When it comes to careers, many people fall into two camps:
1) Be practical. Choose an educational major and a career based on what will enable you to earn good living. Select a lucrative path that has some semblance of stability and certainty.
Following this advice is why I began my undergraduate career as a management information systems major. After barely squeaking a C in my second programming class, I knew that being “practical” wasn’t for me. When I spoke with my advisor, she asked me what I loved to do. I told her, I loved to write. Then she asked, “Why aren’t you a journalism major?” I didn’t have a good answer, so my undergraduate degree is in journalism with a concentration in public relations.
2) Be Passionate. Choose an education major and a career based on what you love to do. Do what you love, and the money will follow.
Taking this advice is why I pursued a master’s degree in adult learning. I followed my passion again when I earned my MS degree years later. So far, so good.
I coach quite a few students who started out taking the practical path and have decided to change to what they’re passionate about. I’ve never coached a student who said: “Well, I did what I loved for a while, but now, I just want to try something more useful.
The choice to be practical or passionate is sometimes difficult, but know there’s no one right answer; there’s only what’s right for you.
A big shout out to so many of you who made our Spring Career Fair such a great success! With over 50 employers, we were forced to start a waiting list. With over 240 attendees, people looking for employment and networking opportunities kept the rooms buzzing.
So what happens when the career fair is over? What do you do after you’ve eaten all the candy from your swag bag and re-gifted all the items you picked up from employer tables that you really don’t want?
Here are three ways for you to take the next steps after a career fair.
1) Realize that attending a career fair is Step Two. The first step—after you decide that you’re going to attend a career fair—is: RESEARCH. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, identifying the employers that you want to speak to and researching those companies is an important step to complete before attending a career fair. (See previous blog posts on attending career fairs for explanations on this process.)
2) CONNECT. After the career fair, call the individuals that you spoke to at the career fair. (Yes . . . dig those business cards out of your swag bag and use them.) Call the people from the list of employers that you made in Step One, and ask if you can set up informational interviews with them. (See previous blog posts on informational interviews for explanations on this process.) If you haven’t already, send an invitation to connect via Linkedin. And then, do more research. Go back to the details the person provided you during the career fair. (Perhaps you wrote down these details with one of the many pens and pads of paper that were being given away.) Use these details as jumping off points for areas in which to conduct more research about the company. Are there additional people (especially Bellevue University students/alumni) who work at the companies you’re researching? Touch base with them for additional information.
If you spent a significant amount of time speaking with a recruiter at the career fair, or if that person provided information that was especially helpful, send him/her a handwritten thank you note.
3) PREPARE. Get your questions ready. The key is to be brief, so not too many questions. Five to seven is a good range. Focus the interview on the individual you are talking to. How long has he/she been with the company? What does he/she like best about the organization? (Again, previous blog posts on informational interviews will help.)
Prompt follow-up and after care will make you stand out among all the other career fair attendees who applied for positions without making personal contact with the recruiter. Take action early—within a week of attending the career fair for thank you notes and no more than 14 days for scheduling an informational interview. In this way, you may still be fresh in the recruiter’s mind.
Remember that attending a career fair is the middle step in a process. The work doesn’t stop simply because the career fair is over.
Have you ever reached out to recruiters after a career fair? If so, what did you do, and what was the result?
Searching for a job is a difficult process which frequently takes longer than you anticipated. Personally, I’ve had two job searches while unemployed: one lasted seven months and the other ten. During these experiences, I learned positive attitude is critical to success. I discovered that job openings in my area of interest didn’t change on a daily basis. Checking them every day became very depressing. There were times when it felt as though I’d never find the right position. I stopped looking every day so I could maintain my positive attitude. Instead, I spent more time networking and also gave myself permission to do some fun things now and then.
Believing you will eventually find the right position is half the battle and one you can control. Figure out a strategy to manage your search to keep up with new openings and applications while maintaining a positive attitude.
March Madness has been in full force for the past couple weeks with college basketball teams working towards earning the national championship. Last week, a story about one of the coaches came to light. Coach Steve Masiello from Manhattan College apparently didn’t graduate from college. This information came to light as he was in the final stages of accepting a position with the University of South Florida (USF). When USF tried to verify the coach’s education at the University of Kentucky, they learned he did not actually earn the Communications degree listed on his resume. As if this isn’t bad enough, Coach Masiello is now on leave from Manhattan College.
As a Career Coach, this incident brings attention and publicity to what happens when you present untrue information on the resume. Employers of all types conduct background checks and verify educational information. During the application process, you usually sign or virtually sign a statement that says “I certify that all the information contained in this application is true.” So, when discrepancies come up, the company can rescind an offer or even fire you for falsifying the application.
Short term positions can be left off resumes, but they must be included in online applications. The number of positions or the amount of work history required on applications varies by employer. So, it’s extremely important to read the application carefully to make sure you complete it correctly.
When you are between jobs, keeping yourself occupied is one way to thwart the unemployment blues. It’s also a way to sharpen your skills, develop new skills, network, and give yourself a great answer when an interviewer asks: “How have you been using your time?”
Make part of your job search self-improvement. Here are some suggestions of activities that you may enjoy and that can also strengthen your employability:
Take on (and complete) personal/professional projects
Read industry and professional publications
Take a class or MOOC
Strengthen your online professional presence
Conduct informational interviews
Join a job search group (or create one)
Write industry articles or start a blog
Take free webinars
Create an online portfolio of your work and results
Participate in professional/industry Linkedin groups
Intern or apprentice
*Do something interesting.