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.

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!