Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

Build your Story Bank: What Employers Want

What have you done?

In the September 24th post, Show Confidence: Know your Strengths, I mentioned the importance of knowing your audience to help guide which strengths you highlight. A similar thought process can be applied when crafting stories to talk about your experiences. What experiences and accomplishments are most enlightening for the person with whom you are speaking?

Before you build up a story bank of experiences geared toward your specific interests, take a step back to identify common skills and abilities that many employers or graduate schools seek. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, respondents to the Job Outlook 2014, Spring Update survey indicate that the following are rated highest in what employers seek in new college hires:

10.8.2014 post picture - what employers want

These are transferable, liberal arts skills that are not specific to an industry. Before you go any further, think about experiences that may “showcase” your skills in some of the above areas.

Your next step is to determine the qualities most sought in your industry. Professional journals, industry specific associations, networking contacts, or websites such as www.myplan.com are rich with inside knowledge. Match experiences and craft stories that pertain to these abilities.

Finally, look into a specific company’s culture, mission, and needs. You can often determine what experiences will resonate with a particular company based on the language of their “About Us” page or their job postings.

This is a multi-level analysis to determine skills and match experiences that will most directly resonate in a particular situation. Plus, it helps you to build quite an arsenal of stories to have on hand that depict your skills and abilities through your experiences.

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

Make the Choice to Read Job Choices

Among many traits that employers look for in ideal candidates, resourcefulness and an inquisitive approach to problem-solving are right up there.  Learning about the latest trends and resources, as well as staying current on the competition, are important to many organizations for success.  Students should take a similar approach to career planning and the internship/job search!

Each month, the Career Services Blog will spotlight a few of the tools and tips that we believe are valuable.  This month, I’m encouraging you to get acquainted with the digital Job Choices magazine, accessible on the Resources for Students page of the Career Services website.

Why? Because you can be assured that these online magazines, compiled and distributed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, contain oodles of relevant articles and information for your job or internship search.  Published annually, each magazine – Job Choices and Job Choices, Diversity Edition – covers information from rights and responsibilities of job seekers, to social media, to graduate school or first years on the job.  Take a look at the contents page of the Job Choices edition:

Job Choices picture

 

If that doesn’t inspire you to take a look, maybe the opportunity to win $500 by taking a Reader Poll will (details on page 5 of the magazine).  Two LVC students have won within the past several years…maybe your resourcefulness will also be rewarded!

*Note: Even if you don’t win the $500, can we agree that resourcefulness for resourcefulness’s sake is generally a reward in and of itself?  I think so!

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

The Job Outlook for the College Class of 2013

The National Association of Colleges and Employers releases an annual report for students on the job outlook for the upcoming college class.  Based on a survey conducted from July 25 – September 10, 2012, 244 organizations provided input about their hiring plans and other employment-related issues in order to project the market for new college graduates for the current class and to assess a variety of conditions that may influence that market.

Take a look at The Job Outlook for the College Class of 2013, provided as a student report through NACE, to find information on:

  • Good News – hiring is up for new grads!
  • Who’s in demand
  • Who’s hiring: a look at specific industries, specific majors
  • What employers want in a job candidate
  • How to stand out: advice from employers

Although hiring procedures and job outlook will certainly differ among companies, industries, and geographic locations, the information provided in this report can reinforce some of your preparation and job search efforts.  For those students who are not part of the class of 2013, read through anyway!  Remember, knowledge is power!  At the very least, it provides you with some great insight into what employers are currently thinking in regards to their hiring decisions.

Researching Companies – the most important activity of job searching

Spring often means that many students are engaged in an active search for jobs or internships.  Identifying companies of interest is certainly the first step, but what comes next?  Your resume, along with your cover letter or presence/conversation at a career fair, is your opportunity to illustrate how you would be a good fit for a position or organization.  That means that you should be purposefully highlighting skills, abilities, and attributes that are relevant to the employer.

Figuring out what is relevant is the behind-the-scenes preparation before your resume is created, your cover letter is drafted, and your interview responses are practiced.  By researching the organization and industry of interest, you will be able to tailor your job search materials and create a strong personal brand that advocates for why you should be considered as a candidate.

According to the Digital Job Choices Magazine, available through the Career Services website, “Researching employers is perhaps the single-most important activity you will undertake in your job search.  The information you uncover can help you:

  • Discover organizations that are a good match for you,
  • Identify the organization’s goals and needs,
  • Tailor your resume and cover letters to highlight your skills and experiences that match the employer’s needs,
  • Know what questions to ask employers,
  • Demonstrate your interest in and enthusiasm for the organization,
  • Answer interview questions with confidence, and
  • Make an informed employment decision.”

Click HERE for this 4 page article that advises where to begin, offers research resources, information you should be looking for, and websites to delve into specific industries.  Don’t skip this step!  The more effort you put in, the more confident you will feel when making a positive impression on potential employers.

Tips for Using E-mail at your New Job

With so much technology at our fingertips, it can be too easy to slip into a casual communication style in the workplace.  Abbreviations, one line responses, and replying from a cell phone are second nature.  However, employers indicate that professional business communication is still a requirement for many organizations!  Take a look at these tips for using E-mail at work and think twice before hitting that ‘send’ button!

  1. Do not use your employer’s e-mail address for anything other than work-related correspondence.
  2. Read e-mail carefully so that you can respond appropriately.
  3. Don’t send confidential material by e-mail.
  4. Use a subject line that reflects what your message is about.
  5. Don’t use abbreviations or text-message jargon (BTW, LOL, or smiley faces, and so forth) in your e-mail.
  6. Use a brief greeting as you might in a letter (Dear John, Good morning Mrs. Smith). Include a closing (Sincerely, Yours, Thanks).
  7. Use spell check and reread your message before sending.
  8. Respond to e-mail promptly.
  9. Use typefaces and colors that are appropriate to your workplace. Ask if your office has a style that you should follow.
  10. If you find you are e-mailing back and forth several times, pick up the phone to settle the issue.
  11. If you forward a message, remove the FW from the subject line.
  12. Change the subject line if the topic of the e-mail changes.
  13. Do not share other people’s e-mail addresses.
  14. Be careful using “reply all.” Consider whether it is necessary that everyone sees your reply.
  15. Do not forward other people’s messages without permission.
  16. Watch the tone of your e-mail. Remember, the person receiving the e-mail can’t see your body language.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, copyright holder

What Skills are Employers Looking For?

Each year, the National Associate of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers on the top skills/qualities they are seeking in the next graduating class.  Often times, the top skills remain the same, even if the order changes around a bit.  Would you be able to provide employers with examples of ways in which you’ve demonstrated these skills?  Does your resume help to illustrate your experiences in these areas?  Take a look at the 2013 results to see how you measure up and where you might need to focus your efforts:

Post 9 - Employer rate Candidate Skills and Qualities in Order of Importance