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June 2014 Archives

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Whether you're an undergraduate deciding on a career direction or a new grad contemplating enrolling in graduate school, an important and practical step in the process is to do some market research to make an informed decision. Be sure to research and find the answers to these two questions: 

  • What does the job market look like for that particular career?
  • What are my chances of finding employment in that field?

The good news is that most liberal arts majors have many options, so if your research reveals a particular career path is not showing much growth in jobs, you can choose another option.  For example, a degree in English can prepare you for entry level positions in a variety of industries -  education, publishing,  business, and public relations to name a few. 

Within those industries, there are numerous areas and employers for whom you could work. If you decide on publishing, will it be in editing, circulation, sales, production, marketing, advertising, promotion or administration? And for what segment of the publishing industry will you work? Will it be trade publications, newspapers, university press, educational publishing, magazines, independent publishers, or alternative media?

Because there are so many choices, it's important to do market research so you will know the job market trends in that particular field. In addition, research provides information about the skills and experience you need to develop to make you an attractive candidate. 

Most majors in liberal arts are also good preparation for careers that need advanced professional training like law or higher education.  Doing market research can confirm the availability of jobs after graduate school and alert you to both the potential of a challenging job search and/or the possibility of relocation to where there is more demand for the specialty.

Where can you go to find information about which industries, functions and locations have the best outlook for employment?   Here are two good sources:    

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the OOH is considered the source of occupational information. You'll find  information  about nearly 1,000 occupations, including the nature of the work, working conditions, training and educational requirements, career advancement, and job outlook over the next ten years, earnings potential, and more.

O*NET - Also created and maintained for the U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET provides comprehensive information about thousands of professions, with detailed descriptions of job responsibilities, required skills, preferred interests, general work styles and environments, and more.       

Additional links to other online resources are available on the Beatley Library Career Guide on Career Exploration.

Photo: Courtesy of reumetarget.com

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OK, Class of 2014. You've been out of college for (gulp) over a month now. You walked across that stage on May 9. Why, you're yesterday's news! And you still don't have a job or even the faintest clue what to do next. So what's the first thing you should do? 

Don't panic! Believe it or not, history is on your side. As shown in this infographic with outcomes data from the Simmons Class of 2012 Employment Survey, while only 36% of students had their jobs by graduation, fully 60% of those in full-time jobs were in them by three months out, and 82% were employed within six months of graduation. The latest data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers for this year's graduates is trending in the same direction. 

There is more good news for you fortunate Simmons grads. We know that 40% of your predecessors found their jobs through the most tried and true method --- networking -- and when they landed at their first destination, 90% of them were in a position related to their major.

Lucky you: the rebounding job market is also on your side. Not too long ago the US unemployment rate was over 10% and jobs were hard to come by, especially entry-level positions. But this year, as previously reported in this space, the market is in your favor and the hiring outlook for new college grads is up. Companies across a range of industry segments are growing and seeking new talent again.    

The job market in New England, where over 80% of you choose to stay year after year, is also looking stronger. While the national unemployment rate is improving and was last reported at 6.3%, Massachusetts is looking even better at 5.6%, the the lowest monthly rate in six years and the first time since July, 2008 that it's been under 6 percent.

We also know, however, that mounting a job search takes time - on average, six months from initial steps to landing a position. So those employed Simmons new grads who went before you were probably getting underway with their search by now.   

Even if you are throttling back and taking some time off this summer after you busted your you-know-what for four years, you can still harness the power of the Career Education Center to aid in your next steps. The CEC website is packed with helpful tips and information to get you started, including the wealth of career guides maintained by the experts in Beatley Library. There are over 60 of them, most of them discipline-focused, and numerous others on helpful topics such as "Job Hunting Online."  

So, whether you're Bio or Comm, English or Poli Sci, Nursing or Psych, there is an online guide for you. And once you've poked around in there and found some items of interest you might want to think about connecting with a career coach in the CEC. Even if you are not local and cannot meet face-to-face you can set up a phone appointment. Heck, we've already Skyped with a Simmons grad on the other side of the world this spring!

You'll also want to check out another recent blog entry from one of our CEC coaches with ten tips for new grads.  

Once you commit and take those initial steps and get a plan going, then start to reach out to target companies and begin to network your way in, pretty soon it will be you negotiating with an employer, getting to yes, and getting that coveted handshake. And when you've landed, you can share the good news with us in this year's first destinations survey - e-mail the CEC and we will send you a link to the survey.  

We're here all summer long -- for you. Let us know when you're ready to get going.

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Negotiating is a process in which two parties come to an agreement that is "mutually beneficial." It should be conversational, not adversarial.  When you have received a job offer, your future compensation and perhaps your job responsibilities are impacted by your ability to negotiate well.  Although the salary range in many entry level positions is limited, it is in your best interest to not settle for less compensation than the employer was willing to offer.  Paying attention to the following key ingredients will set the stage for a "Win-Win" outcome of your negotiations.  Your preparation should:

Inventory strengths:  Be able to articulate your key strengths and accomplishments.

Know your value added:  Ask yourself these questions, Why should they hire me? How do I stand out? Review the employer's problems that you can solve and present yourself as the "problem solver!"

Establish criteria:  Research and reflect on your own criteria about salary, benefits, job responsibilities, etc. Do market research through networking sites such as salary.com that provide labor market ranges. Ask yourself, salary you want? Salary you need? Your "walk away" bottom line. Remember: money left on the table is lost forever

Respond appropriately when an offer is made:  Once you receive the job offer, follow the guidelines below.  Be sure not to negotiate at this time!

1. Thank the employer and show your enthusiasm.

2. Clarify position responsibilities.

3. Clarify salary and benefits.

4. Request additional information, if needed.

5. Ask for offer in writing.

6. Ask for time to evaluate offer.

Prepare for negotiation session:

First, compare their offer to your requirements and determine item(s) you want to negotiate.  Second, develop the rationale:  What is your "value added?"  Not "I need the money."  Sample Problem:  Limited presence on social media compared to competition. You:  Previous experience with building organization's brand by creating Facebook and Twitter pages. Third, plan for the negotiation meeting and very importantly, practice out loud!  Thinking something through does not guarantee that you will deliver a well thought out rationale.  For more detailed information on negotiations go to Steps for Effective Negotiations on the CEC website.