In the coming days and weeks millions of high school graduates will pack up and move to a college. If you, or your child, are one of these students, congratulations! Achieving this milestone required studying day and night and the pursuit of activities to help load college applications with “all the right” experiences. The race to graduation has been all consuming but don’t rest yet, you have one lap left.
Beginning Day 1, tackle your college experience with the following goals in mind: to graduate with a strong sense of self; pursue a profession reflective of your interests, skills, personality and values; and land that first full-time job – or graduate school – with confidence.
Here are 5 steps to achieve your college goals:
- Engage with faculty. Seek out professors and advisors and talk about more than the assignment. Talk about life, careers, etc. They chose their careers to help guide and teach young adults so take advantage!
- Take a variety of classes. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 80% of college students change their declared major at least once. Course corrections cost time and money, so consider all options before finalizing a decision. Take a class in anything that interests you, look for trends or themes in what you like and dislike.
- Join a club, attend a guest lecture, go to a TED Talk. Explore your interests. If you find a topic, profession, or social issue intriguing check it out. These experiences will lend tremendous insight into what you want to do, and you’ll begin building a network in the process.
- Secure internships. The best way to explore possible majors and career professions is through internships. The rewards are immeasurable! These hands-on experiences, will inform what you do and don’t want from a career, help establish a network of industry contacts and meet fantastic people.
- Make Friends. During the college years some of the most impactful learning comes from peers. Be open to new people, new experiences and all the growth that comes from them.
So, get to campus and make a strong finish! You will grow, transform, and lay the foundation for a rewarding career.
A quick “resume tips” Google search will provide thousands of suggestions on how to improve your resume to get hired. Students come to us frustrated that they send out hundreds of resumes without a single response. So, are resumes still relevant? What is their purpose?
You may be surprised to learn that a resume, no mater how perfectly crafted, will not get you the job. The resume’s only purpose is to get you in the door and talking to a decision maker at the company. The resume exists to tell your story in a clear, concise, and compelling way so the employer wants to learn more. Think of your resume as a marketing document: it helps tell your story, build your brand, and communicate your value. I’ve looked at tens of thousands of resumes throughout my recruiting career so here’s the inside scoop on how readability, communication style, the summary section, and content are interpreted by recruiters and hiring managers. With these tips you can build a better resume that will get you in the door and talking with a decision maker.
First and foremost, employers want to quickly review the pertinent information. A recruiter may have upwards of 100-300 applicants for one entry-level job. If that recruiter is managing 18 positions…well you can do the math. They don’t have a lot of time. So, choose a design and format that is easy to follow. It is tempting to get flashy with graphics or sections in order to make your resume stand out from the crowd. This can actually work against you if it prevents the reader from finding your qualifications. Align your design with your industry and know your audience, a resume for social media marketing will have more leeway than one for an accountant.
Use a basic but modern font like Helvetica, Arial, or Century Gothic in a font size between 10-12. Use different types of fonts or typeface to guide the reader’s eye to your name, sections, employers, or highly applicable experience. Recruiters & hiring managers look for similarities between the work you have done and the role they are hiring for. So if you have worked for a competitor or held a position with this exact title make sure they know it at first glance.
Education should be the first section. At this stage in your career education is a vital qualification so make sure it appears at the top of your resume. After a couple of years it can move down as you glean important experiences that makes you uniquely qualified.
Nearly every job posting lists “strong written communication skills” as a key requirement. Your resume is demonstrating how strong, or poor, your communication skills truly are. The verbiage you chose provides insight into your communication style so be professional, clear and concise. Be descriptive using full sentences versus listing specific tasks. Use proper grammar and stay consistent on your tense. Not only do these small errors demonstrate poor communication skills they also illustrate a lack of attention to detail.
You’ve heard the statistics, recruiters/hiring managers spend 10-30 seconds looking over a resume to determine if the candidate is qualified. Summary sections have replaced the objective section and are the go to spot for the reader to get a quick overview of who you are and what you can bring.
The most effective way to illustrate your experience is by first describing the responsibilities in 2-3 sentences, then bullet your accomplishments or specific projects. Make sure to customize these bullets to bring the most relevant experiences to the top of your list. Whenever possible quantify your experience with numbers, dollar figures, percentages, or time frames. Rather than noting that you “thereby increasing productivity” say “resulting in 25% faster run rate and 10% fewer errors”.
Key words have become increasingly important as most companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to house and access applications and resumes. Recruiters can actually search their ATS to find current or former applicants with specific skills. An ATS can also be set-up to screen out resumes that do not have specific key words and experience listed. To ensure your resume isn’t automatically eliminated from consideration, go through the job description and incorporate the description’s key words. For example, change “customer service experience” to “client service experience”, the exact words used in the job description. Also make sure your resume demonstrates the soft skills they are looking for versus just listing the key words.
The use of Applicant Tracking Systems also makes it important to have a Skills Section where you can list your technical and ancillary experience. This is where you should list any languages you speak, programming languages, or systems experience. This is also the place to list any pertinent interests, for example if you are applying to Conde Naste it is important that you highlight that you are an “avid traveler having visited 48 US States and 16 Countries”.
Include any on-campus activities, or volunteer experience that is relevant to the position or company. In addition to highlighting relevant experience it demonstrates an interest in, and commitment to, your chosen profession. Recruiters and hiring managers want to hire employees that are engaged, curious and driven and they will infer this from your extra-curricular activities.
A few additional considerations to keep in mind are:
- Keep it to one page. There is a general 10-year rule; meaning if you have less than 10 years of experience you should have a one-page resume. If you would like to elaborate further do so on your LinkedIn Profile. 60% of employers report checking candidate’s social media so include additional information or examples of your work.
- Save your resume as PDF before emailing it to ensure the recipients system doesn’t change your formatting.
- Be smart about naming your file. Not only should your file name be professional but also it should be searchable. Use something like John Smith Resume so the hiring manager or recruiter can easily find it among the various other resumes they receive.
- Proof read, proof read again, then have others proof read! Small grammatical errors can disqualify you on the spot.
One final tip, and it may be the most important resume advice we have. Don’t rely on your resume! It is estimated that 98% of job seekers don’t make it past the original resume screening. There are a host of reasons that the recruiter or hiring manager may not even see your online application/resume. So while building a better resume will help market your candidacy you must network to get in the door. Feel free to continue to apply online but follow it up with a phone call or email to someone you know at the company. Network your way to the recruiter or team through LinkedIn. This will get you noticed and ensure your resume is seen. Then, thanks to these tips, you will clearly demonstrate that you are someone special that the recruiter/hiring manager needs to talk with. Which is just the beginning, the rest is up to you!
Need more help with your resume? Join us on Wednesday, June 21st from 1:00-3:00 pm for a Rock Your Resume workshop. You will learn what recruiters and employers look for and how to avoid common mistakes. We will teach you how to develop a resume that tells your story, emphasizes your skills and communicates your value. Register at www.careerprepsite.com/events
Here’s a little secret, most professionals LOVE to help young adults who are just starting out in their careers. Don’t underestimate the lengths professionals will go to in order to help a young adult in their professional development. However, the power of networking doesn’t come from making a call, sending an email or making a LinkedIn request. It is really about investing in professional relationships! So here are our 6 tips on how to build professional relationships this summer.
One: Don’t underestimate your network. The true power of networking comes from a mutual connection or a shared experience that bonds you to another person. These commonalities will be the initial connecting point and the foundation for the relationship. These can be as simple as fellow college alums, someone that played the same sport you play, someone who interned at the same company, or a friend’s parent. You may be surprised just how many people you know.
Two: Demonstrate your communication skills and gratitude. Every interaction with a potential contact demonstrates your written and verbal communication skills. Make sure you are concise, choose professional verbiage, don’t use emojis, and sign the end every email with your contact information. Don’t text unless they text you first. All your communications should communicate your gratitude. Recognize the fact that these people are taking time out of their busy workday to meet with you so thank them for their assistance.
Three: Practice your elevator pitch. Who are you, what makes you unique and why should they care? Emailing a perfect stranger is hard, not to mention sitting across the table from them. However you will feel more confident if you have refined your message. Craft your story, your elevator pitch, in a compelling way that will not only inform but also engage the contact.
Four: Prepare! Nothing will sabotage a relationship faster than knowing nothing about the person you are meeting with. Research the person and their company, then integrate this research into the questions you ask. For example: “I saw that you started your career at McKinsey, what are the pro’s and con’s of starting your career at a consulting firm”. Take time to think about what questions you want to ask and make sure it isn’t something you can readily find online. Also prepare for the inevitable questions they will ask you. Make sure you are able to clearly state your strengths, what you are looking for, and why you are interested in a particular field.
Five: Make it easy for them. This begins with your initial email where you should include your resume and clearly state what you are looking for (i.e. advice, insight). Make yourself available and accommodate their schedule whenever possible. Ask them to choose a meeting location that is convenient for them. Always reply promptly to their emails or voice mails. Finally, don’t reschedule!
Six: Follow-up! What you do after the meeting is almost as important as what you do during the meeting. Send a thank you email within 24 hours. Reference specific advice or insight that the person gave you during your conversation and show your gratitude. Then, stay in touch with the occasional email. This can mean sharing an article you think they will find interesting, sending an update as you head back to school, or asking for follow up advice. Recognize that these people are now invested in your future success so foster their interest by staying in touch.
When looking for a job it is important to consider not only what you want to do but where you want to do it. Companies are going to great lengths to attract and retain employees through a wide variety of employee benefits and perks. It is hard not to be impressed by the on-site gym with yoga classes and a rock-climbing wall, free massages, free food, cafeterias that look like a 5 star restaurant, and take your dog to work days. Some companies even offer employee concierge service to pick-up your laundry, get your oil changed, and any other miscellaneous errand that will make your life easier.
However, too often job seekers mistake benefits and perks with corporate culture. Check out any number of “Best Places to Work” lists and you will see accolades for a company’s numerous perks and benefits. A company’s culture is oftentimes reflected in the perks they offer employees but certainly not defined by them.
Corporate culture is intangible and hard to define. It is a compilation of the company’s size, industry, beliefs, values, processes, people, and history. It is the personality of the company. Not to mention the fact that more important than any perk is what YOU need and what makes YOU happy. Trouble is, that can be equally as intangible and hard to define.
When working with clients I always ask, “What are you looking for in a company?”. Far too few have an answer. I would argue that answering this question is one of the most important steps in your job search. Knowing what you need and what makes you happy will help you not only know what you are looking for in a company but will help you evaluate whether or not a company’s culture suits you.
I believe there is no better way to judge how well a company’s personality fits you than by examining your own personality. What are your interests, passions, style and values? For example:
- Do you like to make decisions quickly and act on them? Then a smaller, more nimble company may be best for you.
- Do you need structure, processes and guidance? Then a larger company with a formal training program may be right for you.
It is also important to recognize that your needs may evolve as you move through your career and life. If you are just starting out, perhaps a large company with a strong mentor network and history of advancing their employees is what you need. If you are a new parent perhaps a flexible work schedule and on-site childcare will make you happy.
Personally I’ve worked in large companies to start-ups with varying corporate cultures and luckily found what I needed to make me happy in most of them. I’ve had access to video game rooms, ping-pong tables, shuffleboard, gyms, on-site free massages, and beautiful offices with designer furniture. Yet, while nice to have, none of those things made me happy or gave me what I needed. For me it has always been about the relationships. I have been fulfilled and happy in my work because of the fabulous people I get to work with and for. I need and am motivated by interacting with others (classic extrovert but we will save that analysis for another time). Regardless of the company size or perks, I look for a company that values collaboration, rewards not only individual but collective achievements, is supportive and friendly, and where everyone is enthusiastically working toward and invested in shared goals.
So, how does an extrovert who is motivated by relationships run a two-person company and work from home? I do miss my numerous co-workers and bosses. I miss contributing to broad team efforts. I miss hearing about my friends’ lives on a Starbucks run. However, I have everything I need and everything I look for in a company. I get to work with an amazing business partner with whom I can brainstorm as we enthusiastically work toward our shared goals. I collaborate with amazing clients, schools, universities and companies and celebrate our individual and collective accomplishments. I am blessed to meet and work with inspiring young adults and their wonderful supportive families. Plus, at this point in my career and life I need to challenge myself to try new things. I need the freedom to build strategic initiatives and execute my ideas. Our two-person company has everything I need to be happy! I’ll admit, there is one company perk that I truly value…Take Your Dog To Work Day, EVERYDAY!
Chloe at the office
Congratulations December Grads! The best part of graduating in December is there is less competition for jobs. The worst part is hiring for most companies slows down this time of year. Between the busy holiday schedules and year-end budget constraints it may be weeks or months before hiring picks up in force. So use this time for RR&R…Redo, Read & Research.
First Redo your resume and update your LinkedIn profile. Update with your new degree and take this time to customize your materials to focus on the job(s) you want. Include your skills and technology experience that are commonly sought after in your chosen profession. Hone your story so you are ready to make your pitch when the job market opens up.
Then Read and learn everything you can on your chosen profession and industry. Identify the largest companies and start-ups. Read industry publications and company websites. Set news alerts to push you industry/company specific news. Check out industry association and company social media pages. Quick Tip: Join industry Groups on LinkedIn. Many of them have career pages and you will be connected to all the other members of the group.
Through this process identify & Research your top 10 Target Companies. Learn all you can about their corporate culture, entry-level roles, structure and hiring process. Learn about their products as well as the company’s recent success and challenges. Then research who you know in each of your 10 Target Companies. Utilize your alumni network and LinkedIn to find connections. Build your “prospect list” and schedule informational interviews. Your contacts may be more willing to meet this time of year when work is slower for them as well. They will have invaluable insight into your Target Companies and how best to apply for positions when they open up. Quick Tip: Follow each of your 10 Target Companies on LinkedIn. It demonstrate your interest in their organization and you will get news and event updates via LinkedIn.
Finally, set a goal and make a schedule! Plan to have 5 informational interviews by January 16th, 2017. Schedule time each day for RR&R. If you do you will be ready to start your search in earnest by the 16th, just as companies are considering what positions they need to hire for. We will be there too, look for Part II of this article on Monday January 16th!
It is the time of year when millions of 18 year olds pack up, move out and move onto college. If you are one of these students, congratulations! You worked hard to get here, studied day and night, volunteered, and loaded your college application with all the right experiences. It has consumed your life, and probably your family’s life as well. So, now with this goal met you get to relax and relish in your accomplishment right? Unfortunately, no.
Instead of waiting for college to happen to you, actively tackle your college experience with the following goals in mind: to graduate college with a strong sense of self; a chosen profession that reflects your skills, abilities, interests and values; and a great first job in that profession (or acceptance into grad school). There are five critical steps you can take to achieve this goal:
1. Engage with faculty. Seek out professors and advisors and talk about more than the assignment. Talk about life, careers, choices…theirs and yours. Learn from them, connect with them. They chose this career to help guide and teach young adults so take them up on it.
2. Take a variety of classes. 80% of students end up changing their major at least once, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However these changes cost time and money. So consider all your options before finalizing your decision. Always had a passion for writing? Take a communications course. These courses will provide you insight into what you love to do so pay close attention to the courses you enjoy (or don’t) and why. Look for trends or themes in your likes and dislikes. This will all help you define that burning question: What do you want to do after graduation?
3. Join a club, attend a lecture, go to a TED Talk. In other words, explore your interests. If you find a topic, profession, or social issue intriguing check it out. You will learn a lot and not just about the topic. These experiences will lend tremendous insight into who you are and what you want to do. Do you connect with the people at the event because they are “just like you”? Is this a passion that you want to incorporate into your professional life or will it be a personal passion? Oh and you will be building your network in the process.
4. Secure Internships. There is no better way to explore possible majors and careers than through internships. The rewards are immeasurable! You will learn what you do and don’t want from your career, build a solid network of industry contacts, meet fantastic people, and hopefully have some fun in the process.
5. Make Friends. Some of the most important learning that happens in college comes from peers. Students who share your interest, and those who don’t, will help you grow. Students who have had different experience will give you a different perspective on life. Be open to new people, new experiences and all the growth that comes from them.
So go out and take control of your college experience. If you do you will grow, transform, and lay the foundation for a rewarding career.