The Resume:  Capital R Versus Lowercase r

by Lisa Tandan

Just last week a colleague from another student affairs department came over to talk with us about what we do at the career center at Hofstra University. “I know you do great work with resumes…,” he began. At that point, about 10 of us in the room perked up, all ready to pounce: “We’re more than just resumes!”

It’s a scene that I’ve seen play out across institutions, across state lines. The instant reaction we, in career development, have when we feel defined as “the resume place.” We’re so much more than that!

That noted, last semester I conducted a qualitative study of our student appointments. The first question asked students to fill in what they learned during their one-on-one appointment with a career counselor, with no prompting and no requirement that it be written in a full sentence. The question was open-ended and one word answers were okay. Of the 180 respondents, 99 of them, the largest number by far, included the word “resume.”

I’d like to propose that, when we, in career development, talk about resume, we are talking about a tool. We’re talking about the actual PDF or Word document that contains contact information, action verbs, education, skills, and experience. Resume, to us, is one of the many tools that students need when they graduate, along with the ability to tell their stories, talk about their strengths, and show the career readiness skills employers seek.

But, I think, for those outside our profession, resume means something else. The resume becomes “Resume” with a capital “R” and encompasses all of career development. It’s all the things that, because they’re not in our field, they don’t yet have the terminology to say. Resume MEANS career development to them.

Students talk casually about being able to add something to their resume. We’ve often heard that “This experience will be great for my resume!” When we hear comments like this, I hypothesize the speaker doesn’t mean to limit this great experience to simply writing something on their resume document. While that’s part of it, they also likely mean adding it to their repertoire, to their story, to their life’s accomplishments, to their reasons why someone should select them for a position. It’s much more than just writing something on a piece of paper. It’s making this new experience a part of their career narrative.

If this is so, where do we go from here? Based on the feedback from my qualitative analysis, and the knowledge that most campuses still see career development as “the resume place,” I am wondering if we can take that word and own it. Can we claim it and redefine it for our campuses? Instead of immediately correcting everyone, can we start meeting others where they are and talk about what they mean when they say resume? Is it just the document? Or something more? My money is on something more.

Answer these questions and join the discussion in the NACE Community!

lisa tandanLisa C. Tandan, Director of Career Development and Assessment, Hofstra University
Twitter: @lisatandan
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lisatandan/

Are Career Fairs Still Worth It?

by Kara Brown

Recently, the NACE Community has been discussing the value of career fairs and the issues surrounding student attendance. Kara Brown, associate director of Career Development at Gwynedd Mercy University had some answers to share.

One of the challenges that career centers have been facing is the lack of attendance at career fairs. Most of us are able to engage employers to attend, and coordinate a great event; however, when student attendance is low we are left feeling disappointed, and scratching our heads as to why students are not showing up. Similar to many other colleges and universities, we [at Gwynedd Mercy University] have planned career fairs that lacked attendance, and we kept asking ourselves, is it worth the time and effort? I would like to believe that the answer is still yes.

Every year our career development center hosts a Nursing and Healthcare Job Fair, and over the past three years attendance has waned. This year, as an office, we decided that we needed to make some changes to see if it would increase student engagement.

First, we changed the timing. Before this year, we had always hosted this specific career fair in the fall, and this year we decided to host the event in the spring. The thinking behind this was that graduating seniors may be more inclined to attend because graduation is right around the corner, and those who were not graduating may be interested in looking into summer positions.

In addition to changing the time in regards to the semester, we asked for nursing faculty feedback on which days and times would best serve the nursing and healthcare students.

Another change that we made was the location. In previous years, the fair was hosted in our version of the student center, but this time we decided to go to the students. So we hosted the event in the nursing and healthcare building on the first and second floor lobbies. This created a situation where students who were walking to class passed the great employers who were in attendance. Then these students would come to the event after class.

While time and location served as important factors, the most significant factor was the level of engagement. My colleague and I advertised the event through multiple e-mail blasts, social media ads, flyers, and through word of mouth. We also invited other local schools to attend to increase attendance and allow employers to see more students. Inviting other schools also opened up opportunities for career centers to build relationships with other schools.

Additionally, we asked some of the nursing faculty if we could present resume/professionalism workshops to their classes, and through these presentations we were able to speak to the importance of attending career fairs. The nursing and healthcare faculty members were excellent partners during this event because they also attended the event to speak to employers, and some faculty who were holding classes during that time allowed their classes to attend the event.

Also, we invited students from other majors to attend because some employers were offering internships in human resources, marketing, and healthcare administration.

Another step of engagement that was important was the one-on-one engagement of students through career counseling sessions, and encouraging them to attend the fair. Our career sessions were booked with resume reviews to prepare for the fair.

Finally, our partnership with our alumni office was very helpful because they relayed information about the fair to all alumni through a newsletter and e-mailed alumni who graduated within the last two years.

After the event, my colleagues and I continued to follow-up with students who attended the fair to get feedback, and encourage continued engagement with the employers they spoke to about job and internship opportunities. Through the combination of all of these factors, this career fair was very successful in regards to student attendance, and the employers were very happy as well. Our office is looking forward to using similar methods for additional career fairs that we host.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at brown.kara@gmercyu.edu.

Kara BrownKara Brown, Associate Director of Career Development, Gwynedd Mercy University
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brownkara
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gmercyucareers

Your Application Does Not Go into a Black Hole – 5 Misconceptions of Campus Hiring

by Kelly D. Scott

As a campus recruiter, I speak with many students and career development personnel about the hiring process. I’ve sat on many panels and participated in countless campus recruiting events dedicated to answering common questions including, “What happens to my application once I apply online?” and “Do thank-you notes really matter?” Throughout these conversations, I’ve noticed that there are a few common misconceptions that students share surrounding the hiring process. As a result, I’ve outlined five of these misconceptions in an effort to provide clarity around the hiring process. I’ll admit, as a former applicant myself, it can feel a little mysterious.

  • My application goes into a black hole when I apply online. We live in an online (connected) world of instant gratification. When you Google something, you can almost guarantee you’ll find an answer immediately. The online job application process is built to make it easy and quick for applicants to submit a resume. In some cases, such as when you use LinkedIn, it is literally three clicks! That said, it is not surprising that it feels like once you apply to a position online and fail to hear anything right away that your application fell into a black hole, never to be seen again, but that’s simply not the case. To ensure a fair hiring process, recruiters look at all applications until the job is filled. Generally speaking, the best time to apply to a job is when it is first posted. The reason being, most hiring managers want to fill their roles as quickly as possible, thus the sooner you apply, the more likely the chance that you’ll be considered for an interview. There is less competition given the limited time the position has been posted.
  • Career fairs are a waste of time. Believe me, career fairs feel overwhelming for both the students and the recruiters, but are never a waste of time. Recruiters attend career fairs for a variety of reasons. One being that it’s a great branding opportunity and an effective way to meet future candidates. Just because we may not have the role you’re looking for now, doesn’t mean we won’t have it in the future. Career fairs are a great opportunity to make a positive first impression and share your interest in an organization. Often times, we are actively recruiting for roles, hosting on-campus interviews shortly after the fair, and encouraging students we meet to apply.
  • All full-time jobs and summer internships are already filled by early spring semester, so it’s too late to apply. By and large, this is true for many roles, specifically finance, accounting, and analytics roles as well as rotational programs, but there are still internship and other full-time opportunities available in the spring. At Liberty Mutual, our claims, underwriting, and technology roles are still open. If you’re interested in the finance sector, I always encourage students to make sure to reconnect with us in the early fall to be considered for next year.
  • It’s bad if I apply to more than one or two roles. It makes me look desperate. This is absolutely false, if you’re applying thoughtfully. When I see that a student has applied to a few roles, it shows their interest and desire to work with our company, which is always attractive to a recruiter. However, if the student applied to too many (think: 10+ roles) in one swoop, it can look like they’re just throwing in their application to anything and hoping for the best, which is not a good strategy. When I see this approach as a recruiter, I think that the candidate maybe hasn’t thought through what they’re really interested in or read the job descriptions carefully.
  • The company doesn’t really care if I renege on my offer, they have a lot of applicants. Reneging on an offer is a terrible idea. It is unprofessional, reflects poorly on the applicant and creates more work for the organization. Yes, it is likely there are a lot of applicants for the role, however after somebody accepts an offer the recruiter declines everyone that has applied so they are not waiting to be contacted. As a result, when somebody reneges on an offer, it is likely that the recruiter will have to repost the position and start the entire process over which can take months. Instead of reneging on an offer, candidates should always feel comfortable asking for an extension to their decision deadline. We always do our best to accommodate this type of request as we understand accepting your first position post-college is a big deal and requires serious consideration.

A lot goes into campus recruiting, but it really comes down to good customer service and ensuring that there is a fair and equitable hiring process in place to ensure we find the best candidate for the aligned role. Now that I’ve confirmed for you that your application does not go into a black hole and applying to more than one role is okay, go land your next dream job.

NACE college members can pick up a student-directed version of this blog in Grab & Go on NACEWeb.

kelly d. scottKelly Scott, Campus Recruiter at Liberty Mutual Insurance
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kellykonevichscott

Dispelling the Engineering Student Myth: What Career Educators Need to Know

by Amy Brierley

As a psychology alumna and career coach with a soft spot for humanities and social sciences students, I have always thought that engineering students have it all (yes, maybe I’ve been a bit jealous). They possess the technical skills sought after in today’s job market. They have options. They are clear on what they want to do with their life. They are all but guaranteed to get a job.

Seven months ago, I transitioned to working exclusively with engineering students at Stanford. In my first few months of individual appointments with students, I was surprised to find that many of their questions have been the same as social sciences and humanities students: What do I want to do? Where will I fit? How do I compare with my peers? Will I get a job that will give me the future I hope for?

I recently led a five-part job search series entitled, Build Your Engineering Job-Search Toolkit. We created this series thinking that many of our engineering students knew what they wanted to do, but weren’t sure how to get there. However, in the first session, Designing Your Job Search, I asked, “how many of you know what you want to do?” I assumed I didn’t even need to ask this because everyone would know – but I was wrong. Of the 23 mostly masters’ students in the room, only a few raised their hands.

In the series, I hosted alumni speakers who shared their job-search experiences. They talked about their own uncertainties, and how they leaned on their mentors and their network to help them clarify their next steps and find opportunities. As I watched these alumni and students interact, I was reminded of the power of connections and mentoring in our work with students. I realized that these engineering students need models of what’s possible for them in the world of work.

How has my experience thus far changed my approach to engineering students? Instead of assuming that a computer science student wants to be a software engineer, or that a mechanical engineering student wants to work in aerospace, I maintain an open mind that they may not have a clue where they see themselves; they may be interested in a non-traditional track or they may want to do something altogether non-technical. I also don’t presuppose that engineering students only need tools for job searching, so I make it a point to ask powerful coaching questions in my meetings with them – even if it’s for a resume review; questions such as, “If in a year from now, life was great, what would it look and feel like?” or “If you had a magic wand, and you could have the internship you want, what would it look like?” Lastly, I recommend that these students reach out to mentors and alumni, and am planning future programs that foster these connections.

So, the next time you interact with an engineering student, remember that they might be feeling more uncertain about the future than you may think.

What has your experience been with engineering students? How are you helping them find what they want to do? I would love to hear!

amy brierleyAmy Brierley, Assistant Dean of Career Education & Associate Director for Career Communities – Engineering & EarthStandford University
Twitter: @amyb_stanford
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brierleyamy

Getting Ready for the Spring Job Market After Winter Break

by Lisa L. Simmons

Winter break is over at most campuses. Students are returning to classes, and employers are preparing to target them for job and internship openings.

Are your students prepared to engage with employers? The following can help them shake off the winter break cobwebs and RECOVER in time for spring recruiting.

Recruiting System Profile Audit
• Ask students to log into your university recruiting system.
• Have them ensure that their information (GPA, major, graduation date…) is correct.
• Encourage them to complete their profile as thoroughly as possible.

Employment Search Plan
• Ask students to make a list of organizations that are their “Plan A.”
• Encourage students to not limit themselves to the most attractive and in-demand employers where the competition for available positions is substantial. Have them research other organizations that they would also consider. These will be their “Plan B.”
• Ask them to set up search agents on your university recruiting system and other job boards that will help them identify open positions.
• Advise them to research their targeted organizations, the organizations’ industries, and the functional area in which they are interested.

Cover Letter Review
• Encourage them to review their cover letter.
• Advise students to describe what they can do for an organization rather than what they want it to do for them.

Official Transcript Request
• Have students order their latest official transcript from the registrar so they can have it on hand if required by an organization.
• Remind them that they may also need an unofficial transcript in case they must upload it to a system with maximum document size requirements. (Watermarked documents are usually large.)

Visit the Career Center
• Encourage students to touch base with a career coach to review their resume and cover letter, discuss their goals, and iron out their job / internship search plan.
• Provide mock interview (in person or virtual) opportunities so that they will feel comfortable if they are selected for an employer interview.

Expand Network
• If students are not on LinkedIn, ask them to set up an account.
• Advise them that networking can lead to employment.
• Encourage them to look for friends, family, and alumni who are working at their targeted organizations and build a relationship. LinkedIn has a tip sheet that can assist them.

Resume Review
• Have students review their resume
• Tell them to include any experience they may have acquired over break
• Ask them to make any necessary revisions, such as GPA.
• Have students recheck their contact information, and caution them to be responsive to employers, the career center, and employer relations contacts.

Best wishes for a successful spring semester!

(A student version of this blog is available in Grab & Go on NACEWeb.)

Lisa SimmonsLisa L. Simmons, Associate Director, Employer Experience, Wake Forest University
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/llsimmons
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CareerConduit

Avoiding a Renege by Building a Relationship

by Susan Brennan

It’s a job seeker’s market for college students, with many returning from a summer internship with a job offer in hand—long before graduation. It’s a rosy scenario, except for the challenges it poses for both sides: Students are against the clock to accept or bow out gracefully, and employers are challenged to hold a new hire’s attention for nine months. But I have seen some creative and smart ways to avoid a renege.

A lot of companies are building retention plans that include multiple touch points from the time of the offer to the time a new employee actually fills the seat. It may be a simple gesture—sending a care package during final exams or a holiday card—or a larger commitment such as a monthly dinner. Either way, it’s about building a welcoming community from day one. Here’s what some of our corporate partners do to keep new hires in the pipeline:

Build purposeful relationships.

At PricewaterhouseCoopers, all new hires and interns are assigned a relationship partner, career coach, and peer coach. The relationship partner develops a trusting relationship with the new hire, provides insight on demonstrating high performance, and communicates the value of the PwC experience. The career coach proactively schedules time to meet with the new hire, provides ongoing career counseling, and communicates the importance of developing leadership skills. The peer coach establishes a relationship with the new hire so the individual can quickly feel comfortable contacting them with questions, supports their productivity by assisting them with tools needed to immediately begin adding value, and helps acclimate the new hire to the firm.

Hold networking events.

Networking programs provide a more casual opportunity to get to know colleagues and other new hires. Bentley students who have accepted or have an outstanding offer from Liberty Mutual, for example, are invited to attend “LMI Peer Connections.” It’s a platform to network and ask questions about career opportunities and decisions. (And free food is always a hit with college students.)

Get social.

Setting up an app or using social media is an easy way to keep candidates in touch with what’s going on at your company, and to allow them to ask questions. (I’ve see this as particularly useful if someone is relocating.) Using technology to bridge the gap is something that students are comfortable with, as they can do it on their own time: in the dorm room, on the bus, or in the cafeteria.

Create experiences.

Today’s candidates care about experiences. When EY has done campus recruiting at my university, for example, they’ve brought along a petting zoo. (Yes, real chicks, bunnies, and even a little pig). Some companies will make an offer over dinner at a nice restaurant. Whenever you get the chance to create experiences—big or small—do it. Taking the time to go that extra mile won’t go unnoticed. 

Be flexible.

If you have your heart set on a new hire, you may need to be willing to accommodate requests. If a candidate wants to accept an offer but already had plans to first spend six months after graduation doing meaningful work like Teach America, for example, perhaps it’s possible to defer a start date. You may even find ways to tie the experience into your company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Now some tips you can pass on to job seekers

Candidates can also follow some simple rules of thumb to help them decide whether an offer is right for them. (These may also be useful for employers to look at the other side.)

Do some soul searching.

At Bentley, our students actually begin the “soul searching” process during freshman year; but it’s still an ongoing, lifelong process. Identify your interests, passions, and personality. What’s going to keep you inspired and getting out of bed each day for work? Differentiate between logistical aspects of a job offer—salary, health benefits—and other opportunities like culture, mentors, educational reimbursement, and professional memberships. (Try to get away from expectations placed on you by family and friends.) 

Review the offer with career services.

Once you get a verbal or written offer, make an appointment with a career services professional at your school. They can review compensation and benefits, address any concerns, and discus appropriate next steps. (They can also guide you on offer etiquette—whether accepting or declining an offer—as most schools have policies on both.) 

Set (or re-set) your priorities.

Just because an employer didn’t pop open a bottle of expensive champagne during your job offer, it doesn’t mean that they don’t value your work. Companies have different policies they need to follow. Step back and think about the big picture: Is the company culture a good fit? Do they offer great benefits? Is there opportunity to grow? 

Ask for an extension.

If you aren’t sure whether to accept or reject an offer, companies are typically sensitive to giving you time to make an informed decision. If you have a month or two, for example, take that time to explore what else is out there. In the end, employers will respect the time you took in making a well-thought decision. But, remember, deadlines are set to give employers time to reach out to other candidates, so the sooner you break the news, the better for everyone. 

Have difficult conversations.

A student came to me with a job offer in hand; he loved the company but not the actual job he was offered. In a case like this, it’s okay to talk with the employer and explain that you would love to work for them, but perhaps in a different role. Just be sure not to wait until the last minute or send an e-mail. Pick up the phone and have a candid, respectful conversation. (A career services professional can guide you through these kinds of conversations.) 

One last note to employers.

In the end, a renege is sometimes unavoidable—and could even be a blessing in disguise: If a new hire has reservations about accepting the job, they will likely show up unhappy and may end up not performing well if their head isn’t in the game. 

The reality is that it’s a new world order and talented candidates are driving corporate strategy. But retaining the best and brightest during these competitive times is possible. Be solutions oriented, and you’ll negotiate a mutual win.

susan brennanSusan Brennan, Associate Vice President for University Career Services, Bentley University

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/susansandlerbrennan
Twitter: @BentleyCareerSB
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/bentleycareer/?fref=ts
Website:  http://careeredge.bentley.edu/

Breaking Away from the Four-Year Career Plan: Implementing a Personalized Career Planning Model

by Amanda Carchedi

This past June, the Center for Career Development (CCD) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) was pleased to receive the 2016 NACE Member’s Choice Award for the program entitled “Breaking Away from the Four-Year Plan: Implementing a Personalized Career Planning Model.” This program, designed by Nancy Bilmes, Amanda Carchedi, Lee Hameroff, and Emily Merritt from the CCD, is a modern resource that provides career development guidance to students while remaining inherently flexible. Working at an institution with more than 30,000 students, the CCD found it critical to provide career guidance that could reach and be applicable to all students. In order to offer structured guidance and action items, and integrate modern techniques for delivery, it was realized that the CCD needed to move away from the traditional, outdated four-year planning model. Piloted within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the UConn Personalized Career Planning Model successfully provides students with an individualized career experience that is customized to their career development needs.

The Original: CLAS Exploration Plan

Our work on Personalized Career Planning has been realized in two stages. First, Emily sought to benefit College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) students by creating and implementing the “Developing a Career Exploration Plan” video and “Next Steps” questionnaire, which helped these students understand the elements of career exploration through a brief Prezi voiceover clip and next steps questionnaire, producing a tailored action plan based on the student’s self-identified career development stages and connecting to resources offered through the CCD.

In its first year of implementation, the CLAS Exploration Plan was piloted with arts and sciences students, as well as introduced to incoming students through career presentations at University Open Houses. One hundred fifty students and alumni used the resource. It was evaluated by requesting informal qualitative feedback from students, and academic advisors who referred students to the resource.  Students said the video helped them learn about resources they were previously unaware of, that they shared the resource with friends, and that it helped motivate them to initiate their next steps. An academic adviser that referred students to the resource said she shared it because it “demystified the concept of vocational development” and helped students develop tangible next steps.

New and Improved: UConn Personal Career Plan

This positive feedback led our department to decide to create a new version of this modernized resource to support all undergraduate students in developing their personalized career plans. We started by creating a new model, the UConn Career Engagement Model, to represent our department’s philosophy of supporting all UConn students in their career exploration, cultivation, and management.

The UConn Personal Career Plan builds off of our new model by guiding students through the career elements of “Reflect & Explore Possibilities,” “Cultivate Career Capital,” and “Manage Career Development.” Students can watch a 90-second introductory video to learn how to start their Personalized Action Plan.

Once watching the “Getting Started” video students can watch one of three clips based on where they are in their personal career development. Currently our webpage gives suggested next steps based on which element they’ve clicked on.

We are in the process of developing a customizable action list where students can identify next steps based on which career element they are within and design their own personal career plan to organize goals and future steps.  This “Action Steps Builder” and the completed UConn Personalized Career Plan will launch in spring 2017 and be promoted to all undergraduate students.

Moving Forward

Once the customizable UConn Personal Career Plan is fully launched, the program will be promoted to academic advisors from all departments as a tool to refer students to the career office. It will ensure that students are coming into the office better prepared to receive personalized coaching and guidance.  The department is committed to integrating the model as a foundation for its counseling, programming, and technology resources and is working to establish a committee to work on the continued expansion and integration of the personalized career planning model and career development process. Ideas for further integration include utilization of the resource during initial counseling appointments to development action plans for subsequent sessions and training of academic advisors to use the resource as a tool for referrals to the CCD.

The Center for Career Development (CCD) at the University of Connecticut (UConn) was awarded the 2016 NACE Member’s Choice Award for the program entitled “Breaking Away from the Four-Year Plan: Implementing a Personalized Career Planning Model.”

NACE is accepting submissions for the 2017 NACE Awards program from December 1, 2016, through January 31, 2017. Finalists for NACE Awards will be notified in the spring, and winners will be announced during the NACE 2017 Conference & Expo in June in Las Vegas.

 

Amanda Carchedi

Amanda Carchedi, University of Connecticut Marketing and Communication Manager, Center for Career Development
Twitter: https://twitter.com/amandalcarchedi
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/amandacarchedi