#TBT…4 Surefire Ways to Optimize Your Career Center

Val Matta, CareerShift

Think of your career centers as hidden gold mines: Although they’re there at your disposal, few college students are aware of their advantages. A National Association of College and Employers (NACE) survey showed only 36 percent of students frequently take advantage of career center services. What’s more: 27 percent of graduating  seniors who plan on entering the workforce do not make use of their college career centers services. So while many students and young professionals may be aware of their career centers, not all use it as much as they could.

What are some ways to optimize your career center, especially during the job search? Check out these tips:

Find an advisor who understands you

First things first: You have to find a career center advisor who gets you. This is important for a few reasons. First, an advisor who understands your major, your personality, and your career path will be able to steer you in the right direction more efficiently. In addition, when you feel comfortable around these kinds of advisors, you’ll likely be inclined to seek and later take their advice.

Tip: Before you meet with an advisor, research their history and professional background. Then, try to see if your professional interests and values align with theirs, ensuring you find the right match.

Get resume help

About 71.3 percent of those who use career centers take advantage of resume services. Think about it: You have experts at your disposal ready and willing to optimize your application materials. In particular, your resume is usually what a hiring manager or recruiter sees first, so it needs to be at its best.

Tip: The best way to get resume help from a career center to come as prepared as possible. Have a rough draft ready to go, even if you know it may be edited. That way, there’s a solid foundation for you and the advisor to go through.

Practice, practice, practice

The NACE survey also indicated that about 42.8 percent of career services users go there for mock interview sessions. This is great way to learn and understand the best interview methods, such as how to answer questions appropriately or the best ways to follow-up. You may also learn how to dress professionally or how to conduct your body language in a way that shows you’re professional, enthusiastic and eager to get the job.

Tip: Don’t be nervous! Your career center advisor is there to help you. Ask for feedback on what you’re doing right and what you need to improve upon. This way, you’ll get the bad out of the way and be able to emphasize the good.

Find those hidden opportunities

After all your proactive work is complete, it’s time to utilize your career center’s best asset: Hidden job opportunities. Eighty percent of open jobs are never advertised, which means members of your network, including your career center, may be aware of jobs you would never see listed. So it’s vital that you use this resource to your advantage.

Tip: Be sure to jump on those hidden internship and job opportunities. Just because they aren’t advertised, it doesn’t mean others haven’t gotten wind — they may be applying for the positions as well. In addition, if your advisor has a connection or can give you a reference, you may have an easier time getting into the organization.

Visiting your career center is an absolute necessity, whether you just started school or are about to graduate. Be sure to take advantage of this resource and use it to its full potential.

This article was originally published at http://www.businessinsider.com/4-surefire-ways-to-optimize-your-career-center-2013-6 and may be re-published with permission from the author.

 

#TBT…Employee-Crafted Goals Pay Off

Robert Liddell, Saint Leo University

Goal setting and performance management are often cited as supervisors’ least preferred responsibilities. Cascading performance goals down through a large division or organization is a complex undertaking.

Coordinating everyone’s goals around activities that contribute to productivity requires communication, planning, rewards and support.

To create strategic alignment among the organization’s direction, the manager’s performance expectations and an employee’s annual objectives, consider having employees design their own goals. This practice provides rewarding opportunities for employees to assume responsibility for their contributions and development.

In some cases, it makes sense to assign an annual objective to the individuals or small groups most capable of delivering the desired work product. However, companies in which employees have a say in how they make contributions benefit from increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover.

Prepare.

Employees who are aware of top-level objectives and how their department supports those objectives are better prepared for this process. As manager, your first step is to review top-level objectives and understand how your team’s goals contribute. Then, consider what goals need to be delegated.

Next, clarify employees’ key responsibilities and begin to anticipate the goals you might expect them to achieve. Having already set your annual goals and ensured that they fit into the company’s direction, ask employees to do the same.

Prior to a goal-setting meeting with a subordinate, share relevant information and clarify expectations. Define the resources required. As your direct reports draft performance goals, have them include at least one measure for each goal to specify the results expected or the level of performance required.

Review.

Emphasize that employees are writing their goals, but, as their manager, you are responsible for ensuring the relevance of their tasks and how they fit into the organization’s plans.

At a minimum, employees’ goals should represent key responsibilities of their positions. Consider if it is appropriate to delegate a specific goal or pieces of the goal to another employee. Break large goals into smaller components.

Stretch goals should advance your goals and those of the organization. As a manager, you must oversee the efforts of others to produce these results. If their tasks don’t fit into your tasks, you will be wasting effort. Question whether such tasks need to be reassigned to another department or discarded.

Align.

After reviewing the drafts, meet again with each employee to agree on final goals. Those who are part of the goal-setting process are able to articulate how their work directly contributes to annual goals.

As their manager, you will see ultimate rewards such as higher job satisfaction and employee engagement. Managers who consistently achieve this alignment and engagement are often given the opportunity to contribute to strategic initiatives and, perhaps, be rewarded with a promotion and career advancement.

This article was published on July 1, 2013 in HR Magazine and has been reprinted with permission from the author.  

 

 

#TBT…6 Ways to Use Your School’s Alumni Network to Land a Job

Val Matta, CareerShift

As graduation draws near, college students become stressed about employment. After spending the majority of their lives studying, they suddenly have a new, often unfamiliar task: the post college job search.ace1

But many college students don’t realize the bounty of resources available to them for the job search. Beyond employment agencies and company websites, college alumni networks are a great resource for potential job opportunities and employment ideas.

But just how can college students tap into the power of alumni networks? What are the proper routes to take, and what’s the right etiquette for approaching a potential networking contact? Here are six ways college students can use their college alumni network to land a job:

1. Start early. Don’t wait until the minute you need a job to start tapping into your school’s alumni network. While it’s never too late to get started, you should try to make networking connections throughout your entire college career so you have a good database of personal networking contacts to tap into after graduation.

2. Find contacts. Talk to your career services center to see if they keep a database of alumni willing to talk to students about their professional careers. Many colleges and universities do this. Most schools also have alumni relations offices that can put you in contact with professional alumni in your industry or field, or those that have relationships with employment agencies.

3. Get involved. Joining campus organizations–or even off-campus organizations–can help you to connect with current students and gain access to alumni who have participated in the same groups. Consider student clubs, volunteer groups, community centers, political organizations, student newspapers or blogs, theatre groups, or other organizations that pique your interest. Not only will you gain a great addition to your skill set and resume, but you’ll glean direct access to a large pool of alumni with similar career goals.

4. Tap into social media. In today’s technological landscape, the power of social media — sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn — is unmatched when it comes to connecting professionals across time and place. Brand yourself on your personal social media accounts by ensuring your image remains professional and focused on your industry, but don’t forget to showcase your interests, unique traits, and personality as well. Once you’ve established a professional personal brand on social media, you’ll feel more comfortable reaching out to alumni contacts. Alumni and employment agencies often reach out to students with completed LinkedIn profiles.

5. Start a conversation first. Approaching someone by saying “I need a job” isn’t going to get you anywhere. You’ll just look desperate and, even worse, inconsiderate. Whether you’re talking to alumni contacts via email, phone, or social media, always start a conversation first, and talk job opportunities later. Find a common point of interest with your new networking contact–it’s easy with social media–and go from there. Reply to their tweets, comment on a blog post, or send an email with a news article or online video you think they may like.

6. Set up an informational interview. Informational interviews are a great way to pick the brains of professionals you admire. Informational interviews can often lead to advice, job openings, or introductions to more networking connections. To set up an informational interview, simply ask your networking contact to meet you for lunch or coffee. Bring a copy of your resume and a few questions you want to ask. Keep the conversation short–less than 30 minutes–and follow up afterward via email or phone to thank them for their time.

Tapping into the power of an alumni network doesn’t have to be difficult. If college students are proactive about the networking process, they’ll have no problems establishing themselves in entry-level positions after college.

Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for university career centers that gives students and alumni complete control over their job search. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.

#TBT…Approaching Employers at Career Fair Events: An Employer Perspective

by Sandi Ohman, Senior Program Manager, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

As career professionals we strive to educate students on how to be successful in all steps of the career process.  We know they don’t always implement this advice – that is evident at the events!  However, when a recruiter or hiring manager shares the same advice with students they tend to take it to heart.

Recently, we reached out to several employers that typically attend the Industry/Career Expo at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, asking for their perspective on students at such an event.  We wanted to know what they look for when students approach their booth.  When determining who they want to interview further, we asked the employers to share some of the basic questions they ask students at the booth.  The response was good and the feedback was somewhat expected and traditional with some exceptions.

The top areas that stood out with employers and made impressions were the following:

  • Knowledge about the company and knows a few specific facts
  • Knows what they want to do for that specific company, or at least have an idea
  • Has the ability to carry on a conversation with the recruiter – so good, or even average, communication skills
  • A good introduction
  • Awareness of strengths and interests
  • A true passion for their career interest
  • A good attitude and shows confidence – whether real or faked
  • Prepared – research, resume, note pad to take notes
  • Well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the event, a good handshake, make eye contact and smile
  • Strong academics

A few tips employers shared that are not as traditional, but still good to consider:

  • Take the initiative to contact previous interns to find out about the positions and company as part of their  preparation
  • Held a job or been involved in extracurricular activities that are related to their major
  • The student doesn’t have to wear a suit and tie, but should still be well groomed and neat.  The clothes should be a complement to the person and what they would bring to the company.

When asked about the questions they ask students, a.k.a. the screening process, the responses were again expected:

  • Where do you want to be geographically? (Especially important for companies far away from the university’s location)
  • What are the skills/knowledge areas you bring to the company?
  • Tell me about your background and experiences?  (Ensures relevance to what the company is looking for in  candidates)
  • Walk me through your resume. (Testing their ability to engage in a conversation about themselves, hitting points like achievements and passion)
  • Why XYZ company? (Especially important at a career event when there are many companies to talk to, often times very similar in function.  This also helps determine motivation)
  • What brought you to ABC university?
  • What type of position are you seeking?  How does your education and experiences relate to this area?
  • Tell me about a project or class that you’ve been involved in, that has prepared for this type of position.
  • What are you not interested in doing professionally?
  • Where do you see yourself professionally, over the next __ years?
  • What are your favorite classes/professor and why?
  • What is your dream job?
  • Why should we select you?

Advice from a sampling of employers does not capture the full scope of the students’ experience at a career fair event, but it is a place to start.  Many will hear this advice, some will listen, even fewer will take it to heart and prepare accordingly.  Those that do gain the reward!

 

Five Books Every Student Should Read

Thank you NACE and Lakeisha for the great read!

The NACE Blog

Lakeisha Mathews

Lakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/
Blogs from Lakeisha Matthews.

A few months ago I wrote about 10 must-read books for career professionals. Now I would like to draw attention to a few must-read books for any student who aspires to be successful, a leader, or simply to be ready for the world of work.

With information always at their fingertips, students can access tips, samples, and information on career and professional development in a split second on Google, YouTube, Pinterest, and so forth. However, many professionals can attest to the bookthat changed our lives, or the authorthat helped us mature and think differently about ourselves. Our students should be encouraged to have the same encounters with books that help them grow and mature professionally. Whether it’s a hard back, soft cover, or e-book, books…

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Words of Wisdom from Boca Raton’s CEOs, Part 2

A continuation of our blog post from last week, Words of Wisdom from CEOs:

Kelly Vons, General Manager, Boca Raton Resort & Club

  • Find out what you love to do
  • Try different things
  • Love who you are working with

Dr. Levy, Marcus Neuroscience Institute

Daily process:

  • Focus on your goal
  • Check with yourself that your goal is doing the right thing
  • Ask yourself if there is anything I could have done better today?
  • Have you treated your customer the way you would treat your mother.

Dan Kane, CEO, Modernizing Medicine

  • You can’t force change but you can be a catalyst
  • The type of people you surround yourself with will define you and your company culture
  • Like a fine wine, let things breathe
  • Have the ability to see opportunity
  • Find out what people are willing to pay for
  • Be passionate
  • If it’s not fun, do something else
  • Fail fast, succeed faster
  • Social media – you must be able to monetize

 

Words of Wisdom from CEOs, Part 1

Great tips for our Student’s and Alumni!

Burt Rapoport, Founder & CEO, Rapoport’s Restaurant Group

  • Must read: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Must watch: Shark Tank
  • Do what you say you are going to do
  • Make decisions based on your values
  • Always begin with an end in mind
  • The nicer you are to people the more successful you will be
  • Make your own luck

Andrew Duffel, President & CEO, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University

  • Know when to listen & when to talk
  • Be flexible
  • Master critical thinking
  • Everyone has something to contribute
  • Everything that gets accomplished is through relationships

Charles Deyo, CEO, Cendyn

Philosophy: I don’t want to be the best I want to be the only one doing it.

To have a sustainable business you must have recurring income.

Rick Hayduk, President, Boca Raton Resort & Club

Philosophy: Work your ass off.  Remove your ego.  Be first one in, last one out.  Be flexible.

Must read:  Good to Great