Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday Strategies for Your Job Search

Temping though it may be, don’t stop your job search efforts just because we've moved into the holiday season.  There are still jobs available; in fact, companies may want to fill positions before the end of their fiscal year, or may want to interview for positions that will become available after the first of the year, in their new fiscal year.  This time of the year also provides unique opportunities to make new contacts.

Here are some ways to stay active over the next couple of months:

Review your search strategy.  This is a good time to evaluate your search efforts, to determine what's been working and what hasn't.  You want to focus your time and energy on activities that move you closer to your goals, and let go of things that haven't been working.  Also review your marketing materials - resume, portfolio, LinkedIn profile, to see if any updates are needed.

Polish your presence.  The holidays are also a good time to get a makeover - hair, wardrobe - to be sure you're presenting a professional, up to date image.

Follow up on any pending positions to which you've applied, or for which you've interviewed.  Reconnect with the recruiter or hiring manager to let them know you’re still interested in the position, and to see where they are in the hiring process.

Contact the third party recruiter (headhunter) you’re working with (or find one in your field), to update them on your status, and see if there are any new positions they've received for which you may be a good match.  Remember that recruiters work for their company clients, not for you, so it's up to you to keep yourself front of mind.

Keep checking job sites for your field, RIT Job Zone, and company sites for postings.  Companies may receive fewer applications as people’s minds are elsewhere, so be diligent in checking for new opportunities.

Work part-time.  The holidays often opportunities to pick up some part-time employment.  In addition to the extra money, you'll also meet coworkers and customers who may provide tips or connections for  your job search.

Volunteer.  Look for opportunities to participate in charity or community service projects.  This allows you to give back, to utilize your skills or develop new ones, and connect with other volunteers, who may know of opportunities in your field.

Step up your networking activities.  Reach out to your contacts with a holiday greeting, and a brief update on your status.  This includes your LinkedIn contacts, and the holidays may be a good time to find additional alumni contacts with whom you can reconnect.

Attend community, association, and organization holiday parties and get togethers; make it your goal to meet new people with whom you can develop a networking relationship in the new year. Ask questions and absorb information you can use later.  Don’t forget family and neighborhood parties; every get together is an opportunity to develop new contacts.  Keep things light – don’t overwhelm people with your problems or job issues; keep a few business cards handy; and always think about how you can help other people you meet.

Keeping your job search active now will put you that much further ahead when the new year begins and help you maintain a positive attitude.  Enjoy your holidays, and remember, the Career Services Office is always here to assist with your job search efforts!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Back to Basics: Tips For Career Success, Emily Ellis, MBA '07

Whether you are gainfully employed or actively seeking employment, there are a few universal tips that will be helpful in putting yourself on the path to success. While the individual details may vary, we can all agree that we are in pursuit of at least one universal goal: to be successful. To be successful in our current careers, in finding a new role, in the pursuit of a completely new career path, or just in finding general, personal fulfillment. Here are a few universal tips that you can apply to pursuing your goals, regardless of what stage you are in.

1.       Know who you are. This seems simple, but have you done an honest self-assessment yet? Write down your strengths, weaknesses, personal and professional values, likes and dislikes, etc. into a document in which you will be the sole reader, allowing you to be completely open and honest. Include your vision for where you see yourself going professionally in the next 5-10 years. What types of roles are you looking to pursue? Do you have the skills for those roles, or are there gaps that you need to address? What kind of growth opportunities do you need to feel successful? What type of work environment do you prefer? When you are done answering these types of questions, you should have a lengthy document that gives you a better picture of what you are looking for. This is the start of your Professional Development Plan. Your path should align with who you are and what’s important to you.

2.      Brand yourself. Know who you are and what you have to offer an employer. You’ve done your self-assessment and, hopefully, have a good handle on the types of roles you want to pursue (whether they be new roles or growth opportunities within your existing company). Craft your resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profile, and any other materials, to reflect your strongest skills and abilities, along with your professional values. You need to succinctly deliver the message to employers about who you are and what you have to offer. This is your brand. Once it’s developed you need to maintain it and continue to promote it. Maintain your credibility by not losing sight of your goals and values.

3.      Keep an open mind. It’s good to have a plan in place and know who you are, but you need to remain flexible. We live in a very dynamic world with ever-changing factors that impact our lives and decisions every day. Your Professional Development Plan is meant to be a living document that you modify and adapt as you gain new information. Consider all possibilities before ruling them out.

4.      Stay positive.  No one wants to work with or hire a negative person. Attitude really can be everything. Have you heard the saying “People won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel”? It’s true. If you are a negative person, you exude it and it can be very apparent the minute you walk through the door. Stay optimistic and be friendly! You are always making an impression on people. Make it a good one.

5.      Take responsibility. Own your role and the outcomes of your actions. Having trouble finding a job? Get turned down for a promotion you were hoping for? Missed a project deadline? Don’t blame others. Every experience is a learning opportunity. What could you have done differently, in retrospect? How can you improve going, forward? Sure others may have been involved in the outcome, but do you have control over them and their actions? You are responsible for your own success. No one is going to define it for you or lead you to it.

6.      Make friends. Get to know people. Find out how you can help them by utilizing your unique knowledge, skills and abilities. The positive attitude mentioned above can really help you with this! Networking is important. You hear it all the time, but it really is invaluable. It can be your key to getting noticed for advancement in your career. Knowing the right people who can speak to your talents and abilities favorably can be the extra leg up you need. Everyone knows something that you don’t. Learn something new from them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and utilize your network in different ways. Create your own personal board of directors to help guide you and act as a sounding board as you make career decisions. Utilize your network to identify contacts that can give you a heads up about upcoming positions opening up at a company you are really interested in working for. Have someone review your resume. We can all help each other in some way. Don’t be afraid to reach out and initiate a connection. Promote your progress!

There is no doubt that the job market can be tough, and it is always easier to look for paths to success while you are still employed. However, I think all of us lose site of the basics at times. We get tired and frustrated of pursuing goals that seem like they may never come to fruition. Don’t be afraid to step back and modify your plan and strategies. Seek outside assistance if you can’t seem to get out of a rut on your own. Maybe you are missing something because you are too close to the situation. Regardless, don’t lose sight of these simple tips for success.

Emily Ellis, MBA '07, is a Higher Education and Career Services professional.  We welcome guest posts on any topic related to career and job search success.  Email Kris at if you'd like to contribute a post.

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.