Top 5 Tips for Using Career Services

Candace LambCandace Lamb, career coach, University of Louisville Career Development Center
Twitter: @candace_lamb
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/candacelamb1
Blog: www.theproactiveprofessional.com

I often hear complaints from new college graduates that career services didn’t get them a job. Something many students don’t understand is that career development centers are not placement organizations. Career services professionals are there to help provide students with the tools to figure out what they want to do professionally and how to best market themselves for the job search. With that being said, here are the top tips I give students to effectively using the career services.

Keep in mind: career service professionals are not there to give you a job or place you in a job.

Consider this: if you wanted to get married in the next few years, would you really want a dating service to handpick your future spouse, or even give you a half dozen people to choose from? Perhaps that sounds better than going out on dozens of blinds dates, but think it through. Before you can have a successful relationship, you must have a deep understanding of who you are (your likes, dislikes, needs, deal breakers, future goals, etc.) as well as the necessary tools to make a relationship great (trust, open communication, intimacy, etc.).

In the same way, career development offices are here to help you figure out the kinds of careers you’re interested in based on your values, interests, and personality, and how to pursue those careers.

Think about what you’d like to get from your meeting with career services staff before the appointment. 

Many times, I’ve had students come in and ask for their resumes to be critiqued.  Twenty minutes later, they admit that they’re unsure of their major or feel they need practice interviewing. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having several needs, but it will make easier for everyone if you consider what those needs are before heading into your career coaching session. We don’t always realize we have more than one issue and that’s completely fine. If you can, though, consider how you’d like your career adviser to help and what areas you feel need the most attention.

Realize that career development is a process.

I think of our lives as being in a constant state of evolution. Our wants, needs, and goals change based on our experiences and the things we learn about ourselves.  The mistake I see so many people (not just students!) make is feeling like a failure for changing their career plans. It is not uncommon to realize you don’t fit in with the culture of a company or professional field. It is not strange to figure out that you don’t have the skills necessary for the job your friends or family are pressuring you to take (an example of this would be an artistic student realizing that they have no skills or interest in the field of medicine). You are not a failure for realizing a career path is wrong for you in your senior year. You are not useless because you don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life as a college freshman.

Come back for multiple sessions.

In the same way that career development is a process, the job search does not end when you submit your resume. The career path does not stop when you figure out your major. Career services can help you edit your resume, prepare for interviews, understand your personality type, and deal with the stressors that come with choosing a profession. Develop a relationship with a career coach and maintain it through your time in college.

Don’t be afraid to call on alumni career services for help

Most colleges and universities have programs, career advisers, and assistance for alumni. Sometimes these services cost money, but they can help you tailor your resume to the different organizations or career fields you’re pursuing and help you learn to be a proactive professional.

Bonus Tip:

If you meet with a career adviser and don’t feel like they are listening to you, or you don’t feel comfortable speaking openly with them, ask for another career adviser! Every student and every adviser is different–sometimes one person isn’t the right fit for you and that’s okay.

Finding the right career can be one of the most rewarding things you do in life. Many students believe that college is a time to go to class, go to parties, and be involved in student organizations. While these can be great experiences and teach you so much about yourself, don’t forget to plan for your career. We spend so much of our lives at work—it is my opinion that figuring out what you want to do with your life is as important as knowing who you want to marry or the kind of person you want to be. Career advisers help you make the journey from college to career a rewarding one. Take advantage!

How Do You Help Students Avoid the Quarter-Life Crisis?

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Pamela Weinberg
Website: www.pamelaweinberg.com
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/pamelaweinberg/
Twitter: @pamelaweinberg
Blogs from Pamela Weinberg.

I have had the pleasure and disappointment of meeting with a slew of young professionals in my career coaching practice of late. It is a pleasure, because I enjoy connecting with these bright, interesting and thoughtful Millennials. It is disappointing, however, that so many of them are unhappy with their post-college career choices. A few years out of college, they are experiencing some of the symptoms of a so-called “quarter-life crisis.” There has been much written about the quarter-life crisis affecting recent the college graduate starting out a career and living on his or her own for the first time. These young adults may be faced with their first crisis of confidence and feel adrift. Many feel dissatisfied with their job choices and/or chosen career path and don’t know where to turn for help.

How we can help prevent young alumni from falling into a quarter-life crisis? One way to mitigate these issues for the next slew of college grads is for colleges and universities to take a more active role in preparing students for the workplace. Those students majoring in one of STEM fields or who are pre-med most likely have a more direct and focused career path than an English major with a degree that opens him or her up to dozens of potential job or career possibilities. But just what are those possibilities and how is a student to know about them? Without exposure to a myriad of careers and a sense of which skills/aptitudes are needed to succeed at which jobs, it is a challenge for students to find their perfect fit post-graduation. Ben Carpenter’s recent op-ed in The New York Times has received a lot of attention as he brings this issue to the fore and calls on colleges and universities to offer courses in “career training” which would begin freshman year and end senior year.

Others seem to agree. In a new book entitled Aspiring Adults Adrift sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa speak about colleges and universities “focusing too much on students’ social lives at the expense of strong academic and career road map.” The authors go on to recommend programs that “facilitate school-to-work transitions, in terms of internships, apprenticeships and job-placement programs.”

Career services offices at colleges and universities have always been the student nexus for career- and job-search advice—but as we know, not all students take advantage of the resources there. In championing the idea of four years of career training for college students, Ben Carpenter cites Connecticut College which offers a career training program that has proven quite successful. According to Carpenter, one year after graduation, 96 percent of Connecticut College alumni are employed or in graduate school. That is in stark contrast to the numbers from a recent job poll conducted by AfterCollege, the online entry-level job site. According to the poll, 83 percent of college seniors graduated this year without a job.

The letters to the editor of The New York Times, which followed the Carpenter piece, were squarely split. Most educators were against schools offering career training programs, while most parents were for it. It seems however, that there is more that can be done to prevent recent alums from floundering a few years post-graduation. However, whether these are offerings from career services or through other academic departments is a topic up for debate.

I would love to hear your comments, thoughts, and suggestions on the topic!

Career Fairs and How to be a ‘Match’

BlessVaiBless Vaidian, Pace University Career Services and Founder, Career Transitions Guide
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/blessvaidian
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlessCareers
Blog: http://careertransitionsguide.com

 

With on-campus recruitment and career fairs in full swing, Bless Vaidian offers advice and insight to share with students.

Career fairs showcase match making between employers and job seekers. Numerous screening interviews take place under one roof and in under a few hours. If a student is not a fit, he or she will not be selected by the recruiter for the next round. Only those that “match” proceed.

College campuses are an ideal place to find job and internship fairs. I have worked on and managed career fairs over the years. Those students that are serious about getting a job or internship need to follow this advice: 

Prep You cannot walk into a career fair and wing it if you are serious about finding employment. Just as research is key to interview success, it’s also crucial for the fair. Find out ahead of time what organizations will be attending. Then check out the websites of your target companies, view their job postings, read their latest articles/tweets, and find out if you know anyone in your extended circle that works there. Saying you will “take anything,” shows you are not prepared. And, you will wind up with nothing.

Pre-Screening Recruiters at job and internship fairs have two piles of resumes. Your goal is to make it to the pile that passes the recruiter’s filter. Fill out online profiles ahead of time so that when an employer asks you if you filled out their online application, you can say yes. Make sure the resume you bring to the fair is free of errors, has an easy-to-read format, and highlights exactly what you want it to highlight. Job descriptions should be quantified with metrics, accomplishments, and keywords that are relevant to the industry and posting.

Spotlight Is On The human resource representatives at career fairs are viewing you even before it’s your turn to talk to them. Anything inappropriate you say or do in that room or while waiting on line will be noticed. Be on your best behavior. You should be dressed in interview attire, wearing a smile, and engaging those around you while you wait for your turn. You have only a minute to shine in the spotlight, but remember the spotlight is always on.

Answer the Question: Why You? If you are looking for an internship or job, you should have a pitch. Your pitch answers the question: “Why an employer should hire you.” You can’t think of what to say to that inquiry on the day of the fair. You need to know what skills make you a good candidate. If you don’t know why an employer should hire you, then they won’t. Those that tailor their pitch to match the industry, position, and employer get selected.

More than a Resume What gets you a follow-up meeting after the career fair is more than a resume.  It’s the combination of a good resume and your package presentation: speech, expressions, handshake…etc. Anything that would make the recruiter think you cannot represent their organization, clients, or products will move you into the do-not-pursue pile of applicants. Your communication skills, positive attitude, and energy need to come across the minute you step foot in front of the hiring representative. That is just as important as your resume.

The great thing about career fairs is that those seeking employment can have face time with dozens of recruiters. Hiring professionals that have posts to fill can meet hundreds of applicants.  It’s a win:win situation for both groups. Be the match an employer is looking for by taking your next career fair seriously and taking my advice.

I love to get feedback from recruiters as to what matches were made. When I look through the room of job seekers, I know who is making the cut. Can you spot the students who will do well at the career fair? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Career Coaching Notes: Career Counseling vs. Career Services

Rayna Anderson

Rayna A. Anderson, career counselor, University of Houston
Twitter: @Rayna_Anderson
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/RaynaA
Blog: RaynaAnderson.wordpress.com
Blogs from Rayna Anderson

I love being a career counselor. I enjoy the long conversations that I get to have with students as they navigate their educational and professional paths. I love running into them on campus and being introduced to their friends as they share stories of how helpful our appointments have been. Most of all, I revel in the e-mails and thank-you notes that I receive after they’ve landed that first job or internship. In a simpler world, I’d wear clogs to the office every day and conduct my appointments from a dimly lit room while sitting on a beanbag chair. But these are not simpler times; there are parts of this job that require much more effort and precision.

Aside from counseling, working in career services includes maximizing the potential of office management software, writing learning outcomes, developing strategic plans, and collecting first-destination data. We shouldn’t have the luxury of disassociating with aspects of the job that we don’t find as fun as one-on-one meetings with students. “I don’t ‘do‘ social media”, or “I’m not big on assessment” are not acceptable responses given the changing needs of students and employers.

We’re no longer in the placement phase of the 1940s, nor are we in the counseling era of the 1960s, 70s, or 80s. We’re in the hyperactive world of virtual resources and global perspectives. We’re in the middle of a war zone, fighting a battle of tradition versus trajectory.

Being a career counselor means being sensitive to student needs; being a career services professional means meeting those needs by any means necessary. Growing your career center staff, partnering with faculty to offer a wide range of career courses, and embedding a career development component in first-year seminars are only a few ways to get on track with current trends.

Are you prepared to join in on the fight? Are you prepared to be a career services professional? Comment below and share with us how your career center is fighting (and hopefully winning) the battle against ineffective traditions!

Find tips and best practices in career counseling and coaching on NACEWeb.

Lessons Learned at #NACE14

ongDavid Ong, Director, Corporate Recruiting, Maximus, Inc.
Twitter: @dtong2565
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-ong/0/604/513

It’s been two weeks since the 2014 NACE Conference, and I’ve finally recovered from the profound lack of sleep that I experienced in San Antonio. (For those of you that weren’t there, the non-stop networking combined with the excitement in the city from the Spurs NBA title win turned our hotel complex into a never-ending celebration chamber!)

With my batteries now re-charged, here are a few general observations from the conference:

1) Our profession is in a very dynamic phase—Is it just me, or was anyone else just in awe of how many critical issues and trends are hitting simultaneously. From First Destinations to OFCCP to Big Data to STEM Education……It’s clear that the game is changing big time! The conference was the perfect opportunity to exchange ideas with my peers, my customers, and our affiliate members.

2) Our future looks bright—If the conference first-time attendee session was any indication, we’re in great hands. The new attendees seemed so highly engaged, inquisitive, and truly excited about being NACE members and they wanted to know how to get more involved, which bodes well for all of our members. Every year this group gets bigger. Case in point: We typically split the newcomers into groups of about 15 people, and we assign past or present NACE board members to facilitate discussion. To our shock, we actually ran short on NACE board representatives! (Kudos to our terrific conference co-chairs Maura Quinn from Liberty Mutual and Fred Burke from Baruch College for stepping in to facilitate!)

3) We have some great leaders at NACE—How can anyone not be impressed by the performance of our fearless leader, Dan Black of EY? The guy attended almost every organized event, chatted with virtually everyone he met, enlightened (and entertained) us with his “Early Show” interviews of NACE award winners. He threw down the ultimate challenge to our members with a new member outreach proposal. He also did a great job with the passing of the torch to President Sam Ratcliffe of VMI, who did a wonderful job of welcoming first-time attendees and gave us an enlightening glimpse into the college recruiting future. Like many of you, I’m really psyched to see what Sam has in store for all of us now that he’s the president!

One last comment….There is real power in blogging—I’ve got to be honest….When the folks at NACE asked me to consider writing this blog, I was a little hesitant. Questions like “What am I going to write about?” “Will anybody read it?” and “If they read it, will they fall asleep?” all entered into my head. Thankfully, the NACE conference changed my view of blogging after I had several encounters with attendees who recognized me from the blog photo (Note to self: Pick up a gift for our company photographer.) and asked to take a selfie with them, which promptly got posted on social media outlets (Other note to self: Learn to take selfies from above not below.) I heard from other NACE bloggers that they had similar experiences to mine, so a huge thanks to those of you that took the time to let us know that you’re enjoying this latest communications outlet from NACE!

That’s it for now….Next NACE stop for me: the Summer of 2014 Board of Directors meeting in Boston.

You’ll find a list of NACE’s Board of Directors on NACEWeb. If you’re interested in becoming a member of the NACE Blog Team, contact Claudia Allen.