How Do You Handle Student LinkedIn Invitations?

Chaim Shapiro

Chaim Shapiro
Website: http://chaimshapiro.com/
Twitter: @chaimshapiro
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro

I wanted to invite you into a Twitter discussion I was having about an issue that most career services professionals have probably had to deal with this at some point: How do you handle LinkedIn connection requests from students?

To me, the fundamental question comes down to whether a LinkedIn connection to a career services professional provides a real added benefit to students.  If it does, then I would argue that benefit MUST be extended (or denied) equally to ALL students.  If it doesn’t, then it is simply a matter of personal preference.

How do YOU handle student LinkedIn invites?  Please vote in the Flash Poll!  Disagree with my analysis? Please share your thoughts in the comments section!

 

 

Chaim Shapiro

Shine Bright: How to Stand Out at Job Fairs, Networking Events, and More

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

Pop singer Rihanna’s 2012 song titled “Diamonds” topped the charts in more than 20 countries and became her 12th number-one single going quadruple platinum and selling more than 7.5 million copies worldwide. The song is about a couple’s love that is so strong it shines bright as a diamond. The chorus is my favorite part, where the singer chants: “Shine bright like a diamond…You’re a shooting star I see…So shine bright…We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky.”

It’s not the song’s love story that strikes me the most, but the vivid imagery of two people being able to stand out amongst a crowd. To me, there is a correlation between standing out in a crowd and successful participation in networking events such as job fairs. Knowing how you stand out and shine in a crowd is relevant for students looking for work, launching careers, and seeking to build professional brands in today’s chaotic and competitive workplace. Professional brands are built on the ability to determine what separates you from another job seeker. Instead of teaching our students to look, act and sound like every other job seeker, we must teach them to shine and stand out from others.

We have all heard the 55/38/7 rule which asserts that success is based 55 percent on what you look like, 38  percent on what you sound like, and 7 percent on what you say. Oftentimes, students attend job fairs and networking events but leave without having established new connections or serious job prospects, not because they weren’t prepared, but because they didn’t stand out. When asked why they failed to broaden their network, students usually place the blame on the employer—saying the employer was not really looking to hire anyone. I turn the table, placing the responsibility with the student, because it’s no longer the early bird that gets the worm, but the bird that shows up and shines bright!

Building a professional brand that shines and stands out at networking events starts with developing a strong self-concept. That is, understanding your strengths, interests, skills, and talents, which all combine to shape your professional brand. This is a challenge for most young adults and even some career changers. To help students of all ages and backgrounds develop a strong awareness of their brand and identify their value factors—areas they shine in—I use the 55/38/7 rule:

What I Look Like (Physical – 55 percent):
- Wearing appropriate and professional attire
- Ensuring a stylish polished look
- Understanding your best features and how to enhance them

What I Sound Like (Verbal & Nonverbal – 38 percent):
- Strong public speaking skills – confidence, clarity, conviction
- Positive nonverbals – handshake, eye contact, good posture, and a smile

What I Say (Content – 7 percent):
- Captivating professional pitch
- Ability to articulate what you have to offer
- Thorough knowledge of the company and/or industry

It’s important to note that as career professionals, we probably spend more time working with a student on what they say and less on what they look like and how they speak, both of which carry weight in the employment process. Successful professionals and those who rise to the top of their company or industry are noticed first for how they look and sound before anyone cares to hear what they have to say. Challenging students to work on all three areas of their professional brand will help them develop an authentic professional brand that shines bright in the labor market.

Read more from Lakeisha Mathews.

Connecting Professionally Through the Mentor Program

maia hanronMaia Hanron, Director of Career and Personal Development, Green Mountain College
LinkedIn:
www.linkedin.com/in/maiahanronsanford
Twitter: @GMCCareers

You could say I am relatively new at the career advising world.  While I am rounding out my eighth year in higher education, I am only in my second year in career cervices, coming from the admissions department at my current institution, Green Mountain College in Vermont.

The transition has been a perfect transferability of skills and one I feel is a lifelong fit! It was this idea of putting “transferability of skills” into action, that I have started to realize many things about the career advising world—one being that you have to practice what you preach! I have never worked within a field where you are constantly encouraged to step back and focus on your own personal and professional development while encouraging others to do so. If I encourage my students to network for various reasons, then I better have a good anecdote on how it has been beneficial in my own life. It’s the same with a concept like mentoring.

The idea of mentorship, while not a new concept to me in general, was definitely a new concept to me professionally. When I heard about NACE’s mentorship program, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. My department is very small, so although I wear the title of director, I undoubtedly have much to learn.

I was inspired to be able to maintain a steady relationship with another professional who might be able to shed some light on areas I either struggle with, think about, am working to improve, or any other off-the cuff matters that come to mind. Marc Goldman, my current mentor, fits the bill!  We have been communicating for about six months on a variety of topics ranging from student engagement, to employer relations, to various resources he has found beneficial over the years. Because of his broad range of experience, I truly value his insight!  He is also very candid to speak with, so it makes the conversation flow nicely. By our 3 p.m. phone calls, I am ready for a little comic relief!

I am glad that I have put myself out there to really try to connect through a mentorship program. Not only is it humbling to interact with professionals with such broad backgrounds, but it is also empowering to see mentoring as a great way to give back to your professional community down the line. I hope someday, I will have equally helpful advice to share with new professionals in the career advising field!

Do you need a mentor? Join the Mentor Program!

Read mentor Marc Goldman’s blog about his experience.

 

Mentoring: Providing Opportunities for Growth

Marc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva UniversityMarc Goldman, Executive Director, Career Center, Yeshiva University
Twitter: @MarcGoldmanNYC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/marcjgoldman

Time and time again, there are discussions on campus and in the press about the need for and importance of mentors. Sure, students can use the career center and all the wonderful resources, services, and programs at their disposal. Many offices provide informational interview, job shadowing, and employers-in-residence options. More recently, broad-based mentoring programs have begun to spring up at colleges and universities, providing industry-specific career advice and shepherding through a job search and/or onboarding by way of a student’s ongoing relationship with an alumnus or professional from a particular field of interest. Both students and mentors tend to report that the relationships are beneficial and rewarding when all things click and both parties are committed to the relationship. The arrival of all of these niche and large-scale mentor programs has caused me to reflect on my own professional experience with mentors and as a mentor myself. I have certainly benefitted greatly, both early in my career and as a career center leader today, from experienced career services professionals in my sphere of influence, circle of friends, pyramid scheme, or what have you.  And I am not ashamed to call them out.

My first mentors were at the University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP), when I was a mere babe in the woods, aka graduate intern.  UMCP Career Center staffers like Linda Gast, Becky Weir, Linda Lenoir, and Cheryl Hiller helped me develop my personal framework of career counseling, provided me wonderful opportunities for growth and to contribute to a department, and encouraged me to stay in the field for the long haul. In my first full-time role at Suffolk County Community College, the ever optimistic and genuine Sylvia Camacho showed me how to run a flat office structure to great effect. Let’s not forget my boss of 13 years at NYU, my “Chief,” Trudy Steinfeld, who saw to it that I understood the Game of Thrones—I mean the politics that can occur in higher ed— modeled the fine art of schmoozing for me, and even rented me an apartment for a time. She is still someone I turn to in times of confusion or the need for advice. Her tag- team partner, Manny Contomanolis, has illuminated for me how best to manage up, has introduced me to the subtler ways and maneuvers of a director, and has always reminded me to stay true to who I am. I even have my very own support group or posse of peer directors who I can always count on for feedback and good humor. Presnell, Fredo, Nate, Lisa, and Jason all know who they are, or at least I hope so!

Having learned so much and come so far in part thanks to the presence of mentors in my professional life, when the chance came to serve as a NACE mentor, I seized the day, leaping up on my desk ala Dead Poets Society. (Sorry, I am known to be a bit theatrical.) I am currently in my fourth year of the NACE Mentor Program, and it has been a rich and rewarding experience for me. It has offered me a chance to meet both aspiring and seasoned professionals locally and throughout the country. I have connected with career services directors from large state colleges, small niche and liberal arts schools, faith-based institutions, and proprietary shops.  While I hope my mentees feel that they have gained from our year-long relationships, I know that I have learned a great deal about challenges faced on different campuses, in different locations, and with different student populations. The questions I am asked and perspectives I get to share help me reflect on my own past experiences and my current work more frequently than I might normally spend time doing. I am occasionally stumped too. Certainly, not every aspect of our business is in my wheelhouse, but I try my best to offer what insights I can from my 20 years in the field and point in the direction of helpful resources if I am at a loss. Wait, that sounds like something a career counselor might do. Funny!

What I like most about the NACE Mentor Program is that there are many colleagues out there who may not have had the luck I did in having mentors through situational and natural circumstances. And every professional can use input, feedback , or someone to vent to at some level. The NACE Mentor Program helps make that happen, and I am proud to be a part of it.

On Thursday, Maia Hanron-Sanford, director of career services at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont and one of Marc’s mentees, blogs about her experience. Read her blog.

Become a mentor! Information on the Mentor Program is available.

Facebook: The One Place Organic Is Not a Selling Point

Megan WollebenMegan Wolleben, Assistant Director, Career Development Center, Bucknell University
Twitter: @MeganWolleben LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/meganwolleben

Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach by Social@Ogilvy

When I first saw the above article on Twitter I favorited it; not because it was my favorite piece of news but because I wanted to keep my eye on it. It’s been in the back of my mind rattling around since and I was thankful for the reminder, and thoughts it provoked, when I saw a friend and colleague (the ever-awesome Shannon Kelly of UPenn) start it as a conversation in a LinkedIn group of which I am a member.

The news about the “end of organic reach,” made me feel a little better about myself. Until it was spoken aloud I was left wondering if it was just me. As our post reach numbers hit all-time lows I thought, “Was it something I said?” And while it’s always nice to know it’s not only you, the outcome is still not ideal. We all noticed the changes and probably, in some small way, knew (or feared) what it meant, what was coming.

As the article points out:

In 2012, Facebook famously restricted organic reach of content published from brand pages to about 16 percent. In December 2013, another round of changes reduced it even more.

But destination zero? The conversation on LinkedIn mentions the concern for smaller businesses and non-profits which touches on one of my major issues: Facebook treats all pages as the same. And by the same, I mean as big brands: GM, Coke, Nike – brands with BIG budgets and BIG agencies behind them. Regardless of what side of the table you are coming from, big business or career services, I think we should be upset about the fact that what “destination zero” essentially does is blocks your content to existing fans unless you pay. “Your Facebook Page’s Organic Reach Is About to Plummet,” article from Social Media Today raise a very poignant question: couldn’t Facebook somehow allow existing fans to be reached via organic means, and worked out a way that businesses pay to reach new fans? We all worked hard to get these fans. At my career center we paid for ads on Facebook to attract fans to our page. Now we are essential being forced to pay to communicate with existing fans, and any new ones, ad infinitum.

I keep asking myself, should we just leave Facebook? Or should we pony-up and pay for reach? When we created our Facebook page it was not driven by organic reach or ROI. It was about having a presence in a space where our students were (and still are) active. That is the same reason we hang up posters outside of the cafeteria. Facebook allowed our office a space for quick updates on an easy to navigate platform that students check frequently.

I found it so easy to jump in to using Facebook but I’m hesitant to jump out and I’m not sure why. If you asked me yesterday, in a fit of frustration, I would have said I wanted to give up and delete our page once and for all. Is anyone considering this? I know what’s pushing me out but I’m not sure I know what’s keeping me. What’s keeping you (and your career center) there?

 

Black Friday…In April?

Chaim Shapiro

Chaim Shapiro
http://chaimshapiro.com/
http://www.linkedin.com/in/chaimshapiro
https://twitter.com/chaimshapiro

I know what you are thinking. It is finally April and that means baseball, warmer weather, taxes, and Black Friday.

Black Friday? No. You are not having a flashback to packed stores and stampedes the day after Thanksgiving and this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. I am talking about the #NACEBlackFriday chat with NACE President Dan Black scheduled for Friday, April 4th from 1-2 p.m. (ET) on Twitter.

Once again, Dan will lend his ears—and his last name—to a Twitter chat about all things NACE. Do you have questions or ideas? Are there any thoughts that you want to share about the conference or the future of the profession? This is your chance to bring them right to the top!

This time, you can e-mail your questions in advance to callen@naceweb.org or just show up and surprise Dan during the open forum portion of the chat (any guesses as to what I plan to do?).

So pull out that extra Black-Friday-Sale iPad you didn’t need and some of the  left-over turkey you don’t want to admit is still hiding in the back of your freezer and join us for #NACEBlackFriday because there are only  268 shopping days until Christmas (and 259 until Chanukah)!

 

 

Career Coaching Notes: 7 Powerful Questions

Rayna AndersonRayna A. Anderson, Career Advisor at Elon University
Twitter: @Rayna_Anderson
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/RaynaA
Blog: RaynaAnderson.wordpress.com

Considering that our job is not to give answers, but instead is to guide others toward self-discovery, powerful questioning can make all the difference in an advising session. The list below is a short compilation of questions I’ve collected over time, and concludes with my most recent favorite:

  1. What do you daydream about the most?
  2. What have been some of your proudest moments?
  3. If you wrote a book that could improve the world, what would it be about?
  4. If you had to go back to school tomorrow, what would you major in?
  5. What do you want to be known for after you retire?
  6. If you didn’t have to go to class/work tomorrow but still had to work, what type of work would you do?
  7. What excites you?

The last question was taken from The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. In the book, Ferriss states that, “Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all.” He argues that most people will never know what they want and that this question is a more precise alternative that reflects the actual objective. If you have any powerful questions that you often use with students or clients, comment and share below!  

Read more from Rayna Anderson.