Living Proof…that finding a co-op is not impossible

frustrated student head down

This guest post was written by Samantha Palmer, a 3rd biology student who just completed her first co-op at the cosmetic company, Living Proof, Inc.

Finals were approaching and anxiety of acquiring my first co-op job was growing. It was mid-December, and I was distracted by the consuming thought of not receiving a co-op offer. Checking my emails became an obsession and every email I received unrelated to co-op was a bothersome. Even more upsetting was that no one had told me getting a co-op could be this difficult, it seemed as if they were just handed to you. Sure, I had a few interviews, all of which I thought went rather well. It’s just that I applied to SO many jobs that I thought at least one would work out. I had good grades, and I aced my co-op class…why on earth had I still not received an offer? While many students had already accepted jobs, I did have a few friends in the same position as me. We were all a bit confused and frustrated, forced to register for classes the following semester.

As a Biology major I applied to many positions, mostly in research labs. Clinical opportunities were usually limited to health science majors. I would have loved a clinical experience, something I should have pushed for earlier in the co-op process. However, I did come to terms with myself that a lab experience would be beneficial for my studies, that is if I could get one.

I kept my thoughts positive while also accepting the possibility of being in classes next semester. Then one evening, I was having dinner with a few friends, one of which mentioned she was finishing up her chemical engineering co-op at a cosmetic company. It sounded cool and aligned with my interests. The idea of working with a science that is relevant to my feminine life was intriguing. She continued to tell me that she had sought out the position herself, and that they would definitely need someone to takeover for her. I was a little nervous since I was not a chemical engineering major, but why not try something new?

I ended up going in for an interview, learning about the position, and meeting the four members of the product development team. By the time I finished my last final, I had accepted the job offer and would officially begin working at Living Proof, Inc. for my first co-op. Looking back, it was as if all those other jobs didn’t work out for this very purpose. My experience at Living Proof was everything I could have asked for and more. I consider myself lucky to have had such an amazing opportunity.

Although I am not studying to be a chemical engineer, I gained great laboratory insight. As a science based hair product company, my main task consisted of batching. I followed recipes to produce shampoos, conditioners, styling products, hairsprays, etc. Overtime I became familiar with raw materials and how they contributed to each product. Sometimes I even got to take home a small sample of whatever I made that day. Batching was always satisfying because after a long day of measuring, mixing, heating, and cooling, you were left with a beautiful end product. Another fun task was tress work. This consisted of testing our hair products on hair strands to see how they performed, especially in relation to competitor products. Of course I also had to perform more tedious work. The stability of new possible formulas needed to be checked constantly. The color, odor, and consistency were measured to see how stable the product is over time. Keeping the lab clean is also important and a lot of my time was spent sanitizing equipment and organizing. My favorite part of my lab experience was helping with the actual formula for a new product. I got to test different raw materials and see how each performed in the salon. This was definitely frustrating, but now I can look forward to seeing a product on store shelves that I had a part in.

In addition to the lab experience, Living Proof has an awesome office environment. Due to the small size of the company, I sat among colleagues from various departments. I made friends in finance, marketing, and HR. We had an office kitchen where people could gather, and on Fridays the entire company came together for a group lunch. I got to see how the company ran as a whole, and it allowed me to make lifelong connections. Living Proof proved to be a place that had some of the smartest scientists, an amazing culture, and an exceptional learning environment. I looked forward to co-op every morning; my next one has a lot to live up to. What was my favorite part? I could say it was preparing for Jennifer Aniston’s visit, or the frequent product launch parties, or even the quiet, relaxing, lab atmosphere. However, every part of Living Proof seemed to make my experience worthwhile.

Make the job you want quoteThrough my first co-op process, I learned that acquiring a job or an internship is not just handed to you. You have to work hard for it. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and use whatever connections you have. Once you get where you want to be, it’s important to continue to make connections, even if you’re not looking for your next co-op or internship for another year or so.

Samantha is a 3rd year student at Northeastern, originally from NY. She’s seeking a bachelors degree in biology, with minors in psychology and business and plans to pursue a career within the medical field. 

How to Navigate Career Centers, LinkedIn and Recruiters

find job buttonYou’re preparing for your senior year of college and thinking about what’s next. What to do? How to start? It can begin to feel overwhelming quickly, but job searching doesn’t have to be a stressful process. Start thinking like a hiring manager, and save yourself a lot of time and energy. Here are a couple tips to jumpstart your search.

  1. Complete your professional resume and have it reviewed by minimum of 3 people including family, friends and Career Development personnel.
  2. Cross-check your paper resume and make certain it mirrors your LinkedIn profile. Yes, you should have a photo on your profile which can help to accelerate the pre-screening process. Don’t many of us view the hotel before we make a reservation or look-up the vacation rental photos before we confirm a week? Your photo should be a professional image that a Hiring Manager can view before they engage in communication.
  3. Google stalk yourself and clean up your collegial online history (i.e. Sorority Party)
  4. Register with a minimum of three staffing agencies. They are a great resource and can help you find a job. – Just do your research!

Work on that resume early. Career Development is a free resource and we strongly urge students to take advantage of this unfamiliar department and make it as familiar as the local pizza joint. This department is the first honest set of eyes that will critique your resume and help you begin your “job searching journey”. This department will provide you with opportunities to meet Hiring Managers who man the tables at career fairs which become future contacts that you can network with or may become clients. Additionally, by attending Alumni events you will be obtaining another group of future contacts to add to your “rolodex” which today is called LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a free networking tool. Every time you meet an alum or a Hiring Manager, immediately connect with them because they will be able to help you navigate complex industry roads, salary negotiations and offer tips on who to contact to learn more about open jobs. There’s a lot of free advice out there. Do not get frustrated, it’s FREE.

Additionally, we highly recommend “google-stalking” your own name and cleaning up your public profile (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, etc.) before you apply to any professional job. Try Googling yourself in a browser you don’t use (so that it doesn’t automatically sign you into your accounts) and see what pops up. What you see is what a recruiter will see; make sure it reflects what you want. It is perfectly fine to have “fun” photos of you “in the cloud” (i.e. family party), but an image or comment that may be judged or viewed as unprofessional, we recommend deleting.

There are many misconceptions about the recruiting industry also known as “headhunters”. The staffing industry is not a regulated business, so anyone can say they are a recruiter or a staffing firm which means it’s crucial as a job seeker you do your research on the agencies and make sure they’re legitimate. Take control of your job search and keep track of which agencies and which jobs you have applied to.

We’re confident if you take advantage of Career Development, get on LinkedIn, register with three agencies, and find 3 professional and expert recruiters your job search will be that much easier.

There’s a lot of different advice out there and when it’s free you absolutely should embrace it!

Image Source: www.resumeactivator.com

Deirdre Parlon is the founder and CEO of Black Oak Staffing Solutions. At B.O.S.S., Deirdre has 18 years of experience working in the staffing industry. She began her staffing career in 1996, immediately after graduating from NU. Her long career has honed the natural intuition she has for placing the right candidates in the right positions, and gives her clients and candidates the security of knowing that they are in the hands of an expert who has their best interests in mind.  Deirdre resides in Boston with her family. When she is not working or volunteering, she can usually be found golfing or spending her time with her husband, children and her large family of brothers and sisters.

Northeastern Career Services Ranked #1 by Princeton Review

No one hearted his co-op more than Spencer Small (left), who was hired by Amazon after an eight-month co-op stint there.

No one hearted his co-op more than Spencer Small (left), who was hired by Amazon after an eight-month co-op stint there.

All we can say is: Thank you, Huskies! The annual Princeton Review Col­lege Rank­ings came out Monday and ranked Northeastern Career Development #1 in the country for “Best Careers Services.” For seven con­sec­u­tive years we’ve been ranked in the top four in the U.S., including four years at No. 1! What makes this such an honor is that it is the students that determine the ranking.

While many grad­u­ates begin their pro­fes­sional careers after grad­u­a­tion, most Huskies start their first co-​​op sopho­more year and can have three pro­fes­sional expe­ri­ences under their belt by grad­u­a­tion. That said, it’s no sur­prise that 90 per­cent of them are working full time or in grad school within nine months after grad­u­a­tion. And 51 per­cent of our grad­u­ates receive a job offer from a pre­vious co-​​op employer.

To under­score a little fur­ther how valu­able the co-​​op expe­ri­ence is, 87 per­cent of those working full time after grad­u­a­tion are doing some­thing closely related to what they studied.

North­eastern is all about inte­grating class­room learning and real-​​world expe­ri­ence. And we pride our­selves on giving our stu­dents the help and resources they need to build suc­cessful careers and become global cit­i­zens. And it’s also nice to be recognized.

Call Me Maybe: 5 Phone Interview Strategies

Honey Boo Boo hates phone interviews image source: http://giphy.com/gifs/TFMoOxjnAAMbm

Honey Boo Boo hates phone interviews
image source: http://giphy.com/gifs/TFMoOxjnAAMbm

This guest post was written by Career Development intern and aspiring Career Counselor, Mike Ahern.

Phone interviews are becoming increasingly popular as hiring managers look for new ways to separate desirable candidates from the rest of the pack. Throughout multiple job searches as an undergraduate and graduate student I’ve relied on a few intentional strategies to carry my candidacy through to the second round. Here are 5 strategies to make sure you have a successful phone interview.

1. “Dress for the job you WANT …”

Just because the interviewer can’t see you, doesn’t mean you should take the call in your pajamas. Studies have shown that the type of clothing you wear can greatly impact how you perceive yourself in any given work space or environment. Putting on your business clothes will put you into a professional mindset and better prepare you for the interview. Wearing workplace attire can even correct posture, in turn altering how you sound over the phone. So take the extra time to pick out a professional outfit and dress for the job you want.

(Note: this doesn’t mean you should show up on your first day dressed as an astronaut…)

2. “Before anything else preparation is the key to success”

For any type of interview, whether over the phone, on Skype, or in person, you should be spending a significant amount of time preparing. A large part of efficiently preparing for a successful interview will be anticipating thetypes of questions you will be asked. Be prepared to answer a variety of questions and have answers with specific examples. Take notes on ruled paper or better yet, a personal favorite, utilize note cards. There’s no rule stating that you can’t have your note cards spread out around the desk while you are on the phone. Just be sure not to sound like a robot if you have to read off of them.

3. “Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing”

The phone interview can be a great opportunity to show your level of enthusiasm and knowledge about the position or the industry it is in. Be sure to take the initiative to research the company. How many employees does it have? How has it been performing? Are there any new programs or products the company/business/organization is releasing? Showing that you understand the trends and status of the company will show the hiring manager your level of understanding about the business and that can help push your application into the second round pile.

4. “The only stupid question is the question that is never asked.”

At the end of practically every interview the employer will ask if there are any questions you want to ask. Think of this as one more opportunity to leave a lasting impact. Ask about that new project you researched. Ask what skills the ideal candidate would have (I’ll personally use this one then try to tie my experiences to what the employer is looking for) Simply replying “No I don’t have any questions” doesn’t show a lot of enthusiasm and leads to a missed opportunity to wrap up the conversation in a meaningful way.

5. “Practice… We’re not talking about a game… we’re talking about Practice…”

You can increase your chances of having a great phone interview before you even pick up the phone; through practice. This can be one of the most over looked strategies for prepping for any kind of interview. Taking the time to sit with a friend and parse out possible questions you might encounter will get you in the right mindset. If you can’t find a willing participant to interview you, try utilizing a smartphone to record your answers to preselected questions. Play back the tape and notice how you respond. Do you say “um” a lot? Did a few of the questions make you pause and think? Consider practice as an invaluable strategy to increase your chances of sounding professional on the phone.

Overall these five strategies will help set you up for a successful phone interview. As always keep in mind that as a current undergraduate, graduate or alumnus you have innumerable resources at your fingertips, courtesy of the Northeastern University Career Development office.

Mike Ahern is a Career Development Intern at Northeastern University in Career Development. Currently he is pursuing a graduate degree in Higher Education in Student Affairs at Salem State University. Connect with Mike on LinkedIn or on Twitter @MIkeAAhern 

 

 

 

 

Why Networking is a Lot Like Dating: The First Date

 

Girl: "I like you" Boy: (after pushing her) "You smell like dog poo."

Girl: “I like you”
Boy: (after pushing her) “You smell like dog poo.”

Your phone buzzes, and yes, you got a response from that online dating inquiry. “Sweet, now what do I do?  Do I text back right away?  Maybe I should wait a few so I don’t seem too eager, wait, or maybe he/she will think I’m ignoring him/her?”

We have come to the most exhilarating and frightening part of our journey down the dating/networking path: the first date.

The first date, full of mystery and anxiety… luckily in the networking world, it’s a little more straight forward. Unlike dating, if the person you requested to informational interview writes you back, you should respond promptly. Keep in mind, they’re doing you a favor, limit the back and forth scheduling emails. If they suggest a time/place, try to accommodate them, if that time/place doesn’t work, suggest a couple alternatives. Do the work. I can speak from experience, it’s annoying going back and forth five times trying to schedule a meeting with somebody with whom you’ve never met.

“So this weather we’re having…” Getting ready.

You’ve set the time and location, now it’s time to get ready. It’s going to be slightly awkward, just accept it – they’ve already agreed to meet you, so you’ve got that going for you (you go Glen Coco).

"Uhh..." image source: http://giphy.com/gifs/5BmShfY6bqOvm

“Uhh…”
image source: http://giphy.com/gifs/5BmShfY6bqOvm

Let’s start with the conversation prep. It is essential that you prepare questions to ask. Again, they’re doing you a favor, so you need to go in there with multiple conversation starters. Similar to a date, we want to avoid as many awkward silences as possible. You always know that it was at least a decent date if you left having good conversation- the same goes for the initial informational interview. People, as a whole, love talking about themselves, so asking questions about their career path, their current position and what their success tips are is always a good way to start. It’s an easy way to break the ice and connect with them. Similar to a first date, you want them to like you and feel a connection (or dare I say, a spark), so that down the line they feel comfortable recommending you to their superiors and/or think of you when a job opens up. Feel free to answer their questions as well- this is a two way street, and you need not pretend you’re not looking for a position if asked, but NEVER ask them for a job- it’s rude and they may not be in a position to offer you one. Cue the super awkwardness.

Let’s talk about dress, baby.

First rule of thumb, whatever you do, don’t roll in to the meeting looking like a slob-ka-bob. First impressions matter. I once went on a date where the guy showed up in a baseball hat and gym shorts. Glad you cared enough to dress up.  Know your industry. If we go back to the Google example from last week, you probably don’t need to rock your designer suit, but looking like you care about the meeting and you put some effort into your appearance is important. If you’re info interviewing somebody that works in a profession where suits are commonplace- wear a suit.

Additional tid-bits.

These are the things you learn only through experience. One, don’t show up too early, but don’t show up late. If you are going to be late, send a quick email, just like you would send a text to your date.

Two, once you’ve hit the designated time marker, stop talking. If you asked for twenty minutes, but are having awesome conversation, stop at the twenty minute mark and say something along the lines of, “We’re just about at 20 minutes, I don’t want to take up much more of you’re time, I’m sure you’re really busy.” Let the employer determine if they can stay and chat longer.

Three, isn’t nice when get a lovely text message after your date that says something along the lines of, “hey, I had fun, let’s get together again soon”? Super sweet right? Same goes for after you have an informational interview- send a thank you email and let them know that you’ll keep them updated on your progress. We have samples on our site.

image source: http://giphy.com/

image source: http://giphy.com/

Finally, keep the goodbye as normal as possible. The dating world makes goodbyes uncomfortable and weird and I honestly believe that it has scarred our interactions with others. Ask for a business card, say “thank you for your time”, and finish off with a firm handshake. That is all.

Just like dating, some interviews will be good, and some will be eh. Being prepared and making a good impression will set you up for future success.

Do you like mind games? Because next week we’ll be discussing the Courtship.

What advice do you have for those conducting informational interviews? Are there any other parallels you can pull from going on a first date?

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.

When My Dream Job Wasn’t

Photo Source: idaamerica.org

Photo Source: idaamerica.org

This guest post was written by BU and NU alum, Lindsey Trione. She now works in Greek Life at Texas State University. 

When I was looking for my first post-grad job I interviewed a lot…I mean a whole lot. I was applying to anything and everything that was close to what I wanted to do. I wasn’t picky about the size of the organization, the location, or even the living arrangements (in my field sometimes you get an apartment as part of your compensation). I just wanted a job.

Then along came my dream job. It was doing EXACTLY what I wanted to do for an award winning organization located in a part of the country that I preferred. I knew other people who had worked there and saw all of the great things they were doing, things that I wanted to be doing, and the national recognition they were receiving for their efforts. When I mentioned the posting to my mentor she told me about how highly sought after this position was and how she interviewed there but didn’t get the job. Even my parents, who don’t really understand my field, knew that this was a job I absolutely had to apply for. As you can imagine, my mind was racing “How awesome would it be if I got this job?”, “What could this do for my career?” and “I’m totally going to nail this interview!”

Finally, I managed to calm myself down enough to fill out the application. After what felt like weeks of waiting with no results I finally received that golden email asking to set up a phone interview. This was it! I made it past the first cut! I was ruthless in my preparations for the phone interview. I did practice interviews with friends, asked for advice on how to be successful in a phone interview, I even spent my commute answering questions I posed myself as if I were being interviewed in my car!

The best part was, once the phone interview happened I totally nailed it! My phone call was with my potential supervisor and I really had a connection with him. We discussed his organizational goals, my career goals, and my thoughts on best practices while still managing to have what felt like a real conversation. I ended that call even more sure that this was the place I wanted to work.

When I was invited to an on-site interview I was beyond ecstatic, like jumping up and down screaming ecstatic. I was going to actually visit this great place and meet even more people, people who could potentially be my future co-workers. However once I got there for my interview things started to feel off, the great connection I had made over the phone was almost non-existent.

The day started with a group interview with the staff I would be working directly with. I remember being asked how I would have handled a “hypothetical” situation. In my response I spoke of the best practices that were discussed during my phone interview and how I would use them to handle the situation. When I finished my answer I was met with silence and instead of following up they just moved on. My interview with organizational stakeholders wasn’t much better, except instead of awkward silences I was met with awkward jokes that I had no clue how to respond to.  Overall, the entire day was uncomfortable.

Afterwards I tried to convince myself that I was just really nervous or maybe I put this place on a pedestal with unrealistic expectations. Was I reading too much into their responses, or in some instances, their lack of a response? Slowly I started to realize that it wasn’t because I was nervous, or had unrealistic expectations, it was because this organization wasn’t a good fit for me. I learned that the job search isn’t just about who can advance your career and give you networking opportunities, it’s about where you feel like you can fit in. When I wasn’t offered the job I was actually relieved because I knew that I wasn’t going to accept the position if it were offered. I could no longer see myself working there, and those amazing opportunities I was looking forward to no longer seemed so amazing.

My search ended up lasting a lot longer than I thought it would and maybe that was because I became pickier about where I interviewed. When I did find my current position, I knew I had found the place that I fit in. I saw several people who took the first job offered to them and ended up leaving after less than a year; I’m happy to report that I’m not a part of that group. I love my job and I love my organization. Maybe it wasn’t what I had originally thought would be my dream job, but I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

Originally from North Carolina, Lindsey earned a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Administration from Boston University and a Master of Science in College Student Development and Counseling from Northeastern University. She found her dream job as a Greek Affairs Coordinator at Texas State University in sunny San Marcos, Texas. When she isn’t working with her students she can be found with her nose in a good book or playing with her dog Brett. Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LMTrione.

 

 

Strategies for Researching Companies

search picture

image source: www.eiu.edu

This guest post was written by Heather Fink, a Career Development intern and a graduate student in the College Student Development and Counseling program here at Northeastern. 

Conduct research to fill a need at a company, not just an open position!

Everyone knows that in this economy the job market is competitive. To stand out from other applicants, you should aim to fill a need at the company rather than just an open position. Conducting research allows you to present skills in your résumé and cover letter that meet the unique needs of the company. Research also allows you to tailor your answers in the interview to how your past experience relates to projects they are currently working on. The only way to figure out the needs of the company and what value you add is to conduct research!

The Company Website

Start your research with the company’s website. Usually there is an “About Us” section or a “News and Press” section providing information about recent accomplishments in the company. This section should also include a mission statement about the company’s goals that will help you understand the culture. This will also tell you about recent and future directions for the company.  You should also pay attention to the staff links such as “our team” or “our staff.” Once seeing a list of current staff, you can search for those employee’s on LinkedIn.

taken from Shaumt’s website.  http://www.shawmut.com/our_work/index.cfm

taken from Shawmut’s website. http://www.shawmut.com/our_work/index.cfm

LinkedIn Logo

Start by looking at profiles of current employees, especially someone with the same job title you are applying for. This will give you a sense of what the job will be like as well as skills desired by the employer.

When conducting your research you should also be assessing whether or not you would be a good fit at the company. LinkedIn can be used to see how long past employees have stayed, if there is a high turnover rate, there may be low employee satisfaction or budget issues. Furthermore, your supervisor can greatly impact your job satisfaction at a company. If you know the name of your potential supervisor, read their LinkedIn profile to learn about their past experience and recommendations prior colleagues have written about them.

google logoGoogle is a great tool to find information about a company. Googling the company name will likely present results about recent articles published, information about new products, recent advancements, presentations, trade shows and conferences. Utilizing the “News” tab will provide you with information about press releases from the company, financial analyst reports as well as other information.

Don’t forget you can combine research strategies; you can use Google to find people on LinkedIn!  If you Google the company name and the title of the position you are applying for, you may find the prior employee that worked at the company and read their profile to see what types of tasks were requested of her/ him.

Lastly, Google can be used to research a company’s competitors. If you type in the company name and then “competition” results may yield websites that provide a list of competitors. Search results from www.finance.yahoo.com, wikinvest.com,  www.hoover.com, and www.corporatewatch.com are all reputable websites for this information.

glassdoor logoGlassdoor is another website that job hunters often forget to utilize. The website can provide you with information about the company culture and potential interview questions. Smaller companies may not have as much information on this site as larger more well-known companies, but it can still be a great resource. The site includes information about the size of the company, the year it was founded, the industry, awards, information including recent news about the company, salary information, reviews about the company from prior/ current employees and even potential interview questions! Get access to this site via the Career Development website, but choosing Online Resources and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Now What?

What does the information you found tell you about the company? If there has been a lot of turnover in staff is that due to growth in the company or dissatisfaction of their employees? How does this company compare to their competitors? What are the challenges the company faces and how can you add value to decrease these challenges? Remember if you want to be a competitive job applicant it isn’t enough to just fill the spot, market yourself by sharing how you will add value beyond the average applicant. Demonstrating your understanding of the company’s needs shows your commitment to add value.

Heather Fink is a former Career Assistant at Northeastern Career Development with a passion for networking and empowering others.  She has worked at Northeastern Career Development for two years and has presented over 50 workshops. Currently she is pursuing her graduate degree in College Student Development Counseling. Follow Heather on Linkedin at www.linkedin.com/in/HeatherFink and Twitter @CareerCoachHF. 

Tell Me About Yourself… But Not Really

image source: cartoonstock.com

image source: cartoonstock.com

This post was written by Amy Stutius, Career Advisor at Northeastern University Career Development.

In everyday life, if someone asks you to tell them about yourself, it’s usually because they want to get to know you as a person and learn about your interests, hobbies, and passions.  So if I asked you to “tell me about yourself,” what would you want to say?  Would you tell me that you grew up in California, love to surf, like cookie dough ice cream, and just came back from a family trip to Paris?  That would all be pretty interesting, and a good conversation starter if I asked you that question while we were waiting for a treadmill to open up at the Marino Center, or if we were taking a break from studying for finals.  But what if you were coming in to interview with me for a co-op, internship, or a job that you really wanted?

You response might help me realize what a fun and unique person you are, and that maybe we’d have something in common as friends, but it wouldn’t tell me anything about why I should hire you, and why you’d be a better fit for the job over any of the other candidates I’m interviewing.  Remember, you’re out there trying to compete for, and secure, a great job and the way to do that is to market yourself, not as a terrific and friendly person with an interesting childhood and hobbies, but as a terrific and friendly person who can do this job better than any of the other candidates waiting in the wings!

So how do you master your answer to this question or some variance of it?  Think it through and then PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.  You’ll need to answer this question in some form during your interview, whether the interviewer comes out and asks you to “tell me about yourself,” or if they say “what brings you in here today.”  Even if they don’t ask you the question that directly, it’s great for you to try to weave your proposed answer somewhere into the interview because the whole point of the answer is to clearly and articulately relay a bit about your background and experience, and why that makes you a good fit for this position and this company.

back to the future poster

image source: meansheets.com

When you’re thinking through your response, I like to take the “Back to the Future” approach (part 1, that is). You want to start in the present, then travel to the past, and then head back to the present and into the future.

So by starting in the present, you’re going to be talking about your current status, namely, your class year, and major, and anything else relevant that’s going on right now.  Next you’ll travel with your interviewer to the past, where you’ll share a few RELEVANT snapshots of some experiences you’ve had that tie in well to the job you’re interviewing for.  These could be co-ops you’ve done, academic projects you’ve worked on, and/or any research you’ve completed.  After you discuss those all-important RELEVANT experiences, you want to travel with your interviewer back to the present and start heading into the future, meaning that you’re going to very briefly find a way to explain how, through those experiences and your coursework, you’ve developed the necessary skills to make a strong contribution in this position, which especially interests you because….[and here’s where you fill in exactly why you’re so very interested in this position at this company!]

Sound good?  So next time someone asks you to “tell me about yourself” in an interview, remember that they’re looking for you to tell them about yourself in a way that’s relevant to, and focused on, why you’re a great fit for the position and the company.  Save any cute childhood stories and discussion of your favorite ice cream flavors for some friendly banter once you get the job!

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.

Networking Never Stops. Ever.

source: gregbekkers.wordpress.com memegenerator.net

source: gregbekkers.wordpress.com
memegenerator.net

This guest post was written by Sheila Taylor, a Northeastern University Career Development intern.

net·work·ing noun

:  the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically :  the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business

Most of us associate networking with finding a job. While you’re actively seeking employment, you’re busy forging relationships with people who may help you land that dream job. Networking is about meeting and talking with people. By creating a relationship during the conversation, you will be able to ask, “Who do you think I should talk to next?”

What if I were to tell you that networking shouldn’t end when you find a job? Would you groan in dismay, or would you jump up and say, “Yeah!” to continue building relationships?

For many people, networking is work. It’s a fine art form that you develop over time. Everyone must refine their skills to reflect their style. For some people, they can walk into a crowded room and instantly connect with strangers. For others, it takes practice to find the right conversation starter and to have the confidence to introduce themselves to an industry leader.

After many years in the work force, three careers and an international move, I want to remind you not to abandon that network you diligently built while job hunting! Did you meet some fascinating, fun people along the way? Would you like to have a reason to stay connected? It’s important to continue to cultivate those relationships for business. You never know when you may need them!

Here are some strategies for continuing to network after you have found employment:

First of all, thank the people in your network that led you to where you are now, especially the people that helped you during your active job search. Then, let them know where you are working and how they can reach you. Send them your v-card. Update your LinkedIn profile. Who knows, maybe you can return the favor and give them some valuable information some day.

Are there some interesting people that you connected with? Were they easy to talk to? Did they seem open to answering your questions? Consider building a base of mentors. Some of the people you met through your information interviews or while attending professional association meetings may be willing to fill this role. Why seek out mentors? Early on in your career there may be projects that your supervisor assigns to you that could seem daunting but you don’t want to disappoint them or appear unfit to take on the challenge. Here is where a mentor comes in: they may give you some advice on where to start or how to face the challenge. They may be able to help you brainstorm or problem-solve to come up with a solution to a problem.

I sought out mentors when I landed my second job. Some elements of my job were very new to me – such as conducting interviews with national media outlets. I was alone. None of my work colleagues had experience in this role – they were all happy to push me in front of the microphone! I turned to a few people that I had met at a professional workshop. I called them and asked them for advice. They became my informal “committee of advisors” cheering me on from the sidelines and supporting me during a stressful time.

You may find mentors or advisors in the most unlikely places. I recall participating in a committee for a corporate-wide project. Whenever I presented material to the committee there was one colleague that always challenged my work. At first I was offended and then I realized they took interest in my work and they wanted me to succeed. After the project ended, I sought out this person from time-to-time because I knew they would give me a different perspective.  I have also met people through groups on LinkedIn. I have participated in group discussions and have found that a particular person provides good advice or resources. I will connect with that person and turn it into an opportunity to meet and strengthen the connection.

Networking can also help you grow as a person. Maybe you’ve been in your job for a couple of years and you want to expand your skills – use your network to research how to try out these skills in other ways: through volunteering or getting active in a professional association.

Finally, networking is a little bit like being a gardener. You have to continue to nourish and feed your contacts to keep your network alive. Share information with colleagues. Show interest in what your contacts are doing. Find out about industry trends. Grow your network. Who knows when it may be time for you to look for another job? If your network is active, you can hit the ground running and cut down on the time spent searching for your next opportunity. Better yet, your network may seek you out for a job that is never advertised.

Sheila Taylor worked in the Career Development office as an intern and recently left to move back to Canada. She has worked in both the United States and Canada in Public Relations before transitioning to become a Career Counselor. 

Kelly’s Top 10 Resume Don’ts

Maury Povich knows you're lying. Image source: makeameme.org

Maury Povich knows you’re lying.
Image source: makeameme.org

As a career counselor, I see a lot of resumes. They range anywhere from the absolutely atrocious to the epitome of formatting perfection. Crafting a resume is a daunting task for almost everyone I meet with (cover letters as well, but that’s a whole different ball game).

I’ve compiled a list of my top resume “don’ts” based on all my client conversations. Let’s just call this the resume format version; I’ll put out the 2.0 version on resume content at a later date. You may disagree with some and that’s okay- one of the hardest things about resumes is that every recruiter/counselor is going to have their own opinion. These are just mine.

Kelly’s Top 10 Resume Don’ts:

10. Don’t use a bunch of different fonts. The average hiring manager spends about 10 seconds (if you’re lucky) looking at a resume before deciding whether or not they’re going to put it into the “possible candidate pile”. Don’t make the recruiter think you’re scattered and disorganized before they’ve even started reading it by having too many fonts messing with their eyes. If you need to have more than one font- limit it to two, one for the headings and one for the content. Similarly…

9. Don’t use a bunch of font sizes. In regards to size, your name should be the only thing larger than 12 point font. If you MUST make your headings a larger size, keep it very slight- I’m talking one or two font points larger than the rest of your document.

8. Don’t get crazy with the font styles. Nobody likes Comic Sans- seriously, nobody. Other fonts to avoid: Chiller, Broadway, Curlz and any font that looks like you hired a cheap calligrapher to write your resume. Stick with any standard font that will work across systems. There’s nothing more annoying than when I open up a resume done on a Mac and its some weird font on my PC. Safe fonts include: Calibri, Ariel, Times New Roman (I personally hate this font, but it’s acceptable), Georgia, and Garamond. Just use common sense, if the font looks like that font your 3rd grade teacher used on a flyer for the school play- change it.

7. Don’t leave tons of blank space. In other words, balance out your page. I personally suggest tabbing your dates over to the right side of the page in line with your job title because most of your content will begin on the left. Know that you can have margins as small as .5 inches around your page to give you more space. Career Development has resume samples you can model your resume after- as does your co-op advisor.

6. Don’t use color (unless it is appropriate for your industry). I applaud your attempt to try something new and stand out, but unless you’re a designer, you’re probably not equipped with the correct eye for these things. Know your industry, if you’re a graphic designer, your resume should have color and showcase your “brand” and design talents; if you’re an accountant- not so much.  

5. Don’t list “references available upon request”. If you get to this part of the interview process they’re going to ask you for references regardless of whether or not your resume says this at the bottom. Don’t waste the space.

4. Don’t waste space. If you’re just starting out, your resume will be short and that’s okay. Take advantage of styling it so it looks relatively full (maybe a 12 point Ariel font, 1 inch margins, etc.).

If you’ve been in business a while, one page is still the standard- especially if you just graduated. If you have a master’s degree, I’ll let you slide with two pages. Remember that space is a valuable commodity; ask yourself with each section and bullet point- ‘What skill or qualification am I trying to convey with this?’ If you can’t answer that question, the section/bullet is just taking up space: DELETE.

3. Don’t list every course you’ve ever taken. That’s great you took College Writing and Algebra I, so did everyone else in college in America. Don’t waste the space on something that’s not adding value to your resume- especially when it’s at the top listed with your education (or should be if you’re a recent graduate or new professional).

List courses that are relevant to your industry and make your stand out. Also, remember you can be asked about anything you list on that resume, so be prepared to talk about that History of Rock class if you’re going to list it.

2. Don’t make spelling or grammatical errors. I, for one, am NOT detail oriented, but when I’m looking over a resume, all of a sudden, I have an eagle eye. This resume is a reflection of your attention to detail. If you don’t care enough to make sure the resume is written well, than you probably don’t care that much about the position. Even if that’s not true, that’s what the employer is thinking. Plus, it just gives them a reason to throw your resume out, especially if they have 500 to go through and they have to narrow it down to 10. My rule of thumb: always have 3 people read it over- just for that reason.

Drum roll please… my top resume Don’t:

1. Don’t lie. No, seriously, don’t lie. Misrepresenting yourself reflects poorly on you as a professional, but also as a person (oh and the school too). Also, why are you trying to tell people you can do something that you can’t do? Once you get hired (if you even get that far) it’s not like you’ll magically develop the skill. You’ll have to eventually confess that you were lying, or more likely, they’ll figure it out first and you’ll get fired.

Like all humans, hiring managers respect honestly and integrity. If there is a skill they’re looking for and you sort of have it- list it as ‘basic knowledge’ or ‘working knowledge’ on your resume. If you’re asked about it during an interview, you can explain what you know, how you’ve applied that skill, and also what you’ve been doing in the meantime to develop it as you know it’s required for the position.

Bonus:

Don’t list your high school after you’ve done a co-op (or once you’re in your third year). Unless you went to an elite high school that you think will give you some pull wherever you’re applying, it’s most likely not adding any value to your resume at this point. If you’re a freshman or sophomore, high school is still generally OK.

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.