Tag Archives: interview preparation

How Social Media Can Advance Your Career

Job seekers are often told to safeguard their social media accounts to insure that they aren’t viewed during the job search.  While this can be wise advice, there is another side to the story:

Using social media to ADVANCE your job search (and your career).

With the majority of professionals (and people in general) on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. these days, being “unsearchable” via social media may be more trouble than it is worth.  When I can’t find someone through social media, I sometimes wonder why–are they making all accounts super private because of something inappropriate? What’s going on?

While it is a great idea to “clean up” your Facebook or Twitter accounts so that potential employers don’t get a negative impression, you can also use social media to your advantage.  I use my Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts to post (publicly–so that “everyone” can see) any major accomplishments, such as receiving a promotion or presenting at a conference.  I also post information about events that my office organizes or articles relevant to my field.

I work in a field that offers great work/life balance but also a good integration of professional and personal life.  Many of my colleagues are Facebook “friends” so I post appropriate personal information as well, like recently buying a home, becoming engaged last year, and birthdays of my nephews and nieces.

I’ve had many Proactive Professional readers find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  I’ve also received emails from professionals who Googled me and found my website and Facebook page.  When this occurs, I am grateful that my public Facebook reflects positive things in my life, an interest in my field, and the work I’m doing in career counseling.

Consider going beyond protecting your Facebook from colleagues, supervisors, or potential employers.  Instead, use social media to your advantage by creating a “brand” for yourself online.  Using social media proactively may convince potential employers or current supervisors that you’d be a great fit within their company–or are ready for a promotion.

Make sure that how you're viewed on social media is in alignment with who you are and how you want others to see you.

Make sure that how you’re viewed on social media is in alignment with who you are and how you want others to see you.

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Is a Video Resume EVER Appropriate?

In my job, I counsel a lot of college students (aka Millennials) during their job search. One question that frequently comes up in my course for seniors, “Marketing Yourself for the Job Search,” is how creative you can be with your resume. Students ask if putting a QR code on an otherwise blank sheet of paper will suffice, if their resumes can have various colors and fonts, and if they can submit video resumes instead of paper versions. Typically, my answer to all of the above is a resounding “no.”

I recently read, however, that by 2024 Millennials will make up three quarters of the United States workforce. This has led me to ponder whether or not employers should become more Millennial friendly. When the question of video resumes came up again, I gave it some serious consideration.

Video Resume Tips

Things to consider before creating a video resume

  1. If you’re thinking about filming a video resume, it’s important to ask yourself if this would be appropriate for your career field. Accounting firms, for example, are highly unlikely to spend time watching video resumes—they’re much more concerned about your accounting abilities. Marketing firms, online organizations, and social media sites, on the other hand, might appreciate or even require a video resume. They want a glimpse of your personality and an idea of how well you can sell a product.
  2. You must also consider how likely it is that an employer who doesn’t require a video resume will even view one. On average, hiring managers spend less than thirty seconds looking at a resume. And these are typed resumes, probably printed out by their assistants. If a hiring manager spends less than a minute on a standard resume, what are the odds that they will take the time to watch yours?
  3. When thinking about who will be looking at your resume, you also have to consider company culture. Are you applying at a tech-savvy start-up or an old-school legal firm? If you think you can produce a well made video resume that allows your personality to shine, do so. But keep a paper version for the potential employers who only want to know what skills you’re bringing to the table.
  4. In my opinion, the goal of a resume is to showcase your skills and experiences, not your personality. The resume’s purpose is to illustrate to the interviewer that you can do the job. The actual job interview is where you expound upon your skills, answer any questions they have, and determine (for both parties) whether or not you’re a good fit for the company.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think that a live, in-person interview (or even a phone or Skype interview) is the best place to show off your personality—save the YouTube videos for your vlog.

*This article, written by Proactive Professional, originally appeared on Levo League.

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Top 5 Tips for Utilizing Your University’s Career Services–from a Career Coach

I often hear complaints from new college graduates that career services didn’t get them a job.  Something many students don’t understand is that career development centers are not placement organizations.  Career services professionals are there to help provide you with the tools to figure out what you want to do professionally and how to best market yourself for the job search.  With that being said, here are my top tips for effectively utilizing the career services offered at your university.

Image(Cheesy, I know)

Keep in mind: career service professionals are not there to give you a job or place you in a job.

Consider this: if you wanted to get married in the next few years, would you really want a dating service to handpick your future spouse, or even give you a half dozen to choose from? Perhaps that sounds better than going out on dozens of blinds dates, but really think it through.  Before you can have a successful relationship, you must have a deep understanding of who you are (your likes, dislikes, needs, deal breakers, future goals, etc.) as well as the necessary tools to make a relationship great (trust, open communication, intimacy, etc.).

In the same way, career development offices are here to help you figure out the kinds of careers you’re interested in based on your values, interests, and personality and how to pursue those careers.

Think about what you’d like to get from your meeting before the appointment. 

Many times, I’ve had students come in and ask for their resumes to be critiqued.  Twenty minutes later, they admit that they’re unsure of their major or feel they need practice interviewing.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having several needs, but it will make easier for everyone if you consider what those needs are before heading into your career coaching session.  We don’t always realize we have more than one issue and that’s completely fine.  If you can, though, consider how you’d like your career adviser to help and what areas you feel need the most attention.

Realize that career development is a process.

I think of our lives as being in a constant state of evolution.  Our wants, needs, and goals change based on our experiences and the things we learn about ourselves.  The mistake I see so many people (not just students!) make is feeling like a failure for changing their career plans.  It is not uncommon to realize you don’t fit in with the culture of a company or professional field.  It is not strange to figure out that you don’t have the skills necessary for the job your friends or family are pressuring you to take (an example of this would be an artistic student realizing they have no skills or interest in the field of medicine).  You are not a failure for realizing a career path is wrong for you in your senior year.  You are not useless because you don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life as a college freshman.

Come back for multiple sessions.

In the same way that career development is a process the job search does not end when you submit your resume.  The career path does not stop when you figure out your major.  Career services can help you edit your resume, prepare for interviews, understand your personality type, and deal with the stressors that come with choosing a profession.  Develop a relationship with a career coach and maintain it through your time in college.

Don’t be afraid to utilize alumni career services.

Most colleges and universities have programs, career advisers and assistance for alumni.  Sometimes these services cost money, but they can help you tailor your resume to the different organizations or career fields you’re pursuing and learn to be a proactive professional.

Bonus Tip:

If you meet with a career adviser and don’t feel like they are listening to you, or you don’t feel comfortable speaking openly with them, ask for another career adviser! Every student and every adviser is different–sometimes one person isn’t the right fit for you and that’s okay.

Finding the right career can be one of the most rewarding things you do in life.  Many students believe that college is a time to go to class, go to parties, and be involved in student organizations.  While these can be great experiences and teach you so much about yourself, don’t forget to plan for your career.  We spend so much of our lives at work—it is my opinion that figuring out what you want to do with your life is as important as knowing who you want to marry or the kind of person you want to be.  Career advisers are here to help you make the journey from college to career a rewarding one.  Take advantage!

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A STAR Interview

You’re at a job interview. Things seem to be going pretty well until you hear the dreaded question:

“Tell me about a time when…”

  • You worked with a difficult client
  • You struggled to complete a task
  • You had a conflict with a team member

Often, it doesn’t matter how the sentence ends. We struggle to think of a time when this incident occurred and we usually end up giving too many details or not painting the picture clearly enough. Today, I’m here to bring you two tips to help you give a great answer.

1. Know the secret language of interviewers

“Tell me about a time when you had to complete several tasks at once…” actually translates to “Tell me how you prioritize and multi-task.”

“Tell me about a time when you acted as part of a team” translates to “What role do you take on in a group? Do you come up with ideas, assign tasks, do the behind the scenes work?–Who will you be in OUR company?”

A simple Google search of commonly asked interview questions + what they really mean will assist you in finding the hidden meaning based on your professional field, the job you’re applying for, etc. So now I’ll move on to how to answer these questions.

The STAR Method

STAR stands for:

Situation

Task (this can also be Problem or Challenge–making it the SPAR or SCAR method)

Action

Result

By using the STAR method when answering these sorts of behavioral questions, you can appear poised, prepared, and keep yourself on task.  Here’s an example of the STAR method at work:

Interviewer: Tell me about a time when you worked with someone who wasn’t doing their share of the tasks.

Situation: At a former internship, I was assigned to complete a series of blog posts with a fellow intern.

Task: The other intern informed me that she was too busy to assist in writing the posts and asked that I write them.  However, I was also juggling my schoolwork and the other tasks assigned to me at my internship.

Action: I explained to the intern that I also had other responsibilities at the internship and suggested we divide up the blog posts–I would do the first month’s and she would complete the second month’s.  This would allow her more time to arrange her schedule in a way that would allow her to complete the posts.

Result: She agreed that this was a fair way of dividing the assignment and my supervisor was pleased that they were published on time.

By arming yourself with commonly asked interview questions, you can prepare your STARs ahead of time and run through them with a friend (or career counselor!). This will ensure that the story and your role in it is clear.  You can also make sure that you are not portraying the event in a negative light or missing an important part of the STAR method.

Insider tip: In my experience, interviewees leave out the Result part of the STAR method more often than any other–but this is the most important part! Illustrating to your interviewer how your Actions created a positive Result will help them to see that you are a responsible employee who can deliver positive outcomes.

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