Why Your Online Personal Brand Matters

promote yourselfDuring my senior year at Northeastern, I interviewed for a Digital Marketing Specialist role at Staples Inc. For that interview, I brought a portfolio that contained screenshots of presentations and reports that I’ve done during my previous co-ops. In addition, I had also included a screenshot of my personal website and social activity on Twitter to prove my enthusiasm for the industry.The hiring manager said that my personal website and social media activities differentiated me from the competition and I was offered the position.

In a world where the job market is so saturated with college graduates, your online personal brand can really set yourself a part from the pack.

Since moving on from my role at Staples Inc, I am now responsible for educating a team of 30 people about why it’s important to establish a positive image online and how to use social media to talk to customers.The same best practices that I bestow on my team can also be leveraged by soon-to-be college graduates looking to get their resume in front of a busy employer.

Follow me on this Online Personal Branding Series where I share tips and tricks on how to build your personal brand and get noticed by employers online.

Here are 5 ways to prepare yourself for the journey – 

1) Change your mind set – It all starts when we stop thinking about social media as a tool for personal bragging, complaining, and whining. Once we see the power of these channels and how it impacts our professional image, we’re then able to break bad habits such as tweeting about a negative experience, posting inappropriate pictures on Facebook, and neglecting your LinkedIn account.

2) Clean up your profiles – In a future a post, I’ll go in depth about the different ways you can use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to build your brand. For now, I would make sure all my privacy settings are set and that my future employer isn’t going to see my bikini photos from my vacation at the Bahamas. I would also go back and review any negative or insensitive tweets and clean those up as well.

3) Google yourself – It is a misconception to think that social media etiquette and branding matters to only people in business, marketing, or advertising. Your online brand matters the moment you hand someone a networking card and that person goes home to Google you. A Google search results page pulls information from social networks to help narrow down the results. The links to your social networks will most likely show up at the top.  Try it yourself! Make sure it’s something you’re proud of.

4) Determine your brand – What is it that you want to be known for online? Are you an aspiring journalist, blogger, writer? Are you a marketer who likes to practice Yoga on weekends? Are you a scientist who is passionate about sustainability? You want your brand to be something that represents who you are but at the same time you’re proud to show employers.

5) Focus – Between exams and extracurricular activities, college students are busy. If this is overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, I recommend starting with LinkedIn. Go sign up if you don’t have an account, add a picture, update your summary, and start connecting with your peers. LinkedIn is a great space to get noticed by recruiters but if you take advantage of participating in community groups and consistently be active on LinkedIn, you might get noticed sooner.

Haylee is an Alumna from the College of Arts, Media, and Design and a member of the Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority Inc, Northeastern Xi Chapter . She is currently a Marketing and Communications Manager at Ca Technologies, a social media personal branding coach, and a yogi residing in Medford, MA.  Contact her at hayleethikeo@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @hayleethikeo.

Look for Haylee’s posts every other Tuesday.

3 Things to Bring to a Career Fair

With the spring semester getting started and many seniors diving head first into job searches, career fairs can be an excellent resource for feedback and networking. Preparing for a day of talking to recruiters and professionals can boil down to what to bring with you on the Big Day.

  1. Your Resume — Bring several copies of your resume on nice, heavy-weight paper. And by several copies, I mean somewhere close to 10. You won’t hand your resume to every person you meet, but having them readily available for the companies you click with can get the ball rolling on potential employment. Before you go and hit print, make sure you’ve double-checked your resume to include the most up-to-date information and reviewed our resume writing guide.
  2. Note Pad and Pen — I’m a note taker. Everywhere I go, I’m jotting something down. At a career fair, you’ll find yourself in situations when you need to take down contact information or create a list of the companies you liked and why you liked them. Making lists of employers that interest you as well as why can help you after the career fair when you sit down to start researching and applying to positions.
  3. A Game Plan — Alright, I’m serious about this one. Before you even think about putting on your tie or heels, research the companies attending the event. Take that note pad and pen from above and make yourself a list of the companies you definitely want to talk to at the event along with a list of questions to ask each. When you head into the career fair, go from the bottom to the top of that list, that way you can shake off the jitters before stepping up to the booth of your top three employers!

Your best bet for keeping these items organized is a folio. Have it all set to go the night before in one convenient place can keep a lot of the stress and hassle to a minimum.

Looking for the next career fair or employer networking event? This Friday, January 27th come out to the Senior Career Conference. The Spring Career Fair will be held on Thursday, February 5th. See you there!

(Here’s a look at what the Fall 2014 Career Fair looked like!)

 

Taking Advantage of Serendipity

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Bangkok’s Wat Pho, Temple of the Reclining Buddha

The universe has a funny way of unraveling itself.

On the eve of my first organic chemistry exam this past September, I found myself in a familiar place: trapped in Snell Library scouring the Internet, desperate for stimulation. I was left numb from the repetitive and mechanic task of drawing benzene rings and their reactions. There were only so many that I could handle. I needed some down time.

Facebook was an obvious first choice. So, I wandered my News Feed, clicking on BuzzFeed links, reading endless lists of things I probably didn’t need to know, even for conversation’s sake. I flirted with the front page of Reddit, and then moved on to other news outlets, NPR, The New York Times, and Al Jeezera to name a few. This was the usual direction my Internet habits followed to kill some time; and almost as if by automatic action, I always was led back to Facebook. And on this particular night, I am certainly glad I was.

A friend of mine posted a status on her wall; she was in search of a travel companion on her way to an international co-op in China. I curiously, and somewhat jokingly commented “Knowing Chinese necessary?” to which I received a prompt reply, and a private inbox message to accompany it.

In the coming weeks, we exchanged information, key details, and a formulated a basic plan for the spring semester. I danced around the idea for quite sometime, unsure and uncertain about what types of experiences lay before us. Reluctant, but fueled by the prospect of travel and discovery, I began to research ways in which I could make this journey a reality. And, like any good explorer, I started off by first by consulting my mother.

Even through the phone, I was able to discern my mother’s hesitation in giving her consent to me as I pursued this co-op experience. Armed with information, statistics, and narratives from students, interns, and some expatriate friends, I was able to make a compelling case for what these next six months could mean for the future.

“It just makes sense,” I told her.

With the door now open to fully pursue working in China – I gathered everything I needed to make for a seamless process in orchestrating a self-developed co-op. In between classes, I even tried to learn Mandarin (I will emphasize – tried). In looking forward though, doubts began to creep into my head.

I went back to the drawing board.

Hungry for any sign of opportunity, I realized that Thailand was Lady Luck. Again, I assembled what I needed to ensure some solidarity while I would be abroad. I didn’t have any job prospects and was operating with very limited funding. What I did have though, was an incredibly vast support network in Thailand – family, friends, teammates, and strangers I hadn’t even met yet. I was motivated by an even stronger sense of curiosity – I would be able uncover my family’s heritage, learn forgotten cultures, and traditions all to bring back and share a story not only grounded in experience, but in self-discovery and growth. This was all I needed. I then initiated the search.

It was then when I truly appreciated what my friend had done in putting together the co-op that she had laid before us in China. It was a lot of work. The holes and hoops that she had to jump through were countless, never-ending. E-mails were sent to researchers a world away, applications were sent to organizations that probably never read them, or discarded them upon receipt. It felt like a hopeless endeavor. By November, I had contacted over sixty institutions, ranging from laboratories, English language schools, universities, and non-profits.

After the bouts of insomnia, spending hours writing cover letters, refining my CV, and preparing for interviews, three researchers finally gave me the green light.

That’s where this co-op begins – a Facebook post read during a long night of studying, a couple of messages, a phone call, and a little bit of self-reflection. Chance, luck, some preparation, and dedication to an idea all seemed to come together in symphony. A year ago, let alone six months ago, this opportunity was a pipe dream. Take advantage of serendipity – who knows where you could end up.

P.S. This post was inspired by the book, The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things In Motion, by John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison.

John Sirisuth picJohn is a 4th year health sciences student at The Bouvé College of Health Sciences. With a nose for exploration and travel, John will be writing from Southeast Asia about his experiences on co-op in Surin and Bangkok, Thailand. There, he’ll be volunteering in community clinics, in addition to conducting public health research at Chulalongkorn University. Follow his adventures on Instagram: johnsirisuth.

 

Make the Most of Your Last Semester

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I don’t know where the term “funemployed” came from, but it’s not a thing. Graduating, then realizing a month later that you can’t pay rent because, “having free time” translates loosely into, “I don’t have a job and I’m super unemployed” is not cute. Here are a few ways to make the most of your last semester of college:

  1. Make a target list: At the beginning of your last semester, make a master list of all of the companies you are interested in working for. Don’t get bogged down in curating the perfect list – just make a list of all of the companies that you heard good things about, that create products you like, or that have the company culture you’re looking for. This list might start off larger than you feel comfortable with – that’s okay. Just keep brainstorming.
  2. Narrow it down: Make a list of your top 5 to 10 companies. These are the targets for the next couple of months. Check their website for any openings. Make a note of these openings on your list.
  3. Start LinkedIn stalking: It’s time to start the networking leg work. Look for people in your network who work at your target companies. If you have a contact who already works at one of the companies you love, take them out for coffee. Don’t ask for a job – that’s tacky. Have a meaningful conversation, and send a quick follow-up thank you. If you talk to your contacts early and express interest in the company they work for, you will probably be at the front of their minds if a position opens up in the next couple of months.
  4. Talk to everyone: Talk to your professors. They can’t help you if they don’t know your goals. So go chat after class – go to office hours and talk about the industry and about their career trajectory. You will learn about your industry and make meaningful connections.
  5. Go to career fairs and conferences: If your university hosts a career fair or career events, GO. Just go. Do it. Talk to every company that interests you, get used to talking about yourself and your goals, and learn everything you can before you leave. All experience is good experience when it comes to getting a job.

Northeastern is hosting their annual Senior Career Conference on Friday, January 23rd from 12-5PM in the Curry Student Center. Don’t miss out!

On average, it takes a college grad at least 3 months to land a job. Don’t wait until May to have a post-grad unemployment freakout. Start early and get as much experience as you can before graduation.

How to Stay Organized and Maintain the Internship-Class Balance

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This guest post was written by Scarlett Ho, a third year International Affairs and Political Science major with a minor in Law and Public Policy.

At a time when the job market is tight, having multiple internships on your resume during your college life can give you a tremendous advantage post-graduation. If you are feeling ambitious, try challenging yourself in 2015 to take up a full course load and a part-time internship. Many people might feel intimidated by the seemingly overwhelming schedule, but don’t be! With good planning and motivation, anything can be achieved. During the fall of 2014, I took classes abroad in Belgium while interning at the European Parliament simultaneously. I can personally attest to how doable it is if you put your mind to it. The following tips should guide you along the way as you plan ahead for a new year:

Time Management:

It might be a cliché, but time management is essential if you want to ensure success. Before the start of a semester, always plan ahead with a daily and weekly schedule to divide your time between classes and the internship. I recommend dedicating big chunks of time for each to allow your mind to focus. When registering for classes, try  concentrating them in a few days, allowing 2-3 full-time days for your internship. If this is not possible, try classes in the morning and work in the afternoon, or vice versa. That way, your mind and you will not be wandering around every few hours or so.

Thinking the Big Picture: Prioritizing and Be Realistic

While it is important to do well in an internship, be realistic about your time and know what your ultimate goal is in college- to get good grades. The workload of your internship may vary, but at the end of the day you have to remember what is more important. A word of caution for those who are considering taking up an internship, is that you have to ask yourself if extra workload will not sacrifice your grades. Internships, particularly unpaid ones, are likely to be very flexible and accommodating to interns’ class schedules, so definitely take advantage of that and choose the right balance between classes and work. Many employers are also very generous and they allow interns to do homework or study if the office is not busy, scoop out what the office culture/schedule is like in interviews to get a sense of the intensity and how that fits into your studies.

A Good Work-Life Balance: Down Time

Health and fitness is key if you want to stay on top of your schedule. But relaxation is equally important to recharge your energy, and keep you in a positive mood. Classes and internships can be tough and demanding in their own ways, so be sure to give yourself a little treat, such as catching up with old friends, doing a sport you enjoy, reading a book to distress. Surround yourself with motivated and like-minded people who will always encourage you to keep on going. (Check out this link for more tips on self-care.)

Reflection

At the end of the day, an internship is a complement to your studies, which is a manifestation of what you study in classes and it should align with your academic/professional interest. When picking an internship, think of the classes you are taking that semester and do something related to that. That way, you can apply what you learn in classes in real life. The fact that the two reinforces each other as they are closely related will allow you to benefit from the best of both worlds.

Scarlett Ho is a third year International Affairs and Political Science major with a minor in Law and Public Policy. During fall 2014, she studied abroad in Belgium where she interned at the European Parliament. The summer prior to that, she interned for Senator Warren on Capitol Hill, and previously Congressman Lynch in Massachusetts. She can be reached at ho.sc@husky.neu.edu for any questions ranging from resume writing, job searching to her experiences.

Photo source: Jeff Sheldon, Unsplash.com

Mastering Moving to a New City

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This guest post was written by recent NU alum and frequent contributor, Kristina Swope.

Congratulations! You got a real job in a brand new city. Now what?

Moving to a new city is both the most riveting and terrifying experience I’ve ever had. I had just turned 22 and was fresh out of college in rural Pennsylvania. I was living at home, getting comfortable, and then it happened – I got a job in Center City Philadelphia.

First, I was ecstatic, because let’s be honest, I had a BA in Sociology and had no idea what to do with it. Then when the initial excitement wore off and I was alone with my thoughts, I started to have serious anxiety about the timing. I only had two weeks to move out of my college apartment, find a new apartment in an area I’d been to twice, move in and get settled enough to avoid being an emotional disaster my first day of work. I was overwhelmed and kept coming back to the same thought; am I doing this? Can I do this? Can I really move to Philly when I’ve never been in a building higher than 4 stories? Cue freak out and bring over the tub of ice cream.

Rather than sweets, what I really needed was perspective. This was an exciting life change and an amazing opportunity. I needed to stop being afraid of the next chapter, and the only way to do that was to prepare and embrace it.

In order to embrace the change, you need to prepare – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

  1. Research areas to live. You want to live somewhere safe but you don’t want to be isolated. Google has plenty of information on towns that include events and demographics that are key in the young professional search. It takes time to delve into stats but it’s definitely worth it. Also, Career Development has a great resource called USA Career Guides that provides with a wealth of information on every major city in the US. From cost of living to industry and employment trends it’s a great way to get acquainted with your new city before actually getting there. Access this resource through HuskyCareerLink.
  2. Choose an apartment that has public transportation within walking distance. I can’t stress this one enough. One of the scariest aspects of moving to a new city is having no idea where you’re going. Relying on public transportation relieves you of that stress and allows you to focus on the more important items, like settling in to your new job and apartment.
  3. Speaking of apartments – rent, don’t buy. Your first apartment will likely be strategically planned, based on convenience. Once you know the surrounding areas, you’ll find an area you like better. Renting gives you the freedom to move and create a home somewhere that you truly love.
  4. Check your networks. The age of social media is a beautiful thing. Facebook and LinkedIn were vital in my search for friends because of the search location functions. I found a number of people I knew that were living in the area and proceeded to cling to them like white on rice. A city is way less scary when you have familiar faces around.
  5. Locate stores for your key needs. Find your closest grocery store, bank, pharmacy, mall, Target, gym, etc. within a day or two of moving. The sooner you find them, the sooner you can get back into your routine and feel more comfortable in your new space.
  6. Plan to go out of your way to make friends. If I could do my first year out of school over again, I would try harder to meet others. Push yourself to go out more, do more with your hobbies, and join local groups. It’s easy to meet people when you’re engaging in activities you enjoy, and friends are worth turning off Netflix for!

Kristina is a full-time Market Research Project Manager in Philadelphia and a graduate of NU with a Master of Science in Organization and Corporate Communication, and a Leadership concentration. Check out her LinkedIn profile here.  

10 Mistakes Millennials Make in the Job Search (and how to avoid them)

whoopsThis was originally posted on LinkedIn November 24, 2014. Re-posted with permission from author and NU alumna Alexandra Anweiler Stephens. 

This month, two recruiters from two very different industries visited our staff meeting to share their insider perspectives on hiring millennials. Katie Maillet, campus recruiter at Waltham-based Constant Contact, and Veronica Thomas, vice president of talent acquisition for commercial programs at RBS Citizens, discussed strategies for recruiting new talent in the digital age – from using social media to increasing diversity – and how we can better prepare our students for success.

I wanted to share the takeaways from this discussion more broadly, so I’ve compiled a list of 10 common mistakes that millennials make during the recruiting process – and how they can be avoided.

1. You don’t follow directions. The job/internship application is your first opportunity to show a potential employer what you’re made of, so read the instructions carefully! Usually, employers will require a resume and cover letter, but other times you may be asked to complete a project, respond to short answer questions or make your way through another screening mechanism. Read the job description and the application requirements thoroughly to avoid getting weeded out in the first round.

2. You don’t do your research. Rule of thumb: If the answer to your question can be found on the About page of the company website, don’t ask it. Recruiters talk to applicants all day long about their company, open positions, and why it’s a great place to work. Make their lives easier – and show you’re a serious contender – by doing your homework on the company, role and field/industry ahead of time. The company’s website, social media accounts and Google alerts are great places to find interesting information you can reference in your interactions. If you are invited to interview, request the names of your interviewers in advance so you can look them up on LinkedIn – you might find you have a connection in common. Another lesser known resource is Glassdoor.com, a growing database of six million company reviews, salary reports, interview reviews and questions – all shared by current and former employees.

3. You don’t update your privacy settings on social media. Millennials have grown up with social media and remember when it was used for only social purposes. Those days are long gone, and employers are doing their research, too. Despite the many warnings out there, employers still see negative posts about former employers, photos of candidates with red solo cups, and other no-no’s. Think twice about what you post on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget about other searchable platforms like Instagram, Vine and YouTube. Then take a few minutes to look at them through the eyes of a potential employer and adjust your privacy settings accordingly.

4. Your email address / voicemail greeting is weird. Your email address itself is a part of your professional brand. Keep it professional by using your college email address or creating an account through Gmail with your first and last name. Though so much communication happens via email, don’t forget about the phone. Your voicemail is also an important part of your professional brand and as such you should treat it with care. In your greeting, clearly state your full name so that callers know they’ve reached the right person. It may go without saying, but ring-backs are a no-no (yes, some people are still using ring-backs). One recruiter suggested using Google Voice to customize and manage your phone number(s), voicemail greetings and messages.

5. You hand out your business card at a career fair. Resume? Yes. Business card? No. This isn’t the worst mistake in the world, but many recruiters don’t want your business card. It is small, it gets dropped, and it is redundant if they already have your resume. Hold on to your business cards for networking nights and other professional events where dishing out your resume isn’t appropriate.

6. You do phone screens on the go. We’re all busy – and millennials are the consummate multi-taskers – but the line needs to be drawn somewhere. If you conduct a phone screen with a recruiter as you’re walking to class, they can hear you huffing and puffing on the line. And it’s never okay to ask the recruiter to hold because you’re getting another call (yes, this has happened). Your interviewer is dedicating valuable time to evaluate your candidacy. Show respect and interest in the position by giving them your full attention. If your mobile connection can be spotty, use a landline to conduct your interview. Many career offices have interview rooms that you can reserve for this purpose.

7. You sell yourself short in interviews. Unfortunately, this is particularly true for females. Our recruiters reported that women have a tendency to use “we” when describing their accomplishments, and men tend to use “I.” While it is important to convey your ability to work as part of a team, it is even more important to understand and communicate your individual contributions, responsibilities and accomplishments. One recruiter even suggested leaving phrases like “contributed to” and “collaborated with” off your resume.

8. You treat your recruiter like your new BFF. A recruiter often communicates with a candidate throughout the recruiting process, from first meeting at the career fair to making the job/internship offer (if all goes according to plan). These communications may be frequent – especially if there are a series of interviews – and the recruiter may coach you on what to expect at different parts of the process. This doesn’t mean that you’re friends, or that your interactions can become more casual as time goes on. Our recruiters have found that millennials tend to use slang in email and over the phone as they become more familiar. Instead of fostering a stronger relationship, it can lead to the opposite. Always err on the side of professionalism.

9. You don’t ask for your interviewer’s business card. As mentioned above, recruiters may tell you about next steps in the process, and are often open to answering questions you may have along the way. But there is one question they don’t appreciate: “What was the name of the person who interviewed me?” This is a big no-no, and is most certainly avoidable. When the adrenaline is rushing, it’s easy to forget your interviewer’s name. The solution? Always ask for your interviewer’s business card. You’ll need their email address to send them a thank you, too.

10. You forget to say thank you. Saying thank you is a must after every interaction in the hiring process, but which is better: email or handwritten note? Our recruiters recommend sending both, and here’s why. Email is the most efficient means – it arrives instantly, doesn’t get lost in the mail, and is easily forwarded to hiring managers and other influencers. Send an email within 24 hours to thank the interviewer(s) for their time and confirm your continued interest in the position. Be sure to reference an interesting anecdote from your conversation, too. While it may seem obsolete, a handwritten note as a follow-up to your email can set you apart from the rest. Our recruiters said that handwritten cards show that a candidate has gone the extra mile, and also serve as a subtle reminder to follow up with the candidate. Mail a handwritten note about a week after your interview, and use it as an opportunity to remind the recruiter about your candidacy and reference a new piece of information, like a recent article you read about the company. Because they are few and far between, our recruiters said they save these notes and even show them off to colleagues. Who wouldn’t want that?

Alexandra Stephens is the associate director of alumni career programs and engagement at the Hiatt Career Center at Brandeis University. Prior to her transition into higher education, Alexandra worked in marketing and communications at Rosie’s Place and Constant Contact. She graduated summa cum laude from Northeastern University with a B.A. in Communication Studies.

Image Source: UT Austin Career Center Bits, 3 Big Career Mistakes Millennials Make 

Actually Talk to Your Relatives- And Other Things You Should Do On Break To Help Your Career

sit on the throne of liesWith finals quickly approaching and the semester wrapping up, everyone is looking forward to the relaxation of winter break and more immediately, the mini Thanksgiving break. But before you melt into a puddle on your family’s couch watching three weeks of Netflix, winter break is a good time to catch up on some career-boosting stuff that gets pushed to the wayside during the craziness of the school year.

Before you click the “X” box, don’t worry, nothing I’m listing below will take too much effort, but can still make an impact on your career.

1. Actually talk to your family members. Yes, Aunt Sally can be super annoying, but wait, doesn’t she work in finance or something? Before she has too much champagne, try to get some information out her. Us career counselors would call that, an informal informational interview. If you’re interested in the corporate world, she may have people she can connect you with but just never knew you were interested. If she’s a yapper, think of an escape plan ahead of time so you’re not cornered for two hours listening to her after dinner’s over.

2. Set up an informational interview. I know, you hate networking. But it is a rare occasion that you have as much free time and flexibility, so why not take advantage of it? You can tap your immediate network (friends, family, parents of friends) or use LinkedIn to find somebody working at a company of interest and send them a LinkedIn message/email to see if they wouldn’t mind meeting you for coffee or setting up a 15 minute phone call. You could get some valuable information from a pro that’s already in the field. Good questions to ask would include:

  • “Could you walk me through how you got to where you are?”
  • “What are the qualifications/skills your company looks for when hiring co-ops/new grads?”
  • “Could you provide me with some suggestions of how I could stand out as a candidate?”
  • Check out our informational interview guide for more questions.

Don’t forget to send a thank you note!

3. Volunteer or Job Shadow. If you have community service roots, this may be second nature, but volunteering is a great resume booster, even if it’s just for a day or two over break. If you’re going home for break, find out if there are any community organizations or shelters looking for short-term volunteers. Idealist is also a great what to find volunteer opportunities. Employers are looking for well-rounded candidates and volunteering can help you out in that department.

If you had a great conversation during an informational interview, ask them if you could job shadow over break. This will give you an inside look into what the day-to-day life of that professional is really like.

4. Speaking of resumes, update it! Did you just finish co-op? Add your experience to your resume before you return to class, get expectantly busy and then forget all the great things you did. If you’re getting ready to go on co-op, use this opportunity to update your LinkedIn profile. It is likely your new co-workers will be investigating who you are, so not a bad idea to put out the best version of yourself online. We have a LinkedIn guide to help you build your profile if you need a little guidance.

5. Start your job search. If you’re graduating in May, it is NOT too early to start job searching. We have a job search guide to help you get started, but a few things you could do over the break include familiarizing yourself with the basic job search boards (HuskyCareerLink, indeed.com, simplyhired.com), update your resume, LinkedIn, portfolio and/or other social media and develop a target list of organizations you’re interested in working for. Excel is great for developing the target list. You can track job titles, when you applied and anyone you know/have contacted at every organization on your list.

6. Apply to jobs. To answer the question I know you’re asking yourself, no, it’s not too early to apply to jobs, even if you’re not graduating until May (if you graduated in December, there is no time like the present!). Newsflash: the average fulltime job search takes anywhere between three and nine months. The good old days of the co-op schedule are gone and you are now at the mercy of the employers’ schedules and they are very unpredictable (check out Avoiding the Pitfalls of Online Job Applications too).

If you see a job you love, apply now, even if you’re graduating in May. The employer has your resume and can see when you’re graduating; if they’re still interested then they’ll call you. If you’re really concerned whether or not you should apply, don’t be afraid to call the company’s HR department and ask. You don’t have to give a name, they’ll never know.

So after you catch up on House of Cards and have watched enough SVU that “call a bus” is part of your everyday speech, try and take advantage of your time off. You’ll thank yourself come April.

Kelly Scott is Assistant Director of Career Development and Social Media Outreach at Northeastern University. A social media enthusiast and Gen Y, she enjoys writing about workplace culture and personal online branding. For more career insight, follow/tweet her at @kellydscott4.

Image Source: knowyourmeme.com

Turning Your Co-op Into Your First Job

TurningYourCo-op1Roughly 51% of Northeastern graduates secure jobs with a former co-op employer! Wouldn’t it be cool to land a job with a former co-op employer where you’ve already developed great relationships, know their business/products/services/clients, and have proven yourself to be a top performer?

On October 15 we hosted a terrific panel on “Turning Your Co-op Into Your First Job.”  We were lucky enough to get four panelists all of whom successfully turned a former co-op into their first job.  Our panelists gave a ton of helpful tips, which would be way too long for this blog, but we’ve condensed it down into four main topics we covered that you’ll want to take note of!

Being Strategic and Thinking of Your Co-op as a Building Block:

Many of our panelists were especially strategic about their co-op choices, starting at their first if not their second co-op, in terms of recognizing company names and the types of skills and experiences that would make them more marketable down the line and that they wanted to get on their resume as a building block.  Some also looked at which companies were most likely to hire co-op students for full-time work in making their selections.

Being Successful on Co-op to Get Noticed:

This was something that, not surprisingly, all of our panelists knew how to effectively navigate!  The main points that came out here were:  (i) getting to know people in the company by attending events so that enough people knew who you are, and in that same regard, working with a variety of people in your group so you have plenty of people to vouch for you; (ii) showing initiative and a willingness to do any assignment and to do so with enthusiasm; and, (iii) making sure to ask for feedback and to really work with that constructive feedback to improve your performance as you go along on the co-op.

Advocating for Yourself:

Our panelists also made sure to advocate for themselves when it came time to discuss a full-time position.  Because they made an effort to get to know people in their department and to solicit feedback along the way, they all knew that things were going well at the co-op and that their employer was pleased with their work by the time they approached the conversation, typically about mid-way through.  Some practiced the conversation in advance with a friend or a relative, but importantly, made sure to have this conversation so that their employer knew they were interested in a full-time role.  In fact, as they pointed out, sometimes employers start to view you as an employee (which is pretty flattering) and may lose track of the fact that you haven’t yet graduated, or may not remember exactly when you graduate or even realize that you’re interested in a full-time position with them.  The point being, you need to make sure you’re effectively advocating for yourself and letting people know what you’re hoping for, and not waiting to be approached.

Developing a Strong Network:

And finally, our panelists touted the importance of networking while on co-op, but also after you leave a co-op.  Having these relationships and staying in touch with people you used to work with, through periodic, friendly emails, is an important way to make sure that you have a network to tap into when it comes time to look for a full-time position, especially since it may be the first or second co-op employer that you want to try to go back to.

Amy Stutius is a Career Advisor at Northeastern University.  She practiced as an attorney before transitioning to higher education.  Email her at a.stutius@neu.edu.

The Little Things: How To Get The Details In Order Before You Apply

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The little things can make a big difference. Details can put you over the edge and move you from a “maybe” to a “yes” in the job application pool. Don’t let these things fall through the cracks when application time comes around.

Update your email signature. This is where you show how awesome and put-together you are. This should include your most important current positions and projects. Try something like:

Lindsey Sampson
Northeastern University | International Affairs & Social Entrepreneurship
IDEA: Northeastern University’s Venture Accelerator | Event Manager
Career Services | Social Media Intern
LinkedInTwitter

Be sure to include pertinent links, including your personal website, LinkedIn, or Twitter accounts.

Boost your LinkedIn. Make sure you have all of your current leadership positions. Don’t forget to update your headline and ask for a recommendation or two.

No voicemail message? Fix that. Ringback tones are not a thing anymore. Be sure to record a calm, clear outgoing message. Keep it simple:

You have reached (name). I can’t answer the phone right now, but please leave your name and number and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Short, sweet, and professional.

Check in with your references. If you asked a previous employee to be your reference three months ago, chances are good that they have moved on to other things and forgotten. Call or send a quick email to give them a heads up that you’re applying for jobs and they might be receiving a couple of call soon.

In the job application game, making a solid first impression is crucial. An early red flag can get you crossed off the list before you even interview. Keep yourself in the game by making sure you have the details taken care of.

Lindsey Sampson is a junior International Affairs major with minors in Social Entrepreneurship and Writing. She enjoys writing about Millennials in the workplace and social media as a marketing tool. Follow her blog here and tweet her @lindseygsampson.