Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

Your Experiences: To include or not to include

What have you done?

Your classroom accomplishments and co-curriculars provide great examples from which to build your story bank; don’t forget about your work experiences too! This can include paid or unpaid internships, research, freelance work, summer jobs, part-time or full-time career-related or unrelated work, etc.

We frequently get questions from students about whether they should include work experience on a resume if it’s not directly relevant to the industry in which they are applying. Although I would love to offer the perfect answer, the truth of the matter is: it depends!

It depends on the experience itself, the length of time, the skills developed, and what else is on your resume. If you have substantial work experience that is related to your chosen field, then you may feel okay about leaving that summer job between high school and college off. If you gained valuable skills and were able to grow as a professional, however, you may want to include it, being sure to focus on the strengths developed as opposed to the tasks completed (although that should be the case regardless!). If it’s an experience that has given you plenty of situations to pull from when telling stories in an interview, you definitely want to have it on there. On the other hand, if you’ve worked a slew of odd jobs over the years and have a lot of information to highlight, you might be able to condense your work history section and/or leave off some of the earliest jobs.

Ultimately, it’s your call what goes onto your resume, as it is your document, meant to be a snapshot of what you bring to the table. But, before you decide to delete , consider the following:

The experience you have is the experience you ultimately have to sell.

Don’t discount the value of something just because it’s not immediately obvious to you. You never know what’s going to leave an impression!

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

Tell your Story: Market your Co-Curriculars

What have you done?

In addition to your coursework and professional activities, your college experience is likely comprised of involvement in co-curriculars. Clubs, athletics, study abroad, leadership roles, and community service are all great examples that are not only fun and rewarding, but potentially impressive to future employers or graduate schools.

Start by listing your co-curricular activities, including time frame and level of participation. Are you in a leadership role in an organization? An active member? Captain of your team? Going into your second year as a resident assistant?  Next, think about skills that are in demand and ways in which you can demonstrate those skills with examples from your involvement.

We’ve discussed the S.T.A.R. method for crafting career stories, so let’s focus on how to better market co-curriculars, specifically in a resume. We encourage students to bulk up their resume’s bullet points to best highlight accomplishments, as opposed to tasks. Saying “led meetings,” “helped freshmen transition to college,” or “ran drills and practices” may show what you’ve done, but it doesn’t say anything about your ability to do them effectively.  Follow these steps to better highlight your strengths:

  • STEP 1 – Skill: What did you get out of performing this duty?
  • STEP 2 – Structure: Put this result into a statement. I learned……
  • STEP 3 – Verb: Replace “I learned” by starting the new statement with an action verb.
  • STEP 4 – Clarify: Go back to original duty and ask who, what, where, when, why, how

As an example, if your original bullet point says “helped students transition to college,” a revised (and bulked up) one might become:

  • Step 1: Leadership skills
  • Step 2: I learned leadership skills while helping students transition to college
  • Step 3: Strengthened leadership skills while helping students transition to college
  • Step 4: Strengthened leadership skills by facilitating small group sessions and organizing activities to familiarize six incoming freshmen to college life.

The second option is a much more substantive example of your experiences and can be tailored to highlight many different strengths.  Following the steps can also help you in planning out career stories or drafting cover letters and essays that incorporate your involvement. Bottom line, co-curriculars are a big part of the college experience.  Be sure you are marketing them effectively!

~ Gwen Miller, associate director, career development

Create Your Resume with Resume Creator

Students meet with Career Services for a variety of reasons.  We enjoy having conversations concerning majors and careers, job/internship searches or graduate school pursuits, personal statements and cover letters, interview practice and, perhaps most frequently, crafting a resume.                          

If your schedule has kept you too busy to make an appointment with us, keep in mind that our office is open throughout the summer.  We also have a huge array of electronic resources available to you 24/7 through our Resources for Students webpage and your JobCenter account.

One such resource that we refer to students who are beginning to draft their resume is Resume Creator.  First let me say that we don’t often advocate the use of templates; each student’s experience is so unique that there is no way a template can offer the best headings, sections, or format options.  However, Resume Creator is a good starting place with 13 different customizable options.  If nothing else, the samples may help to spark an idea or two of how to begin putting yours together.

To access Resume Creator, first log into your JobCenter account.  On the left navigation column, look for “Create Resume using Resume Creator.” 

You will then have access to 13 templates, each of which lists the categories that are included in that particular option, as well as the level of student for whom the template may be most appropriate.  However, don’t let that classification deter you – take a look at all of them and choose which fits your needs!

Click here for an instructional sheet on how to access Resume Creator

Resume Creator does not lessen the need for your own creative thinking when crafting your resume, but it does offer a solid starting place to ensure you’re on the right track.  Keep perfecting it from there, as you work to tailor your resume to a specific industry or job.  And, as always, let us know how we can help (even over the summer!).

~ Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Jocelyn’s Advice: Creating an Online Portfolio or Professional Website

Which do you do most often: read hard-copy, printed articles or browse the internet for articles and news? I would venture to guess, unless you’re trying to rebel against a societal norm, you probably engage in the latter. According to industry professionals, employers are also following this trend. Have you ever considered creating a digital platform for your resume or portfolio?

Michelle Mignot, a Career Education Professional who presented at the Careers Done Write! conference in January, regularly speaks to college students about the 21st century resume and the importance of incorporating creativity. Check out her handout to learn about several sites she recommends for establishing an online presence.

Personally, the idea of designing and maintaining a live website initially intimidated me; I’m not a digital communications major!  However, through my coursework, I had the opportunity to learn about several user-friendly web hosting platforms that would allow me to share my job search documents. I chose www.weebly.com because of these easy functions:

  • Premade layouts
  • Free
  • iPhone & Android apps
  • Ability to easily upload your material

On many sites, you have the option to work on and perfect your pages before it’s activated for viewing by the public. Therefore, before publishing your site, be sure you complete each accessible page, proofread your content, check that links work, and remove unnecessary buttons that could crowd your site and confuse your audience.

In order to appeal to a variety of audiences, especially potential employers, I divided my site into multiple pages that make it easy for viewers to find key information:

  • Homepage- Brief bio, contact information, professional headshot
  • Resume- overview of my past experiences, education, relatable extracurricular activities
  • Portfolio- Digital stories, journalism, blog, samples of work

That’s just me.  You may have a whole host of other information to include, which is a good thing!  An online presence can help you stand out and give employers a glimpse of your strengths and interests that may be less obvious on a hard-copy resume. Have fun with it and keep your audience in mind. Creativity is good as long as it’s also professional.

Once your page is live, congratulations!  You now have an online portfolio. It’s important to maintain your site regularly; keep it fresh, and keep it updated.  Also, don’t forget to promote it!  Add the URL of your site to your paper resumes, business cards, cover letters, etc.

J

Jocelyn Davis, ’15, Career Services, Student Assistant

Jocelyn Says: The Worst Thing You Can Do is Nothing

As promised, the Blog will feature a monthly topic written by Jocelyn Davis ’15, one of our fabulous student staff members.  Jocelyn is pursuing her degree in English Communications with a minor in Business Administration here at LVC.  This is her second year working in our office and it’s been a joy to watch as she enthusiastically pursues her goals and takes on any challenges that come her way.  For her first post, Jocelyn is sharing how she pursued her summer internship.

When I was 14 I started working at a Hallmark store in my hometown. Yes, it was a job (and more importantly) yes, it was money, but at the start of my sophomore year I decided it was time for a change. I wanted to spend the following summer at a job that actually applied to my major; somewhere I could utilize and further develop the skills I was learning in my classes. So, I made it my goal to secure an internship for the summer of 2013.

But how would I go about getting an internship? What would I need? Where would I apply? Was I even qualified? After the initial moment of panic and trying to talk myself out of taking the next step, I started with the basics: research local companies of interest, write a resume, and create a portfolio.

First, I needed to identify possible internships. This was important because I had no idea where to send my resume or portfolio and I knew that my documents would need to be adjusted for each organization.  I started checking my JobCenter account regularly for updated postings and also researched local companies that fit my interests to see if they offered internships. By having an idea of where I wanted to get involved, I was able to make my goal more concrete.

Next, the resume, which I will admit was a little overwhelming. I sat in front of my laptop with a list of accomplishments, classes that I have taken, and the two semi-relevant experiences I have had in the past—but wrote nothing. I was stuck. My advice? Do not waste your time. Once you have your ideas together schedule an appointment with Career Services or meet with your internship advisor (both wouldn’t hurt!). They have been in your shoes and know the in’s and out’s of writing a resume.

Then, the portfolio; basically a collection of everything you have ever done that you want to show to a potential employer. The main issue I ran into with this is that most of my work was digital: blogs, digital stories, online news articles. My solution? If everything else is digital, why not make the portfolio digital? I used weebly.com, a free website creator. You can link buttons on your personal website directly to the source where your work is posted so your potential employer does not have to search for each individual entry. If you need an example you can visit my site http://www.jocelyndavis.weebly.com

These are just a few of the steps I took at the beginning of my sophomore year to meet my goal and I hope you find them helpful as you begin taking your first steps toward an internship. Remember, the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Good luck!

J

Jocelyn Davis, ’15

CareerServices- Student Assistant

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

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.

Make your Resume POP

One Page ………………. (in length)
15-20 Seconds ……… (amount of time you have to make a great first impression)
Multiple drafts……….. (before you have a polished document)

These are important considerations to remember when putting together your resume.  Whether you are applying to a summer position, an internship, full time work, or graduate school, your resume is often your first means of introducing yourself.  Be sure it represents you well!

Your resume, like your finger print, should be one of a kind. The activities that you’ve been involved in, your accomplishments and successes, as well as qualities you’d like to highlight, will be different from anyone else’s.  Although your resume is meant to be a snapshot, meaning it won’t include every detail of your life, it should include the information that will be the most impactful and demonstrative of the skills you have to offer.  This takes time and thoughtful preparation!

Check out the CareerSpots video Make Your Resume POP for advice and a quick-tips sheet.  Career Services also has plenty of resources to help strengthen your Communication for the Job SearchRemember, your goal should be to produce an impressive document that represents your strengths and accomplishments.  Anything less will make it that much more difficult to get noticed!