Think Critically About Job Applications

Applying to jobs doesn’t mean finding a cool company name and just sending in your resume. That might be a good way to get your foot in the door, but actually reading the job description, listening to the full offer, and really getting into the interview can determine if the job is right for you.

Reading a job description sounds so simple. I’ve read hundreds of job descriptions on my current co-op search the past month or so. But reading them critically and focusing on what you will be doing is super important. Having had a few jobs previously, I find that I know what I want (and what I don’t want) when applying to jobs. Furthermore, if the job description is unclear, and you have an interview, ask at the interview! Just explain that you’d like to know more about the day-to-day activities of your potential job. This is what you might be doing for quite some time, so take that into thought! Use an interview to analyze the employer, the job, and the interviewer. As much as you are being interviewed, you are also interviewing the employer. Ask yourself: “Is this right for me?” and carry that thought throughout the interview.

When you receive a job offer, consider all aspects of it. From the benefits to the hours to the pay to the time commitment, all of it is 100% relevant. Honestly, I’ve turned down a job offer because it wasn’t what I wanted or needed that time. And I’ve accepted a job offer because of the benefits that came along with it (and of course, the job itself!). If you aren’t sure what something means, write it down and do some research. You aren’t the only one with these questions and delving into that offer is important.

5 Ways to Manage Job Search Stress

This post was written by Sabrina Woods.

You’ve been working towards this moment for a long time.

There were days you thought it would never come.  Now it’s almost here.  Graduation Day!

The mere idea of graduation brings up a wild combination of emotions. You are thrilled with the idea of no more papers, exams, or leading a 7-person group project. Your joy, however, might get interrupted as you think about exactly what type of job you want after graduation and the process of getting it.

For the tactical part of your job search you’ve got fantastic resources at hand ranging from the Northeaster Career Center to your own network that has come from co-op and classes.job search stress

Now let’s talk about how you can master or tame your job search stress levels as you juggle capstone projects with job interview prep. Here are 5 tips:

  1. Give yourself some breathing room

This phrase usually means to give yourself space in between activities, but at this time of year that might be impossible. So instead, give yourself a moment to actually breathe. Right now try taking 3 deep breaths, AND after you inhale, hold your breath for 5 to 10 seconds, before then exhaling slowly. The extra pause seems to deepen the effect and make you feel calmer. If you want to take it a bit further, consider downloading a meditation app or read How Meditation Changes the Brain and Body from the New York Times.

  1. Crank up the cardio

When we are feeling under stress, a good cardio workout can make a world of difference.  Check out the Mayo Clinic’s article, Get Moving to Manage Stress. You’ll learn how hitting the gym releases endorphins which are your brain’s feel good neurotransmitters. Exercise can also be “meditation in motion” pulling your thoughts away from your stressors and to what is happening in the here and now whether that be at the tennis court, pool or weight room.

  1. Small but committed

Set up and commit yourself to small goals either each day or each week. Think of your job search as a project for class. Break it into manageable pieces and celebrate small wins, such as that first customized cover letter for the consulting job. Get some additional inspiration about setting job search goals here.

  1. Check your “worry” level

Worry or anxiety at a low level can be good. It helps propel you into action. It can act as a motivator or catalyst. Worry at a heightened level, however, robs you of your energy. For more on how to tame those anxieties when they are getting the best of you, check out Face Your Fear, Free Your Energy.

  1. Positive affirmations

It might sound like a silly recommendation, but some people have really benefited (myself included) from developing these positive, future oriented statements. The idea here is to say things in a positive way, as if they have already happened. An example of a positive affirmation is “I have landed a job with a great team,” or it could be oriented towards some part of the job search process, “During interviews I am calm and deliver exceptional answers while building strong rapport”. From Psychology Today, you can also review, “5 Steps to Make Affirmations Work for You.”

While it’s true that the job search can be stressful, anytime we are facing the unknown this can be the case.  However, you’ve got a team of career counselors at Northeastern that are here to help. And it doesn’t take much to add in an extra workout, break the search into smaller bits and take a few deep breaths.

Want to learn more? Join us for this workshop:

Holistic Approaches to Your Job or Co-op Search

Thurs., March 17, 12:00-1:00pm, 12 Stearns

Details and Registration: here  Questions, contact Sabrina Woods, s.woods@neu.edu

Sabrina Woods is an Associate Director at Northeastern Career Development and also has a private practice as a Holistic Career / Life Coach & Linkedin Trainer.  She has been in this field for 15 years and is a Husky (BA in Business) plus has a Masters in Holistic Counseling from Salve Regina University in sunny Newport, RI.  When not working at NU, teaching Linkedin or talking about mindfulness practices, Sabrina loves to hike, bike and kayak.  For more about Sabrina, go to www.sabrina-woods.com.

Job Searching: Staying True to Your Values

This post was written by Michelle Dubow

Values. The core beliefs that drive every decision you make. This includes deciding on your next career opportunity – whether co-op, a full-time position post-graduation, graduate school, or another path on your vocational journey.

Many of us have been guilty of succumbing to the notion that a job offer is the ultimate goal (myself included). Here in Career Development, we support you through academic major choices, building your resume and cover letter, creating your professional brand through LinkedIn, searching and applying for jobs and continuing education, networking strategies, and mastering the interview that gets you an offer. But our role and your job DOES NOT STOP THERE!

When a company offers you a job, THEY have chosen YOU. To them, you fit into their organizational structure and would be an asset to the company. Congratulations! This is something to be very excited and proud about. But I encourage you to take a moment and think before jumping at the “yes.” Remember this: Job searching is a two-way street. THEY chose YOU and it is equally as important that YOU choose THEM as the professional organization to devote your time and energy into.

Why is this so important?

You spend the majority of your week working for or talking about the job that you hold. As an adult, it is often how you first identify around friends, family, and new connections. If you are working for an organization that makes you happy, your morale will be higher in all aspects of your life in and out of the office. I am a firm believer that you work to live, not the other way around. If you are not invested in the work that you are doing or the morals of the company you are employed by, it can easily drag you down and have you hopping from job to job before you expected to transition. Evaluating the company as a match before you accept the offer can help you achieve fulfillment in the long term – even if that means taking the risk to wait for a better offer.

How can you decide if it’s a professional match?

Take a hard look back at your values – we can help you with this through some self-assessment if you are having trouble realizing what is of utmost importance in this decision-making process. To start, you can ask yourself where you stand on:

  • Work conditions (change vs. stability in your position, autonomy vs. teamwork, flexibility vs. structure)
  • Purpose (ethical standpoint, helping others, role in society, importance of political/global issues such as diversity & inclusion, sustainability, etc.)
  • Lifestyle (work-life balance, friendship in the workplace, family-friendliness, importance of health and wellness)

Once you identify where you stand, you can see if the company aligns with your greatest values.

Where can you find a company’s values?

Uncovering this information starts when you begin researching a company before you apply, continues through the interview process, and is presented upon receiving your offer. A company’s website often shares its mission and values on its “About Us” section. You can also gain some great information by conducting informational interviews with employees at your company of interest that fall in your network – for example, Northeastern alumni who are or have been employed by this organization. If you are still unsure of the company values, you can incorporate a question about this at the conclusion of your formal interview.

Now that you understand yourself and the company a bit more, you are in a place to make an informed decision. I hope YOU are empowered to choose THEM. Job searching is a two-way street. Look both ways and you will be much happier making it to the other side.

Michelle DuBow is a Northeastern alum excited to be giving back to her fellow Huskies as a Career Advisor at NU. She has a passion for empowering students from academic major decisions through the job search, with great interest in multicultural counseling. Outside of work, she loves the performing arts and is always searching for a new adventure in her favorite city of Boston. Tweet her about this article at @CareerCoachNU