Dating at the Job Fair: Wooing Employers

By: David

With Valentine’s day approaching and job fair season ongoing, today’s post will be juxtaposing the two notions dating and job fair recruiting. Sadly, I will not be giving tips and advice for finding your soulmate at the job fair. After attending several job fairs, I have come to see many similarities between the two and figured it would be fun to highlight a few similarities and differences for this hectic time of job recruiting season.

RESEARCH 

Similar to Facebook stalking, it is important to research your intended company before the initial meet. (Disclaimer: I do not condone any FB stalking behavior). When finding a romantic partner, the new method in today’s day and age is the art of Facebook stalking which allows people to see and maybe know more about that individual (depending on privacy settings of course). Similar to dating, it is always important to “stalk” your intended company to further find more information the company might have because in the end you always want to be prepared to be able to talk about certain things and ask and answer any questions the other party might have for you. The only catch is that it is okay for you to go above and beyond with questions for job fair recruiters but not potential partners. For instance, it is okay for you to talk about specific aspects and details about the company and work ethic. On the flipside, please refrain yourself from talking about your potential partner’s cousin who is newly engaged.  

DRESS TO IMPRESS!

One thing I can not stress enough for both job fairs and dating is to dress to impress! Ideally, it would be fantastic if people did not judge us and could accept us for our great personalities and skill sets, but that’s not always the case. The idea here is not always to physically attract the opposing party (though it can be), but rather it just shows the other party that you are willing to invest your time and effort for them specifically. For job fairs, one absolute criteria is professional dress attire. This is important because it establishes a sense of credibility by expressing your professional side by presenting yourself in a well-poised manner. In terms of dating, it’s nice to show that you invested time and effort to present yourself for the other party in a fashionable manner. Overall, whether it be for professional or personal reasons, it never hurts to dazzle the opposing party by dressing up. For ideas of what to where you can check out our Pinterest boards for women and men.

THE ICE-BREAKER

Whether it be the dating scene or the professional field, one of the most common thing that happens to me is preparing myself to talk to the other party with confidence, but ending up not doing so. My outfit looks sharp, I feel fabulous, and I have the entire conversation scripted in my head. When it comes down to the wire, I instantly freeze, lose all my confidence, and run away to reevaluate my life and my approach. Trust me, it happens all the time! Over the years, I have learned that the biggest obstacle to overcome is the icebreaker. Being creative, personable, and NOT awkward is a difficult task to do for most of us, but is perfected through time. Whether it be the elevator speech for job fairs or a pickup line for a romantic interest, the icebreaker approach is one skill that can definitely be mastered.

All in all, the juxtaposition between dating and job fairs is quite similar when comparing the two. Despite the experience level in either field, it is always a great learning experience to get out there and actually experience the process of job recruiting and dating. Whether it be for professional purposes or romantic reasons, there are key ideas that definitely overlap between the two notions that can be applicable even in other areas as well. Hope you all enjoyed today’s post and look forward to a part II in the far future! Good luck with job fair season and dating (if you are looking for someone) and hopefully you can apply skills from one field to another to increase your odds in your desired goal. Happy trails and as always, stay gold!  

Of Possible Interest: 

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Study Abroad: Telling Stories & Sharing Skills

By: Zach

For most of us, our venture off into the “real world” is approaching sooner than we think, and it is time to update the resume, polish up on interviewing skills, and above all, market our amazing skills to prospective employers! Standing out on paper always seems easier said than done, but what can we do now to set ourselves up for success in the future? In this brief post, I am going to share with you ways in which study abroad experiences can help you separate yourself from the pack when it comes to job and internship hunting. I hope this proves to not only be a good read for students that have already studied abroad, but also for those of you who are even slightly interested in taking that international leap to learn!

When I had returned from my semester in London, many people were curious about my travels. I definitely enjoy sharing these stories with all those that are interested, but all these questions soon started to get me thinking. “So… how have I changed?” and “What did I learn from my time overseas?” It’s always easy to talk about the different places I have been and the adventures I went on, but how do I share the skills I developed when it matters most? More and more employers are not only seeking out students in the right field, with the right grades, and the right school, but they are looking for students with passions, ambitions, involvement, and experience.

When it comes to the skills you learned abroad, remember all of the times you had to think on your own and face some unique challenges alone. For me, it was being tossed into a big city with an overwhelming metro system, learning new etiquette and customs in a fast pace culture, or even sleeping on a bare mattress, no pillow or sheets my first night because after that long trip over, sleep was the thing that was needed most. Ok, so they do not always sound like much, and you’re probably just thinking “Zach, give it a rest already! We get it… you studied abroad and now you’re some world explorer like Bear Grylls…” But whether you realize it or not, each “story” brings its own new skill that you are able to share with employers on your resume, cover letter, and interview. Below are a couple of the best ways I believe someone’s travels abroad can be highlighted to employers:

Resume

Standard and simple! Slap the study abroad experience on your resume. It’s best to keep this one short and concise under the Education section of a resume. Sometimes it feels like it would be nice to give this type of experience a whole page to itself, but unfortunately that’s not quite how resumes work, and I bet the employer at the other end will have more important things to be doing. Under the education section of a resume, it is as easy as listing the program or school you attended while abroad, location, and maybe GPA info if you care to put it. Our Career Handbook in our office has some good examples on how to add study abroad to your resume, so head on down and take a look when you can!

Cover Letter

When it comes to a cover letter, just like any other shared experience, we are able to elaborate more than on a resume. This is where you are able to share those life changing experiences and skills you gained while abroad. For me, it is still important to tie in my academic work and group projects from the school I went to in a cover letter. In doing this, I am able to explain the projects and assignments I worked on, and also talk about things such as different team or report types. If done correctly, your cover letter will highlight your new independence skills and also show your ability to be adaptable, flexible, and truly how to perform well in other environments and settings.

Interview

Last but definitely not least, interviews are going to be your best opportunity to share with an employer the skills you gained while studying abroad. From my experiences this past semester, I have brought up my semester in London when asked questions about greatest achievements and even biggest obstacles and failures. And crazy enough, that is really what the whole experience is about! It’s about overcoming challenges, finding paths for yourself, and creating goals and dreams. Just have a couple stories ready to tell before you head in for an interview, and I even bet most of the nerves will melt away when you are asked a question about your travels. This is because they are fun to talk about! Try not to go on too long, and make sure you are answering their question and coming to a point. Overall, my experience in interviews has showed me that the natural excitement I get when I talk about studying abroad seems to go a long way in the eyes of the employer!

Ok, ok… I promise I am off my study abroad “soap box” now, but if I can say one last thing, it would be that if you have the opportunity to study abroad during your years at UMD, do not hesitate to take it. There is something exciting and almost indescribable about taking an adventure of your own, stepping out of your bubble, and discovering what else is out in our big world.

If you have any other questions about studying abroad, make sure to stop by the International Education Office where they can answer your study abroad questions! Or if you would like to just come chat about any travel opportunities and how to incorporate them into your job search, come steal me for five minutes at Career and Internship Services. Talk soon, all!

Cheers,

– Zach

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What Should You be Looking for in Future Employers

By: Ashlee FB

Many of us are currently, or will be in the very near future, applying for jobs and entering the work force.

So often students get wrapped up concentrating on enhancing their resumes, volunteering, maintaining specified GPA’s, etc., so we are able to stay ahead and land the dream job for which we’ve all worked so hard. One thing many students forget is, yes, we should be constantly improving ourselves personally and professionally, but good employers should be doing the same.

Fortunately for us, there are certain standards we can expect from employers as well. Being a business student, one class we are required to take is Organizational Behavior Management. I feel this class is essential, not just to learn how to be an effective manager, but to learn what qualities to look for in future employers as well.

Future employers

So what exactly makes an organization a “good” place to work for, and what should you be looking for in an “effective” manager?

Positive and constant communication

Communication skills have been the number one skill employers look for, for a number of years in a row; this transcends into manager positions as well. It is absolutely essential that managers know how to effectively and actively communicate with their employees. The manager is the voice for information between all areas of the organization and without this voice, goals and other organizational messages can be misconstrued. It is also important for a manager to be a good listener. Managers need to let employees voice their emotions in a safe and confidential environment. Stifled emotions can turn into resentment, diminishing workplace relationships quickly. At the same time, emotions that are not adequately dealt with can interfere with discussions, which will most likely be the main form of communication in a given work environment. Communication is the single most important area in which a manager can be proficient.

Being a good coach

An effective manager acknowledges that different people require different levels of motivation and knows exactly how to motivate each employee to do his or her best in the workplace. Managers should also know how to challenge his or her employees by communicating achievable goals and offering goal-oriented feedback regularly. Part of training coachable employees is to be a good manager as well.

Make people feel good about what they do

In an organization, it is crucial every employee feels valued in the work they do and the service they provide. A successful manager is great at identifying their employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and continually applauds them when employees do their job correctly. This recognition does not go unnoticed by employees and in turn creates a positive environment for the entire organization; it is important for employees to hear this positivity from time to time. Good managers know that, generally, happy people make productive people.

Treat everyone equally

We have all had jobs where our managers review conduct/harassment rules and most of us know what is right and wrong as far as these terms go in the workplace. Treating employees equally, however, goes much further than just abiding by harassment and conduct rules. Many times, favoritism can be a large issue, and it often happens on a subconscious level. The tendency is to give more recognition to the people who do the best in their roles or to those with whom we become friends. While it is human nature to naturally gravitate towards certain people, it is important as a manager to try to subdue those feelings and be as impartial as possible.

Empowers and promotes teamwork

Although many of us have been overworked with group projects throughout a majority of our undergraduate career, teamwork is a key player in any organization and also a skill many employers look for today. It is the manager’s responsibility to teach other people how to do a good job; it is by the manager’s example that expectations are set. Manager’s are, for the most part, in their positions because you’re good at what they do, but that doesn’t mean they’re supposed to do everything. Instilling trust and confidence in the team makes for better results and happier employees.

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Getting That Resume From Point A to Point B

By: Andrew

This past weekend I came across an article from Mashable that Target shared on LinkedIn about how to get your resume through the computer screening process and actually into a recruiters hands. It was interesting to read their take on the best practices for getting a resume to its final destination. So, I decided to do a little cross-analysis on our office opinions and the article’s!

The first thing they mentioned was to keep formatting simple. In our office, we couldn’t agree more. We feel that the more simplistic a resume format looks, the easier it is for someone to read. Always remember, a resume is all about content in the end. Your crazy fonts, sizes, and colors will only take away from the quality experiences you have on your resume. A simple format may look boring, but we always receive positive feedback from recruiters about the simpler formats. I personally experienced a recruiter saying she almost always ignored the over the top formats. So, keep it simple and follow our guidelines in the Career Handbook.

Secondly they said, state the right keywords. As I did with the first one, I could not agree more with this one! When creating a resume it is important to remember that you are describing what you did at your jobs or in projects. One common issue I see on resumes is that students and alumni do not take enough credit for what they did in past experiences, because the keywords (AKA, descriptors) were too simple and far too generic. Of course, don’t stretch your words beyond the truth, but be aware that you may not be giving yourself the credit you deserve and earned.

Third, they said to get rid of the career objective. On this one, we would disagree in our office. It is important to have a career objective because it gives a recruiter a chance to remember why you came to them applying in the first place. They will not remember everyone and they may be hiring for different positions, so don’t just expect them to know where your resume should be in a grouping of 100 of them. It also helps you focus what you put on your resume. For instance, if I am applying for a management position I will speak to leadership experiences more. On the other hand, if I were applying for a finance position I would want to highlight any work with numbers, money, or possibly data analysis. These situations above are only some of the reasons to keep a career objective, but when in doubt, keep it on.

Lastly, we have a no brainer. Don’t make spelling errors! It is very telling when there are glaring spelling or grammatical errors on a resume, because it shows that you did not take the time to proofread your work fully. It can be easy to miss a spelling error, so get an extra set of eyes looking over your resume. Again, a simple thing that will keep your resume in the mix.

I encourage you to use our Career Handbook or come down to Career & Internship Services in the Wedge. We always have a Peer Educator, such as myself, ready to help review and critique resumes.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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Influencers on How They Hire

By: Taylor

Recently I found a series of posts on LinkedIn that gives professionals a chance to describe how they hire. Many of the writers are CEO’s or business owners that are very influential. Although the page is primarily for recruiters or other hiring managers, a student can find a lot of valuable information when reading about what may make or break an interview and also what businesses are looking for.

Some of the titles include:

  • How I Hire: Find Ballplayers, Not Those Who Look Good in Baseball Caps
  • How I Hire: To Be Great at Hiring, Be Unafraid of Firing
  • How I Hire: Recruiting with a Human Voice
  • How I Hire: With Purpose
  • How I Hire: Stop Telling Me and Start Showing Me
  • How I Hire: It’s Not Just What You Answer, It’s How
  • How I Hire: I Don’t Care Where You Went to School
  • How I Hire: Just Be Yourself

If you want to check it out, the channel is called “Influencers on How They Hire.” I particularly liked posts related to traits that employees were looking for; recurring words included passionate, confident, strategic, and adaptable. The posts were also encouraging when referencing the interview. They spoke about how outfits matter less than we think, the details of our stories are irrelevant in ways, but a glow in the eye signaling passion will land you a job. Tap into the brains of some of the most successful so that you can follow in their footsteps!

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Why Networking Works

By: Michael

Recently, I attended McGladrey’s casino night networking event. It had been a while since I had last participated in networking activities during my internship in Washington D.C. last summer. I decided that it would be a good idea to maybe outline some dos and don’ts for networking that I’ve learned over the years.

Tips for networking

  1. Dress Accordingly: This one I can’t stress enough. It is always a good idea to ask the dress code before any event so you can look the part. When in doubt, I’ve learned that dressing slightly more formal is the best way to go. Sometimes people have a hard time identifying the look of business casual, and I can probably only make sound advice for the men out there, but typically for business casual it’s best to stick to a nice pair of slacks and a button down shirt. You can use your best judgment as to whether or not to add the tie, but I always do, even for business casual.
  2. Don’t Be Shy: I know from personal experience that networking can be very intimidating, especially for the introverts out there. To be honest, when I’m networking, my introverted side really starts to show, but I think by establishing questions and discussion topics before hand really helps to break the ice. Think of it this way: you should not go to a networking event without at least knowing some basic facts about the company or organization. Coming unprepared will leave you to the sidelines with little to talk about.
  3. Be as Prim and Proper as Possible: There are some who might disagree with me a bit, but from my experience in politics and networking, good social etiquette plays a huge role. Often times companies that host these events provide food or appetizers, but that doesn’t mean you should rush to the table and load up a plate as much as possible. It is more polite to mingle with guests and hosts until an announcement is made or the food is brought out. And, need I say it, if you get invited to a post-networking get together, such as grabbing drinks with the hosts, don’t over do it. Make sure to use your manners, always thank the hosts and express your gratitude for their time.
  4. Ask for Business Cards: This is one of the most important aspects of networking in my opinion. During my time in Washington, I accumulated countless business cards from people I met during my internship. If there is a moment where you have an intriguing conversation with another during a networking event, it is to your benefit to ask for a card and if they’d mind it if you followed up with them later on. This is the first step to really getting your foot in the door with people. Nowadays it’s really about who you know that gets you a job.

I hope this advice was fairly useful to many of you. Just remember to loosen up, come prepared, and ask questions. Maybe talk a little about your own goals and aspirations to spark some intrigue. In my opinion, the atmosphere of a networking event is less than an initial date with the company; it’s meeting the parents. In the end, if you come prepared and make a good first impression, you just might land a job.

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Get Noticed

By: Taylor

Through Career & Internship Services I get to see dozens of resumes each week and have an opportunity to critique them. Our office provides pamphlets of advice that we have gathered from employers and the leading professionals. What format is best? What size font? What experiences should I highlight and how? But what if, after making all of the proper adjustments, your resume still isn’t getting through? Many students today are wondering how they aren’t getting even a phone call from an employer when they think they are the perfect candidate and their resume showed that.

Get noticed by employers

Well, the answer to your question may be your method of application, not your resume. Today many companies give you the option of applying online. Needless to say, it is fairly easy (yet time-consuming) to apply this way. In some scenarios, employers are receiving thousands of resumes. They then narrow the resumes down by selecting key words and experiences.

So what is the key to locking down that first interview? Making a connection that isn’t anonymous online is crucial. By networking with professionals on LinkedIn or at job fairs, you increase the chances of your resume getting looked at, ten-fold. This connection is real. This is particularly relevant for those who are interested in a company that doesn’t necessary have any jobs posted. Again, by making that in-person connection, you have made some sort of impression. If it is a good one, your contact may put your resume at the top of the list or even let you in on the open positions that the company isn’t posting online.

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