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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

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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.

Mary Shapiro Head Shot.jpgThere's been a lot of press about the importance of personal branding lately.  "You've probably heard the old adage around how to get a job or promotion:  it's all about who you know.  But that's only half the story.  It's also what they know about you.  That's your reputation.  That's also your brand, says Mary Shapiro, Professor of Practice at the School of Management (SOM). She points out the power a person's reputation can have.  It determines who gets the job, who gets promoted, who gets a "yes" to a special request, and who keeps their job and who gets downsized. 

Professor Shapiro will address the Simmons community as part of the CEC March Career events and Senior Series. She explains that her topic, Your Personal Brand: Your Reputation, Your Future "will help you think about the brand or reputation you want to have in the 'marketplace' of life."  Participants will through a fun exercise, she says, "create what you want people to think of when they think your name, and then analyze what you are currently doing to promote that brand....and what you may need to do differently going forward to be all you can be."  Her presentation, which is co-sponsored by the SGA, is open to the Simmons Community, and will be held on March 20 from 4:00 to 5:00 pm in the SOM Building, M223. 

For information on additional CEC March Career Events, including Senior Mock Interview Day on March 19, Senior Lunch and Learn, co-sponsored with the Class of 2014 Council on March 24, and the Spring Career and Internship Fair on March 26, visit the Events Page on the CEC website.  

skype3.jpgAccording to research conducted by the Aberdeen Group, a market research company, 32 percent of companies used video interviews for recruiting last year.  Given their increased use by employers, your chances of having a video interview are greater than ever before.  While this technology has provided the expected convenience and cost savings for companies, video conferencing for job interviews has been shown to have negative consequences for both the candidate and employer.  A study from McMaster University De Groote School of Business reported that job applicants are viewed as less likeable by interviewers,  and interviewers are seen as less competent by candidates, when this technology is used .

Willie Weisener, associate professor, Human Resources, at DeGroote, and co-author of the study says, "These findings suggest that using video conferencing can adversely affect both applicant reactions and interviewer judgments.  Video conferencing places technological barriers between applicants and interviewers."   Consequently, the researchers recommend that video conferencing be used only for preliminary screening interviews.

So what do you do if you have a Skype interview with a potential employer?  How can you minimize the negative effect of that technological barrier?

First, remember that a Skype interview is still an interview.  Prepare for a Skype interview the same way you would prepare for an interview conducted in-person:

  • Research the organization, the job and the interviewer.
  • Prepare to answer typical interview questions and prepare questions to ask.
  • Analyze the job description so you can speak to how your skills and experience are a good match. For example, if the job requirements mention criteria like "organizational skills" or "collaboration with team members", be ready to give examples of how you have demonstrated these behaviors in the past.
  • Practice aloud the answers to interview questions as you would for any interview.

Then review these ten additional tips to help you prepare and overcome the technological barrier that the Skype interview presents:

  1. Create a professional Skype profile.  The first thing the interviewer will see is your Skype username and picture.

  2. Be sure your technology is working perfectly. Check the audio to be sure you can hear and be heard. Close other windows and programs on your computer.

  3. Secure a quiet private space where you'll have no interruptions and be sure your surroundings are neutral. Remove anything distracting behind you so you will be the focal point.

  4. Test the lightening in the room to ensure it doesn't appear harsh or cast a shadow on your face.

  5. Do a Skype run through with a friend who will be able to give you feedback about both technical and presentation issues.

  6.  Dress professionally as you would for an in-person interview.  It's expected, even if you feel awkward all dressed up and talking to a computer.   

  7. Look at the camera not at the screen image or you will be looking away from your interviewer.                                                                                                                                                                         

  8. Position yourself correctly so that your screen image is of your face and upper shoulders.  

  9. If you find the small image of yourself on screen distracting, cover it with a post-it note.

  10. Watch your body language: sit up straight and remember to smile appropriately to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest. 

For more information about interviewing and a list of typical questions, check out the CEC's Prepare to Interview webpage.  Then get ready for your close up by viewing this TIME video, How to Ace a Job Interview on Skype

 

 

 

Photo compliments of usatodayeducate.com

 

 

 

 

When you first matriculate as a college student you are usually somewhere between the ages of 17 and 19 years old. These years are defined by exploration and growth, a growing knowledge of yourself and the world of opportunities around you.

When you graduate -- in most cases, we hope, four years later -- you're in your early twenties. And that's what The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of them Now, is all about. Slate.com said of the book: "Any recent college grad. . .dazed by the freedom of post-collegiate existence should consider it required reading."

The author's view  

The author, Meg Jay, is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Virginia. She also has a private practice and focuses her practice, research, and writing on adult development and twentysomethings.


Meg Jay-author.jpgJay sees several trends for today's twentysomethings -- entry-level jobs going overseas; many out of work, working part-time, or underemployed; earnings lower than those of the previous generation; debt racked up in the college years; many moving back home.

But, Jay says, despite these and other pressures on this age group, the twenties are the critical foundational period for one's later adult life. "With about 80 percent of life's most significant events taking place by age thirty-five," she writes, "as thirtysomethings and beyond we largely either continue with, or correct for, the moves we made during our twentysomething years."

In separate sections titled "Work," "Love," and "The Brain and the Body" the author addresses the critical tasks facing individuals in their twenties, deftly interwoven with actual case studies of clients from her practice that resonate with authenticity.    

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Identity capital

The author also introduces a new concept in her section on work: identity capital, which she defines as follows:
 
"Identity capital is our collection of personal assets. It is the repertoire of individual resources we assemble over time. These are the investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are. Some identity capital goes on a resume, such as degrees, jobs, test scores, and clubs. Other identity capital is more personal, such as how we speak, where we are from, how we solve problems, how we look. Identity capital is how we build ourselves -- bit by bit, over time. Most important, identity capital is what we bring to the adult marketplace. It is the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships and other things we want."  

For Jay, identity capital is largely positive, a way to value one's attributes and experiences and look at them as the glass half full, not empty, and as a platform for moving forward.

Implications for college students 

The twenties will always be a time of further exploration, of trying on occupational and personal roles and relationships, of learning more about oneself and one's place in the world. 

You can perceive the twenties as a time of continued learning in a real-world setting, a setting that your years in college have prepared you for. The variety of experiences you have had both in and out of the classroom have supplied you with your own identity capital, to review, assess, and present to the world as you take your own next steps.

For more information

This is just a brief glimpse into Jay's work, a well-researched, well-written, and compelling case for continuing to explore and move forward with one's life, not to wait, during one's twenties. For Jay, thirty is definitely not the new twenty - far from it, as her book makes abundantly clear.    

To learn more about The Defining Decade (now available in paperback) and author Jay and her work, visit her website. You can also screen her 15 min. TED talk, "Why 30 is Not the New 20." 

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It's an exciting time with graduation approaching, but don't forget to set aside some time to start gearing up for your job search! You will soon encounter many challenges as you begin seeking job opportunities and there's so much to be mindful of---your strategy, networking, resume, interviewing, leads, and an elevator speech, the list goes on and on!  It can be a difficult road to travel alone, so why not get resourceful and find a job search buddy to make the process a little easier? 

Why a job search buddy?  The benefits are many:    

  •  Built in accountability.  Someone who will check in regularly to report out on progress, help set goals and plan action steps.  
  •  New perspectives and ideas.  Put your heads together to solve problems that come up. Brainstorm and evaluate possible solutions to create a plan of action. Use your buddy as a sounding  board. They won't hand you solutions to your challenges, but a buddy can broaden your thinking.
  •  Spotting new opportunities.  Keep each other in mind as you make new discoveries and meet new people. Share any opportunities you uncover.
  •  Support!  Just being connected with someone who cares about your progress, shares in your successes, listens to you vent, and gets you moving again when you are stuck, can make the  job hunting process so much easier 

 Tips on structuring a buddy system relationship to help you reach your goals:  

  • Set up regular check-in times in person, by phone or email, perhaps on a weekly basis.
  • Define a set length of time to converse, such as half an hour. 
  • Always commit to next steps by documenting what you and your buddy will accomplish before your next meeting. 
  • Keep the relationship reciprocal. When collaborating, make sure each of you gets a similar amount of time. 

In the shortrun, it is very likely that pairing up with a buddy will make the job search seem more manageable and in the longrun actually result in a more focused effective job campaign.

For additions resources and services to assist with seeking employment, review Manage Your Job Search in the CEC Career Toolkit, and set an appointment with a career coach.

Those mighty ducks

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"What's with all the ducks?" a student recently asked. 

If you've ever visited the Career Education Center, you too may have wondered about the rubber ducks that are displayed throughout the office suite.   A rather large Mama Duck, surrounded by baby ducks, is perched on a front desk between a sign urging students to like us on Facebook and a plastic "Career Toolkit" filed with toy tools representing career tools (resume, interviewing etc.) .  Ducks of various sizes, colors and costumes nest in every office.   In my office alone, fifteen rubber career ducks,  firefighter, nurse, chef, teacher, athlete, rock star, doctor - to name a few - roost atop the bookcase.  A holiday snowman duck, a gift from a first year student, recently joined the crew, so the collection continues to grow.
 
And the CEC adds to this proliferation of ducks on campus by giving them away to students.  First years who attended our resume workshops received rubber ducks emblazoned with the CEC website address.  Seniors who take our Humanities 370 class get ducks dressed in graduation gear when they finish the course.  Students who participated in a recent career workshop got "lucky ducks".  So... what's with all the ducks?

The ducks are the CEC's way of reminding students to "Get your ducks in a row."   When we use that expression, an American idiom that means get organized and prepared,  we're urging students to do the things they need to do to be ready to take the next step - whatever that step may be.  For example, if you are wondering what you can do with your major career-wise, you first assess your values, interests, personal preferences and skills, and then explore possible career directions that are a good fit before you make a decision.  If you have a job interview, you first research the organization, prepare answers to interview questions and then practice what to say aloud before you go on an interview.  You get the idea - Wherever you are in the process and whatever your career goals, it's best to get organized and be prepared.

It's January, the first month of a new year and the perfect time to get all your ducks in a row!

 

 

Photo: Courtesy of mapleridgeblog.com

 

New year, new you

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After a good long Winter Break we welcome everyone back to campus and the start of a new year! And while you you were on break, how many of you (be honest) made resolutions for the New Year?

Whether you made them or not, New Year's resolutions are about making improvements in your life. For college students, among those areas needing attention should be your own professional development. Did you think about it over the break, even in the back of your mind, in between enjoying times with your family and friends, schussing down the ski slope, or just catching up on sleep? Or maybe someone in the family gently (or not so gently) suggested that this is an area you might want to spend some time thinking about?  

Well, now you're back and classes are in full swing, but it's also time to put these resolutions into action. To help prime the pump, here are some possible career resolutions to get you going:

  • Seniors - if you don't have one yet, you should think about making a job search plan so you have things moving before Commencement rolls around. Have you thought about how you might reach out to your network and which industries and occupations you are going to research? And if so, is your resume up-to-date and in good shape? Do you know how to make an elevator pitch and conduct an informational interview? Do you know how to dress and present yourself professionally? Or maybe you've been thinking about graduate school. If so, have you registered for the necessary testing dates? Have you researched school options and do you know when the applications are due? Have you spoken with your academic advisor about any of this?
  • Juniors - have you done an internship yet? Over 80% of Simmons students engage in experiential (ie, workplace-based) education during their undergrad years, often as upperclassmen. The CEC recommends you do more than one internship if possible, whether in-semester and for credit, over the summer, or both. When it comes to graduation and full-time jobs, employers prize workplace experience highly. Plus the more time you spend in the workplace the more you will learn about yourself and your interests.
  • Sophomores - if you haven't declared your major yet this is a great time to zero in on the options. Talk to your advisor, to students you know in majors of interest to you, and check out the course lists in those majors and ask yourself what gets you excited. You should also check out "What Can I Do With This Major?" here on the CEC site as well as the Beatley Library Career Guides by Discipline for each major. If you've already selected your major, see if you can line up a summer job or internship that is in an area of interest and might further your career goals.   
  • First-years - with the first semester under your belt, you're no longer a newbie - congrats! As you enter your second semester and begin to look ahead a little bit, consider the types of co-curricular activities you'd like to get involved in during your time at Simmons. They're not just fun and a welcome diversion from your coursework. They also help develop different types of skills, including leadership skills, that employers value highly. You can also think about summer jobs and possible majors if you are undeclared (see "Sophomores").

Whatever class you are in and wherever you are in the career process, Step 1 is: Don't Panic! The CEC has a wealth of resources to support and guide you along the way, starting right here on the website. A good starting point is the UNDERGRADUATES section of the site, with its "Career Toolkit" and access to much more content and additional resources.

As always, if you're not certain about the next steps to take you can come in and meet with a career coach to get things rolling. 

So why not keep that New Year's resolution to yourself to "Get on top of my career stuff"? Take the first step and you're already on your way in the new year to a new you.





Photo: Courtesy of Education Connection