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March 2014 Archives

Woman on computer Afro 2.jpgMake your resume stand out from the crowd by following these 10 tips!

  1. Be clear on what your job search objective is so that you can tailor your resume to the job.  A "one size fits all" resume is less effective.
  2. Treat your resume as a marketing piece, not just a list of your "job duties." Spot light your strengths  and accomplishments
  3. Use bulleted sentences of one to three lines so the reader can quickly scan your resume and see your main points. 
  4. Order your bullets by importance to the employer to ensure that those most interesting will be spotted when your resume is scanned quickly.
  5. Use strong action verbs to begin each bullet, such as, analyzed, led, trained, and planned. Avoid weak verbs. such as, worked, oversaw, handled and helped.
  6. Quantify when possible, as #'s,$'s and %'s jump from the page. Indicate scope. Instead of "Taught students social skills," use "Taught a group of 10 students."
  7. Use "key words" from the job posting in your bullets, so they are easy to spot. 
  8. Focus on job skills that support your objective. Leave off irrelevant information so the reader focuses on what is relevant.
  9. Make your resume easy to read:  one or two pages in length; 11 or 12 point font, such as, Aerial or Times New Roman; margins between a half and one inch. 
  10. Ask two friends to review your resume to ensure there are no errors or anything confusing to the reader.

For more resume pointers, you may visit the "Write a Resume" section in the CEC Career Toolkit, check out the CEC Career Spots video on Make Your Resume Pop and set an appointment to meet with a Career Coach.

reference-check.jpgHave you started your job search?  If so, you'll want to start thinking about your references.  Who are the people who can best attest to your skills, experience, knowledge and personal strengths? Be sure that your references can speak to all the qualities that your potential employer is looking for in a new hire.  

Possible references include supervisors and colleagues from former jobs, internships and volunteer work, as well as professors and coaches.  While it's time to compile this list of references, you won't provide this information to employers unless specifically requested to do so.  Most employers ask for references during the interview process if you are a finalist for a position.
 
The way employers check references for potential hires has changed over the years.  Once, letters of recommendation were the requested norm; now, with the exception of certain industries like Education, employers usually ask for a list of references and their contact information. 

Some employers will call your references and personally ask a series of questions to determine your abilities, motivation and personal "fit" for a position.  Others, especially larger organizations, have opted for an automated approach, and use customized software to ask these same questions about how you match with the success factors for the job.  In the latter, your references are emailed a link to a comprehensive survey with multiple choice questions customized for that particular position/organization.   References are asked to rank you on a scale of low to high in such areas as professional competence, interpersonal and problem solving skills, and adaptability.  Just like in telephone inquiries, there are opened ended questions as well.  These typically include questions about your strengths and an area in which you could improve.   References are also usually asked, "Would you hire or work with this person again?"
 
Now that you know the process, how can you best manage your references?
Follow these three steps:
1. Ask
     Always ask your contacts if they are willing to provide you with a good a reference.   If a contact expresses any reservations at all, politely express your understanding of the situation, and then ask someone else.

2. Prepare
     Prepare your references in advance.   Offer to provide any information they might find helpful in fulfilling this role.  Send an email to thank them for agreeing to be a reference and let them know the type of positions and organizations you are targeting in your job search.  Explain why you're interested in pursuing these opportunities and the strengths and experience you have that make you a good candidate.   Attach a copy of your resume for their information.

Some references, especially instructors who are asked to write references by many students, may ask you to complete a form or provide other information that can help them in their reference role.  Respond promptly if you are asked to do this.

3. Keep in Touch
     Keep your references informed of your job search progress.  Let them know immediately if an employer has asked you for your references, and provide information about the job and organization where you're now a serious candidate.

If your area of interest changes, let your references know.  If a reference is prepared to extol your enthusiasm for pediatric nursing, she may be caught unaware by a reference request for position working with substance abuse patients.

Be sure to let your references know when you do land a position and thank them for their help.

     For more information about references, check out the CEC's References: Guides and Format.
About.com also has some helpful information about references as well. 

 

Photo compliments of culprit.com

CareerFair-Close-up.jpg

We're in the heart of career fair season here on the Simmons campus, and the next big event is coming up on Wednesday, March 26: the annual Spring Career & Internship Fair.

This year over 40 employers have registered to attend, representing a range of industries that align with Simmons' academic programs and student interests. A sampling of exhibitors includes:

  • Accufile
  • Autism Bridges
  • Boston Neighborhood Network TV
  • The Bridge of Central Massachusetts
  • Bright Horizons
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Boston  
  • Forbes House Museum
  • Gateways Community Services
  • Horizons for Homeless Children
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Mullen
  • Museum of Fine Arts
  • Peace Corps
  • Pearson Education
  • Prudential Financial
  • Radio Disney
  • South Bay Mental Health Center
  • State Street Corporation
  • WGBH

. . .and many more!

Come meet dozens of leading employers and discuss with them your interest in an internship or full-time job. On your to-do list:   

Check out the Spring Career & Internship Fair page to learn more about each of the attending employers and watch a couple of short videos to get you prepped for the event.

You'll also want to check out the other upcoming CEC events for seniors (Mock Inteviews and Lunch and Learn) and all students (Your Personal Brand presentation) on the CEC events page.     

Questions? Let us know. And see you there!

AW-Cropped Head Shot.jpgI recently had the opportunity with the support of our Provost to participate in an accreditation program on Emotional Intelligence sponsored by the Hay Group and designed by world expert, Daniel Goleman. The training program was for coaching professionals to help their clients become more effective as leaders by using the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory tool.

I first learned about EI after being inspired by Daniel Goleman's ground breaking booked called "Working with Emotional Intelligence," which provides case examples that link success in business leadership with emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Goleman defines Emotional Intelligence as:

" Recognizing our own feelings and those of others, motivating ourselves, managing emotions well in ourselves and our relationships."

Although many people thought this was a management fad, EI has endured because the qualities to help strengthen leadership effectiveness are even more important for today's changing workplace.

Daniel Goleman together with Richard Boyatsis conducted decades of global research on what differentiates outstanding performance.  Because they found that 80-90% of the characteristics were emotional and social in nature, they developed the Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (ESCI).  Their view was that while abilities and personality traits are fairly fixed, that behavioral competencies can be developed to improve personal effectiveness, develop leaders and create more effective organizations.

They defined a competency as a measurable characteristic beyond knowledge and skills that is necessary for top performance. It included the following:

4 Competency Clusters:

Self-awareness: Recognizing and understanding our own emotions, abilities, strengths and weaknesses

Self-management: Effectively managing ourselves: emotional self-control, motivating ourselves

Social-awareness: Recognizing and understanding the emotions of others: empathy, organizational awareness

Relationship-management: Applying emotional understanding in our dealings with others: influence, inspirational leadership, coach and mentor, conflict management, teamwork


In my work as Director of the Career Education Center and as a career management coach, assessment is a critical first step in the coaching process.  In the CEC, Assessment is the first step in our developmental model and includes identifying a student's values, interests, personality and strengths with use tools such as the MBTI and Career Driver to uncover strengths and ingredients of a good career fit. In our academic programs at Simmons, we know that students develop knowledge and skills in the classroom with opportunities to apply them through experiential learning opportunities.  Yet, we also know that employers today are seeking even more-- academics plus.  Many are the behavioral competencies of Emotional Intelligence that can make a difference in a person's career and leadership success.

Can EI be learned?

Yes, these behavioral competencies can be taught and developed over time with self-awareness as the core foundation of personal development and effectiveness.  Students can learn how to recognize, evaluate, and improve their behaviors by incorporating feedback and through continued practice.  By increasing self-awareness, students can better manage their independent and group learning, and ultimately their employability.

With a focus on leadership, I believe that Simmons can build on its inherent strengths and to teach and be known for developing knowledge, skills and the EI competencies for successful personal, career and leadership development.

Andrea Wolf is Director of the Simmons Career Education Center.