Career Readiness Resources
Networking for Your Career
Make a LinkedIn Profile – LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service to find connections to recommended jobs, industry experts, and business partners.
Networking can be very helpful to your career. This article shows you how to build a network for greater success and become a more confident, mobile free agent in the workplace. And networking works! 65 to 80% of all jobs are found through networking.
The idea is to develop a network of friendly people who share information to help each other. It is best known as a strategy for opening the hidden job market, for getting a good job. Because many jobs (some would say most) are not advertised, it is essential that you develop friendly relationships with people who can tip you off to job openings — perhaps even introduce you to the person who is doing the hiring. There is some truth in, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”
Networking has other benefits. You are creating a community of people who support each other, who provide emotional support and information that will help each other. You will learn of new developments in your field: new tools, processes, leaders, training programs, products and services. You may discover the solution to a problem you face at work. And, you may have the satisfaction of providing the key piece of information that makes a real difference in the life of one of those in your network.
Networking is a planned, and ongoing effort. You set goals, develop strategies for achieving them, take action, evaluate how well your plan is working, and make changes as necessary. It is something that you do throughout your career.
HOW TO BUILD A NETWORK IN 5 STEPS:
Forbes Magazine – “7 Reasons Networking Can Be a Professional Development Boot Camp”
The Muse – “Career Benefits of Networking”
The Washington Post – “Networking 101”
Eat Your Career – “Why Networking Is Essential For Career Success”
Essential Skills for Your Career
Resume and CV Writing
What is a Resume?
The purpose of a resume is to provide a summary of your skills, abilities and accomplishments. It is a quick advertisement of who you are. It is a “snapshot” of you with the intent of capturing and emphasizing interests and secure you an interview. It is not an autobiography.
What is a CV?
A curriculum vitae (CV) is a more comprehensive document that details ALL your past education, experiences, and competencies, including public presentations, academic writing and professional development. It’s designed to introduce you to employers in academics, advanced research, post-secondary teaching and fine arts
Building a Winning Resume for your College Application!
College admissions time is hectic for both students and parents. There are forms to fill out, essays to write, records to request, financial aid to consider, and schools to visit. To get a head start on the process, sophomore or junior year is the time to begin gathering information for your child’s application. College may seem far away to a sophomore, but application deadlines will be here before you know it.
Why have a resume at all?
- It’s the quickest way to tell college admissions officers all they need to know about a person, according to Acceptedtocollege.com. A standard college application doesn’t always give a student room to highlight all of his or her accomplishments and experience. A resume will help bridge that gap.
- It will help your child keep track of his or her accomplishments, says The College Board. When the time comes to fill out college forms, it’s easy to forget one or two things from the list. A written resume will help remind the student of every pertinent detail.
- It can spark a college admission essay topic. Schools want to learn about an applicant through his or her essay. Reflecting on experiences from summer jobs, volunteer work, or school activities may lead to a unique essay topic that will make your child stand out.
- Activities and achievements can lead to scholarships. Scholarship committees look for participation in extracurriculars, and some require that recipients must be involved in a particular activity. Identifying areas of interest will help your student find the best scholarship opportunities.
- An impressive resume can lead to summer internships, jobs, or study-abroad opportunities that will strengthen your child’s college applications.
- With a comprehensive resume, your child can organize his or her priorities when deciding where to apply. University life is full of opportunities, in and out of the classroom, and the choices can be overwhelming. If your child participates in something like competitive rowing, which many universities don’t offer, he or she may want to seek out the schools that do, sayscollegeapps.about.com. Listing activities and accomplishments can help a student figure out what he or she wants to continue doing after high school, and which colleges will offer the greatest opportunities.
Why start during sophomore year?
- It can help your child target non-academic areas that need improvement long before sending out college applications. Although genuine interest in an activity should always be what ultimately inspires participation, according to collageapps.about.com, it’s a fact that colleges look for students who are well rounded and have good time-management skills. If your child hasn’t participated in many extracurriculars, for instance, there is plenty of time to get involved in something new before application time.
- It can help your child identify academic areas to boost. Ecampustours.com recommends that students list their GPA, but only if it’s above 3.0. If it’s lower than that, an early resume will give your student an idea of what needs attention before it’s too late to bring those numbers up. It will also get your child thinking about the importance of high SAT and ACT scores.
- A resume is a great introduction to a college recruiter. College fairs don’t always allow for long talks between recruiters and students. A quick introduction and resume hand-off will give your child the chance to connect with as many recruiters as possible.
- It will get a student thinking about potential references. College applications ask for recommendation letters from teachers, coaches, mentors, and employers, and it’s never too early for your child to line these up.
- Name, address, email, phone number. (Some schools may also want to see a Social Security number, but if you are concerned about identity theft, it shouldn’t be a problem to leave it off.)
- Education information. This includes the name and address of the student’s high school, GPA (if it’s brag-worthy), and class rank (if the student knows it). College courses can also go in this section, if the student has taken any.
- Activities. These can be in or out of school—for example, marching band, intramural basketball, or youth group at the student’s church or temple. Especially important are any leadership roles the student has taken in these groups.
- Other experience. A part-time job, participation in a walk for cancer awareness, or contribution to a science fair are all pertinent details.
- Accolades. Academic awards or awards in extracurricular competition—state wrestling champion or member of the top-ranking marching band in the region, for example.
- References. Names and phone numbers of teachers, coaches, employers, or internship directors don’t necessarily have to go on the resume, but it’s good to have these people lined up in advance.
- Anything else that makes your child shine. A resume is the one chance a student will have to tell college recruiters everything they need to know. If something makes the student unique and interesting, by all means include it. Fluency in a foreign language or proficiency in advanced computer programs may qualify here. A word of caution, however: Don’t go overboard. The resume should contain only what a specific school will want to know, according to The College Board.
- A poorly written resume can be worse than no resume at all. It should be proofread (more than once) to ensure correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- The resume should be in a professional-looking and easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman or Arial. The formatting should catch the eye of the recipient and bring attention to key items.
- Be honest. When students lie—or even stretch the truth—on their resumes, it can come back to haunt them later, particularly when it comes to things like GPA and test scores. Read your child’s resume carefully to ensure all of the information is accurate.
Cover Letter Writing
Cover Letter Formatting and Organization:
The cover letter is one of the most challenging documents you may ever write: you must write about yourself without sounding selfish and self-centered. The solution to this is to explain how your values and goals align with the prospective organization’s and to discuss how your experience will fulfill the job requirements. Before we get to content, however, you need to know how to format your cover letter in a professional manner.
Formatting your cover letter
Your cover letter should convey a professional message. Of course, the particular expectations of a professional format depend on the organization you are looking to join. For example, an accounting position at a legal firm will require a more traditional document format. A position as an Imagineer at Disney might require a completely different approach. Again, a close audience analysis of the company and the position will yield important information about the document expectations. Let the organization’s communications guide your work.
For this example, we are using a traditional approach to cover letters:
- Single-space your cover letter
- Leave a space between each paragraph
- Leave three spaces between your closing (such as “Sincerely” or “Sincerely Yours”) and typed name
- Leave a space between your heading (contact information) and greeting (such as, “Dear Mr. Roberts”)
- Either align all paragraphs to the left of the page, or indent the first line of each paragraph to the right
- Use standard margins for your cover letter, such as one-inch margins on all sides of the document
- Center your letter in the middle of the page; in other words, make sure that the space at the top and bottom of the page is the same
- Sign your name in ink between your salutation and typed name
Organizing your cover letter
A cover letter has four essential parts: heading, introduction, argument, and closing.
In your heading, include your contact information:
- phone number
- email address
The date and company contact information should directly follow your contact information. Use spacing effectively in order to keep this information more organized and readable. Use the link at the top of this resource to view a sample cover letter – please note the letter is double-spaced for readability purposes only.
Addressing your cover letter
Whenever possible, you should address your letter to a specific individual, the person in charge of interviewing and hiring (the hiring authority). Larger companies often have standard procedures for dealing with solicited and unsolicited resumes and cover letters. Sending your employment documents to a specific person increases the chances that they will be seriously reviewed by the company.
When a job advertisement does not provide you with the name of the hiring authority, call the company to ask for more information. Even if your contact cannot tell you the name of the hiring authority, you can use this time to find out more about the company.
If you cannot find out the name of the hiring authority, you may address your letter to “hiring professionals” – e.g., “Dear Hiring Professionals.”
The introduction should include a salutation, such as “Dear Mr. Roberts:” If you are uncertain of your contact’s gender, avoid using Mr. or Mrs. by simply using the person’s full name.
The body of your introduction can be organized in many ways. However, it is important to include, who you are and why you are writing. It can also state how you learned about the position and why you are interested in it. (This might be the right opportunity to briefly relate your education and/or experience to the requirements of the position.)
Many people hear of job openings from contacts associated with the company. If you wish to include a person’s name in your cover letter, make certain that your reader has a positive relationship with the person.
In some instances, you may have previously met the reader of your cover letter. In these instances it is acceptable to use your introduction to remind your reader of who you are and briefly discuss a specific topic of your previous conversation(s).
Most important is to briefly overview why your values and goals align with the organization’s and how you will help them. You should also touch on how you match the position requirements. By reviewing how you align with the organization and how your skills match what they’re looking for, you can forecast the contents of your cover letter before you move into your argument.
Your argument is an important part of your cover letter, because it allows you to persuade your reader why you are a good fit for the company and the job. Carefully choose what to include in your argument. You want your argument to be as powerful as possible, but it shouldn’t cloud your main points by including excessive or irrelevant details about your past. In addition, use your resume (and refer to it) as the source of “data” you will use and expand on in your cover letter.
In your argument, you should try to:
- Show your reader you possess the most important skills s/he seeks (you’re a good match for the organization’s mission/goals and job requirements).
- Convince your reader that the company will benefit from hiring you (how you will help them).
- Include in each paragraph a strong reason why your employer should hire you and how they will benefit from the relationship.
- Maintain an upbeat/personable tone.
- Avoid explaining your entire resume but use your resume as a source of data to support your argument (the two documents should work together).
Reminder: When writing your argument, it is essential for you to learn as much as possible about the company and the job (see the Cover Letter Workshop – Introduction resource).
Your closing restates your main points and reveals what you plan to do after your readers have received your resume and cover letter. We recommend you do the following in your closing:
- Restate why you align with the organization’s mission/goals.
- Restate why your skills match the position requirements and how your experience will help the organization.
- Inform your readers when you will contact them.
- Include your phone number and e-mail address.
- Thank your readers for their consideration.
A sample closing:
I believe my coursework and work experience in electrical engineering will help your Baltimore division attain its goals, and I look forward to meeting with you to discuss the job position further. I will contact you before June 5th to discuss my application. If you wish to contact me, I may be reached at 765-555-6473, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Although this closing may seem bold, potential employers will read your documents with more interest if they know you will be calling them in the future. Also, many employment authorities prefer candidates who are willing to take the initiative to follow-up. Additionally, by following up, you are able to inform prospective employers that you’re still interested in the position and determine where the company is in the hiring process. When you tell readers you will contact them, it is imperative that you do so. It will not reflect well on you if you forget to call a potential employer when you said you would. It’s best to demonstrate your punctuality and interest in the company by calling when you say you will.
If you do not feel comfortable informing your readers when you will contact them, ask your readers to contact you, and thank them for their time. For example:
Please contact me at 765-555-6473, or by e-mail at email@example.com. I look forward to speaking with you. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Before you send the cover letter
Always proofread your cover letter carefully. After you’ve finished, put it aside for a couple of days if time allows, and then reread it. More than likely, you will discover sentences that could be improved, or grammatical errors that could otherwise prove to be uncharacteristic of your writing abilities. Furthermore, we recommend giving your cover letter to friends and colleagues. Ask them for ways to improve it; listen to their suggestions and revise your document as you see fit.
If you are a Purdue student, you may go to the Writing Lab or CCO for assistance with your cover letter. You can make an appointment to talk about your letter, whether you need to begin drafting it or want help with revising and editing.
Click on the link at the top of this resource for a sample cover letter. Please note that this sample is double spaced for readability only. Unless requested otherwise, always single space your professional communication.
COVER LETTER RESOURCE LINKS:
Applying for Jobs
10 TIPS FOR TEENS COMPLETING JOB APPLICATIONS:
- Whenever possible take the application home: or fill it out online, so you don’t have to rush while sitting in an employment office. Make a list of all the information you need to include on your application prior to filling it out. Not sure what to say when you need to pick up an application for employment?
- Neatness counts: Have a friend or parent with nice handwriting fill out your applications with you if you have sloppy handwriting. If you have access to a copy machine, make a copy of it so it will be easier to fill out the rest of your applications by copying from the one that is complete.
- Show the employer that you can follow directions by filling in all sections of the application form: If you don’t have information to put in a box you can say N/A (not applicable). Review all the questions carefully to make sure you understand what they are asking for. If you don’t have formal work experience, it’s fine to list jobs like babysitting or yard work on your application. Request help from a parent or guidance counselor if you need assistance responding to any confusing items.
- Check your application for spelling and grammar mistakes: Have someone else review it, as well. Put your finger on every word to make sure it is okay even if you are typing and using spellcheck.
- Make sure you emphasize the job responsibilities of your past jobs which are most relevant: to your target position when completing your descriptions. For example, suppose that you only spent 15% of your time generating documents in your campus job, but it will be the primary function in a target job. List that activity first on the application when describing your campus job, so your key qualification is easily noticed.
- Use Action Words: to lead your phrases when describing past jobs.
- Employers for teen jobs value reliability: Especially in terms of attendance and punctuality.
- Don’t forget to include any honors or awards: Since employers will likely think a high GPA or Honor Society membership, for example, is evidence of a strong work ethic.
- Get a List of References: Be prepared to furnish the names, job titles and contact information for references. If you haven’t held a formal job, consider asking families for whom you babysit or have done odd jobs for, as well as teachers or coaches. Let people know if you plan to list them as a reference so they won’t be surprised if they get a call or email message.
- Check your phone: You will need to list your phone number on the application, so be sure that the voicemail message on your cell is suitable for an employer to hear. Check messages regularly so you don’t miss any calls from employers.
MONSTER.COM 10 Tips to Improve Interview Performance:
Even the smartest and most qualified job seekers need to prepare for job interviews. Why, you ask? Interviewing is a learned skill, and there are no second chances to make a great first impression. So study these 10 strategies to improve your interview skills.
Practice Good Nonverbal Communication:
It’s about demonstrating confidence: standing straight, making eye contact and connecting with a firm handshake. That first nonverbal impression can be a great beginning — or quick ending — to your interview.
Dress for the Job or Company:
Today’s casual dress codes do not give you permission to dress as “they” do when you interview. It is important to know what to wear to an interview and to be well-groomed. Whether you wear a suit or something less formal depends on the company culture and the position you are seeking. If possible, call to find out about the company dress code before the interview.
From the very beginning of the interview, your interviewer is giving you information, either directly or indirectly. If you are not hearing it, you are missing a major opportunity. Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what was said. Observe your interviewer, and match that style and pace.
Don’t Talk Too Much:
Telling the interviewer more than he needs to know could be a fatal mistake. When you have not prepared ahead of time, you may ramble when answering interview questions, sometimes talking yourself right out of the job. Prepare for the interview by reading through the job posting, matching your skills with the position’s requirements and relating only that information.
Don’t Be Too Familiar
The interview is a professional meeting to talk business. This is not about making a new friend. Your level of familiarity should mimic the interviewer’s demeanor. It is important to bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and to ask questions, but do not overstep your place as a candidate looking for a job.
Use Appropriate Language:
It’s a given that you should use professional language during the interview. Be aware of any inappropriate slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation — these topics could send you out the door very quickly.
Don’t Be Cocky:
Attitude plays a key role in your interview success. There is a fine balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty. Even if you’re putting on a performance to demonstrate your ability, overconfidence is as bad, if not worse, as being too reserved.
Take Care to Answer the Questions:
When interviewers ask for an example of a time when you did something, they are asking behavioral interview questions, which are designed to elicit a sample of your past behavior. If you fail to relate a specific example, you not only don’t answer the question, but you also miss an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills.
When asked if they have any questions, most candidates answer, “No.” Wrong answer. Part of knowing how to interview is being ready to ask questions that demonstrate an interest in what goes on in the company. Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to find out if this is the right place for you. The best questions come from listening to what you’re asked during the interview and asking for additional information.
Don’t Appear Desperate:
When you interview with the “please, please hire me” approach, you appear desperate and less confident. Reflect the three Cs during the interview: cool, calm and confidence. You know you can do the job; make sure the interviewer believes you can, too.
ADDITIONAL INTERVIEWING RESOURCES:
Positive Online Presence
Up until the last decade, employers relied on professional and personal references to judge whether or not a potential employee might be suitable for them. But today an increasing number of employers are looking at social networks to get to know their job candidates better. In fact, a survey by social media monitoring service Reppler suggests that up to 90 percent of recruiters have searched social network profiles as part of their screening process.
But if you’re a complete social media beginner, how do you build a strong online profile and what pitfalls should you avoid? Here’s our advice on how to begin.
Choose Your Site:
There are many different social media sites you could use, but LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are arguably the most popular when it comes to career development:
- LinkedIn is the leading online business network that allows you to create a professional profile. Think of it as an electronic CV where you list your current job information, your job experience, education and qualifications and anything else that’s relevant. Once you’ve created an impressive profile, stay informed by searching for individuals and organisations to follow and communicate with. To help with your online profile you should ask people to recommend your work and request endorsements for specific skills.
- Twitter is an opportunity for you to send short messages to your followers within a 140 character limit. It is an easy way to connect and communicate with others, including companies and individuals. For instance, if you’re interested in working for a particular company, you can follow the company on Twitter as well as some of the people who work there (enter a company’s name on a website called Twellow to find Twitter users who are employees).
- Facebook is a less formal social media networking site which tends to be between friends and brands. Many companies of all sizes use it. In fact, some experts believe that if you use it correctly, Facebook can be just as useful in a business sense as LinkedIn and Twitter. But if you use Facebook for personal rather than business reasons, be aware that a potential employer could easily find you and view your page.
Write a Blog:
Once you’ve been using social media networking sites for a while, you may want to branch out by having your own blog. This is ideal if you want to talk about your views and ideas in greater depth, or for publishing articles you’ve written about your industry or your area of expertise.
There are lots of ways to get into blogging for free. Wordpress is one of the most popular free blogging platforms, as is Blogger (a Google website). In most cases you can also personalize the appearance of your blog so that it looks professional and reflects the type of impression you want to make.
But be warned: maintaining an effective blog can take up a lot of time and effort.
Whatever format your online profile takes, there are some simple rules you should follow.
The number one consideration is to think carefully about anything you post online As a rule, whenever you post a comment, ask yourself if you’d feel comfortable if a prospective employer could read it. And remember, if you make a negative comment online today, it could be viewed by employers, managers, clients and colleagues years from now.
Meanwhile, if you decide to include a photograph of yourself on your page or blog, make sure it’s recent and that you look professional.
On the other hand, you may not want potential employers to see the comments or photographs that you’ve posted on a social media networking site – one that you use for personal rather than professional reasons, for instance. If so, try adjusting your security and privacy settings.
For instance, on Twitter, your comments (tweets) can be either public or private. If they’re private, they will only be seen by users you’ve personally approved (public ones can be seen by anyone). In Facebook you can also select whether anybody, just your friends or a selected list of individuals can see your posts – see your privacy settings page for more information.
LinkedIn also allows you to control how much of your profile can be seen by others (select from the list of options in the ‘Managing account settings’ page).
When your blog and/or social media profiles are up and running, start making them work for you. Join discussions and industry groups, as well as link with organisations, recruitment companies and leading figures in your sector.
Also post links to interesting comments, websites and articles as often as you can. Most importantly – especially if you’re job hunting – make sure your online CV is updated regularly, and that all your other profile information is up to date too.
Finally, don’t forget to comply with your current employer’s social media policy (most employers, for instance, take a dim view of employees updating their social media profiles during working hours).
ADDITIONAL POSITIVE ONLINE PRESENCE RESOURCES: