidate’s desired skills and qualities. Employers rated seven of 10 qualities as “very important”; three were rated “somewhat important.” (See Figure 1.)

How can you demonstrate that you have these qualities? Here are some things you can do during your college years to meet these demands:

Join extracurricular activities. Being an active member of a club or an intramural sports team, organizing a volunteer project, or taking part in group tasks, will help you earn that top quality spot, “ability to work in a team structure.” Participating in extracurricular activities while maintaining a high GPA will demonstrate that you have the “ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work.”

Keep Your GPA High. Good grades show that you have a good knowledge base—the “technical knowledge related to the job”—and demonstrates a strong work ethic—a quality that employers value.

Find an internship. Another way to demonstrate your knowledge of the job is to have done an internship or two in your field. You’ll have taken an opportunity to look at your future career close up while getting hands-on experience with any potential job. Your internship can put your “foot in the door” to a job opportunity with many employers and help you build a network of professionals in your field.

Make a Date With the Career Center. The career center staff can help you go a long way in preparation for selling yourself to future employers. In addition to helping you choose a major and career direction, a career counselor can help you find internships, perfect your cover letter and resume, and develop your interviewing skills. Good interview skills will help you show a potential employer know that you can “verbally communicate” with people inside and outside the organization.

 

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Feb 4, 2014
Peer Career Advisors
Comments Off on What Not to Wear: Women’s Interview Edition

What Not to Wear: Women’s Interview Edition

Congrats! You’ve landed an interview! You have well-prepared yourself for the possible questions and have updated your resume so it’ll stand out. But now comes the difficult part, choosing what to wear. By now you have probably heard of the terms “business professional” or “interview attire” but do you really know what that is? Luckily, we are here to help! Follow our list of dos and don’ts for proper “interview attire” and you will be looking excellent on your big day!

DO: Stick with pant suits, or skirt suits for you wardrobe. The suit look is the most professional. Make sure your suit and blouse are nicely pressed and ironed for you interview. Also make sure that the fit of your suit is just right, not too big or too small.

DON’T: Wear any sort of informal pant, such as leggings or jeans, or a shirt that is not appropriate, no deep v-necks or crop tops. Never show up to an interview with a suit that does not fit or a wrinkled shirt. If you can’t put in the effort to look nice how will you be able to put effort into the job.

DO: Wear minimal and appropriate jewelery. A nice necklace and bracelet combo is a great way to accent your outfit without being to flashy.

DON’T: Wear gaudy jewelery that is too flashy and over the top it takes away from the outfit. Twelve bracelets is too much and every finger does not need a ring.

DO: Make sure your hair and make-up is done well. You want to look beautiful and natural.

DON’T: Cake on the make-up or decide that day is the day to go crazy with you hair. Your goal is to look professional, not like a clown.

DO: Wear comfortable and basic shoes. Heels are totally acceptable if they are an appropriate height and color. Commonly, the heel should not exceed 2 inches and flats are definitely acceptable. You want to make sure the shoe goes well the the suit.

DON’T: Wear shoes that are super stilettos with a platform that you can’t walk in or do not match the suit. Though they seem like a small touch, your shoes can be a big no-no if they take your outfit from business to tacky.

ALWAYS remember to maintain clean hygiene. Although it may seem redundant, don’t forget to brush you teeth, put on deodorant, have a nice manicure and look healthy when it comes time for your interview. When you step foot into that office and shake hands with your interviewer, you want them to be thinking “She looks very professional.” Although it’s not the focus of your interview, your outfit can make or break you chance at the job. Always try your best and put effort into your look and that effort will show.

 

Information for this article was provided by:

http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/bb/b2/f0/bbb2f0d1c885d7536ddb94186e05da75.jpg

Feb 3, 2014
Peer Career Advisors
Comments Off on Stand Out at a Job Fair

Stand Out at a Job Fair

For many students, the easiest and most helpful way of job searching is through job fairs. A job fair is a big event where many businesses send representatives have tables set up with information and applications for students and others seeking a job to look into. They can be hectic and overwhelming, but just like any business event, they are certain tips and tricks that can help you be a stand out candidate.

The number one trick to stand out is to never show up empty handed. For any job fair or employer opportunities you attend you should always have your resume, a note pad, and a pen. If you have a business card, you may also want to bring a handful of them. You want to get as much information on the companies you apply to as possible, so that you could easily answer questions during later interviews, or send follow-up emails.

While circling your way around a job fair you should never be afraid to network. How do you expect to get a job if you don’t sell yourself to the representative there? Your goal at a job fair should be to talk to as many people as you can. The employers want to know more than just your name, they want to get to know you as a possible employee. Don’t go in expecting to walk out with a job, but go in expecting to walk out with a much larger database of employers with opportunities available for you.

You can’t stand out at a job fair without standing out. Whether it’s the bright blouse you decide to wear or the perfect answers you have to any interview style questions you may be asked, do something that makes you different. You should be dressed in interview attire, business enough so that you appear serious and the job hunt, but not so over the top you could be at prom.  Don’t show the employer why they should want you, show them why they need you.

A job fair can be such an important step on your career path, opening many doors to many different job opportunities. They are a great place for face-to-face networking and can be your key to landing the job of your dreams. You should always enter a job fair well-prepared and confident so you can stand-out to the employers and leave with multiple opportunities on you plate.

 

The information for this blog was provided by:

http://blog-brigade.militaryonesource.mil/2013/06/11/how-to-work-it-at-a-job-fair-five-mistakes-to-avoid/

and

http://www.savingssarah.com/2014/01/26/4-job-fair-must-haves/

Dec 16, 2013
Goucher CDO
Comments Off on Making the Most Out of Winter Break

Making the Most Out of Winter Break

After the stress of finishing projects and taking final exams, students look forward to the weeks of semester break and time to relax or travel. Before they leave for that much-anticipated time off, we can encourage them to be creative and use the break as a strategic interval in the career development process. Some alternatives they can consider:

  • Review and revise the resume—Now that the fall semester has concluded, a review of accomplishments, new gpa, completed projects, major related courses, and extracurricular activities is in order.
  • Update social media—LinkedIn is recognized as a valuable tool for networking and the job search. Students can create a profile or update the existing one. NOTE: this past semester we set up a station in our campus center with a professional photographer and invited students to take a photo for their LinkedIn page, at no cost to them. Nearly 90 students took advantage of the freebie and got them thinking about their professional image online.
  • Short internships—Taking on a short term internship is a good way to add to overall work experience and can be another source of additional networking contacts. The internship can be full time or part time, depending on the agreement between student and employer.
  • Finding a mentor—Having an experienced person as a guide in the career development process is a great advantage for emerging young professionals. The winter break can be an opportunity to review a list of previous contacts from school, community activities, and previous work experiences to identify a prospective mentor.
  • Civic engagement—The holiday season offers may occasions to give back to the community. Volunteering has the triple advantage of providing assistance to those in need, adding another dimension to the resume, and supplying another means to build the professional network.
  • Social situations—This is a season for parties, dinners, meeting up with friends and family, and making new acquaintances. When appropriate, sharing short and long term career aspirations can lead to helpful information for future reference.Students can advance their career development process while classes are not in session and they have more control over their time. These suggestions are a few that can get them thinking and provide a boost to their career plans.

This post is from the Jo-Ann Raines, Director, Career Services, NJIT, previously posted on 12/10/13 here.

Dec 12, 2013
Peer Career Advisors
Comments Off on Winter Internships – You’re Halfway There!

Winter Internships – You’re Halfway There!

So you have a winter internship? Congratulations! You’ve made a good first impression and secured an internship, but you’re only halfway there. Now is the time get yourself in gear and show off your talents and abilities throughout the winter break. Check out this infograph below to see some helpful hints and tips to succeed in your internship. Everything you need to know from what not to do, how to avoid mistakes, to remembering why you are doing this internship in the first place, this helpful chart will give you a bit of guidance this winter.

If you have any further questions regarding winter internships, visit the Career Development Office in Dorsey Center. Call for an appointment, go online to search some of our different tools, or come in yourself to see one of our counselors.

We wish you the best of luck this holiday season!

http://visual.ly/22-things-do-during-your-internship-program

Dec 5, 2013
Peer Career Advisors
Comments Off on Creating A Productive Holiday Season

Creating A Productive Holiday Season

With three weeks left in school, many Goucher students are anticipating our month long winter break. Having time to relax and unwind after a hectic semester sounds fantastic to everyone, but many students realize that the enjoyment they get from having nothing to do will slowly turn into boredom.

Rather than having a lackluster and uneventful winter break, make the most out of your chilly days by considering the option of a winter internship or a part-time job!

Listed below are a few articles to give you some knowledge and motivation to start your search and application process. For more information regarding your job/internship search, head down to the Career Development Office in Dorsey Center, or look at our webpage online (http://www.goucher.edu/career-development-office) for more guidance. As an office we wish you the best of luck in making your winter break as meaningful as possible.

Happy Holidays!

6 Big Benefits from Working Winter Term Internships:

http://www.youtern.com/thesavvyintern/index.php/2012/11/16/6-big-benefits-from-working-winter-term-internships/

10 Best Part-Time Jobs for College Students:

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/08/24/earn-while-you-learn-10-best-part-time-jobs-for-college-student/

Nov 25, 2013
Peer Career Advisors
Comments Off on Managing Your Social Media

Managing Your Social Media

Are you an avid Facebook user? What about twitter? Are you also posting pictures of your rampages throughout your college party scene? Statistics show that 34% of hiring managers said that information presented on an individual’s social profile kept them from hiring the candidate. Take a look at this article to learn more about how to use social media appropriately and market yourself to employers as a professional and responsible adult!

AC Online: College Student Guide to Professional Student Profiles

http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/spotlight/college-students-clean-up-your-online-profiles-now/

 

Jan 10, 2013
Goucher CDO
Comments Off on LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

When learning to navigate the vast capabilities of LinkedIn, it can be hard for new users to truly understand how to use the system to your advantage. There is professional etiquette involved in everything you do on LinkedIn which can work to your advantage as your profile affords you a positive online presence to employers. If you’re having a hard time navigating LinkedIn or are just getting started, make an appointment with the CDO and let us help navigate you through the process or help you increase your networking skills.

In order to help you learn some of the top do’s and don’ts of using LinkedIn, useful to new and seasoned users, we’ve re-posted this article from Inc.com (originally posted here).

“More and more LinkedIn looks like the winning social media tool for business networking. Whether you are trying to grow your reach, find content, explore opportunities or recruit talent, this virtual meeting place is for many the first and last stop. You’ll do well to really explore the depth of resources on LinkedIn so you can more easily build and manage a powerful network. But features are constantly changing and your behavior must adapt. Even some good ideas can become annoying to other users very quickly.

Below is a list of 20 dos and don’ts to keep you current and well-liked among the LinkedIn crowd. Ignore them and you’ll be blocked and made a pariah. Follow them diligently and you can meet wonderful people and propel yourself down the path to networking success.

Do treat your profile as your professional brochure. Use an appropriate-looking profile image and put in complete and up-to-date information. This will be your first impressionfor many.

Don’t blanket connect. Before you ask for a connection, learn about the candidate. Be ready to explain why they should connect with you.

Do choose your groups carefully. Pick the ones most relevant to your interests. Feel free to jettison any that don’t yield fruit.

Don’t tout connections that you don’t really know. Just because you are connected with someone doesn’t mean that person is willing to vouch for your credibility. The truth will always surface.

Do be active in your groups. Post thoughtful responses to the most interesting discussions.

Don’t be self-indulgent. If you start a discussion or post a link, give value. Obvious self-promotion impresses no one.

Do get intentional testimonials and endorsements that speak to your actual skills.

Don’t let your profile sit inactive. Even if you only post an update once a week, keep it alive.

Do link meaningful videos that help people understand the value you have to offer.

Don’t use old or broken links, or, even worse, links to personal sites that detract from your image.

Do use the project section in your profile for references, and remember to include project or publication URLs.

Don’t copy and paste links for profiles from your browser. Those links are long and cumbersome. Every profile has a simple public link (found under the picture) that looks like this: www.linkedin.com/in/kevindaum

Do show potential connections that you are thoughtful and worthy by crafting a personal message that starts a relationship. People will admire that you cared enough not to use the standard “Join my network on LinkedIn” message.

Don’t spam. It seems obvious, and yet I am still amazed at how many people I have to block. Show respect and use the Update feature to get your message out.

Do reach out and make meaningful connections. Take the time to find common ground based on your profiles and consider how you can bring reciprocal value.

Don’t create verbiage combinations that no one understands. No Strategically powering visionary organizations to develop their potential untapped enlightenment. Make an effort to use simple language and recognizable business terms that actually mean something.

Do give a detailed description of what you do in the top of your profile. Just giving your company description under your title makes people think you have no idea what your position entails or that you just don’t care.

Don’t hog the conversations in groups or make it your personal soapbox. You should always consider others and bring value with every post.

Do write meaningful recommendations for people. Stop thinking you are participating in a meaningful way by endorsing others. Few find value or even pay attention to the annoying endorsements. A friend of mine created a joke skill on his profile. Within a week, more than 30 people endorsed his bowstaff skills.

Don’t treat LinkedIn as a chore that you have to just to keep up. This is the best networking tool available today, and it’s absolutely free. Dedicate real time and effort to make the most of your connections, and you’ll establish worthwhile, long-term relationships.”

(This post was originally sourced from: http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/20-critical-dos-and-donts-of-linkedin-networking.html?goback=%252Egde_38105_member_5816010680087638019)

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