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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 August 09, 2016 by

Common networking mistakes to avoid

Dishonesty, moral dilemma, liar photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

As college students and recent graduates enter the workforce, they will likely meet people who can assist them with their job searches. When these opportunities arise, job seekers be prepared to take advantage of them. While some job seekers may not be the most outgoing in terms of personality, they can still be effective when networking. However, if students and grads don’t understand how to network, they can hurt their chances of building important relationships that can advance their careers. So as job seekers attend networking events, they must be mindful of what not to do. Mike Summers, Director of Employer Relations at Wake Forest University, highlights common networking mistakes to avoid.

“Blindly reaching out without knowing basic information about a person, the kind of details usually found through a quick Google or LinkedIn search, is a red flag signaling a bad start to the networking experience. A wishful connection will be less likely to engage if college students or prospective hires don’t bring any background knowledge to the table.

Expecting a networking connection will “tell me what to do.” Before reaching out, know the information you want. It’s helpful to have an informal script handy. “My name is Sue Smith; I’m a business major and art history minor interested in an entry-level job working in the cosmetic industry in New York. I’m hoping to secure a summer internship. Could you share with me how you got into the industry and any suggestions or recommendations you might have?”

Thinking the number of connections matters. Networking is about relationships, not numbers. Targeted outreach to people who share common interests makes networking effective. Two people may connect in an unlimited number of ways, such as graduating from the same school, being from the same hometown, choosing a similar academic path, or by an interest in a particular career. Whatever it is, a real connection matters.

The first outreach is inappropriate or unprofessional. Treat networking opportunities as professional conversations. It’s easier to move from formal to casual than vice-versa. Having good manners and dressing appropriately (which is very different if you’re interested in a career in journalism versus a career on Wall Street) is critical in creating the first impression that builds your reputation.”

Want to learn more about networking mistakes? Head to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Mike Summers, Director of Employer Relations at Wake Forest University

Mike Summers, Director of Employer Relations at Wake Forest University

With more than 25 years of experience in the private sector, nearly half assisting organizations with recruiting, interviewing, and hiring top talent, Mike Summers, Director of Employer Relations at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, has an insider’s understanding of what employers are seeking and helping students and recent grads showcase their academic skills and personal experiences. Wake Forest’s one, university-wide employer relations team means Summers has experience with and supports the employment search for students in all academic areas, teaching and empowering them to articulate the value of their education for today’s employers.

Posted August 01, 2016 by

4 winning resume tips for recent graduates

Businessman passing document to businesswoman photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

You don’t like getting spam, do you? Well, neither do hiring managers. It may be quick and efficient to upload your resume on popular job sites and send employers the same robo-resume, but hiring managers view these generic, mass mailings as spam. They can spot one-size-fits-all resumes in a nano-second and quickly discard them.

Here are four tips from hiring managers featured in the book, Graduate to a Great Career, on how to create a winning resume:

1. Add a short profile statement and your key selling points at the top “above the fold”

Realize your resume is an ad for branding yourself. Like a newspaper, an ad, or web page, the most important “real estate” is in the top half of your resume. Branding resumes begin with a profile or qualifications statement, a couple of crisp sentences that define your value. A strong profile statement is critical for recent graduates. You don’t have an impressive job title and career history yet, so you’ll need to specify your career focus and value proposition in your profile statement. In fact, many hiring managers told me a big problem with new graduate resumes is it can be hard to determine what entry-level job the new grad is looking for, especially if the grad doesn’t have a career-specific major like accounting or computer science. A profile headline like “Seeking an entry-level positioning” is too generic and doesn’t convey your career path. Remember, it’s your job to convey your career identity, not the hiring manager’s. For example, a recent grad named Erin who was a psychology major pursuing a career in marketing began her profile with the headline, “Aspiring marketing assistant: Psychology grad with pulse on the consumer mindset,” followed by a few bullets outlining her focus, strengths, and marketing credentials through two internships.

2. Expand your skill set to take advantage of new market opportunities

Be willing to take advantage of where the momentum is in the marketplace. During her job search for marketing jobs, Erin, our aspiring marketer mentioned above, noticed big retailers were advertising entry-level jobs and internships in merchandising, an area related to marketing that involves selecting products and evaluating sales performance. She decided to expand her job search and pursue both career paths: merchandising and marketing. Because there were a lot of merchandising internships online, she snagged a three-month, part-time internship at a large global retailer. But Erin needed a different elevator pitch and resume to apply for full-time merchandising jobs, and now with her internship, she had a story to tell. She had a hands-on role in compiling trend and competitive analysis reports, which gave her specific marketable skills. Here is Erin’s new profile statement for her merchandising resume, “Merchandising assistant with strong analytic, merchandising, and marketing skills.” She included new skills such as “completed Excel reports for accurate demand forecasting that resulted in a 10% improvement in accurate buying.” Before long, Erin was offered a merchandising job at a top global retailer.

3. Play to keywords and how the resume robots screen resumes.

The first “person” your resume has to impress is not likely to be a human being but a computer. Due to the volume of resumes that large and medium-sized companies receive, most companies use ATS (applicant tracking systems). Most ATS’s are not kind to new grads since they are programmed to check for a strong keyword match. Since most recent grads have limited experience, they don’t score high on an ATS (Only 25% of resumes make it past the resume robots). If you do have a strong skills match with a job posting, take the time to use the same exact words in your resume so the resume robots pick them out. Your resume can also be discarded if you format it incorrectly. Keep the layout simple with commonly used section titles like profile, work experience, education, etc.

4. Emphasize skills, experience, and results in the “Action + Numbers = Results” format.

Employers now give twice as much importance to specific skills and work experience as academic courses and grades. How do you make your abilities and skills stand out when you’re a new grad with limited work experience? It might take more effort than for an experienced job seeker, but you have more experience and accomplishments than you realize. Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished in internships, school projects, volunteer activities, part-time jobs, and the like. Then, follow this formula to create a powerful results bullet:

Action + Numbers = Results

Did [A] + as measured by [N] = with these results [R]

Here are a few examples of how college students and recent grads have created marketable results bullets out of internships and part-time jobs:

• Raised $55,000 in first month calling alumni for university capital
campaign; the top student performer all four weeks.

• As a brand ambassador interning at X Company, challenged to increase
website traffic, wrote ten blog posts that generated over 240 responses,
and helped boost sales.

• Prepared detailed Excel reports and pitches for business development
group at fast-growing technology company that
increased response rate by 15%.

The key to a successful resume and job search is to go for quality over quantity. You need to invest a little more time to create a resume that is right for each job, but it will pay off. Your efforts will be rewarded, and you’ll be on your way to an interview in no time.

Catherine Kaputa, guest writer

Catherine Kaputa, guest writer

Catherine Kaputa is a Personal Brand Strategist, Speaker, and Author of the newly-released book, Graduate to a Great Career: How Smart Students, New Graduates, and Young Professionals Can Launch Brand You. (April 2016. graduatetoagreatcareer.com). She is the author of two best-selling books, You Are a Brand and Breakthrough Branding for entrepreneurs. She is the Founder of SelfBrand (selfbrand.com). Speaking clients include Google, PepsiCo, Microsoft, Intel, Citi, Merck, Northwestern University, New York University, and University of Illinois.

Posted July 21, 2016 by

Social media helps students and graduates build relationships

Social, connection, laptop photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

Today, social media provides us with the chance to communicate personally and professionally. For college students and recent graduates who are more interested in the latter, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are all popular platforms to market themselves. They are places to build valuable relationships with professionals, employers, and fellow job seekers. Andrea St. James, Director of the Career Development Center at Western New England University, discusses how students can establish relationships on social media sites, and Michaeline Shuman, Director of Career Development at Susquehanna University, shares how social media sites can connect students and recent grads to college alumni.

“Social media works best as an initial contact or follow-up to solidify a new relationship. When connecting first (through social media), though, students should explain who they are. When you first pursue a connection, share how you are connected with the person (i.e. went to the same school, or common connections). Then share information about yourself that starts to put a face to a name, i.e. major, experience, direction, goals, and finally what you are looking to gather from that person.”

“(Social media) is great for connecting students with their university’s alumni and asking them for advice. By asking for advice, alumni are put in a position to say yes rather than no. All professionals have stories about how they got into their current roles, strategies for students on the job market, etc. Once a rapport is developed, students can ask their new networking connections about job opportunities or additional resources.”

Students and recent college graduates seeking opportunities to help build their professional network can connect with employers, career specialists and other motivated professionals through the many different social media channels College Recruiter uses to engage with both job seekers and employers. Check out our College Recruiter LinkedIn group, our College Recruiter LinkedIn page, and follow College Recruiter on Twitter. Also, don’t forget to leverage resources like the College Recruiter YouTube page, which offers additional career insight. When you find content you like, share that with your social media channels to help create discussion and engagement, which can help build your professional network and create those coveted relationships that can help students and recent college graduates advance in their career.

While students can use social media to begin the networking process, they shouldn’t end there. Don’t be afraid to invite connections to connect face-to-face for coffee or lunch. Ask connections for an informational interview to learn more about your desired future careers. Take relationships to the next level.

Using social media to network? Get more advice on our blog and don’t forget to follow us on our various social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

 

Andrea St. James, Director of the Career Development Center at Western New England University

Andrea St. James, Director of the Career Development Center at Western New England University

Andrea St. James is Director of the Career Development Center at Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts, where she assists students and alumni with career planning, occupational exploration, job search strategies, and graduate school applications. She has a BSBA in Marketing and an MBA, both from Western New England University.

 

 

 

 

 

Michaeline Shuman, Director of Career Development at Susquehanna University

Michaeline Shuman, Director of Career Development at Susquehanna University

Michaeline Shuman is Assistant Provost for Postgraduate Outcomes and Director of the Career Development Center at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where she helps students identify internship and job opportunities through networking and preparation programs, on-campus recruiting programs, and career and graduate school advising. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work at Albright College and a Master of Science Degree in Education from Alfred University.

Posted July 11, 2016 by

Networking benefits entry-level candidates

Handshake between a man and a woman photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

In their search for entry-level jobs, college students and recent graduates should not assume all employment opportunities are made public. Sometimes, there are opportunities available they can’t find in the newspaper or even online. Students and graduates should talk to people (including their families and friends) about the type of jobs they are looking for. This is part of professional networking. Networking is an opportunity for job seekers to engage in meaningful conversation advancing their careers.

While much of this conversation today happens online, meeting recruiters, hiring managers, or other professionals in person should not be forgotten. Speaking with recruiters, talent acquisition leaders, and hiring managers face-to-face can benefit college students and recent graduates when searching for entry-level jobs. By introducing themselves in person, students and grads can learn more about potential employers, which can help them stand out from the competition. Karen A. Young, President and Founder of HR Resolutions, LLC, shares advice on networking concerning entry-level candidates.

· “If students want to set themselves apart, I want to meet them in person! I can, probably, already find them online.

· This generation already has a bad reputation for being too “connected.” Get out and see and talk to people.

· The workplace is about face-to-face connections (even in a virtual workspace), so demonstrate you can present yourself in that environment.”

Need more networking advice? Click on our blog, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Karen Young, President and Founder of HR Resolutions, LLC

Karen Young, President and Founder of HR Resolutions, LLC

Karen Young is the award-winning Founder and President of HR Resolutions, a full-service human resources management company. She has over 25 years of experience in personnel and human resources, as well as being recognized by the HR Certification Institute as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and the Society for Human Resource Management as an SHRM-SCP. Karen has worked with numerous organizations to improve workplace environments, lower HR costs, and increase the bottom line.

Posted July 03, 2016 by

Networking tips for introverted job seekers

Woman with glasses covering her mouth with a document photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

While being shy is not a crime, it is something job seekers need to overcome to network. For introverted college students and recent graduates, networking might seem impossible or intimidating when trying to find internships or entry-level jobs. However, that doesn’t mean introverts can’t interact well with people. Knowing what to do ahead of time and practicing it can make introverted job seekers more comfortable when networking. The more confident they are networking, the better their chances of learning about job opportunities, including those in the hidden job market. Peter Margaritis, Chief Edutainment Officer of The Accidental Accountant, shares networking tips to help introverts with their job search.

“Tip 1: Smile and have a positive attitude, which is displayed by projecting inviting body language, a.k.a. don’t cross your arms over your chest.

Tip 2: Ask the other person questions first after you introduce yourself to reduce the level of your nervousness. Ask questions like, where do you work and what role do you play in the organization? These are just some easy questions to start the conversation.

Tip 3: Don’t sit with or follow your network at an event. Break away and meet someone new.”

Want to learn more about networking? Visit our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Peter Margaritis, Chief Edutainment Officer of The Accidental Accountant

Peter Margaritis, Chief Edutainment Officer of The Accidental Accountant

Peter A. Margaritis, CPA, is a speaker, educator, trainer, humorist, and self-proclaimed Chief “Edutainment” Officer for The Accidental Accountant™. Partnering with the Business Learning Institute, his firm helps accountants and other business leaders to increase their profitability by strengthening their business success skills and improving morale through better communication. He is a member of the Ohio Society of CPAs, Georgia Society of CPAs, National Speakers Association, and the American Institute of CPAs. Peter is also the author of Improv Is No Joke: Using Improvisation to Create Positive Results in Leadership and Life. www.theaccidentalaccountant.com

Posted June 02, 2016 by

Helping new hires through onboarding process

Male graduate in cap and gown with diploma photo by StockUnlimited.com

Photo by StockUnlimited.com

For some new hires like college students and recent graduates, starting new entry-level jobs might be intimidating. They can use some help in the onboarding process. New hires need to understand company culture, along with having clearly defined expectations for their positions. When employers communicate important information to new employees, they not only create effective onboarding programs, but they also give employees the necessary tools to succeed. Eden Chen, Co-Founder of Fishermen Labs, shares his company’s approach to onboarding.

“Our onboarding program is focused on trying to help employees understand our culture, making sure they have adequate support (especially in the form of mentorship), figuring out exactly what expectations new employees have in terms of where they want to see themselves grow and what positions they aspire to, and getting employees involved in a project as soon as possible. Our view is the best way to learn is by doing, so instead of spending time in lengthy onboarding processes, we make sure the above items are settled and then throw new hires into the mix, eliminating red tape.”

Want to help your new hires in the onboarding process? Check out our blog and follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

Eden Chen, Co-Founder of Fishermen Labs

Eden Chen, Co-Founder of Fishermen Labs

Eden Chen is the Co-Founder of Fishermen Labs, one of the fastest growing software development agencies in the US. Eden is a serial entrepreneur and heads up various other startups including Knife and Fox (design agency), Ctrl Collective (co-working), Glo Bible (app with 3 million+ downloads), Zolo Studios (game studio), and Dev Crew (international software development).

Posted May 12, 2016 by

10 soft skills employers expect of recent graduates

Background concept wordcloud illustration of soft skills glowing light courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Kheng Guan Toh/Shutterstock.com

Are you ready to find your dream job as soon as you graduate? Then, it’s high time to draw a detailed plan with soft skills required for the workplace. This will help you stand out from other candidates and be a perfect fit for the position of your choice.

To successfully accomplish the task, college graduates can analyze requirements for current vacancy announcements, make use of LinkedIn or Branded.me profiles of people with a great experience, and study analytical articles on the labor market to always stay updated.

It’s not a secret, though, that plenty of online sources post about top soft skills potential employers want in their candidates’ CVs or resumes. So, why not focus on them to make your preparation for obtaining a good entry-level job a bit easier? Here’s what is highly demanded by most of the recruiters:

1 – Lifelong learners

Recent grads can hardly boast of knowing everything about the work they will perform daily. It’s quite natural when something is learned along the way. Sometimes employers prefer young, enthusiastic graduates over highly experienced professionals, since the former tend to learn and absorb new information more eagerly and are ready to develop a learning habit. The latter instead are quite often more stubborn and unlikely to reach a compromise, which can hinder team effectiveness. Additionally, lifelong learners are supposed to know how to obtain and process information to solve the problems they haven’t faced before.

2 – Team players

Teamwork is not only about collective responsibility for every team player’s actions. It’s also about communicating your message to others and achieving that goal with the help of knowledge and each employee’s efforts. Effective team performance depends much on the correct management and delegation of tasks. In contrast to past expectations for team players, modern employers are looking for those who will be proactive and suggest creative solutions. Initiative is strongly encouraged.

3 – Effective time managers and schedulers

Chaos brings no positive effect. To show high productivity and performance, it’s crucial to hone time management and prioritization skills. These two skills rank high on most employers’ lists of soft skills. For that, managers and schedulers need to negotiate deadlines and schedule tasks appropriately. Should tasks be equally urgent, they’d better discuss which one to take first together with their reporters. When using electronic or paper planners, think of short breaks that need to be made between tasks, divide time-consuming tasks into several subtasks, and leave about 10 or 15% of time for coping with emergencies and contingencies. Set reminders well in advance, and review to-do lists daily.

4 – Good listeners and masters of convincing people

Being a good listener doesn’t mean you should keep silent while somebody else is expressing his or her thoughts, so that you can further move on to your statements. The point is to really listen and hear other team players and choose the best solutions working together. Another important thing is to know how to make everyone understand what you mean. In other words, you should learn to use simple and concise statements, speaking with confidence to all people in the company regardless of their seniority.

Problem solver words on business cards courtesy of Shutterstock.com

iQoncept/Shutterstock.com

5 – Problem solvers

At the top of most top list of soft skills is “problem solving skills.” The first step to successful problem solving is to clearly understand what the problem is and what caused it. The next step is to carefully consider interests of others and list all suitable solutions. The final step is to evaluate suggested options by listing their advantages and disadvantages, and then choose the one that has the most pluses. To be an efficient problem solver, you need to get rid of fear. By focusing more on tackling the problem, you will be able to do it with ease.

6 – Company fan

Being a company fan means to be knowledgeable about your employer’s industry. Understanding what key benefits the company gives to its customers or clients, how the process of decision-making is organized, what main competitors the company has, etc. are among the things job seekers should learn before a job interview.

7 – Data analyzer

If you work with people with analytical mindsets, you are a lucky person. This allows you to quickly gather, assess, and analyze new information, selecting only the things you will need at work. This soft skill is highly required for making future plans or prognoses, and creating recommendations for others to follow. This skill is also helpful when you need to analyze your successes or failures, which is very important for your progress.

8 – Tech-savvy person

This means not only knowing how to create, delete, or remove presentations or surf the Internet proficiently. Being tech-savvy means knowing what tools and programs are used by the specialist you want to become. For example, if you want to become a web designer, you will need to master such programs as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, or Indesign.

9 – Critical thinker

If you have a chance to join a series of workshops on how to become a good critical thinker, jump at the chance! These practical lessons will teach you how to criticize somebody else wisely by finding a strong argument and how to accept criticism of your work. Being a critical thinker is essential for improving your communication skills and professional growth too. Critical thinking ranks high on the list of soft skills regardless of your job title or position.

10 – Curious mind

Being curious means to never be afraid of asking questions. Though, it doesn’t mean you should behave like a chattering box, annoying other employees with your never-ending questions. You should ask questions when you don’t know the answers so your work won’t be done slowly. You must use proper discernment to ask questions of the right person (your manager or mentors) at the right time (one on one and in quiet settings, and preferably not during the last five minutes of meetings).

A few final tips

Taking an active part in extra-curricular activities and voluntary projects can also help job seekers develop a set of useful skills for their future jobs. By establishing friendly relationships with people, you increase your chances of getting what you need. Who knows, maybe some of your peers or instructors will recommend you as a highly promising hire one day.

Need more help with your job search? Head over to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Nancy Lin, guest writer

Nancy Lin, guest writer

Nancy Lin is a student of Rockhurst University and enthusiastic freelance writer who enthuses about rock music, writing, and classic English literature. Feel free to contact her at Twitter or Google+.

Posted May 10, 2016 by

How to select a career mentor

When you graduate from college, you lose daily, immediate access to some of your greatest mentors and teachers—faculty members, advisors, and career services professionals who have guided you through some of the best and most formative years of your life. When starting your first entry-level, full-time job, it’s important to begin seeking out a career mentor.

This five-minute video, created by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, will help you select a quality career mentor.


If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

There are at least two types of mentors you need to find, ideally, when you begin your first full-time, entry-level job. The first type of mentor you need to find is a workplace mentor. This mentor works for the same company or organization but has at least a few years of experience under her belt. She probably works for the same team or within the same division and can provide you with guidance related to company policies and procedures, the ins and outs about how to make coffee in the breakroom, and other important tips about surviving on a daily basis within your organization.

This video and article will help you select the other—and more important—type of mentor: a career mentor. A career mentor is a lifelong mentor; your career mentor has years of experience, preferably decades of experience, and works in your “dream career field.” A career mentor will provide career guidance and mentorship over the course of your career journey. When selecting a career mentor, be picky. You should spend at least a few months observing professionals and contemplating “fit” before asking someone to serve as your career mentor.

Here are a few tips to aid you in selecting your career mentor.

1. Look for elevator people.

Elevator people are defined as people who bring you up, while basement people bring you down. This trait is especially important in mentors. When you’re asking someone for advice and guidance, you don’t want to leave every conversation feeling controlled, manipulated, deflated, or picked apart. Not only does that type of relationship sound very unhealthy, but it’s also completely unproductive. Seek out a career mentor who lifts others up. Is the mentor you’re considering territorial with her ideas? Does she appear jealous when you discuss something you’re working on that’s exciting to you? Move on and consider option B.

2. Go for the “gel.”

Can you completely relax when talking to your career mentor? This doesn’t mean you need to think of your career mentor as a peer; she’s not. You should have a great amount of respect for your career mentor.  Competent communication is defined as communication that is both effective and appropriate. Of course you want to interact with your mentor with an appropriate level of respect; you won’t talk to your mentor about the party you hosted Saturday night or your conflict with your boyfriend. You discuss those matters with your personal friends.

But it is crucial to select a career mentor you “gel” with. Can you be honest about your career goals, or do you feel intimidated to discuss the future? Are you afraid your career mentor will laugh at your dreams? When you make mistakes at work (and don’t worry—every new entry-level employee makes mistakes), do you feel comfortable confessing those mistakes to your career mentor and seeking advice about how to overcome them? If not, you probably need to consider seeking out a new career mentor.

3. Find a great listener.

Motivational speakers may seem inspiring when you meet them, but remember when seeking a career mentor, you must find someone who can listen as much as she talks. You’re going to come up against obstacles over the course of your career journey, and it’s important that your career mentor listen well (without placing judgment). Only excellent listeners can offer excellent feedback and suggestions. Great career mentoring relationships tend to look alike—be sure yours matches up.

4. Reflect on your feelings.

Always reflect on your feelings after spending time with potential career mentors. Weigh pros and cons, make lists, and attempt to make a clear-headed decision before selecting a career mentor, certainly. But at the end of the day, relationships like this must be based at least partly on gut instinct. After going to lunch with your career mentor, do you feel better or worse? When you have a phone conversation, do you feel more positive or disheartened? Do you feel more motivated to go back to work and to try to reach your goals, or do you feel like taking the day off after talking to your mentor?

5. Don’t discount your feelings before you make the final decision about asking someone to serve as your mentor.

Lastly, when you decide to ask someone to serve as your career mentor, be gracious and grateful. Your career mentor is doing you a huge favor and will likely invest hours—if not days—of her life in yours. Mine has.

For more advice about starting your first full-time job off right, read our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

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.

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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.