Career Services

Lebanon Valley College

Juggling Job Offers

It’s so easy for students to become caught up in the job search/interviewing process that it can come as a surprise when it’s time to evaluate whether or not a job that has been offered is a good fit.  Trying to juggle multiple job offers to determine which is best can be even more of a stressor.

If you find yourself in this dilemma, first take a look at the CareerSpots video – Juggling Job Offers – for advice on how to make your decision and remain professional.

The National Association for Colleges and Employers also offers a great article with accompanying rating sheet for students to use when evaluating multiple job offers.  An excerpt from the article explains:

There is no perfect formula for making your decision, but one of the best ways to begin is by making a list of all of the features that are important to you in your first job. These may include such items as the type of work you’ll be doing, the organization’s reputation/prestige, training program, salary, specific benefits, location of job, opportunity for advancement, work environment, opportunity for free time (evenings and weekends), opportunity for travel, colleagues with whom you’ll be working, and so forth. Add every possible item you can think of to your list.”  Continue reading HERE.

LinkedIn Job Search Checklist

Serendipity – making fortunate discoveries by accident.

This morning on my way to work, as happens pretty frequently on Wednesday mornings, I had my weekly brainstorming session in my vehicle about what to write for a blog entry today.  Those sessions often begin with “what haven’t I written about recently” followed by “is that subject something that I can make interesting on this particular morning” and finally progresses toward sentence stems and the framework for a few paragraphs.  Quite frankly, this morning I drew a blank.  My creative wheels just weren’t turning.

But, when I got to work, I opened my email and was greeted with a notice from the Career Services Professionals LinkedIn group that I am a member of.  Within the first sentence, a link to a recently published “LinkedIn Job Search Checklist” caught my eye.  I opened it and…yes!  I could use it as a blog (along with this rather lengthy insight into my blog-writing process)! My failed brainstorming was a moot point.  This was glorious.  This was serendipity.

The November 28, 2012 posting – Why Be LinkedIn – introduced the professional social media forum and provided tips to help students and recent graduates create a profile and utilize the site effectively.  At the risk of repeating too much of that blog, I would like to call your attention once again to the video guides on: What is LinkedIn, Build your Professional Brand, Find your Career Passion, Build a Professional Network, Turn Relationships into Opportunities, and Researching & Prepping for Interviews.

As a complement to those videos, take a look at the Job Search Checklist.  I liked it, so I hope you will too.  But, don’t wait until the last minute to begin building your profile – it’s unlikely that a job will land in your lap without quite a bit of effort, networking, and searching.  After all, even though serendipity came through for me this morning, it probably isn’t a reliable job search method.

The Salary Question

Are you, as the candidate, supposed to bring up the subject of compensation during the interview process?  If so, when?  Although things will certainly be different for each employer, the general rule is that salary shouldn’t be discussed during the first interview.  And, whenever possible, let the employer bring the subject up first.

More importantly than worrying about when you should discuss it should instead be how you plan to discuss it when the time comes.  You should always do your homework prior to any interview so that you are prepared.  According to the CareerSpots video – The Salary Question – there are two sets of numbers that candidates need to know: the minimum salary that you need to make for your own financial obligations, and the average salary range for the type of position that you’re interviewing for.

That first number needs to be something realistic and well thought out; the second can be determined by researching salary information on similar positions for individuals with your level of experience and knowledge.  Don’t forget that geographic location is also a huge factor!  Understanding both of these numbers will help you to plan out a thoughtful response to the salary question.

How do you determine a salary range? The CareerSpots video offers several websites that may be helpful, including www.salary.com, www.salaryexpert.com, and www.payscale.com.  It also suggests the Bureau of Labor Statistics at www.bls.gov for tons of information, as well as professional organizations, business magazines, and online job boards for general salary information.

Another great resource, accessible through Career Services’ Resources for Students webpage is the NACE Salary Calculator Center.   The Salary Calculator’s User Guide and FAQ page indicates that “the program will reference your input information against the average salary values in our databases, and provide you with your personalized job salary data. The salary data provided to you is derived from salary survey data and compensation surveys.”

There are plenty of resources out there to help – be sure to investigate this before you ever talk with the interviewer – you don’t want to be caught off guard and unable to answer the salary question!

Professional Associations

I’ve posted about the importance of networking, informational interviewing, and researching industries and specific companies – all in hopes of encouraging students to become as informed as possible about their career development.

Another great way to be engaged in your field is to become familiar with corresponding professional associations.  A professional association is an organization seeking to further a particular profession and the interests of individuals engaged in that industry.  In a past Career Corner newsletter, we asked faculty to offer insight on the value of these organizations for students, as well as several tips for uncovering ones that interest you.  Click HERE for the newsletter.

In addition, our brilliant office assistant recently pointed out to me that an alphabetical listing of Professional Associations (over 500 included) can be found through The Campus Career Coach resource of JobCenter. Each of the websites included has some form of career center, job board, or other resources to assist prospective and current professionals in their fields connect with job, internship and scholarship opportunities.  Log into your JobCenter account, click on The Campus Career Coach icon in the left hand navigation column, and then select the Professional Associations tab from the horizontal list at the top.

Post 25 The Campus Career Coach

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.

Settle in and browse…the Resource Library of JobCenter

Every week, the Office of Career Services sends out a “This Week at Career Services” email to notify students of upcoming programs, workshops, and deadlines, along with offering a brief spotlight on one of our resources.  Also included is a list of a few of the jobs and internships that were posted in JobCenter the week prior.  The email serves as a constantly updated snapshot of the services available to students; if it were to include everything new and beneficial, it would be much too large for the average inbox!

This week’s blog is meant to call your attention to a section of JobCenter that offers oodles of information on companies, internship, research, or job opportunities, and graduate schools or unique opportunities.  This is only naming a few of the 30+ folders in your Resource Library – a constantly updated electronic filing system of countless resources that should be added to your career planning tool box.

Did you know….

  • The Employer folder offers over 35 sub-folders about industries and/or companies?  There is information ranging from Accounting firms to GREEN jobs to state and federal government opportunities and resources for candidates.
  • There is an Internships / Research / Shadowing folder that includes links to current and annual programs and opportunities at places such as Pfizer, Disney, The Kennedy Center, etc.  I stopped counting at 50 sub-folders, all of which offer students great resources and ideas on identifying potential opportunities of interest.
  • A Unique Opportunities folder includes information on…you guessed it, opportunities that are unique.  AmeriCorps/Vista, Peace Corps, and Teach for America;  English Nanny & Governess School; a Leadership Pennsylvania Summer Institute, and more can be found here.

These are just three of the folders found in the Resource Library, accessible through the left hand navigation column in your JobCenter account.  Take some time today to turn on your computer, settle in, and browse!

A snapshot of current folders:
Post 23 Resource Library

Importance of Networking

Spring break is just days away and, for many students, it’s time to close the text books, sleep, and catch up with friends and family.  It can also be the perfect time to begin articulating your goals and summer plans/pursuits with the people you know.  Although I hesitate to use the word ‘networking’ (the word seems to strike fear into the hearts of students), spring break is a great opportunity to do just that!

We’ve all heard it, and it’s true: it’s not always what you know, but who you know.   Networking is about building and maintaining professional relationships and connections, which can often start with people you already know.  Take a look at the CareerSpots video on the Importance of Networking and read through these basic tips (as provided on the downloadable tip sheet):

  • Networking is a crucial first step in the job search process.
  • EVERYONE you know is included in your network – family, relatives, friends, professors, coaches, former bosses, friend’ parents, etc.  (Don’t forget about Career Connections – the alumni mentoring database through LVC! – see this TIP Sheet for information and advice on appropriate networking and informational interviewing)
  • Making connections can product a ripple effect.  For every person you build a relationship with, that person has relationships with 20 other potential job connections, and each of those another 20, and so on…
  • Professional organizations can offer tremendous connections.  Internships with these organizations, even if unpaid, may prove invaluable further down the road.
  • People who know you can give you an extra edge in landing a job since they can tout your positive characteristics and confirm them.
  • Be patient.  Networking does not always provide immediate gratification.

So…if the key to a more successful job search lies in networking, spend a portion of your spring break thinking about who YOU know.

How many employers actually screen using social media?

According to….

  • The CareerSpots video – Perils of Social Networking – 26% of employers regularly use social media sites to gain information about candidates.
  • The New York Times article – Social Media History Becomes a New Job Hurdle (July 20, 2011) – “75 percent of recruiters are required by their companies to do online research of candidates. And 70 percent of recruiters in the United States report that they have rejected candidates because of information online.”
  • Reppler.Com offers a report – Job Screening with Social Networking – that 91% of the employers who participated in their survey use social networking sites to screen prospective employers

So who is correct?  What’s the true percentage of employers who screen candidates through social media?

Who cares?!  The fact that there is any percentage of employers who look into a candidate’s online persona should be enough to convince people to use caution and common sense prior to posting information/pictures/quotes/videos/etc. on the internet.  Whether or not you agree with the practice of pre-screening in this manner does not prevent a potential employer from doing it anyway.  Although your online reputation may not be able to tell an employer if you can or cannot perform specific job responsibilities, it might give them concerns about your level of maturity and professionalism.  In the job search process, that concern may be enough to set your application aside and move on.

The typical advice is that you shouldn’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see –I suggest you up the stakes a bit on that saying and follow the rule of not posting anything you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.

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.

What to wear, what to wear…?

You know that your jeans and t-shirts aren’t going to cut it in the work place, but perhaps you don’t know if a 3-piece suit is the way to go.  You’ve heard of casual Fridays, but aren’t sure what that means either!  So what do you do?

First of all, think situationally.  Interviews should always be business attire; it’s best to wear business attire to career fairs, although business casual could be acceptable if you’re seeking an internship.  Networking events depend on the venue, your purpose for attending, and those who you are hoping to meet.  Basically, it always depends!

Take the guess work out of it by setting a few rules:

  • Wear business attire in any situation in which you hope to make a good impression on potential employers/clients/colleagues/etc.
  • Don’t assume that “Business Casual” is in any way casual.  Instead, think of it as “Business Smart.”  Take a look at the CareerSpots Video – Business Casual – for more information on this distinction.
  • When in doubt, opt for conservative business wear.
  • You don’t have to spend a fortune to find business attire that fits well and looks professional; shop around and find key items that will mix and match to create several looks.

It’s better to be overdressed on your first ‘Casual Friday’ so you can scope out what is considered acceptable prior to implementing your own wardrobe creativity.  Keep in mind, your boss has the final stamp of approval.  Dress for the job you want, not to impress your colleagues with your fashion sense.  Also remember that your internship or field experiences may allow a more laid back style; the expectation is still business attire when you prepare for your full-time job search.

When in doubt, ask professionals in the field or talk to faculty or Career Services’ staff members.  Take a look at the image below from the 2013 Job Choices Digital Magazine (accessible on our Resources for Students page) for additional tips:Post 19 Professional Dress image