The Price of Greatness: Integrity in the Workplace

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4th, 2012 by Career Development – Be the first to comment

This month USA Today ran an article titled, “Self-centered work ethic hinders young employees,” talking about how employers are noticing a trend of young workers valuing their individual needs before the needs of the company and their clients. I propose that we all start practicing timeliness and respect so our generation will be known for our work abilities instead of unimpressive work ethics.

“Time is money.”

As an employee, you are a part of a revenue generating team that relies on completing your work as scheduled. Show that you are dedicated to the mission of the company by being on time with your assignments and working as scheduled. Luckily you can start practicing timeliness right away while attending school or interning with

  • Becoming familiar with traffic patterns and alternative routes.
  • Setting aside more than enough time to travel.
  • Organizing your work environment.
  • Keeping a calendar of important deadlines.
  • Completing priority tasks first.

Of course accidents and emergencies happen.  If you find yourself in a situation where you are going to be late or absent notify your supervisor, coworker, teacher, etc. to make alternative arrangements. All you need to do is to apologize, explain the situation, and ask for help. You will find that most people are understanding and will step in, especially if you assisted them during similar circumstances previously. 

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Take care, TCB.”

Being timely is one way show respect, but you should also be mindful about how you treat your environment and how you interact with others. Since most work is completed in a shared space, treat your office equipment and area with care. For example, return equipment to where it belongs, speak using an indoor tone of voice, and clean up your own messes. Remember; office space, equipment, or supplies is for office use only and not personal projects. This also includes your computer usage; surfing the net instead of doing other computer work is a misuse of your employer’s resources.

Treating your coworkers and clients respectfully is also important. You cannot go wrong when you treat others the way you wish to be treated. We talked last year about not gossiping in the workplace, but you should also be aware of others’ privacy. Never disclose contact information or financial information to third parties and abide by your company’s privacy and security policies. When you have access to sensitive information, always be on guard to ensure that it does not reach unauthorized individuals. Something that is also considered a security risk is bringing unauthorized visitors to your workplace. Some workplaces will have specific policies about visitors, but generally it not something you should do. After all, socializing with your friends is most likely not a part of your job description.

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”

Ensuring that your responsibilities at work do not lead you to neglect your personal well-being is important, but there are two sides to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Do not let your personal life compromise your professional integrity. Being timely and respectful when fulfilling your responsibilities will create a fruitful work environment to launch your career and build your professional reputation.

By: Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a first-year student in Chatham’s MSCP program. She currently works as a graduate assistant in the Career Development Office and as a dispute resolution specialist at Guru.com.

How Employers Tell You What They Want

Posted in Uncategorized on September 18th, 2012 by Career Development – Be the first to comment

Job creation is a hot topic this election season with the U.S. unemployment rate still over eight percent.[1] Unfortunately, the state of the economy means the competition is fierce for each available position. But do not panic; you can learn much of what a prospective employer is looking for with the application of some internet detective skills. After all, through the entire life-cycle of job post to job offer, they have to make sure they locate the best candidate.

The first thing an employer will share about an available position is the job responsibilities and requirements through a job post. It is a ready-made checklist to refer to when you customize your resume and cover letter and when you prepare for an interview. (If the job post is in a different format, make your own list to reference.) Do not be discouraged if you do not have every skill or if you do not meet every requirement. While meeting only some of the requirements could be a sign that you are under qualified, employers understand that some skill sets can be taught on the job. Even the years of experience required has wiggle room if you are a strong match in other areas listed in the job description.

You may already know that you should to do research on the company before an interview, but I highly recommend doing this before you send out your application. Companies look for candidates that fit well with their culture and work environment. Clues about a company’s values, goals, and character are found within websites, advertisements, products and services. You may find more information about the application process including options to submit videos digital presentations, or writing samples to supplement your application. Chances are, employers recognize that you are likely applying to other jobs – personalizing you application, resume, and cover letter with the insight you glean about the company’s values from these other sources demonstrates resourcefulness.

Take what you learned from the job posting and your research on the company with you to the interview; the employer is likely to share more information about the position and their expectations. Underscore your relevant abilities and experience based on your understanding of the employer’s preferred qualifications and workplace culture. The types of questions you are asked can give you valuable insight into the employer’s priorities. Even the questions you ask will be evaluated later for what they say about you – did your questions focus on the benefits for you or how you would benefit the company?

You would never write a research paper for any professor without having a solid idea of what your professor expects – translate that mentality to your next job search and you may be signing a job offer before you know it!

By: Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a first-year student in Chatham’s MSCP program. She currently works as a graduate assistant in the Career Development Office and as a dispute resolution specialist at Guru.com.


[1] “Labor Force Statics from the Current Population Survey: Unemployment Rate.” United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. LNS14000000. Web. September 10, 2012

5 Surprising Truths about your College Experiences and Translating them into the “Real World”

Posted in Uncategorized on August 30th, 2012 by Career Development – Be the first to comment

It is still the first week of classes, and I know your career may be the last thing on your mind. However, in the midst of your classes, seminars, homework, and readings I want to encourage you to take full advantage of the opportunities available while attending Chatham University. Whether you already have a specific profession as your goal or you are exploring your interests, you can take part in a myriad of experiences that will make you an attractive candidate to employers. Here are some true and false statements to get you thinking:

1. Your coursework is just what you complete to earn the degree that your dream job requires.

False – Your time at Chatham University should be more than a single line on your resume stating your degree and grade point average. Your class assignments are opportunities to create a product that showcases your capabilities. You are already putting in the long hours to earn the grade, why not make your papers and projects demonstrate what you have accomplished? Putting together a portfolio will be less intimidating when you are drawing from years of polished schoolwork.

2. Joining a club or sports team is just for fun times.

False – Joining a club or sports team is a great way to keep yourself energized by being social and doing something that you enjoy. You’ll find friends that share your interests and revitalize your spirit. While having fun you’ll find that you are practicing teamwork, leadership, and skills essential to being successful in any work environment. Having specific examples of these skills will be invaluable during an interview (and if you win a game or two for the University, no one will mind).

3. Your customer service or sales job is just a paycheck.

False – I know that some jobs are not glamorous, and it is hard to find satisfaction when you are not doing something directly related to your career goals. But you can gain a lot marketable skills from serving customers and working in sales. Employers know that it is not easy to communicate with customers who are not satisfied with a product or service. Someone who has experience resolving conflicts, serving customers, and making sales are desirable in a variety of work environments. And when interviewing for a new job, you are essentially selling your most valued asset: yourself!

4. Completing an internship can help me get a job in my field of interest.

True – After all, practice makes perfect. There are many reasons an internship and getting involved in research is a good idea. You are getting guided experience in an industry or field that interests you. You get to know people in your industry or field to add to your network. Keep a blog during your internship to track your progress and to start building presence in your field. For these reasons and many others, Chatham University requires students to earn at least 3 academic credits through an internship and some majors require more.

5. Employers would not be interested in projects I completed in my spare time.

False – Do you remember that intimidating portfolio? An independent project shows that you are a self-starter and someone who has experience taking an idea from inception to execution. A future employer is going to know that holding down a job and an internship all while completing your degree is not easy – but everyone who completed their degree did that as well. Differentiate yourself just a little further by doing freelance work as a writer, plan a community service project, or starting your own research. Document your hard work and really take your resume to the next level!

Remember you are not alone: your teachers, classmates, and Chatham are all potential resources. Ask for help if you are having difficulties with a particular subject or if life has thrown you a curveball. We are here to help you overcome whatever you are facing. Be bold – seek out the opportunities that interest you and get help if they are not readily apparent.

Before you know it, someone will be telling you to cross the tassel dangling over your face from one side of your graduation cap to the other. Your college experiences are what separate you from that moment and now – use them to build the foundation to your dream career today!

By: Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a first-year student in Chatham’s MSCP program. She currently works as a graduate assistant in the Career Development Office and as a dispute resolution specialist at Guru.com.

How to Quit Your Job Professionally

Posted in Uncategorized on March 20th, 2012 by Career Development – Be the first to comment

How to Quit Your Job Professionally

We’ve mostly focused on how to land the job you want in our blog posts so far, but what do you do when it’s time to quit? There are many reasons to leave a job – finding a job you’re better suited for somewhere else, deciding on a different career path, changes in the organization you’re unhappy with – but no matter why you want to leave, it’s important to quit as professionally as possible. We all have big dreams of leaving our soul-sucking job in a fiery blaze of glory a la Jerry Maguire… but we’ve all also heard about the dangers of burning bridges in the professional world. Especially in a bad job market, you never know where you’ll end up. Telling your old boss every little grievance or injustice you’ve felt might feel good now, but will likely only hurt you in the long run. So how should you quit? I’ve put together a list of five ways to quit…professionally.

  1. Two Weeks Isn’t Always Enough Notice

    While two weeks is the standard window between resignation and your last day, sometimes two weeks isn’t enough. Of course, you don’t have to give more than two weeks… technically you don’t have to give any notice at all. However, the most important thing to keep in mind when quitting your job is that you will very likely need or want a reference letter for a future employer. Leaving your old boss in a lurch makes you look extremely unprofessional. Even if you already have a new job lined up, you might need a reference letter somewhere down the line. Your new boss will understand that you need to give two weeks (or slightly more than two weeks) notice. Ditching your old boss not only leave a bad taste in your old boss’ mouth, but will make your new employer question your dedication.

    But how do you know how much notice to give? If you have a new job lined up, talk with your new employer about how much time they’re willing to give. Assess your old employer’s needs. Take into consideration projects that you’re working on, how much time it will take to train your replacement, and how much time a smooth transition will take, both on your end and for your employer. If you’re wondering why it’s so important to help the job you’re quitting to replace you, remember that the world can sometimes feel very small, especially in a specialized career field. Someday, you may want to come back to this employer in a new position. You could run into your old boss at business meetings, company mergers – your old boss might even end up working at your new company! The job market is a fluid place. People change jobs now more than ever, and leaving on good terms can only be a good thing. If you think it will take you more than two weeks to train your replacement or to finish up a project, think about giving a longer notice.

  2. Be Prepared to Quit Before Giving Notice

    When you’re thinking of leaving, you should think about what you need to accomplish before you leave. Do you store all of your materials on a password protected work account? Do you have sales statistics, projects you’d like to include as samples, or other materials for your CV stored at work? How long will it take you to gather references and put together applications? These are all things you should be thinking about. It’s always possible that your employer won’t be receptive to your resignation, no matter how professional, and you don’t want to end up locked out of your work account with no access to the materials you need. Be sure to keep confidentiality agreements in mind, though, before backing up documents from your work account. Look over any agreements signed and contact HR about what materials you’re entitled to if necessary.

    It’s also crucial that you know your rights. Read your employee handbook if you have one, talk to HR if you don’t or if you are confused by the handbook. Look over your initial contracts if you have access to them. Before you resign, you should know exactly how much, if any, severance you are entitled to. You should know if you get compensation for vacation time. If you don’t, use up these days. Be as informed as possible before you quit. You’re less likely to get angry or emotional in an exit-interview or meeting if you know what to expect beforehand.

  3. Write a Formal Resignation Letter

    Before you type up that dramatic break-up letter to your boss that you’ve been fantasizing about since he rejected your first proposal two years ago, remember that many employers keep copies of your resignation letter in your file. Don’t say anything you don’t want to be remembered by. Again, you may think you’ve washed your hands of Company X for good, but there’s no way to know that for sure. You don’t want gossip about your nasty resignation letter circling around, either, lest your new boss catch wind of it. The business world is small. People talk.

    Your resignation letter should be in business format, with the date your resignation is official, the date you plan to leave, and your job title included. It can be as short or as long as you’d like, but it’s best to keep it brief. Don’t say anything negative, but don’t apologize, either. If you can, say a few nice words about your time at the company (if you hated every second, don’t say anything. Just like mom always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”). The best resignation letters are formal, brief, and positive. Even if it’s killing you, tuck that hand-written poem you wrote, “Ode to my Horrible Boss,” back in your desk drawer unless you want it to haunt you for the next several years of your professional career.

  4. 4.    Tell your Boss First

    Just like you wouldn’t appreciate hearing you’ve been fired from a coworker in the break room, your boss will not appreciate hearing your plans to leave from anyone but you. Even if you have a terrible relationship with your boss, you’ve depended on them for a job. At the very least, you owe them the courtesy of handing in your resignation letter before you tell anyone else. Never underestimate the power of office gossip. Plus, your boss will be less likely to write you a recommendation or to give you time to get your affairs in order if they’ve heard the news from someone else. Especially if you’ve expressed extreme distaste for your boss as you tell everyone in sight your plans to leave, your boss can still fire you.

  5. 5.    Don’t be a Sitting Duck

    In the interest of remaining professional, fill your final days at Company X with all of the tasks you’ve been putting off. Again, finish projects. Gather your things, organize your desk and any materials your replacement will leave. Work just as hard as you would at any other time… maybe even harder. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stay positive no matter what.

    It’s very tempting to bad-mouth your boss, your company, and your co-workers before you leave. Don’t. You just never know when you will see any of these people again… and you will see these people again.

 

The most important thing to take away from this blog post is to always stay professional and positive. I know how hard it is to take the high road. I, too, had fantasies of standing on my desk with a megaphone, shouting my complaints at passers-by and leaving a trail of rubble in my wake. Just kidding about that last one. While it’s okay to indulge in these fantasies, the only person who ends up looking bad in such a scenario is you. If you need to vent, call a non-coworker friend. Write about it in your diary. Grumble to yourself in the shower. But in public, keep up your professional face, because you never know who you will need to ask for help later.

How to Use Social Media to Find a Job

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23rd, 2012 by Career Development – 2 Comments

It seems like every time I open up a news website, I’m reading about social media and its potential impact on my job search. We’ve already blogged about protecting your privacy on Facebook – changing your privacy settings and closely monitoring content. But social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can also help you find a job. I had heard about the job opportunities available through social media, but I wasn’t sure how to go about using them. I have a LinkedIn profile (which I made only because a friend strongly suggested I do). I had almost no information on it, though, and no idea of how to use it. Facebook and Twitter seemed even more confusing. Find a job in 140 characters or less? The more research I did, though, the more opportunity I found. Turn up your privacy settings and get ready to Tweet, because here are the best ways to go about social networking.

 

LinkedIn

When I signed up for LinkedIn, the first thing I did was “connect” with friends. This is a good way to get started, but if your only connections are people you already know, you aren’t using social networking to its fullest potential.  The more people you are “connected” to, the better your chances of finding a job. A good way to expand your horizons is to search for a particular company under the “companies” tab. If you know of a company you would love to work for, you can search for that company and “follow company.” This way, you get updates when the company hires someone new or posts a new position.

There are three other great ways to use this company search. First, you can check out statistics about people who work for the company you’re looking at. The statistics page shows company growth, title changes within the company, common skills of people who are hired, and where most employees worked before and after they worked for this particular company. This is a great way to stay informed. Second, the company page offers a list of every employee on LinkedIn currently employed by the company you’ve searched. Many of these employees will be out of your network, but if they have a job you think is interesting or work in a department you would love to break into, you can send them a message introducing yourself. Remember, they may not respond, but it doesn’t hurt to try. The major advantage to social networking is how easy it is to connect with people you don’t know. Finally, LinkedIn shows you which employees at the company you’ve searched for are fellow alumni from your college or university. For example, I searched Boston University and there are thirteen BU employees who are Chatham alums. While this doesn’t guarantee these potential connections can help, having some kind of connection offers an easy way to break the ice.

Josh Warren, author of Job Searching with Social Media for Dummies, suggests acquiring a high number of recommendations. For graduating seniors he suggests ten recommendations. Not all employers will check the recommendations on your profile, but either way, recommendations can only help.

Finally, make you’re taking advantage of all the options available to you. For example, the job insider tool. This tool shows you how connected you are to jobs listed on Monster, CareerBuilder, Vault, Craigslist, and SimplyHired. You can find your connections at the company and request an introduction to the hiring manager. Fill in as much information as you can on your profile. The more information you have listed, the more searches you will turn up in, and the more you will stand out to a potential employer. If you have a blog, link to it. Make your headline specific and interesting. Don’t be afraid to use your connections! Ask your connections to refer and connect you with their own connections. People were willing to connect with you, so they should be more than happy to introduce you to their other connections. This is how the site works, so don’t be shy.

Facebook

Facebook recently launched a social jobs initiative, aiming to team up with job recruiters and employment agencies to use social media to find jobs. While the initiative is still in its early stages, this is the best way to use Facebook to find a job. Already on the page – which you can “like” by going to “www.facebook.com/socialjobs” – are links to employment agencies, job search engines, and articles offering job tips. If nothing else, this page can give you some great ideas about where to go.

Many employers have Facebook pages now, and “liking” a company’s page can keep you up to date with information about how to break in, or help you do research for an interview. You might also be able to connect with someone who works for the company. Some employers offer links to their employment page. At the very least, clicking that “like” button will keep you posted on company news, which can only help.

Network, network, network. If you’re looking for a job, make a status update. Much like LinkedIn, you might be connected to someone who can help you find a position in your field. Also, according to theundercoverrecruiter.com, because Facebook isn’t thought of in the same way as LinkedIn, sending a friend request to a potential professional contact might help you stand out. Find the hiring manager, or someone else connected to the company in a way that could help you, and send them a professional message. Just be careful! Keep the message short and respectful, and understand that this person might not respond to you. If they don’t respond, leave it at that. It’s never okay to harass someone. Also, be clear about professional boundaries. While these lines are blurrier on Facebook, they exist. You shouldn’t “like” a hiring manager’s status about their trip to California, nor should you send them a birthday message or tag them in a note.

Facebook’s marketplace is another great way to find a job. The marketplace has a specific “jobs” tab on the lower left-hand corner of the page where you can search postings. You may be able to apply for the job directly through the listing, but if not, you can contact the poster for more information. While there may not be as many jobs posted here as on LinkedIn, theundercoverrecruiter.com suggests there might also be less competition for them because not as many people think to search the Facebook marketplace.

Twitter

Twitter offers the easiest networking of all three social media sites. It’s easy to “follow” people connected with a company you’re interested in (unless their account is private, but you can still request to follow their Tweets). Many companies have their own pages, and they may post job opportunities to Twitter before even reaching out to other recruiting sites. Also, job recruiting agencies have set up pages now, such as @socialmediajob, which tweets multiple job postings per day. Another great option is “trending” topics. Check out #careers or #jobs for an overview of hundreds of companies and recruiting agencies offering job postings and career advice. Find an interesting recruiter and follow them to stay up to date.

Be sure to pay attention to who is following you. Read their bios and see if your followers are connected to a company or person who you might be able to reach out to. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with potential connections. Send them a direct message. Sure, some will say no, but more people might say yes and give you information you might otherwise have missed out on. Because communication is so quick on Twitter, it doesn’t take much time or energy for someone to talk with you. Even if someone isn’t in a position to hire you now, or doesn’t know anyone to connect you with at this moment, starting up a dialogue will make them think of you when something does open up.
Check out Twellow.com. Kind of like a phone book, this website allows you to type in your city and state with the keyword “jobs” to find local Twitter accounts tweeting jobs. If you’re thinking on a larger scale, try typing in other places you would be willing to move to. Even if you don’t want to move, expanding your search might give you access to large companies that simply aren’t hiring in your area. Keep them in mind and check back to see if they are hiring in your area.

The big advantage to Twitter is the amount of information available. Because of the short format, it’s easy to search through quantities of information which might be otherwise overwhelming. Use Twitter to connect with as many people as you can – Tweet, Tweet, and re-Tweet.

Before I did my research, most of my ideas about the impact of social media on the job hunt were negative. But employers are reaching out through social media more than ever. It’s fast, easy, and almost doesn’t feel like work! The point is to stay connected. The more you know, the higher your chances of finding a job – fast.

By: Amanda Hart

Amanda is a second-year student in Chatham’s Creative Writing MFA program. She currently works as a Graduate Associate in the Career Development office and as an intern for Upstart Crow, a local literary agency.

Tough Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Posted in Uncategorized on February 9th, 2012 by Career Development – 1 Comment

Getting an interview for a position you really want can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Sure, your resume is great, and you know you’ll be a perfect fit for the job, but the night before the interview you find yourself lying awake imagining all of the potentially embarrassing things that might happen to you. I’ve been there. One of the major reason interviews can be so stress-inducing is because candidates are being put on the spot. Questions can fall anywhere between the extremely open-ended (“Tell me about yourself”) to the excruciatingly specific (“Give me an example of one way you improved your last company’s sales strategies”).

I’ve made my fair share of slightly horrifying interview mistakes. Part of perfecting your interview skills just involves practice. All it took was one interview for me to learn that asking the hiring manager at Circuit City what a gigabyte was probably didn’t make me seem like a strong candidate. But what about the questions every interviewer asks, those dreaded questions no career expert seems to be able to agree on how to answer? I’ve put together a list of the most common – and, in my opinion, hardest to answer – questions one might encounter in an interview, and the best way to answer them. So read on, relax, and remember to sleep the night before your interview!

 

  1. 1.    Tell Me About the Worst Boss You’ve Ever Had 

    This question just screams “trap!” doesn’t it? The employer is looking out for a couple of things with this question. They want to know whether or not you’re a team player – i.e., if you’ve had problems with people you’ve worked with in the past – and if your preferred management style is a good fit for the company. So how do you put a good spin on a bad boss? According to TheLadders, a career advice website, you should remember that even your worst boss got their position for a reason, and try to consider these positives in your answer.For example, you might qualify your answer with something like this: “My worst boss, that’s a hard question. Each of my bosses had something to teach me.” Having a negative response at the ready makes you seem like a negative person.

    It’s okay to answer truthfully, but you need to give a professional reason. If you’re actually thinking, “Jane was a terrible boss. She never liked anything I did and was too passive-aggressive to say it to my face,” what you should tell the interviewer is, “My last boss, Jane, gave me great projects to work on and we worked at a very fast pace. As a result, she sometimes assigned me projects without much communication. This required me to be more independent and assertive in my work, which is a skill I’m glad to have.” It’s good to turn the negative back into a positive. Even bad bosses have something to teach us, and this is the kind of awareness your future employer will be glad to see.

  2. 2.    Tell Me About Yourself 

    This is the question I have always hated the most. It’s so open-ended, and used to lead to me babbling endlessly about things I thought might be relevant. However, what’s important here is to be concise. Talk about your professional strengths – where have you worked, what kinds of accolades have you received, what are you good at. According to CNN, “Your answers should be a quick rundown of your qualifications and experience. Talk about your education, work history, recent career experience and future goals.” What your employer isn’t concerned with is where you grew up, what kind of wood you like your desk to be made out of, or what year your Uncle Ned won the National Spelling Bee.For example, my answer to this question might be something like this: “I’m about to graduate from Chatham University, and while working there I have held a job in the Career Development Office where I wrote weekly blog posts and worked on X and Y. I also read query letters for a literary agency, where I requested a manuscript which ended up getting published by Publishing House B. While I’ve learned a lot during my time at Chatham, I’m looking to blend my reading skills and office experience in an admissions department like this one.”

    Remember, be brief, be positive, talk about professional successes. Prepare your answer in advance. Know your strengths, and be ready to go into detail about your strengths if asked. You should also research the company as well as possible before your interview. Just like you tailor your resume to a specific employer, you should focus on strengths that will interest the interviewer. A PR firm won’t be interested in your biochemistry degree unless you can show them how it’s related. The more prepared you are, the better.

  3. 3.    What Are Your Weaknesses? 

    Ah, the horrible weaknesses question. Career experts give conflicting advice. Should you mask a strength as a weakness? Should you admit your fatal flaw? The answer, it seems, is somewhere in the middle.Identify an actual weakness. Employers know when you’re trying to pull the wool over their eyes, and they don’t want to hear about how you just care too much or how you’re just too much of a giver. The trick is to lay out a weakness and explain how you think this company will give you an opportunity to make it a strength. You might say, “If I had to think of a weakness, I would say that my last position didn’t ask me to take the lead on as many projects as I would have liked. I would love the opportunity to expand my leadership skills at Company X.” This way, your weakness becomes an opportunity, and the hiring manager will see that you want to grow as an employee.

    Also, never use superlatives. As CareerRealism points out, saying things like, “my worst weakness,” or “my biggest problem,” leads employers to think there are many others. If you frame the negative inside of a positive, the weakness doesn’t seem as bad.

     

  4. Why Did You Leave Your Last Job? 

    As TheLadders points out, this isn’t the time to bad-mouth anybody in your former office. Staying positive seems to be a recurring tip for each question, but positivity is really one of the most important elements in an interview. Employers want to hire people who will make the office a better place, and as someone who has worked with her share of negative people, I can say that I wouldn’t want to hire anyone who already put out a negative vibe during the interview. Other things not to say include leaving because of pay-scale or because the work was too boring. You don’t want the hiring manager to see you as someone who will leave as soon as things hit a lull.So what should you say? This is a great time to talk about your career goals. Talk about a few strengths you gained from your last job, and how you would be interested to apply these skills to a different area. What new skills would you like to acquire that this new employer can offer? If you frame your exit as a completed project, you’re telling this potential new employer that you aren’t a flight risk, says Stephen Balzac, president of 7 Steps Ahead, a business consulting firm in Massachusetts. You want this employer to see that you’ll be here until you’ve learned everything and accomplished everything you can.

    But what if you were laid off? With the economy in such a bad state, people are getting laid off more frequently. It’s important to be honest, even if you don’t know why you were laid off. Monster.com suggests an answer like this one: “As you know, the economy is tough right now and my company felt the effects of it. I was part of a large staff reduction. I am confident, however, that it had nothing to do with my job performance, as exemplified by my accomplishments.” Always bring the answer back to your strengths.


The most important thing to remember during an interview is to stay positive. If you have to say something negative, say it quickly and move on to something strong about you. Focus more on your strengths rather than past employers’ weaknesses. Also remember, it’s okay if you make a mistake. As my high school band director used to say (yes, yes, I know, I’m really quoting my high school band director): “Your mistake doesn’t matter, all that matters is how you recover.” If you do slip up, don’t be afraid to go back and correct yourself. As long as you’re prepared, you should be confident enough to make the most out of any job interview.

By: Amanda Hart

Amanda is a second-year student in Chatham’s Creative Writing MFA program. She currently works as a Graduate Associate in the Career Development office and as an intern for Upstart Crow, a local literary agency.

Career Advice for Women: The Best and Worst of What’s Out There Part Two

Posted in Uncategorized on January 31st, 2012 by Career Development – Be the first to comment

If you missed last week’s blog, I posted a list of the worst career advice (within reason) available online for a soon-to-be graduate. Before I could focus on what career advice was helpful, I needed to sort through the bad stuff. So this week I’m back with the best career advice out there. Of course, opinions vary between employers and career fields, but the tips I’ve assembled came up again and again during my search.

The Best

  1. Be Proactive 

    Proactivity is the most important element of a job search. I also ranked it as number one because everything else on the list relates back to this idea. Getting a job takes initiative. It seems obvious that if you don’t apply for a job, you’ll never get one. Still, I know a lot of people who, like cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation, are “holding out for management,” but aren’t actually applying for anything.Being proactive doesn’t end at applying for jobs, though. It’s important to follow up with your employers after you’ve applied. I have heard from many sources that you should always call or email after the application process, because it shows strong interest in the position. Nevertheless, the idea of “stalking” an employer used to make me uncomfortable. But as long as you limit the number of phone calls or emails you’re sending, this type of follow-up is expected. Employers will take more interest in you if they know you really want the job. Also, follow-ups show the type of initiative employers will want you to bring to the position once you’ve been hired.

    But proactivity doesn’t end once you’ve been hired. Ask to take on new projects or head a new committee. If your expected performance review date (the typical time to be offered a raise) has come and gone, ask your boss when you can set one up. The more responsibilities you ask for, the more you’ll be given – as long as you don’t take on more than you can actually handle. If you don’t ask, things won’t happen.

  2. Don’t Hold Out for a Mentor 

    Everywhere I looked for career advice, the phrase “find a mentor!” jumped out at me. Finding a mentor is an idea that’s good in theory, and if you can find one, great. However, it seems unlikely that every woman will be able to find a mentor, or even want one. The office is a competitive place, and you should want to stand out.Marie Claire recently interviewed Estee Lauder President Thia Breen about her career success, and she talked about not having a mentor. “There were people who gave me breaks, but nobody really took me under their wing,” she said. “I don’t consider it a key force in someone’s career, and I don’t think it happens all that much.”  Take advice when it’s given, but be prepared to be independent.

    3.   
    Take Opportunities for Self-Promotion
    Another common detail in my career information search is that women are uncomfortable
    with self-promotion. We often don’t want to feel like we’re bragging, while our male
    coworkers have no such compunctions. Still, there are ways to go about self-promoting

    that don’t feel like bragging; it’s crucial to recognize and seize these moments.

    First, make sure all of your skills and accomplishments are clearly listed on your LinkedIn page, website, or blogs. This way, your accomplishments are visible to everything without you having bring them up.

    Another good opportunity to self-promote is when asking for more responsibility. Ask your boss if you can head a committee or project, and mention other times you’ve been successful. Save emails from supervisors or project leads praising your work and use them as references. Performance reviews are the perfect time for self-promotion. If you want a raise, prove you’re worth it. Women have a tendency to down-play our accomplishments, and the office is the worst place to do that. You know you’re a good employee, and it’s okay to talk about your strengths.

    Most importantly, don’t shrug off praise! Accept the praise, and use compliments to hone your strengths.

    4.  Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Flexibility

    …as long as you’re aware that you may not get it. Employers can offer work-at-home or job-share opportunities, which is especially helpful for women (or men!) with families. However, this advice comes with a few disclaimers. First, don’t ask for flexibility unless you really need it. Set up a clear plan for how you’ll compensate for the time you’ll miss, and demonstrate to your employer why you’re valuable enough for their flexibility.

    Thia Breen also discussed a job-sharing role she initiated for two employees. She said, “I’m not a mother, so I have never had this situation in my life. However, I realize that when it comes to children and aging parents, the responsibility generally falls on women. There have to be times when you have some flexibility. It doesn’t require huge gives on the part of the company.”

    Again, you won’t get something you don’t ask for, so don’t be afraid to ask – within reason. Just be prepared to make up for for the time you’ll miss.

    5. Don’t Waste Time on Negative Attention from Coworkers

    Beyonce says it best: “I can’t expect everyone to love everything that I do.” As one of the highest-earning women in the world, she recognizes that she can’t let jealousy and negativity keep her down. Accept constructive criticism from your boss or your peers, but don’t let it override your own knowledge base. Have confidence in yourself, and don’t let anyone stop you from accomplishing your goals.

 

By: Amanda Hart

Amanda is a second-year student in Chatham’s Creative Writing MFA program. She currently works as a Graduate Associate in the Career Development office and as an intern for Upstart Crow, a local literary agency.

Career Advice for Women – The Best and Worst of What’s Out There

Posted in Uncategorized on January 24th, 2012 by Career Development – Be the first to comment

If you’re looking for career advice – and in this economy, who isn’t? – there is no shortage of places to find it. A simple Google search of “career help” returns over 130,000 results, ranging from tip lists to dress code advice to resume help. But how do you know which advice is good advice? The search can be especially daunting for women. Thousands of websites devoted to giving women career help have popped up, not to mention books and magazine articles, as well as personal advice from women who are both successful and not-so-successful. Even mom probably has some helpful hints.

As a graduate student on the verge of graduation, I was especially interested to see what advice women in the workforce might have for me. Of course, working for the Career Development Office already puts me in contact with smart, professional women, and anyone attending Chatham has this same benefit. But there was an overwhelming slew of information online to contend with, also. So, for other soon-to-be-alumni or not-so-recent-alumni, I’ve put together a list of the best and worst career advice I came into contact with.

The Worst

           Before I could figure out what career advice I should follow, I needed to weed out the bad stuff. Ignoring all of the obvious “Don’t work, just wait outside the business building for a rich man to propose to you” fluff, here is my list of the worst job tips for women.

  1. Don’t Groom in Public, Speak Softly, or Sit Demurely in Public. 

    This advice comes to us from a list entitled “What women do to sabotage their careers” given out by Citibank (as blogged about by David Xia). According to this list, these qualities “emphasize femininity and deemphasize your capability.” While these things may be true – though let it be known that I’ve seen many men groom in public – this advice suggests that women have to become manly to advance. Should women be more outspoken? Absolutely. It’s also probably a bad idea to break out the flat iron at your desk. However, that doesn’t mean we can never touch up our lip gloss in the elevator or that we need to storm into the office making demands while assuming a masculine power-posture. This could be just as much of a negative to your boss as being overly feminine.Advice written by men often suggests women need to become masculine in order to succeed. We can take advice on confidence from men, but please, especially if you’re wearing a skirt, keep sitting demurely in public.

  2. The Number One Thing You Need is Business Cards. 

    This tip was posted by iwillteachyoutoberich.com on a list of worst possible career advice. My roommate, a graduate student in a local program, had a class focused on career development which offered the same advice. She was informed that she should print up business cards immediately, though she still had three full semesters to complete. She wondered what she could possibly do with a stack of business cards and nothing to put on them?This advice is fairly common, and in and of itself isn’t terrible. So why did it make this list? This tip suggests that printing up business cards and passing them out to everyone you meet in an elevator is the most important part of finding a job, and that you should pass business cards out blindly. In reality, you would actually be much better off targeting your search to people with experience in your field. Quality over quantity applies here. Networking is only as successful as the people in your network – and what are the chances that your vet can get you an interview on Wall Street?

    So when should you have business cards? Print them up for a career fair or networking event. Carry a few on hand, just in case you meet someone in your desired field. There isn’t anything wrong with having business cards, but only hand them out to people in a position to use them.

  3. Apply for as Many Jobs as Possible – No Matter What They Are. 

    Forbes Magazine published a list of the worst career advice they’d come across, and this tip feels especially relevant. It seems to make sense, right? The more lottery tickets you buy, the better your chances of winning, so it should follow that the more jobs you apply for, the better your chances of getting hired. Not true.Just like with people in your network, you’re looking for quality over quantity in the job search. Applying for jobs that you aren’t qualified for or aren’t interested in is a waste of your time. Also, if you’re mass-applying for jobs, you probably aren’t spending time researching the company and formatting your resume/cover letter for a specific job. All of the advice I’ve come across agrees: on paper and in an interview, employers want you to be interested in working for them, not just in working.

  4. If You Want Me to Do That, You’re Gonna Have to Pay Me More. 

    According to Forbes Magazine, “Bosses warn that young workers who thumb their noses at menial work come off as entitled.” I’ve experienced this myself. I was the Office Manager of a retail store for three years (after two years as a cashier), and girls who said “I’m not paid enough to sweep the floor,” or “There’s no way I’m going to do that,” came off looking like they didn’t care about the job and had a poor work ethic. One cashier even claimed she didn’t know how to sweep. Those were the girls who got laid off at the end of the summer. One of the reasons I got promoted was my willingness to do the menial tasks and do them well. Volunteering for the jobs no one else wants can make you look motivated. Eventually, if you do the smaller jobs well enough, you will probably be trusted with the larger ones.

  5. If You Don’t Love Your Job, Quit. 

    Everyone wants to have a job they love, and you should set that as a goal for yourself. But when you’re starting the job hunt, it’s slightly impractical. I’m not suggesting you try to break into your desired PR firm by way of the janitorial department, but entry-level positions are often filled with tasks that may seem menial. It’s important to remember that somebody needs to do those jobs, and the more enthusiastic and pleasant you seem about your less-than-prestigious tasks, the more likely you are to end up on the short-list for a promotion

  6. Make a Plan and Stick to It. 

    The Glass Hammer, a website dedicated to empowering women in the workforce, suggests that it is important to have a specific plan for your future as early as possible. The idea is to prevent yourself from accepting a job just because it’s there, only to realize ten years down the line that you hate the job you have.Why is this bad? Well, it’s not. Not really, anyway, but the problem is that it isn’t realistic. We’ve all heard the speech in high school, in our advisor’s office, from our parents. It is important to have ideas about what you want, and it is also important to have some kind of plan. But realistically, you might find that your plan changes. You might be sitting in your advisor’s office your last semester of your junior year of college only to discover that your plan isn’t going to work, and that you took an elective you love so much that you want to abandon all of your plans and make a future based around this new interest. Not that I would know about that, or anything… but it happens. Things change. Have a plan, but be open to these changes, and embrace them. Today’s job market is flexible and adaptable, and your skillset should be, also.

So, now that we know what not to do, what should we actually do? Next week’s blog will speak to those questions and offer more tips on what I’ve learned about the job hunt and what to do once you already have a job.

 

By: Amanda Hart

Amanda is a second-year student in Chatham’s Creative Writing MFA program. She currently works as a Graduate Associate in the Career Development office and as an intern for Upstart Crow, a local literary agency.

If you are a science or policy major…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30th, 2011 by Career Development – Be the first to comment

The following types of experience, either paid or unpaid, are critical for science and policy majors:  internships, laboratory experience, research experience, job shadowing, volunteer work, summer employment are critical for science and policy majors .As a student, these experiences will help you determine if you are in the area of science that is right for you.  Employers will be looking for these experiences on your resume. Teamwork is useful in every field of science and policy, and being detail-oriented is a must. Strong analytical, computer, mathematics and communications skills should be developed early. Always stay current with new information coming out daily about your field. Obtaining a Master’s degree, Doctoral degree, or Post-Doc education will enhance the availability and level of employment opportunities available to you. Becoming familiar with the specific entrance exams for graduate or professional schools will be of benefit.

 

The National Institutes of Health as well as National Science Foundation sponsored research projects are good experience for biochemistry, majors. Consider a certificate program or specialized master’s program to qualify for research technician positions Communication, computer, and mathematics skills should be developed early in your career. Combine an undergraduate degree in biochemistry with law, computer programming, business, education information science, or other areas similar to expand career opportunities.

 

A biology bachelor’s degree will prepare you for many jobs: laboratory assistant, technician, technologist, or research assistant in education, industry, government, museums, parks, and gardens. Nontechnical work like writing, illustration, sales, photography, and legislation can also be obtained with an undergrad degree.  Medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science require a biology background. Learning laboratory procedures and becoming familiar with equipment is important for this major.  The federal government is the largest employer of biologists, so become familiar with the hiring process for federal, state, and local government

 

Entry-level positions offered to chemistry majors with a bachelor’s degree include: lab coordinator, research assistant, product testing or analysis, technical sales, or service representative.

 

Criminology uses concepts, theories, and methods from social and behavioral sciences to explore causes and consequences of criminal behavior. Understanding the effects of legal and social policies, and the ability to analyze, and evaluate data are skills that are essentials for success.

 

Environmental Science, Studies, Writing provides a broad base of hard sciences and liberal arts or social science coursework. By combining liberal arts skills with analytical skills you will increase marketability. Become familiar with current environmental laws and regulations.

 

Integrated Health provides students with evidence – based complementary and alternative health practices. One can study acupuncture, Chinese medicine, nutrition and natural products, mind – body therapies, and body – based practices. You may choose to use this foundation in areas including medicine (allopathic, osteopathic chiropractic, naturopathic, traditional Chinese) acupuncture, nutrition, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant studies.

 

Critical thinking, problem diagnosis, and solving, computer skills, and quantitative skills are all necessary to develop to become a mathematics major. A bachelor’s degree is often sufficient for entry – level positions, but pairing a bachelor’s with another technical discipline will make you more marketable. Supplement curriculum with courses in business, economics, computers, or statistics for increased job opportunities.

 

Nursing has become the largest healthcare field, combining science and technology with the desire to help people. Emotional stability and physical stamina is mandatory.

 

A bachelor’s degree in physics will qualify you for positions such as research assistant, high-level technicians, or computer specialists, as well as nontechnical work in publishing or sales. Some industries, such as the manufacturers of electrical devices, will train in the specialty of the firm

 

The amount of direct client contact is limited for those who have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and are seeking to pursue clinical work.  However, there are opportunities available in non-profit and for-profit arenas that utilize the transferrable skills learned in this major. Students should pursue undergraduate experiences and graduate education in psychology, social work, counseling, college student personnel, or other related fields to increase opportunities and earning potential.

 

A bachelor’s degree in Social Work prepares one for entry-level direct practice.. A master’s is necessary to provide therapy and for an advancement to supervisory or administrative positions. Most states require licensure, certification, or registration. A field practicum is used to determine suitability for this profession and to provide exposure to various practice settings and clients.

 

 

Entry – level positions in Global Policy Studies are generally within the U.S. with some international travel. Having two languages known proficiently makes a person more marketable in this field.

 

By becoming familiar with the government application process for opportunities in federal, state, and local government history as well as Public Policy majors will be more marketable and ahead of the game for their field. Verbal and written communication skills are imperative. Many elected public officials begin careers in other fields before campaigning for office (law, medicine, business)

 

If you’re an arts or humanities major…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 30th, 2011 by Career Development – Be the first to comment

When deciding to pursue an artistic or humanities major, many facts should be considered. Understand that a bachelor’s degree will most likely lead to an entry-level position at best, and that a Master’s degree is preferred. Having a graduate degree is required to teach at the college or university level. If you plan to seek freelance opportunities, you will need to be prepared, proactive, determined, assertive, and confident. Criticism and rejection abound in the artistic workplace, so having a thick skin will help. Marketability in these fields will also depend on skills in other areas such as business management, computers, and marketing.

When becoming an Arts Management major, an advanced degree is necessary to attain competitive upper level positions. Be ready to relocate if necessary to where more opportunities exist and are available.

By joining http://www.toastmasters.org/ Communications majors can learn and brush up on their skills to make themselves more marketable.

Interior Architecture requires additional training or a graduate degree in most related fields.

Most music major jobs require joining unions or guilds. A flexible schedule is a requirement of music majors as travel is almost always required for any job obtained..

Some graphic designers (visual arts majors) cross in multiple media such as educational design, identity design, information design, and systems design. A solid communications background will be helpful in this field.

African American Studies provides an interdisciplinary background that helps students develop analytical, critical thinking, and writing skills while gaining knowledge about the lives and conditions of people from Africa and of African descent.
When majoring in Cultural Studies helps build skills in critical thinking and problem solving, data collection and analysis, oral, written and presentation skills, and co-operative teamwork skills.