Thursday, May 15, 2014

Questions to Help You Maximize Your Job Search

Are you in the middle of a job search?  While searching and applying for jobs, take some time to ask yourself these questions, designed to help you focus, re-energize and move your search forward.

·        Is your search organized?  It’s helpful to manage your search as you would any other project; breaking each task into manageable steps with action items, setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals, and regularly evaluating your activity and efforts.

·         Are you branded?  In simple terms, your brand is who you are and what you have to offer.  It’s the perception other people have of you compared with similar people.   Assess your skills, values, strengths and weaknesses, and determine what sets you apart from the competition.  Be sure your brand is consistent throughout all aspects of your search:  marketing materials, social media and interviews.  Research your targeted industry and field, and make sure your brand fits well and matches key positions.

·         Are your marketing materials complete?  Develop an advanced level resume - targeted to your specific field and each position - that accurately reflects your brand.  Include cover letters that match your qualifications to each specific job, provide appropriate supporting materials, including portfolios and samples of your work.  Today marketing materials also include LinkedIn and other social media, so be sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and highlights your accomplishments and qualifications – you want it to help sell you as the best candidate.

·         Speaking of social media, are you using LinkedIn fully?  Make sure your profile is 100% complete, with a professional (yes it’s important) photo, a keyword-rich summary, recommendations that support your goals, and regular activity status updates.  Join groups, and be active by starting and joining discussions to demonstrate your expertise.  Find recruiters for your industry, apply to posted jobs, and connect with RIT alumni in your targeted companies.  Check out the new University Alumni feature, which helps you locate alumni easily by location and industry.  Don’t forget Facebook and Twitter as well; Twitter has been described as “the new resume.” 

·         What are you doing to access the hidden job market?  This is the most important, and least utilized, step of the job search process, and provides the most return on investment for your time and energy.    Create a targeted list of companies, based on your self-assessment results and research of the industry.  Use resources to find contacts within those companies with whom you can connect.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding key company contacts, and the RIT Alumni Network will help you connect with RIT alumni in your targeted companies.  Professional associations are also a good resource for meeting people in your field, who can often lead you to company connections.

·         How do you present yourself?  Here’s another opportunity for honest self-assessment.  Have a positive attitude, with no outward negativity towards your situation or former employer.  Be enthusiastic, eager to learn and grow, confident, prepared, polished and professional.  Make sure your relevant skills are current (take classes or get training if needed), and that you’re technologically savvy.  If applicable, be ready to address questions related to your age and/or perceived overqualification – remember, value trumps everything, so know yours and be prepared to present it confidently!

Can we help?  Our office is available to assist with any aspect of your job search; call us at 585-475-2301 to schedule an appointment with your advisor, or email Kris Stehler.  Share your thoughts and suggestions below, and if you have a question you’d like addressed in our blog, let us know.

Friday, February 14, 2014

RIT Career Fair - Just Do It!

You may be one of the older attendees, you’ll have to fight the crowds and the weather, and parking is hard to find, but should you come to the RIT Career Fair as an alumnus/a?  Absolutely! 

 Benefits of attending the Career Fair include:
·         Potential job opportunities, either at the fair or future opportunities with companies to follow up on after the fair.
·         Connecting with targeted employers; establishing initial contact, and networking to find other company contact information for your specific field or desired job.
·         Networking, networking, networking – with targeted companies, with other companies, with other attendees; you never know who you will meet who might be able to help your search!

Tips for a successful fair experience:
·         Have realistic expectations; don’t expect to come away with a job, but try to gain information on the companies, and the right contacts for you to follow up.
·         Prepare your 60-second commercial (elevator speech) – your introduction that demonstrates your brand and career goals, and emphasizes why you’re a perfect candidate for this company.
·         Bring your professional (and reviewed) resume, and other marketing materials appropriate for your field.   Business cards are a great addition; you can even jot a quick thank you note and attach your business card and another copy of your resume, circle back around and leave on the company’s table after you’ve talked with them – that will ensure you’ll be remembered!
·         Research the attending companies, so that you can determine how and where you will fit in, and be able to demonstrate a perfect fit when you approach the recruiters.
·         Emphasize your skills – both those related to the job, and also the transferable skills you’ve developed from previous work and life experiences, even volunteer work.  For experienced alumni, remember you have a history of dedication, commitment and maturity that a new graduate doesn’t have – you have to be confident in your skills and abilities and the qualities you bring to a new company.
·         Send thank you notes to the contacts you meet and follow up after the fair. 
·         Don’t be discouraged if you meet with resistance or a seeming dead end; keep to your goals and collect all the information and contact names you can for future follow up.

Here are the specifics on our upcoming fair:
·         Wednesday, February 26th, 11am-4pm, RIT Gordon Field House
·         Fair is open to RIT students and alumni only  - you need to bring an alumni ID (which you can get from the Registrar’s Office), or a resume with your RIT degree indicated
·         All majors/fields represented – check RIT Job Zone for a list of the 250+ companies attending
·         Interview day Thursday February 27th – bring your calendar in case you’re scheduled for interviews
·         Parking is limited; there will be a shuttle bus for lots G and H

Here's a webinar that has more information on preparing for our, and other, career and job fairs -

So if you’re in the Rochester area, plan to attend the fair; come with your resume, your positive attitude, your realistic goals, and your RIT “can-do” spirit!  If you can’t attend, or if you live out of the area, you can still participate by adding your resume to our online Alumni Resume Book in our Job Zone system.  This book will be available to all attending companies after the fair; when we offered this in the fall, we had an enthusiastic response from recruiters, who will have more time to review alumni resumes for a match to their needs after the event.

To participate, you must have an updated profile and an uploaded resume in Job Zone.  Here is the process for adding your resume to the resume book:
·         Update your profile and upload a resume in the documents section of Job Zone.  If you haven’t accessed Job Zone in a while, the system will prompt you to update your profile before you can proceed.
·         In the Documents section, you’ll see a tab for Opt-In Resume Book
·         In this section, you’ll see “select resume books” under each of your documents – click this for the resume you’d like to put into the book
·         In Target Opt-In Resume Book, click select, and select the book titled – Alumni Spring Career Fair 2014
·         Click Submit and your resume will be put into the book
·         *Note: if you haven’t accessed Job Zone in a while, it may take 24 hours after you update your profile before you can use the Opt In Resume Book feature

If you have questions or difficulties, just email me at   See you at the fair!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Strategic Guidance: Why You Need Your Own Personal Board of Directors

“Mentor” is a word that most of us are familiar with, and we understand how a mentoring relationship works and how it benefits us. However with the changing nature of society and the workplace, the prevalence of mentors has decreased. The world is much more face paced than it once was, and people do not have as much time to allocate to others in a formal mentoring role.  That does not mean that there are no resources for personal and professional guidance - you can turn to your Personal Board of Directors for assistance.

What is a Personal Board of Directors?
Every company has a Board of Directors established to keep the best interest of the company in mind and provide strategic input, without bias. You can and should embrace this concept at an individual level to ensure your own professional success. A Personal Board of Directors is a group of people that are hand-selected by YOU for very specific reasons. They are people who support your goals and who you trust to consult for honest, insightful advice. They do not necessary know that they have the designated title of being on your Personal Board, but they do know that you will consult them for insights and they will be happy to oblige, because they are within your trusted circle.

Who is on my Personal Board of Directors?
You want to be very strategic about who you put on your Personal Board of Directors. The members should not consist of all of your close personal “buddies”. Consider adding your boss or respected colleague, as someone who can give insights on your current performance and understands the company that you are currently in. You might also consider an additional member who lies outside of your current company, but still within your industry. This person would be someone who is knowledgeable about the field and can provide industry-specific insights that are not focused on you as an individual. Alternatively, the next member might be someone who knows you very well on a personal level and understands your thought process and how you tend to respond to situations emotionally and ultimately reach conclusions and make decisions. Your Personal Board can be as large or as small as you want it to be but, as you can see, you can be very strategic with selectivity.

Once your Board is created, it is important to communicate with each member about your goals and keep them up to date about what is going on in your professional job search and, in some cases, your life in general when applicable. Remain open to suggestions and thank your Board members for their part in your efforts.

How will it benefit me?
There are many benefits to developing a Personal Board of Directors. First, it gives you the benefit of experience. You can seek advice from people who hold positions that you aspire to attain, or have extensive knowledge in an industry that you are pursuing. You can work smarter to develop valuable connections with people who have a vested interest in your success and will propel you forward. As is true with a business board of directors, you want to diversify your team so that you can benefit from the various perspectives and opinions that can be offered. Seeking out people with different life and professional experiences will help you uncover and fill any gaps that you may have in your strategic plan.

Your team of Directors is always happy to help and want to see you succeed. I encourage you to think critically about the supporters you have in your life and utilize them strategically to advance your career.  I don’t think you will be disappointed with the results!

Have you developed a personal  Board of Directors?  How have you used them to advance your career?