3 Things That You MUST Communicate During an Informational Interview

dreamstime_xl_6524449When you have gone through the trouble of finding the important contact, setting up the informational interview and preparing to meet the person that may very well be a critical person in your network, there are a few things that MUST happen in the meeting to make it truly worth everyone’s time. Here are the critical communications that need to happen during the course of that meeting:

  1. I know what I want to pursue and I can clearly communicate it. An informational interview is not a career counseling session. The networking contact may offer you suggestions or give their opinion about your path or plan, but you should not enter this meeting not being able to clearly articulate your path and interests in a simple, coherent, clear fashion. If you need help with this, seek the advice of a career counselor to work on this process. Now, you may have a couple avenues that you want to pursue, you need to be clear about who the networking contact is, what he/she does and how they may be of help to you so that your communications about your plans make sense to how they may assist you.
  2. I am interested in building a long lasting professional relationship with you, which includes learning more about you and your career path and considering ways in which I may be of help to you. Networking is always a two-way street and you need to approach it as such. If you are always approaching someone with “I need,” “Can you help me with,” “Could you please,” etc., your networking contacts are going to become burned out and eventually tire of helping someone who they feel is only out for themselves. So, make sure you learn how to build solid reciprocal professional relationships.
  3. Do you know anyone else I can speak with? You want to communicate a genuine interest in building a substantial network of professionals from a variety of experiences within the field. This is a great way to expand your network in a meaningful way.

An informational interview is a very critical part of the job search process, but the meeting in and of itself is not what is important. What is important is that you are clear about who you are and that you approach the meeting as a person who is interested in and passionate about the field you’re in or planning to pursue and wants to build with others within that field.

 

Moving Away from Your College Job Toward Your Professional Future

Key for a good job

It’s very common for students to work in part-time or full-time jobs to support themselves and/or their studies. Often these jobs in retail, administrative office work, family businesses are not the career paths that you are interested in, but they serve to provide some financial stability or contribution. However, sometimes the more difficult issue becomes the struggle to leave this position after graduation and pursue the professional area of your interest.

Here are some mistakes that many students with jobs make during their undergraduate education:

  • Not getting several internships in their professional area of interest. The complaint is often that there is no time with a job to do an internship. You must find a way to do several internships because without the relevant experience and contacts you will have a much harder time finding a job in your field.
  • Staying too long. Sometimes, the stable money is seductive and hard to resist and many college graduates stay on in the job beyond their graduation, but the farther you are away from graduation, the harder it will be to leave the job and also explain why you stayed and how that contributed to your development as a financial analyst or PR Rep.
  • Placing this job prominently on their resume. Either due to having no/few internships or the length of time at this position is seen as more valuable than relevance, many students place this job visibly on their resume. You have to have developed enough experience and skills in your new professional area that this job is rendered insignificant to your pursuits after graduation.
  • Spending little time developing their new professional identity. With a job, there is often very little time for other things. You must, though, value your networking, programming/events specific to your professional interests and developing a professional identity. You need to see yourself as a future accountant, journalist, communications professional, etc. This will help you take the next steps.

Having a job during your undergraduate degree can help you to develop all kinds of important skills – multitasking, time management and ability to quickly shift sets. However, you still must focus on your plans after graduation and pursue all the requisite training experiences needed to transition if you don’t want your part-time college job to become your profession.

3 Tips to Turn Your LinkedIn Profile from Static to Interactive

NetworkingMost job seekers today have constructed the requisite LinkedIn profile, but very few feel that they have reaped anything significant from it. LinkedIn is a powerful resource if you engage it. If you think that it will do its magic just by collecting contacts, you are sadly mistaken. You need to be an active, informed user to experience the true power of this social media platform. Here are 3 tips that can take you from an infrequent LinkedIn lurker to a fully engaged and benefiting member:

  1. Add “Skills and Expertise.” You want to add skills that your contacts will easily be able to identify you as having illustrated through their engagement with you. Don’t add every skill possible. Be selective and remember your brand and the skills that are valued in your field. Also, endorse your contacts’ skills   which will engender good will and also potentially reengage a contact that you haven’t spoken with in a while. Make sure that you actually have witnessed and can vouch for these skills. 
  2.  Use the new feature, LinkedIn Contacts. Get familiar with its capabilities and review how to use it. It catalogs conversations so you can see how long it has been since you were in contact with a colleague. It also prompts you to reach out to people on your contact list, which can be a useful reminder that you should constantly be engaging with your network–not only when you need them.
  3. Join a group that you can regularly participate in. You want to get involved in a group related to your field where you are comfortable sharing relevant articles and making useful comments. Don’t just “like” a posting instead make a comment to the person, who posted. It may turn into an important contact.

Summer Job Search: Don’t Let the Summer Slow You Down

dreamstime_19638355It’s June and the glow of graduation is quickly fading. The “What’s Next?” questions begin to be the center of your interactions with just about everyone. You are feeling a mix of relief, sadness and absolutely terrifying and paralyzing fear about this time in your life. While you may feel like it’s just you, it is pretty normal.

So, what to do about it?

First, here’s what not to do: Don’t sit around and get absorbed into a vortex of daytime TV, YouTube, Facebook, Angry Birds. This just makes the bad feelings worse, believe it or not.

Instead, get busy doing useful and positive things for yourself, your self-esteem and your future. Here are some ways to get going:

  • Join the Job Search Bootcamp – although imagining being in a group can evoke feelings of competition and potential embarrassment. Job search groups tend to help participants find a job 4x faster than doing it alone because of the supportive camaraderie that boosts your motivation to work.
  • Start attending Alumni Events - networking events are critical for building connections that will eventually support your next move. It’s important to get out there and build a community of professionals that you can count on and who also can count on you.
  • Develop a schedule – you need to treat your job search process like a job and schedule out your time so you’re not floundering and wondering what you should be doing with your time.
  • Sign up for job search alerts on major job boards – this way, you don’t have to look at them every day. You only need then to view them when a job that fits your criteria pops up. It makes your search more efficient.
  • Reach out to your references – ask your references for permission and then let them know that you will be actively applying and for what types of positions.
  • Get your materials in tip top shape – have everything reviewed and order networking business cards.
  • Update your profile on Starr Search – to make sure that it is accurate so that you are not left out of any positions that might be a fit.
  • Develop your own support group – reach out to other friends who are in the same situation. This allows you to have a support group that can empathize with you and offer you additional tips and ideas.
  • Read our job search blog posts to give you additional ideas about what you can be doing to succeed at this process.

This is only a starter list of things that can get you off the couch and into your first professional position. Start doing things and stop avoiding the feelings of fear. Your future is bright, but you need to do something about it in order to see that.

Writing Samples: How to Make Sure that You are Never Without One

3D Concept Of A Skills Puzzle.Career coaches often find that new job seekers will avoid job postings that require anything more than a resume and cover letter. Clearly, an employer is utilizing additional requirements to assist in choosing candidate with the requisite skill sets and to potentially weed out lazy applicants (i.e., they are looking for employees that will go the extra mile). As a job seeker, you do yourself an injustice not to apply for positions that are a fit because they require more of you.

One of the additional requirements often requested is a writing sample and this strikes fear in the hearts of many recent graduates. Here are some things to consider to prepare for such a moment:

  • Write for one of the publications on campus. It will guarantee a review by an editor to make sure that the product is the best representation of your work.
  • Get your papers reviewed by the writing center. It will allow you another set of eyes and also teach you the skills that you need to enhance.
  • Write a blog. You can utilize Blogs at Baruch to get your own blog and practice your writing as that is the only way you will truly get to be a stronger writer — more and more practice.
  • Take writing intensive courses. These will require you to write regularly and get used to feedback. It’s a great built in mechanism to improve your writing and have many options for writing samples.
  • Take on opportunities to write on internship. If your internship supervisor asks you to take a shot at writing a press release or other communication, do it. However, you really want to use this more for practice as most times you will not be able to use this as a writing sample.

If you are concerned about your writing skills, then the best way to address it is to write, write and then do some more writing. Don’t avoid it as your writing skills will never improve and it will always make you uncomfortable, embarrassed and inclined to avoid job applications were one is required.

3 Things to Have on Hand When You Are in the Job Search

dreamstime_940704When you are searching for a job, there is no telling when you will meet or run into the connection that moves your search a step forward. So, you always need to be prepared for such an occasion. Here are 3 things that you should be carrying at all times during your job search:

  • Your Networking Cards – you need to have a memorable networking card that is appropriate for your field. At the very least, it should contain your field, email, phone and Linkedin profile address. If you want to include things on the back of the card, consider special skill sets, areas of expertise, certifications, a QR code for your resume. Here’s an interesting video on developing eye-catching business cards.
  • A Notetaking Apparatus – either a notepad and a pen or app on your phone. You should be taking notes about the people that you meet and what your follow-up tasks are. For example, Anna Smith, Recruiter at a Tech Firm, Met at an IT Panel at Baruch, Need to connect with her on LinkedIn and also send her the article that I mentioned from CIO.
  • Access to Your Contacts – sometimes, a networking contact may need you to make an introduction. It’s great to have easy access to your contacts so you can make an immediate introduction for them. It makes an impression. This might mean have easy access to your LinkedIn with a mobile app or having them organized in some easy to access fashion.

In your professional career, you always want to be prepared to network even in the most unlikely moments. Make sure that you are never found missing the tools that you need to be an expert networker.

No Offer, What Now?

So, you are a senior and you’re in the middle of your Spring semester and fellow seniors are starting to talk about offers and family members and friends are bringing it up. These kinds of conversations make you uncomfortable because you know what’s coming next…the big question, “What are you doing after graduation?” It makes your stomach churn, you feel inadequate, you want to yell “isn’t it enough that I am graduating? Can’t I just be happy about that for one moment before we are onto the next thing?”

Graduation students iconsClearly, you should be enjoying your last days in college, but you also need to be facing the reality that you are going to need to make a decision about what comes next or else you will languishing in the sad post-graduation blues with no one around to comfort you.

What to do? What to do? If you want to have a job after graduation, you need a plan. Here are some of things that you should start engaging in immediately:

  • Attend a job search group at the SCDC.
  • See a career counselor to develop a plan specific to your situation.
  • Get your resume reviewed, sign up for a mock interview.
  • Attend the job fair.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile and join the SCDC group to learn about networking opportunities happening off campus.
  • Start using Starr Search regularly to check for opportunities.

One thing that you shouldn’t be doing is hiding. Come out of shadows. You are not alone and we are here to help you, but we have to know you need help to be able to give you the help you want. It will all seem so much more manageable or possible with a plan.

Spring-ing Back From the Break

Summer FlowerAs we get close to the end of Spring Break, we know that the end of the semester fast approaches and for seniors, the end of your college career. Students often remark about how fast the time goes after Spring Break. So, how do you get ready to perform at your best in this intense period and make the most of this critical time? Here are some tips to ensure that you do just that:

  • Get some rest right before you return. Get a good amount of sleep and take care of yourself especially in the last few days.
  • During the weekend, create a strategic plan. Take some time to write yourself a to-do list of some of the critical deadlines and assignments ahead. This clearly includes job and internship search as this should be happening simultaneously. If you wait until the semester is over, there will be less options and more competition.
  • Plan to get help. If you are struggling in a class or if you haven’t had your resume reviewed, plan to get the help you need. Use the services available to you so that you have a partner in the struggle. With these examples, that would be the SACC center and the SCDC. However, find the appropriate help and at Baruch, there is assistance for almost any dilemma.
  • Have a sunny attitude. As much as possible, try to use the warming weather to support a positive can-do attitude. It boosts problem solving.
  • Finish strong. Make sure that you pace yourself and plan to care for yourself over the rest of the semester so that you are not burned out and have plenty of energy for finals and other end of the semester events.

Enjoy the rest of the break and prepare to “spring” into action!

Job Search Senioritis

dreamstime_15660954Graduation is fast approaching and many seniors are having difficulty dealing with this notion as they do every year. There are expectations from parents, mentors, classmates about what will happen after your graduation. There is also loss to deal with (i.e., moving forward from college and college life into a professional phase of your life). While avoiding the feelings may be a tempting option, in the end, you will only be setting yourself up for additional not so pleasant feelings after your graduation (e.g., inadequacy, self-doubt, embarrassment) and it may even be harder to deal with at that moment because then the spotlight on you will be even brighter.

Here’s a plan to address your Job Search Senioritis:

  • Make an appointment with a career counselor or mentor to develop a job search plan for your specific needs
  • Ask the counselor to help you set up a “task list” of things that you need to accomplish
  • Work on taking in the feedback from the career counselor or mentor and not defending against it or making excuses. For example, if you are interested in being an analyst at an investment bank and you have never done an internship, you may get some feedback that will be difficult to hear. A career counselor is a partner in the process — not an enemy. However, you will need to face facts at this point if you want to be employed after graduation in position with a professional trajectory.
  • Set aside adequate time in your schedule to do this (5-10 hours/wk is probably a minimum)
  • Consider how you will approach the “hard” tasks. Whether it is networking or informational interviewing, don’t leave the difficult tasks for last. Find ways to address your fears and move forward. A career counselor may be integral in helping you with this.
  • Find a way to keep yourself on track (i.e., find a job search buddy or group or meet with the counselor regularly to check in about your progress)
  • Keep yourself positive and focused on moving forward. The road can be long and process tough and humbling, but you need to consciously work on staying positive and knowing that the right fit will come along if you are in the game.

Self Confidence: Working Toward a Positive Sense of Self

Get the Job - Arrows DiagramThe process of job search can really tear a person down especially when it lasts a long time. There can be a lot of evaluation, rejection and asking people for help, which can leave you wondering ‘do I really have something to offer?” In order to answer that question with a sense of confidence consistently, you need to work daily to build your sense of self and support a healthy self-concept.

Here are a few suggestions of how to engage in healthy self-esteem building during a search process:

  • Use a set of daily affirmations (e.g., I am smart, I am a hard worker, I am personable) which you repeat to yourself in the mirror each morning.
  • Don’t tell yourself negative things. For example, “I will never get a job.”
  • If you find yourself saying something negative, correct it immediately. Using the previous example, you would say to yourself “That’s not true. I will find a job that is a great fit for me.”
  • Surround yourself with positive people, who live a positive life and have good self-esteem. They will teach you positive habits and support your efforts.
  • Celebrate positive things that happen in your job search. Even small little things should be celebrated and you should also work on moving forward from any setbacks and not dwelling on negative experiences.

Developing a positive sense of self is critical to having a happy life and also surviving a job search with your ego intact.