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Posted August 02, 2019 by

How to Use Your Disability as a Strength When Applying for a Job

Lois Barth is a Human Development Expert, Speaker, Life and Business Coach, and Author of the book, “Courage to SPARKLE; The Audacious Girls’ Guide to Creating A Life that Lights You Up.” Lois will be a panelist at the College Recruiting Bootcamp on D&I at EY on December 12th in New York City.

Did you know that bones that were broken and healed properly are stronger than bones that have never been broken at all? It’s a fact, as well as a great metaphor for those with disabilities. As a life and business coach, I often tell my clients to use that fact in an interview, not harping on the disability, but being strategic in sending the message that adapting to, and in some cases, overcoming a disability, makes them a far stronger candidate than someone who has never gone through adversity.

There are, in fact, many ways to turn a disability into a desired ability when applying for a job. Of course, it all depends on the type of disability, the position and the company culture.

Start with Some Research

There are many factors to consider about a company before applying for a job. I guide my career-coaching clients who are getting ready for an interview to think of themselves as an investigator out to solve a mystery. Begin the process by looking at the company on a broad-stroke level. What does the website tell you about the organization? You can learn a lot about the culture from the messaging, the use of buzz words (such as diversity, inclusion, team engagement), company values, charitable contributions, community involvement and recent initiatives. Additionally, pay attention to the images: Do they include photos of employees who are diverse? Do the images reflect a company that is more conservative, or one that is more progressive?

You can also Google them to discover any current or past newsworthy trends in both their industry and their organization that may impact hiring. For instance, if they just received a “Best Places to Work” award, it’s likely that their culture is positive and inclusive. On the other hand, if you find a backlash for recent marginalizing of a group, you may want to steer clear. Review sites like Glass Door can be tricky because it’s usually the employees who have extreme experiences (they either love it or hate it) that take the time to write, which means you’re not getting the full picture. You may, however, notice themes among the reviews.

Once you get a company overview, take a deeper dive into the job description. What are the primary functions? Whom are you serving? What core competencies are they looking for and is your disability an asset (it often is) or a deficit? How do you spin it to either show how your disability will make you a better candidate or at the very least, won’t hinder your performance?

Use Story-Selling to Make Your Pitch

Recently I worked with a client whose disability was fairly obvious from the get-go, but given his non-profit focus, it was an asset, because he had overcome so much to get where he is and the job that he was interviewing for was serving an underserved and neglected population. I strongly suggested that he lead with his “story-selling pitch” which was a wonderfully touching story about learning to deal with his disability, and how, in the process, he learned so much about empathy, persistence, critical thinking, and determination, all of which were desired qualities for this position. Within the story, we weaved in his hard skills that embodied a whole slew of accomplishments that were germane to the position. The interviewer became intrigued and after several interviews with board members, he was offered the job.

If your disability is blatantly obvious and may be perceived as a deficit, but nobody’s talking about it, using a well-crafted story that highlights the key qualities the employer is looking for can be very impactful. Many job descriptions list qualities such as critical thinking, determination, adaptability, and self-starter, to name just a few, that people who have successfully navigated their disability have had to develop.

However, if your disability may bring to question functionality and the ability to perform a job, then that needs to be addressed head-on. It’s best to do this in a fluid, conversational tone, using examples from the past to dispel any concerns a potential employer may have.

As a rule, I suggest candidates do more listening than talking. Ask thoughtful questions and focus on being interested versus interesting, which works for people with or without disabilities! Don’t play the disability card, but don’t try to avoid it either. Rapt attention, genuine interest, enthusiasm and energy are rare these days, which means demonstrating these qualities will take you far. Of course, you also need the hard skills to back up your competency.

Finally, don’t be afraid to bring humor to the situation. When appropriately stated, humor can go a long way to dispel any tension that may be present. It shows that you are not overly sensitive, that you have a sense of humor and humility, but you’re not ashamed of your disability. In general, people hire people they like; people whom they can relate to and trust, regardless of a disability.  

Know Your Strengths 

One of my colleagues had very intense dyslexia and ADHD. She couldn’t sit still for more than 20-30 minutes, and paperwork that should have taken 10-20 minutes took hours and was tortuous. On the positive side, she was amazing with people, could pivot on a dime, had tons of energy and loved making people feel special. She was also hilarious, passionate about health and loved helping people.

Fortunately, the health club where she was working saw her strengths and was smart enough to move her from a stifling mid-level administrative position to a sales job where she could meet and greet clients. Her people skills, creativity and natural curiosity about others, made her very good at this position and, in turn, the position made her very happy. Within the first month, she became head of sales.

Before you begin applying for positions, take a realistic assessment of your strengths: What do you bring to the potential employer? Do your abilities mesh with the job description and the qualities they value? Again, be sure to do your research on the industries, companies and jobs that provide a good fit with your unique assets.

For instance, if someone has ADD, a job that demands constant switching of tasks or mostly short-term projects takes advantage of this person’s proclivities. Meanwhile, someone with OCD may excel at a job that requires being very precise and detail oriented. For people who don’t pick up social cues and operate at their best by themselves, a strong analytic research job that requires long hours of solitary focused work may be a perfect fit. In other words, depending on the job, “alleged disabilities” may be a huge benefit.

Do Your Research. Lead with Enthusiasm. Make it About What You Can Provide.

Those are the three main takeaways when applying for any job. Remember, you may have a disability, but you are much more than your disability. You’re a whole person, with skill sets and talents that are valuable to the right employers. With every disability, there is another ability that has gotten strengthened to compensate. That’s why, even though it’s become quite PC, I do like the phrase “learning differences.” We all have challenges and we all have assets. Nobody’s exempt from the human being club that’s full of complexity and diversity. The more you embrace it as just one of the many facets of your humanity, the more you can celebrate (and sell) the one-of-a-kind gem that you are.

Lois Barth is a Human Development Expert, Speaker, Life and Business Coach, and Author of the book, “Courage to SPARKLE; The Audacious Girls’ Guide to Creating A Life that Lights You Up.” Lois supports her clients to overcome their negative self-talk, manage stress and advocate for themselves and dynamically create the next chapter of their life. She has worked with over 800 clients and on a professional level has helped them in every area from career transition, interview skills training, communication and building their business. The creator of Smart Sexy TV, she has been the makeover life coach for SELF Magazine; Fitness Magazine and Fit Blog (Sears) as well as the “Stress Less–Thrive More” Lady for C.T. Style TV (ABC Affiliate). A sought after expert, Lois has been quoted and published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, College Recruiter, SELF Magazine, to name a few.  Her speaking clients include L’Oreal, Women in Banking, Capital One, Mid-Atlantic Women in Energy, Society of Women Engineers, and the American Heart Association to name a few. 

Join Lois Barth, along with your fellow university relations, talent acquisition and other human resource leaders from corporate, non-profit and government agencies at the:

College Recruiting Bootcamp on D&I at EY

Organized by College Recruiter and hosted by Ernst & Young

Thursday, December 12, 2019

9:30 AM – 2:30 PM (EST)

Ernst & Young World Headquarters

121 River Street

Hoboken, NJ 07030

For more information and tickets, go to: http://www2.CollegeRecruiter.com/BootcampOnDIatEY

Posted August 01, 2019 by

Job Search Tips to Help You Find the Right Opportunity

While there may be more job openings than qualified applicants, that doesn’t mean finding the right opportunity is easy. In fact, searching for a job is hard work! And, like any task, it requires some “best practices” to get good results. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your job search.

Broaden your scope.

Instead of simply looking at specific job titles, take the time to look at the skills the company is seeking in a candidate. Job titles can differ among industries and organizations, so why limit yourself to a title. Matching your skill set to those required for a position can ensure a better fit and provide more options including some that you may not have considered.

Decide what is non-negotiable.

More is not always better. You could send out as many applications as possible and hope for the best, or you could narrow your search to positions and companies that offer a good fit. Finding a good fit includes knowing what you’re unwilling to accept. Make a list of things that are deal breakers. For instance, you may not be able to relocate due to family obligations. How far are you willing to commute each day? Are flexible hours a nicety or a necessity? Is a positive corporate culture high on your priority list? In other words, do some research before sending out applications and start with those companies that fit the bill.

Keep good records.

Being organized can help you in several ways. First, even if you receive a rejection, there could be another opportunity at this company in the future. Or, there may be something about the job description that really resonates with you and could lead you in a new direction. Second, if you do get an interview, you will want to refer back to the job listing to prepare. Finally, if you receive specific feedback from a company, it may help you change tactics, revise your resume or improve your cover letter.

Customize your cover letter and resume.

Jobs are not one size fits all. Just as you’re looking for a job that fits you, every company is looking for the “right” candidate with specific experience, skills and personality. With that in mind, be sure to tailor your cover letter and resume for each position you apply to, highlighting the experience and skills that the employer is seeking. Also, if you’re working off a form letter or template, be sure to double check that all the names are correct before sending it!

Prepare for the interview.

Don’t just show up. Remember, you’re trying to set yourself apart from other candidates, so come prepared with information about the industry, the company, the position, and if possible, the person you are interviewing with. Doing your homework will not only make you feel more confident, it will also demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job and your willingness to go the extra mile.

Have questions ready.

Most people will wrap up an interview by asking the candidate if he/she has questions about the company or position. A surprising number of interviewees don’t come prepared with questions and fumble needlessly to think of something to ask (especially when you may already be nervous). Stand out from the pack by preparing a few thoughtful questions in advance. This is also a great opportunity to learn more about the company, it’s culture and the position. For some great questions to consider, read “8 Questions Job Seekers Should Ask.” https://www.collegerecruiter.com/blog/2019/07/01/8-interview-questions-job-seekers-should-ask/

Don’t forget to respond.

Manners matter! Always send a thank you note within a day or two of your interview. Make sure it reflects your enthusiasm about the position by sharing why you’re excited about the company and the job. To keep the conversation going, you can ask another pertinent question. Also, it’s a good idea to let some of your personality shine through instead of sending a standard, formal thank you note. After all, you want them to remember you!

(This article was adapted from “10 Job Search Tips to Help You Find Your Best Opportunity Every Time, by Nina Zipkin, Entrepreneur, 2010.)

College Recruiter is the leading job search site used by students and recent graduates of all 7,400+ one-, two-, and four-year colleges and universities who are searching for internships, part-time jobs, seasonal work, and entry-level career opportunities. Our customers are primarily Fortune 1,000 companies, federal government agencies, and other employers who want to hire dozens, hundreds, or thousands of students and recent graduates per year. Our mission is to connect great organizations with students and recent graduates.

Posted August 18, 2016 by

Why don’t employers get back to me when they hire someone else?

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

I wish that I had $1 for every conversation I’ve had with recruiters and other talent acquisition leaders at small, medium, and large employers about why they don’t promptly acknowledge the receipt of every application — even via automated email — and why they don’t inform all applicants that they’ve hired another candidate.

Most of the employers state that with the added attention being given to creating a positive candidate experience that they personally get back to candidates if they’ve interviewed those candidates and use automated systems to acknowledge the receipt of resumes.

But when you talk with candidates, you hear a very different story. Most candidates will tell you that most employers never get back to them, even when the candidate has spent hours going through round after round of interviews and sometimes even traveled at their own expense to be interviewed at the organization’s headquarters.

There is no doubt that some organizations have a process in-place to ensure that every candidate receives an answer, good or bad. But those organizations are the exception so one candidate may be treated quite differently from another even when they’re equally well qualified and apply to the same job with the same employer.

Why do some recruiters fail to provide bad news to candidates? There are a number of reasons. Most who admit to not getting back to candidates will claim they don’t have time, but it seems to me that we should all have enough time to send a copy-and-paste email especially to candidates who have been interviewed. It’s just basic, minimal, courteous behavior.

Posted August 15, 2016 by

5 things recent grads must do when applying for jobs

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

Many recent graduates are looking for their first professional job now that graduation ceremonies have concluded. This is a scary yet exciting time in a young person’s life and there are tons of potential opportunities in front of them. However, it’s essential for job seekers to do a few things while applying for their first entry-level jobs. Some universities will have career centers that can point students in the right direction before they graduate while others will be left to search through their professional network to look for advice. The job application process can vary greatly from field to field, but either way there are a few universal things recent grads should do to ensure success when looking for jobs.

1. A positive social media experience

These days almost every person has a social media profile, or several, that can be a positive or negative representation of themselves. Recent graduates who do not yet have a LinkedIn profile should set one up straightaway and make sure they have a professional photo as well as a list of whatever they have done so far in their career. It’s absolutely okay to provide unpaid internships, volunteer experience, or extracurricular activities done while in college. Additionally, recent grads should make sure their Facebook and Twitter pages convey a professional representation of who they are as a person.

2. Practice interview skills

Most job seekers dread the thought of making a mistake at an interview. It’s one of the most nerve-wracking experiences a young person will have, and it doesn’t get much easier as time goes by. As a result, recent grads are encouraged to heavily practice their interview skills until they feel more at ease in the situation. There’s no way around it, the interviewer could decide to give the applicant a chance to start their dream career or pass their resume by. Although it’s great to practice interview skills with family and friends, students are also encouraged to seek the advice of a professional at their university’s career center who can give them constructive criticism. Another alternative is to have an informational interview with somebody in their potential field who can give them honest feedback about their performance.

3. Answer tough questions with ease

Complicated and unexpected questions can be very challenging to answer. Although students and recent grads can practice certain universally difficult questions, the reality is they will probably be caught off guard. Students should practice answering questions that may seem ridiculous or off base so they can control their reaction when it comes to the real deal. In many cases, the interviewer just wants to see how a potential employee will react as opposed to focusing on the specific answer to their question.

4. Be (the best version of) yourself

It’s really important for applicants to be themselves and let their genuine personality shine through. It’s important for the interviewer to know that the applicant is sincere and would be able to get along with other people in the office environment. However, it doesn’t hurt to be the best version of you. This means dressing nicely, being prompt, being flexible with the interviewer’s schedule, and setting aside the correct amount of time for the interview.

5. Have a sense of humor about the job application process

In addition to being pragmatic, recent grads are encouraged to maintain their sense of humor throughout the interview process. In the modern economy it’s quite possible that a highly qualified applicant won’t find and entry level position in their dream field right away. They may end up doing a second internship, working part-time in their field and moonlighting elsewhere, or they may have to keep the job they had when they were a student for a while. As long as students are improving as they go through the process they shouldn’t get too down on themselves. Eventually, most graduates find a good entry level position in their field but keeping a great sense of humor can keep spirits up during this transition.

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, guest writer

For more job search and interview tips, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

About Robyn Scott, author: Robyn Scott, a guest writer for College Recruiter, is a private tutor with TutorNerds LLC. She has a BA from the University of California, Irvine, and a MA from the University of Southampton, UK.

Posted May 09, 2016 by

6 common mistakes grads make when searching for entry-level jobs

First Job word; business man touching on red tab virtual screen courtesy of Shutterstock.com

PhuShutter/Shutterstock.com

Recently, research from the Australian government shows how the shift from college education to full-time employment is becoming more challenging. Job prospects for young Australians are decreasing and on the other hand, recent graduates are making key mistakes when searching for entry-level jobs. Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading online educators, has gathered information from a variety of recruiters to help recent graduates understand their mistakes when applying for entry-level jobs. Avoid these most common mistakes to avoid when searching for entry-level jobs.

1. Negative attitude towards work

Australian government research confirmed young people do not have enough of a positive attitude towards work. Recruiters recommend job seekers be more motivated and demonstrate enthusiasm to potential employers.

According to the study, young people need to be more responsible and reliable concerning their behavior and approach to their jobs. Recruiters suggest working with a business for a while, coming in to shifts, being punctual, and showing respect to colleagues, and customers or clients.

2. Think learning is over after college

Recruiters ask young professionals to be more open to learning when they start their first entry-level jobs. We all need to continue learning during our professional lives to stay updated with industry changes. But when starting a new job, it is especially important to have the right attitude towards learning because everything is new; employees will need to gain knowledge of the working process in their new companies and the different procedures to complete work correctly and in a timely manner. Your first employer is giving you an excellent opportunity to learn and gain valuable experience, so absorb as much as you can.

3. Underestimate the importance of previous work experience

Even though job seekers are applying for their first full-time entry-level jobs, having some related work experience will give them a competitive advantage. This may be some volunteer work done while still in school or some unpaid jobs during the summer. Don’t underestimate this experience; include it on your resume and tell your interviewers about it.

Studies are essential, but having first-hand experience shows employers that you have some practical skills and a better understanding of work responsibilities and professional work life.

4. Failure to make a good first impression

Whoever says his opinion is not influenced by the first impression is lying. In an interview, job seekers only have a few seconds to convince interviewers that they are the right candidates, so along with their studies, work experience, and the right attitude, their presentations during interviews will play an important role in their success in landing their first full-time jobs.

According to the research, recent graduates often dress inappropriately for work and have untidy hair, so recruiters recommend paying special attention to appearance. Not every company’s dress code is the same, so make sure to verify details about the company culture before an interview in order to dress appropriately.

5. Poor job search and application skills

When looking for their first jobs, Australian young professionals are making very common mistakes, according to research. These skills improve with time and practice, but a couple pieces of advice recruiters give are: make sure each application (resume and cover letter) is tailored to the position for which you are applying, and always double check your application’s spelling and grammar. Recruiters see these types of mistakes as a lack of attention to detail and unacceptable in today’s marketplace.

Recruiters also suggest job seekers approach employers directly after providing their resumes and personally following up with them.

6. Unrealistic work expectations

When applying for their first entry-level jobs after college, recent graduates need to understand they cannot “start at the top.” They have to make an effort to work their way up through the business.

Another common mistake is to expect high compensation. This will also come with time as employees gain experience and assume more responsibilities. The nature of the work they do may not be exactly what they want initially, but as long as workers are learning and doing something they like, they are on the right path.

Need more tips for your job search? Check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Maria Onzain, guest writer

Maria Onzain, guest writer

Maria Onzain is a content marketing expert writing for Open Colleges about education, career, and productivity. She is passionate about all things digital, loves technology, social media, start-ups, travelling, and good food.

Posted February 08, 2016 by

Job candidates: How to find them

Choosing amongst job candidates courtesy of Shutterstock.com

aslysun/Shutterstock.com

Organizations often overlook having an open house or another face-to-face meeting as a relatively inexpensive way to hire multiple people for one or more roles. The best candidates do not apply for jobs simply because they’re open to taking new jobs, and they happen to be qualified for jobs recruiters want filled. College students and recent graduates are far more likely to be interested in applying, interviewing, accepting job offers, and staying with a company for years if they understand the organization, the work environment, and the team they’d be working with from the beginning of the process. (more…)

Posted January 20, 2016 by

9 ways job seekers can stand out

Whether it be college students or other young job seekers, finding employment doesn’t necessarily come easily to college students. However, the more effort college students put into their job searches, the more they will get out of them. Amber Stover, Director of Talent Acquisition for Edmunds.com, provides tips for anyone seeking to improve their job searches and stand out from the crowd. (more…)
Posted August 07, 2015 by

Entry Level Jobs 101: What You Need to Know for Career Success

real people at the office. female employee on duty.

Real people at the office. Female employee on duty. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

As a recent graduate, applying and interviewing for entry level jobs is the main focus of building your career. These positions provide an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills you acquired in college and become an expert in your industry.

Starting your first official job in the real world is different than working an internship and can be tricky to navigate at times. Here are a few tips to help you excel at the position and work your way up to a promotion: (more…)

Posted March 27, 2015 by

The Ultimate Guide to Paying for College Tuition

Sarah Landrum photo

Sarah Landrum

Let’s be honest, college is expensive. Loans and scholarships enable more people to attend college than ever before, but the current economic climate is still an obstacle when it comes to covering the cost of college. With the U. S. economy in a state of recovery, credit is tightening and tuition costs are rising – leaving students to wonder how they can pay for college without going broke. (more…)

Posted February 02, 2015 by

Keep calm and go to college!

Young adult college student filling application form for master degree in library. Vertical shape, rear view, selective focus, head and shoulders

Young adult college student filling application form for master degree in library. Vertical shape, rear view, selective focus, head and shoulders. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Spending sleepless nights just because you can’t get rid of the thoughts about applying for colleges or having tough time deciding for options? Obviously, choosing a college and then applying is quite a tricky and nerve-wracking experience but we need to be composed throughout the procedure as panicking will just make the situation worse and we will end up making bad choices.

Follow some easy steps to keep this stress a mile away and to go through this procedure smoothly. (more…)