Walk the Line

Know Your Worth

Recently, a student was telling me about a cover letter she wrote for a position.  Her proof reader told her that she was whispering instead of shouting about her qualifications for the position.  Throughout the interview process, you need to be proud of what you’ve done and willing to share it with your audience.  The line “stand up and shout” comes to mind.

There is a fine line between being proud of your accomplishments and bragging.  Bragging is when you go out of your way to over sell the things you’ve done.  The goal is to make others feel inferior to you.  This is definitely not the best way to win over interviewers.  Being confident about your abilities, talking honestly about what you’ve achieved and focusing on how you’ve impacted your current organization is information that will impress interviewers.  Walk the line and be sure to stand up and shout about how wonderful you are to potential employers through all stages of the application process.

Posted on July 28th, 2015 by

How Do I Know What I Want to Do For the Rest of my Life?

A large stressor for people is trying to choose a career path for “the rest of my life”. The days when people worked at one company for their entire career are over. So, stop thinking that this decision is about the rest of your life! Focus on what’s most interesting to you right now, and pursue that.

As I talk with individuals, I discover that career paths can be really interesting and divert from their original plans. Opportunities develop along the way which cause people to change directions a little or a lot.

A good example is my husband; he earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and passed a couple sections of the CPA exam. Then, he started working for a banking software company which led him to an asset liability management software company which led to him working in computer operations at a bank. Each of these positions relates to his accounting degree. But, if you would have asked him his career plans as an undergraduate student, none of these positions would have come up. Have ideas and plans but don’t be afraid to change directions if something interesting develops.

Posted on July 21st, 2015 by

But It’s Already on my Resume!

Online application2

As any job seeker has discovered, most employers these days require completion of an employment application, either online or handwritten, along with submission of a resume and cover letter. Yet these applications typically ask for the same information contained in the resume. Why do they do this? Why won’t they accept “See attached resume”?

First and most important, the employment application is a legal document that the job seeker signs to acknowledge the accuracy and honesty of information entered on the application. If an employer discovers later, even after hire, that any of the information was false, it can be grounds for rejection or dismissal. The application is also used to verify applicant data for government reporting purposes

In addition, many employers view the application as a true example of the job seeker’s writing skills. That’s because it’s completed “on the spot,” whereas there is no way to tell if the job seeker has actually written the resume or cover letter. We all know that job seekers typically seek the advice and help of career coaches or professional writers to make sure those documents present their qualifications in the best possible light.

As you can see, there are good reasons for employers to require applications as part of the hiring process. The important point is that job seekers should be prepared to complete those applications as carefully and completely as possible. A good way to do that is to search the Internet or company websites to find and print several examples of those applications. Then, take the time to prepare a detailed document that includes all of the information requested. You can then refer to that document and your resume whenever you are asked to complete an employment application. And just like all of your job search correspondence, take the time to make sure it’s absolutely perfect, with no spelling or grammatical errors, is easy to read, and includes all of the information requested.

Posted on July 14th, 2015 by

Want to Get a Positive Response from Employers? Clean Up Your Act

mistakes

In this age of emailing, texting, and “twiteering,”  it’s easy to forget that employers are still looking for candidates who know how to communicate in a professional, business-like manner.  Their reasoning—if someone can’t communicate effectively in something that’s as important as a job search, how are they going to do on the job?

Thus, it’s extremely important that all of your job search correspondence be absolutely error-free. This includes your email messages (no texting shortcuts), as well as your resume, cover letters, etc.  Just one small grammatical or spelling error will usually lead to rejection—before you even get a chance to sell yourself in person!  And don’t rely on spell-check alone.  It’s a good tool, but won’t pick up errors such as using “manger” instead of “manager” or “costumer” instead of “customer.”  The key here is to PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD AND PROOFREAD again—and even having someone else review your communications wherever possible.

Also, make sure you are using a professional email address.  Addresses like “sexycollegegirl” or “partyanimal” may be fine for your social contacts, but they won’t send the right message to a prospective employer.  Instead, use one that includes some form of your name, but don’t use your work email.  You don’t want employers to think you are using company resources for personal gain!

Voice mail messages can also lead to rejection.  Make sure your message is professional and business-like.  This isn’t the time for those “cute” messages that may be fun for your friends and family.  Employers won’t find them amusing at all—and will likely lead them to cross your name off their candidate list without leaving a message!

Finally, check your social networking sites to make sure there aren’t any stories, pictures or other information that could be viewed negatively by employers.  An increasing number of employers are searching these sites or “googling” candidates to help them make their hiring decisions.  As noted by many career experts—if you don’t want your parents or grandparents to see your site, DON’T put information out there for others to view!  Fair?—maybe not, but when you put something out there on the Internet, it is available for anyone to see.

 

 

It’s Not What You Know, but Who You Know . . . Really?

Everyone has heard this saying but what does it really mean?  Does it mean you don’t have to be knowledgeable about your major or field, you just need to know people?  Or, does it mean only the people that are connected to the country club crowd get all the good job opportunities?

That’s really not how it works.  A more accurate saying is “It’s What You Know AND Who You Take the Time to Get to Know.”  The job market for full-time positions after graduation and for internships while you are still in your program is relatively healthy.  But, you’ve got to work at the job search and make connections.  That idea is generally called “networking” by career professionals and job search experts.  However, many job seekers balk at that idea…….  They will often say “I’m not well-connected” or “I don’t really know anybody that is in a position to open doors for me.”

Well, that’s where the concept of “… who you take the time to get to know” originates.   Here are a few examples of taking the time to get to know people that might be in a position to connect you with full-time position s or internships:

  • Go into every class you take with the goal of becoming the one student in that class that the faculty member will think of when they hear of an internship opportunity.
  • If you have a job right now (which many Bellevue students do), let everyone who is willing to listen know that you are working on a degree and will soon be considering other jobs or promotional opportunities with your current employer.
  • Get active with the Career Center and learn about the JobZone and other websites that could open a door for you.
  • DON’T start looking for jobs three weeks before graduation.   An internship and job search should be front of mind after your first couple of classes are completed.
  • Attend workshops, career fairs and speaking engagements on and off campus that might help put you in a position to connect you with opportunities.  Many employers who come to campus are just waiting for that ambitious student to come up afterwards and ask for a business card…… most students don’t because they are simply too shy or don’t know what to say.
  • Finally, push your comfort level as often as you can.   If you are uncomfortable or nervous about talking to someone, it’s probably because that other person is in a position of influence.

And these are just a few examples of “taking the time to get to know” other people.   And don’t forget about your career center staff.   The sooner you get to know us, the more likely it is that we might know of an opportunity.