Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

Interviews: Make a Positive Impression

Nearly every year someone conducts a survey among employers about memorable interviewing blunders.  I laugh.  How ridiculous! No one would “attempt to secretly record the interview” or “check Facebook during the interview.”  But, indeed, these were two of fifteen most memorable interview mistakes that surfaced in a recent online survey conducted by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder.

Surely none of “our” students would pull such a stunt.

And yet, I am convinced that more often than not interviewees are not aware of the less-than-stellar impressions they make on employers. For example, half of the employers responding to this survey reported these top five common interview mistakes:

  • Appearing disinterested – 55 percent
  • Dressing inappropriately – 53 percent
  • Appearing arrogant – 53 percent
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers – 50 percent
  • Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview – 49 percent

And, how about these top two body language mistakes?

  • Failure to make eye contact – 70 percent
  • Failure to smile – 44 percent

Generally it only takes a few seconds to make an impression. You may know that, but you may underestimate how quickly interviewers determine if you are a good fit and match for their organization.  I assure you it does not take the entire length of the interview.  Therefore, know what employers want and deliver.

A great place to start would be to take a look at this Press Room post (1.16.2014) on Careerbuilder.com and determine what communication skills, body language, and etiquette you need to improve upon. Then, concentrate on telling your story of successes and accomplishments that speak to the needs and mission of the employer with whom you are interviewing.  And by all means, don’t forget to prepare thoughtful questions that demonstrate you have researched the organization and want to be part of their team.

Here are a few other action steps you can take to ensure you will make a good impression and have the attention of an employer throughout your interview.

Knowing the basics is important.  And, practice makes you better.

Sharon Givler, director, career services

Resources for your Interests

Between all the books, websites, and people available to you that offer knowledge and insight into the world of work, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  Lessen the “information overload” by targeting your efforts on resources that more directly pertain to your interests.

Professional Associations – If you’ve yet to consider the networking potential and insider knowledge that can be gained from a professional association, I’d urge you to look into it. Unsure where to start?  I recently learned of Weddle’s Association Directorywww.weddles.com/associations – that offers an entryway into tons of organization websites.

  • Did you know there are seven Economics associations? Eight in Sports Recreation? How about four separate categories related to Diversity – Diversity/Disabilities, Diversity/Ethnicity, Diversity/Gender, and Diversity/Religion.

The list goes on.  Once you’ve found an association of interest, explore their website.  You may be able to access information on industry trends, educational resources, and publications just by browsing the site.  Or, consider becoming a member to view more in-depth information, be invited to events, and gain access to job boards or membership directories.  You may even find that there are discounts on student membership rates!

Professional Associations offer direct access to your industry.  Take advantage of them!

Industry (Subscription) Resources – Career Services offers several industry specific resources:

  • ARTSEARCH – the national employment bulletin for the arts, published by Theatre Communications Group
  • Internships USA – considered one of  the most comprehensive sources of internship information on the web
  • Environmental Career Opportunities – a bi-weekly electronic newsletter with hundreds of job vacancies in environmental policy, conservation, education, and engineering.
  • Bridge Worldwide Music Connection – maintained by the New England Conservatory’s Career Services Center, this resource provides access to thousands of opportunities in music and arts administration.
  • Opportunities in Public Affairs – find Capitol Hill jobs, government affairs, legislative and policy jobs, public relations, communications and fundraising; research, writing, and journalism jobs, etc.
  • MyWorldAbroad – want to go abroad, study, volunteer, intern, teach, or work? Check out this extensive resource!

You can create your own account in MyWorldAbroad using your LVC email address; the other subscriptions require a username and password that can be acquired by contacting Career Services or going into the Resource Library of your JobCenter account.

Information is necessary in your career planning; but don’t get overwhelmed.  Target your research and get more focused results!

~Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Fun Snow Day Activities

What do you do when your schedule has been turned upside down due to bad weather?

  1. Go outside and build a snowman
  2. Go ice skating on the sidewalks or in parking lots
  3. Study and catch up (or get a head start) on homework or projects
  4. Think about your future
  5. Watch movies or read all day

Well…you probably shouldn’t try the ice skating one…that’s REALLY not safe, nor is it helpful to those trying to clear up the mess. But the other four options? Not bad ways to spend a day.

Surely you saw this coming though – in Career Services, we certainly advocate for option 4, at least for a portion of the day. Since you’re stuck inside anyway though, why not do a little more than just think about your future? Do something that helps you work toward it!

A few fun ideas:

  1. Create an account in FOCUS-2. Complete inventories in this computerized assessment tool that are meant to help you identify and evaluate your goals, interests, strengths, and personality as they relate to your career choices and planning. Call me a bit of a nerd, but I do actually think learning about yourself is fun. Once you create an account in FOCUS-2, you’ll get an email inviting you to make an appointment to talk with us about your results. Please do!
  2. Update your resume. Don’t laugh. I really do find it fun! Think about it – your resume is a chance to highlight your past experiences in a way that demonstrates your abilities. It’s also a record of things you’ve been involved in, achievements you’ve earned, and accomplishments you’re proud of. Basically, it’s one piece of paper that offers prompts and reminders of many of your life’s stories.
  3. Investigate career stuff. This is the perfect day to browse the internet looking at career options, professional associations, companies that you’ve passed on a drive but have never heard of, profiles of Career Connections mentors, etc. It’s a lot more fun to investigate the world of work when it’s because you have a few hours to kill than when you are in a decision-making crisis. Besides, you might learn about a career you’d never heard of before, making this snow day the turning point in your future.

Ok, I get it. Ideas for snowmen are brewing, movies and books are practically calling to you, and homework deadlines are pressing. There are a lot of things you can do when bad weather strikes. So consider this: go build that snowman, make a big dent in your homework, and then split your afternoon/evening between some of the fun activities of reading, movies, and thinking about your future.

And before you ask, no, “accomplished snowman builder” cannot go on your resume.

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Making the Most of Networking

Recruitment season is different from industry to industry, although the months leading up to graduation or summer break are often heavy with career fairs, networking events, and recruiting activities.  If you think that you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’ll be talking with individuals who have the power to hire you for a job or internship, admit you to a graduate program, or introduce you to others who do have that authority, you need to be ready.

Regardless of where you are in your career planning process, presenting yourself as a competitive candidate takes time and practice.  From preparing your resume, to practicing your 30 second commercial, to identifying your strengths and interests to building a story bank of situations and experiences to talk about, there are countless activities that need to occur to help you feel confident in a professional conversation.

I could spend this blog post sending you to our webshops about Building a Stronger Network or Job Fair Prep advice…or I could point you to the “Making the Most of the Event” documents for both the CPEC Job & Internship fair and Teacher Recruitment Day.  The CareerSpots videos offer quite a few videos about interacting with employers as well.  In fact, there are plenty of resources to help you prepare for your conversation.  But the only thing that can make you actually initiate a conversation is you!

At the January 19th career conference, Careers Done Write!, keynote speaker Lynne Breil gave a lot of fantastic advice about professional business interactions.  One thing in particular stuck with me, especially as I write about what makes networking most effective.  If you know you’re going to find yourself at an event, a career fair, or a professional meeting, Lynne encourages you to do something before you ever leave your house:  Give yourself a goal of how many people you want to talk with at that event.

Whether it’s one person, three people, or ten, plan in advance how many people you want to introduce yourself to in order to initiate conversation.  Chances are good that your goal will keep you going when you begin to feel awkward or are fighting the urge to hang out against the wall.  You may even exceed your goal because you stop thinking of networking as an obstacle.  I’d encourage you to take Lynne’s advice – after all, it’s difficult enough to put yourself in an unfamiliar situation.  Make your time there more effective by having a goal to motivate your engagement.

Speaking of career events, be sure you’re aware of the opportunities advertised on our What’s Happening? page – how many people do you plan to interact with this season?

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Climb to Your Career in Four Years

You have the first full week of the semester under your belt and more than half of January has passed.  It’s amazing how time flies, right?  We comment on that in our office regularly and we often hear remarks from students on how quickly each semester passes.  The lesson we take from that realization is this: if it’s not planned out, there’s a good chance it won’t happen!

This semester, Blog postings will continue to offer advice on career planning and your job/internship/graduate school search, a few resources that we’d like spotlight, and monthly posts from our student workers on their perspectives.  However, I’d also like to incorporate action items or activities – things that you can do to further your own career development – whenever possible.

In the spirit of planning, this week I’m introducing a plan developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers called: Climb to Your Career in Four Years.  Although the name suggests that you must begin your climb on day one of your college experience, the more important objective is that you devote whatever time is necessary to thinking about and engaging in your career planning.

Here are themes and a few of the activities they’ve identified:

First Year – Asking questions, exploring your options

  • Identify at least four skills employers want in ideal candidates and plan how you will acquire these skills before graduation.
  • Schedule an appointment with Career Services to familiarize yourself with available resources.

Second Year – Researching options/testing paths

  • Each semester, review your progress in developing the skills employers look for in candidates.
  • Work toward one leadership position in a club or activity.

Third Year – Making decisions/plotting directions

  • Complete at least five informational interviews in careers you want to explore
  • Take leadership positions in clubs and organizations

Fourth Year – Searching, interviewing, accepting, success!

  • Participate in interviewing workshops and practice interviews
  • Develop an employer prospect list of organizations you’re interested in pursuing

Although they designate activities by class-year, you can adjust accordingly based on where you are now.  Days and weeks will continue going by quickly with assignments and projects continually being added to your calendar.  Make sure you plan time for your career journey; you don’t want to get to the end of four years and still have the full climb ahead of you!

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

What are your goals for 2014?

If you’re like me, it doesn’t set in that it’s a new year until it is mid-January and you’ve had several opportunities to write 2014 on documents or in emails.  You may also be like me in that I refuse to set resolutions, knowing that my brain is hardwired to say “forget about it” three to four weeks in.  Instead, I set goals.  This year my goal is to get up earlier each morning so that I can ease into my day, turn on the news (and actually hear some of it), and no longer be in a rush to get out the door.  Although my goal may not be something you’re particularly interested in, perhaps you can think of something that you’re hoping to change, begin, or focus energy on in the coming year.

Your goals (or resolutions) whether personal or professional, are entirely up to you.  But I’d encourage you to set some!  The Campus Career Coach offered Six Career Resolutions for 2014 that are most appropriate for individuals already in the workforce, but are thought-provoking for anyone.

For those of you just beginning to engage in activities that will propel you toward your first job or internship, consider the following “resolutions”:

Be intentional – What things can you get involved in, or how can you think about things you’re already active in a little bit differently?  Planning to work or intern or study abroad this semester or in the coming summer? Be intentional about the goals you set for yourself and ask for ways in which you can gain experiences or use your time best.  Or, intentionally seek out new things to explore and become involved in to help gain experience in an area of interest.

Tell Stories – You likely tell stories all the time when discussing past experiences.  Consider tweaking, tailoring, and practicing those stories so that your focus becomes one that demonstrates your strengths, abilities, and reactions toward certain situations.  (Hint: meet with Career Services staff – we have several tips/techniques to help you tell your stories!)

Meet New People – Yes, I mean networking.  And exploring, and asking questions, and learning about new companies and products and services.  Get out there and meet people; not because you think every meeting will land you a job immediately, but because every meeting is an opportunity for a next meeting.  And you never know what opportunities will come from putting yourself out there and letting others get to know you.

These may or may not fit with your 2014 goals, but hopefully they’ll remind you to look at this next year as an opportunity to move along in your professional development and planning.  Let us know how we can help!

Happy New Year!

Gwen Miller, associate director of career services

Wind Down 2013 and Gear Up for 2014!

I’m sure many students look to finals week with a mixture of excitement (the semester is nearly over and a holiday break is waiting), and fear (after all, final exams are…well…final exams!).  The office of career services wishes you well as you wrap up fall 2013!

We also hope you are looking forward to 2014; we certainly are!  Join us on Sunday, January 19th to kick-off the spring semester with our career conference: Careers Done Write!  We’re hosting a number of engaging presenters for workshops on the written communication pieces needed throughout your job search and graduate school pursuits.

  • Techniques for writing creative resumes and individualized cover letters
  • Best practices for using the global networking tool, LinkedIn
  • Customized statements of purpose for graduate school
  • 21st century business expectations and etiquette

Plus, Lynn Breil, a certified speaking professional and owner of The Professional Edge, Inc., will tackle The Seven Deadly Sins of 21st Century Business Behavior.  Do you know what gadget groping, bottom drawer dressing, and dirty dining have in common? Come and find out!

Career Conference

Register now to ensure your seat.  Stop by or call (867-6560) the Career Services Office, or look for details and registration in the Career Events tab in your JobCenter account.

We look forward to seeing you there and starting 2014 off well!

~Career Services Staff
Sharon Givler, director
Gwen Miller, associate director
Susan Donmoyer, assistant

The Key to Career Planning: Know Yourself

We recommend networking, we encourage informational interviewing, and we stress the importance of gaining experience.  All are instrumental in exploration and planning for your future career or graduate school pursuits.  After all, you need to see what’s out there before you can determine your path!

However, not all exploration is external.  Don’t forget about self-discovery, the exploration of your own values, attributes, strengths, and preferences.  You can become familiar with many different work environments and companies, but if you haven’t taken the time to really identify what’s important to you and what you have to offer, it’s nearly impossible to know when you’ve found your fit.

Self-discovery isn’t something that you can block off a few hours for, write a report, and cross off of your to-do list; it takes continual thought and reflection to be able to understand yourself, let alone be able to articulate your qualities to other people!

To help get started, Richard Bolles offers the following advice in the well-known job search book: What Color is Your Parachute? (2012 edition, pages 190-191).   In helping a person to define what their “dream job” is, he suggests describing yourself in the following ways:

  1. What can you do – your favorite functional/transferable skills
  2. What do you know – your favorite knowledge or fields of interests
  3. What kinds of people do you like to be surrounded by – the kinds of people you like to help
  4. Where are you most effective – the surroundings or working conditions that enable you to do your best work

These can be surprisingly difficult to define, especially if you haven’t explored favorites in any of these topics!  The following exercise suggested in Bolles’ book might be an even better starting place:

  1. Take ten sheets of blank paper and write “Who Am I” at the top of each
  2. Write one answer to that question on each one (to help get you started, think of roles you play or identify with, attributes you use to describe yourself, etc…)
  3. Go back and write why you said that and what excites you most by it.  If you say you’re creative, give an example or explain why that was one of the answers that came to mind.
  4. Then, look back at those ten sheets and prioritize them by level of importance to help gain an understanding of what you value most, are most proud of, or identify with the strongest.

Of course this is not a perfect system.  You won’t be given the key to success once you put that last sheet into place.  But it will do a number of things for you:

If you struggled to get to that tenth answer (or even the fourth or fifth!), you know you have some work to do.  How can you explain why you’re the best candidate if you can’t quite explain who you are and what you’re best at?  In this case, think of how others describe you; think of how you introduce yourself; think of what you aspire to be – this may help you get past writer’s block.

On the other hand, if you found it easy to come up with ten, great!  You know yourself pretty well (although there is much more to you than 10 things).  Bolles suggests that you then look for common themes throughout your answers.  This might help you to better define what your “dream job” really means to you, thus helping you to target your career or graduate school planning a bit more intentionally.  Then, build on these discoveries to flesh out examples and build a story bank.  Doing so will certainly help you put together a more compelling application and present yourself more confidently and competently when going after that dream!

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services

Jocelyn Asks: What Are You Thankful For?

If you’re anything like me, you have been counting down to today since Fall Break. Well it’s finally here! As you head home to celebrate this time of thanksgiving, take time to relax and enjoy the holiday: great food, time with family, and an opportunity to give thanks.

While you’re thinking about who you are thankful for, keep in mind those who have helped you with your career development. This holiday season is a great time to reach out to mentors, internship supervisors, and others in your professional network to catch up and say thank you! Expressions of gratitude will make you stand out and perhaps even spark conversation about new endeavors. Keeping in touch with your professional network is a key aspect of preparing for your future career!

So, take a break from the food and fun to send a few quick notes out to remind past and present mentors that you are thankful for their help and support.

Safe travels!

J

Jocelyn Davis, ’15, Career Services, Student Assistant

Spotlighting The Campus Career Coach

It’s the third Wednesday of November – do you know what that means?  That means in 8 days, we can all celebrate Thanksgiving!  It also means it’s the week that our Career Services Blog serves the purpose of offering advice on preparing for the job search.  This week, my method of accomplishing that is to actually refer you to a different Blog!

Have you passed by the window to the Career Services office this semester and been momentarily distracted by our signs?  Good! Often backed by bright blue paper and hanging from a 4-foot stand, those signs are put up by our office assistant, Sue, who takes the responsibility of finding interesting, often humorous, and always relevant career articles or images for your reading pleasure. They’re resources that catch her eye or make her laugh.  The latest? An image of this little girl:

Campus Career Coach girl

that emphasizes an article titled “Be a Selective Job Seeker, not a Picky Job Seeker.”  The article comes from The Campus Career Coach, a Blog that strives to offer practical answers to career questions for college students.

You should know that in writing this Blog post, I went to The Campus Career Coach to find a few articles that I could highlight to entice you to go there yourself.  I’ve been immersed in the content for the past half hour or so!  I started reading his advice on bullet points vs. paragraphs in resumes; then the article When is the right time for a college senior to start looking for a job? held my attention.  Then, I actually found myself watching a video on tools that welders need….(I’m not a welder…but it’s nice to know that I could find out what the essential equipment is to becoming one!).

Then I noticed that the top of the page includes a navigation bar that consists of Job Search Guides that are nice supplements to our TIP Sheets, more than 30 resumes in a Resume Gallery, an alphabetical listing of Professional Associations, great advice on how to Get your Foot in the Door of different careers, and something titled Coach’s Soapbox (really – how could you not want to see what that consists of?!).  I also found a TED Talk that I plan to watch later called The Happy Secret to Better Work (such a promising title!) under the category: I Love My Job.

Hopefully I’ve convince you to check this Blog out and make reading it a regular habit.  Just be sure that you have some time to spare before you begin to browse!

Gwen Miller, associate director, career services