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Posted April 20, 2018 by

Job seekers, here is how to defend yourself against a bad reference

 

If you are going to interview for a job, or if you already have, you are one step closer to when that employer will call your references. They will likely call all the references you provided, but don’t assume they will only look into those people. If you’re worried that the employer will contact someone who has a biased or negative perception of you, we have some advice. You can prepare for it and defend yourself appropriately.

First, if you’re worried about the potential new employer spilling the beans at your current employer, recruiters get this. They understand the negative impact of spoiling your secret to your boss. Some job applications build in a box to check that says “please do not contact current employer until the offer stage.” If you are afraid of your boss finding out that you’re considering leaving, check this box. If you don’t see this box, you can write this exact phrase into your references document. (more…)

Posted March 29, 2018 by

How to respond when your employer asks you for a candidate referral

 

Don’t be surprised if your employer asks you to refer your friends or other contacts as candidates for open positions. Employers depend on a variety of sources to recruit new people, and a favorite, time-tested method is to get employee referrals. Many organizations find that employee referrals are more likely to fit in and perform well in their jobs. We checked in with two experts to advise entry-level employees with this question. Vicky Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005), and Toni Newborn, Diversity and Consulting Services Manager at the City of St. Paul  give their advice about how to respond to the request for a candidate referral.  (more…)

Posted September 06, 2016 by

10 tips for college grads who complete an internship without a job offer

Person pointing at job search

Person pointing at job search. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Many recent college graduates head into a summer internship hoping they secure full-time employment with that company once the internship is completed. But, for a variety of reasons, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Now what? How do recent college graduates and entry-level job seekers move forward in the job search when they don’t secure a full-time job from an internship?

With confidence, because they just gained the invaluable on-the-job training employers covet.

Because, for recent college graduates, the number one goal of any internship should be to gain work experience in a professional business setting, says Bob LaBombard, CEO of GradStaff, a company that serves as a career matchmaker for recent college graduates, and companies that are looking to fill entry-level jobs.

While larger companies tend use their internship programs as a way to evaluate interns for employment in a subsequent year, small and medium employers are more likely to hire interns to accomplish specific goals, like completing a well-defined project or to cover staff for the summer vacation season, says LaBombard. Not getting hired full-time is in no way indicative of an interns performance on the job.

“Either way, internships are a great way for students to apply their skills in meaningful work, and learn how to receive feedback and apply coaching tips from supervisors,” says LaBombard. “Even if an internship does not result in a full-time job offer, the experience should help interns better define their value proposition to employers by gaining a more focused appreciation for the core skills they possess, and how they have been successfully applied in the workplace.”

So what should job seekers who completed an internship without a full-time job do next? Start by registering as a job seeker with College Recruiter. We’ll send you new job leads tailored to your interests and preferences and save you the trouble of searching for them on a regular basis.

Next, consider these tips from Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps, and Tel Ganesan, Board Chairman of Kyyba, Inc., a global IT, engineering and professional staff augmentation company, and Managing Partner of Kyyba Ventures. Both have experience working with recent college graduates who have completed internship programs. They help answer the question:

My internship is over, now what:

1. Be flexible: College graduates looking to land their first jobs need to be flexible, proactive and creative. Consider volunteer assignments or temporary work as a way to continue to gain additional experience and build your skill set, says Driscoll.

2. Network: Online and off. Many companies don’t advertise open positions, so networking plays an important role in finding out about hidden job opportunities. “Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job, whether in-person at industry association events, or using professional networking websites,” says Driscoll. “You’d be surprised at who might be able to help.”

3. Use college career center/alumni resources: College career centers usually welcome recent grads and can help in your job search. You also might be able to connect with other alumni who can provide advice. These resources are often underutilized by recent college grads who don’t go back to their college/alumni career center seeking assistance. They are ready to help you – even now that you graduated. Learn more about how to use your college career center in the job search.

4. Don’t overlook your online image: Applicants need to actively monitor and maintain their professional reputations online. Keep a clean online profile. Future employers are watching.

5. Initiate contact: Research companies you would like to work for and ask for an informational interview to learn more about the organization. “It also can help employers get to know you so you’re top of mind when that company has a vacant position,” says Driscoll.

6. Meet with a recruiter: Staffing executives can be your eyes and ears in the job market. Recruiters also provide useful feedback on your resume and interview skills, and help you locate full-time and temporary jobs.

7. Ask for references: Before your last day, ask your manager, and/or co-workers if they will be references. Professional references can sometimes hold more value than a supervisor from a work study program, or college professor (but those are both viable references if need be).

8. Update your cover letter and resume: Did you track your achievements and successes at the internship? Be sure to update this information on your resume and put it at the top of your resume, right under education. “Highlight any unique activities you partook in that may set you apart from the competition,” says Ganesan. Include project work and results, being a part of a team, technical/computer skills learned/used, and any other success story.

9. Apply for more than a handful of ideal jobs: Set target companies or jobs, but be flexible in your search. “Consider numerous possibilities, especially when you’re just starting off,” says Ganesan.

10. Use your social network: Use your social media network, as well as family and friends, to find a personal connection at particular companies. “That individual may be able to assist in securing an interview or simply provide advice and insight into the organization,” says Ganesan.

Don’t view the completion of an internship without a job as the end. View it as a new start, and a new beginning to a job search that is now backed by real world internship experience – something every employer craves.

For more tips on how to secure a job after your internship is completed, and other job search and career advice, visit our blog and connect with us on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Posted August 02, 2016 by

Graduating in 2017? 3 job search tips you can use right now.

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

Despite the soaring temperatures, the fall semester is just around the corner. If you plan to graduate in the upcoming academic year, anticipation (or apprehension) for planning your job search is probably sinking in. Commencement is a date in the distant future, and it feels reasonable to hold your job search until you can actually work full-time, right?

In truth, now is the best time to begin planning your strategy for locating a great employer and opportunity. Following are just a few strategies to gain a jump on your job-search competitors.

  1. Begin by finishing strong.

    Chances are you are currently wrapping up a summer job, volunteer experience, or internship. Now is the ideal time to close this experience by delivering quality work. Connect with your supervisor to schedule a feedback discussion and ask if there will be full-time openings available post-graduation. Also ask if he or she will offer a strong recommendation if contacted. Networking, interning, and building strong references will significantly impact your first job search and beyond.
  2. Employers are identifying talent earlier; help them find you.Recruiting cycles have changed over the past five years. As the economy has picked up, highly skilled applicants (top talent) can be in short supply. Employers are looking for the best possible talent for the job, which is impossible if a competitor has already hired away the best candidates. For many majors, fall is the ideal time to devote the most energy to your job search. Visit your career center immediately when you return to campus for the fall. Carve out time to visit career fairs and employer information sessions to connect with as many recruiters as possible. If employers in your field are not recruiting in the fall, use this time to talk with faculty, parents, and anyone else who may be willing to make a networking introduction. Finally, attend community events, or tackle a fall volunteer project. The connections and skills gained will be valuable for your job search.
  1. Give yourself time to practice and prepare.If you participate in sports, theater, music, or writing, you have probably put in a significant amount of practice time. Similarly, consider putting some significant preparation time into your job search. Start drafting resumes, scheduling mock interviews, and researching employers as soon as possible. Your second or third interview will probably be a lot more relaxed than your first. In addition, pretty much everyone will have suggestions for your first resume draft. Start building your job search skills now.
Mike Caldwell, Director of Business Careers and Employer Development, William & Mary

Mike Caldwell, Director of Business Careers and Employer Development, William & Mary

Want more great job search suggestions before you really dig in and begin searching for jobs? Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube for a steady stream of tips and job postings.

About Mike Caldwell, the author: 

Mike Caldwell serves as the Director of Business Careers and Employer Development at the Cohen Career Center for the College of William & Mary.  He has held leadership roles in local, regional, and national college recruiting organizations including the American Association for Employment in Education and the Utah Association of Career Educators. 

Posted May 02, 2016 by

6 things to do before starting a new job

Welcome on board - businesswoman holding white sign with text in the office courtesy of Shutterstock.com

docstockmedia/Shutterstock.com

It’s the time of year when many college seniors begin thinking about what they will do after graduation. Most students focus on the interview process but may not have thought about what to do when they are offered full-time jobs. It can be both exciting and scary but starting a first professional job is now part of the imminent future. Although many students have worked part-time and participated in internships, starting a full-time job is a different venture. Student life is unique in many ways, so it’s important for soon-to-be graduates to make a few changes before they begin new entry-level jobs.

1) Look the part

College doesn’t have a dress code, but most jobs do. To be taken seriously, it’s a good idea for students to know what most of their colleagues will be wearing. Some offices will require a suit and tie, but most are now business casual. One of the most common mistakes new employees make is showing up to the office in attire that’s too informal.

2) Practice the importance of being prompt

Probably the most undervalued asset new employees can possess is promptness in communication. In addition to being to work on time or early, new employees should learn how important it is to stay in communication with the team. It’s fairly common for college students to forget about emailing professors or their peers because they’re mostly relying on social media to be in touch. However, new employees who don’t respond to a colleague’s or supervisor’s email or phone call will be viewed as unreliable. If something is going to take 24 hours to complete, be sure to send a quick note that communicates this information.

3) Get into a daily routine

College classes can be held at 7:30 in the morning or 10:30 at night, and most students will have significant breaks to work on self-study throughout the day. Most office jobs, however, are from eight to five (although flexible work schedules are becoming more common). It’s important to get into a routine of getting up early and dealing with the morning commute and also having enough down time later in the day to be prepared to do it all again tomorrow.

4) Gather paperwork

Once students graduate and start new jobs, they’ll be very busy adjusting to their new responsibilities. Gather any academic paperwork needed prior to the first day on the job. This can include official transcripts, letters of recommendation, references, networking contacts, or anything else that might be needed in a particular field. Many employers will ask for this paperwork, so it’s better to have it on hand and readily available.

5) Chat with your mentor

It’s a great idea to sit down with a mentor before starting a new job. A mentor will have specific and valuable insight into a particular field and perhaps even a specific company or manager. Take any advice available in order to be successful the first few months of a new career. Mentors can also help ease anxiety and build confidence that can make those first few weeks run smoothly.

6) Get organized

Graduating from college is a huge transition and can leave students feeling their lives are in disarray. Each person’s situation will be different, but it’s important to begin a new job feeling organized. Whether this means settling into a new home, moving across the country, or just getting paperwork in order, an organized lifestyle will help a person be more professional and help them focus on making a great impression in the workplace.

Want more advice for recent graduates going into the workforce? Check out our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Robyn Scott, guest writer

Robyn Scott, guest writer

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 April 29, 2016 by

20 ways to rock your resume

Resume with pen on table closeup courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Casper1774 Studio/Shutterstock.com

Another week without attention paid to your resume. You are applying for jobs that match your education and skills; you have a nicely formatted document; and you have outlined your work experience very well with bolded headings and bullet points like you were told to do. You’re qualified but just can’t manage to get that call for an interview. Could there be that many people more qualified than you? Maybe not. There may be some flaws in your resume you have not realized.

Here are 20 tips that can improve your resume.

Make sure you are emphasizing results, not responsibilities

It’s a common error; job seekers are trying very hard to list all of their responsibilities for each position. Their thinking, of course, is the more responsibilities, the more qualified they will be. What is more important to employers is the results, what job seekers have actually accomplished.

Take a look at the responsibilities you have listed for each position. Can you list any quantifiable results? Did your re-organization save the department $50,000 a year? Sometimes, you may think results will be hard to provide. For example, perhaps you took over a department that had no baseline data to work with to show improvement. And maybe the improvement was qualitative rather than quantitative. Take employee morale, for instance. You know you improved it when you took over that department. But how was the improvement measured? Maybe there was much lower turnover or maybe the rate of absenteeism dropped significantly. These are important figures to have. Never leave a position without gathering figures that support your results.

A lot of space was spent on this item. Why? Because it is the one thing employers say is usually missing from a resume.

Target skills/background for each position

This is the primary reason why you need to tweak each resume for every job opening. If you have background in training, administration, HR, and sales/sales management, and are applying for jobs that focus on one of those, then focus your resume in that direction. Spend far more space on that focus area than on others. Generic resumes don’t really work anymore.

Re-visit keywords for each position

Change out your keywords based upon two things: the job description and the company’s website. Sometimes, reading through the company’s home page and the “about us” page will give you more keywords to include. And keywords that relate to the position should be placed as close to the top of the resume as possible and included in your cover letter.

Include a summary section

A statement of your career goals at the beginning of your resume is not advisable. Companies don’t care about your goals; they care about what you “bring to the table.” Switch that out for a short summary of your skills and experience that relate to the position, with four to five sentences only.

Use standard software

Microsoft Word or a PDF version of your resume should be the only programs used to submit resumes. Scanning will probably not recognize any other programs, and you will never know your resume was unreadable.

Business woman unhappy with resumes of applicants and throwing them on the table courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Milles Studio/Shutterstock.com

Aim for one page

Edit, edit, edit. Take out anything superfluous, reduce sentences to phrases, and remove some of your contact information. Employers don’t need your address and don’t include references unless specifically asked to do so. If you are able to edit the resume to one page, that is ideal. But NEVER go beyond two pages unless you are preparing a CV.

Do not lie

Not about anything. Of course, you want to try to avoid resume mistakes, and of course you want to present yourself in the best light. Exaggerating or giving yourself a job title you did not actually have are big risks. These things can be discovered when references and/or social media are reviewed. Focus on your skills and qualifications completely but honestly.

Use action verbs

They are so much stronger. If you don’t know the difference, here is an example:

1. Responsible for implementing budget reduction by 10% without loss of productivity

2. Reduced budget by 10% without loss of productivity

The second phrase is strong and active. (P.S.: Never use “I”)

Visual appeal is a must

You’ve seen enough resume templates to understand what visual appeal is. The best font now is probably Arial, 12-14 point. The reason for this is there’s good, natural spacing between lines that are not complete and enough white space between bulleted points. Your final resume should have sub-headings in bold (e.g., each position), and a larger font to separate sections of the document. The goal is to make it scannable, not just by a computer program (applicant tracking systems), but by humans, too. No one wants to search for your information.

Be clear about job titles

So long as you are not exaggerating, use a job title that will make clear what you did at a previous organization. Sometimes, organizations have internal titles that mean nothing on the outside. So, if you were a “Level II Tech Support,” change that out to “Systems Analyst,” if that was what your position really entailed.

Be really brief

Do not use full sentences unless you are crafting a CV (These are prose documents). Brief phrases only, please. Remember – scannable.

Perfect grammar and spelling

Don’t rely only on grammar and spell-check programs. They will not recognize incorrect numbers or words that are wrong but are still words. And, in some instances misspellings will not be caught either. If you are really good in this area, read your resume backwards, and you will catch misspellings; read it forward line-by-line. If you are not highly skilled, get someone who is.

Avoid gimmicks

Having your resume hand-delivered by FedEx or courier is not appreciated, and, in fact, is a bit of a turnoff. Just don’t do it. Submit your resume according to the instructions on the job posting.

Graphics should fit the company culture

It is more acceptable today to use some color and graphics than in the past, but these resumes are best suited for younger, more progressive organizations. Tailor color and graphics based upon the culture of the company. If you are not sure, check the website. As a general rule, banks, financial, and educational/scientific institutions are conservative; tech and marketing companies are more progressive. For creative positions, graphics are certainly suitable.

Never state salary

Never include past salaries in your work experience. And absolutely never include your salary or benefit requirements for a new position. Epic fail if you do.

Don’t address negatives

If you were fired or laid off, never state this in your resume. That is the stuff for discussion during an interview. And don’t lie about it either; be as honest as possible, and never “trash” a former boss or company.

Add links

Long before submitting resumes, it will be important to have a professional online presence. Include the link to your LinkedIn profile and, if warranted, a website with a portfolio of your work and/or accomplishments. If you have been a guest blogger on relevant sites, provide links to those posts too.

Update consistently

It is often advised when you start a new position, you begin updating your resume. This is because you want to be sure to remember all of your accomplishments if and when you decide to make another career move, or if, for any reason, your employment is terminated (companies do close). Keep your resume updated all the time.

No tag lines

Lines such as “References available upon request,” are not necessary and just take up space. Leave them out. If you are asked for references or links to things during an interview, you can provide them at that time.

Do not abbreviate

The only abbreviation you can use is “U.S.” Otherwise, spell everything out. Even abbreviations for schools attended may not be known by employers. The rule for acronyms is the same; spell them out.

This article provides a good checklist for job seekers, whether they are crafting their first resumes ever or if they are veterans with several previous resumes under their belts. Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make a difference.

Need assistance with your resume for your job search? Get a free resume critique on College Recruiter. Also, come to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Kerry Creaswood, guest writer

Kerry Creaswood, guest writer

Kerry Creaswood is a young and ambitious writer from Savannah, Georgia. She is fond of various forms of art and thinks everything we can imagine is real. To find more about Kerry, check her Twitter.

Posted April 11, 2016 by

10 job interview questions you shouldn’t ask

Bad job interview - concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Eviled/Shutterstock.com

Congratulations! You’ve landed an entry-level job interview. Now, it is time to prepare for the big day, which includes creating some interview questions to ask if you get the chance. Keep in mind, though, there are questions college students and recent graduates should not ask their potential employers during interviews.

1. How much does the job pay?

Asking about salary in an interview tells the interviewer you’re more concerned with money than the actual job. I’m not saying money isn’t important, but save this discussion for after you have received a job offer.

2. How many days of vacation do I get?

It’s not wise for job seekers to ask about vacation time before landing entry-level jobs. Focusing on time off without a job offer leaves an impression that you lack commitment to work.

3. Can I take time off during exams?

This question might indicate to employers that college students have trouble handling multiple responsibilities, or that school is more important than work. Even though school work is a priority for students, employers are considering what is important to them.

4. Can I use social media at work?

It’s probably obvious to most (if not all) of you why job seekers shouldn’t ask this question. Interviewers would feel you’re more concerned with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers than succeeding at the position you’ve applied for.

Businessman working from home on laptop courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

5. Can I work from home?

Asking this question can leave an interviewer wondering if you have an issue with coming to work regularly. Wait until proving yourself for a while on a new job before requesting to work from home.

6. What kind of job is this?

Please don’t ask this question. If you do, you might as well walk out of the interview. The interviewer expects you to know what kind of job you’ve applied for. You can find this information in the job posting and on the company website.

7. When will I get promoted?

Asking this question makes the assumption that a job seeker has won the position, which won’t impress the interviewer. Remember, you need to get the job first so concentrate on that. With a good attitude and hard work, you may eventually earn a promotion.

8. Do you want my references?

The interviewer is concerned about you, not anyone else. It’s great you have references but save them for later, and focus on nailing the interview.

9. Are there any background checks?

Asking potential employers about background checks raises a red flag in their minds that you have something to hide. If you’re sure of yourself as a job candidate, a background check or drug screen won’t bother you.

10. Did I get the job?

While I’m sure you can’t wait to find out if you got the job, avoid asking if you did in the interview. Unless you’re told otherwise, follow up to learn the employer’s decision. Don’t follow up too soon. It’s okay to ask the employer at the end of the interview about the timeline for filling the position—this lets you know how long to wait before calling to check on your status as an applicant.

In a nutshell, job seekers should wait until after they receive employment offers before asking questions related to issues primarily benefiting themselves.

Are you looking for more information to help you in your job search? Come over to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Posted March 26, 2016 by

Online portfolios: Using blogs to demonstrate college success

How to start a successful blog today note on laptop courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Aysezgicmeli/Shutterstock.com

For some college students, graduation day is coming soon. Okay, there may be a few more months, but after Spring Break, graduation is just around the corner. Time flies when students are having fun with those studies, doesn’t it?

The post-graduation period is a time for job searching, especially if college students have loans knocking at their doors. Today, we are going to discuss a tool (blog software) and method (blogging your portfolio) that should help students in the following ways:

• Remind them of just how wonderful they are.

• Remind them of what they have accomplished.

• Remind college students of what they are capable of accomplishing.

• Provide an online resource for future recruiters and hiring authorities to see the details of what students have done → their online portfolios. Provide them with an opportunity to start (or continue) networking. This may be students’ way “in” to the companies of their choices simply because someone who faithfully reads their blogs works at a company where they want to work.

• Give students practice in many contemporary skills, like blogging, marketing, social media marketing, time management, team management, and many more. These skills may also be added to resumes, especially if they have been consistent with their portfolio blogs, over time, and built up a following (i.e. subscriber base).

It is helpful to keep in mind many times the reason companies hire “entry-level” candidates is two-fold:

• College students fill entry-level jobs, and the cost of employment (including salary) is lower than more experienced candidates; and

• The company can train students into what they want them to be as their employees. Many times, more experienced candidates are less trainable and more “set in their ways.” Or, at least that may be the view of the human resources department and may thwart the hiring of more experienced employees. This is an advantage for students, as recent college graduates.

Even though we are using the term “entry-level” and it may not sound glamorous, students are actually in an enviable position. There are many of us who are disqualified because we are “over-qualified,” even if we are willing to be trainable and moldable. So students are in an excellent position for their job search!

What we are suggesting here is college students add a bit of an edge to their credentials. That is, building a blog that displays what they have accomplished in a contemporary manner. It is like a “living resume,” played out by way of bite-size blog posts pleasing to read and ingest.

It may not be likely the CEO of the company where students want to work will look at the blog, but the idea is they are getting their names, credentials, and authority out there. They have a place to send people when they really want to get a feel for what students are about and more importantly, what they have accomplished.

Starting the blogging process

The thought of starting a blog can be both tempting and daunting. However, it is very doable, and after all the hard work college students have put into acquiring their degrees, it should appear very easy. Why? Students are accomplished, and the process is much easier when students know what they need to do.

There is a helpful article on “onblastblog.com” that walks students through a day-by-day process, with the goal of helping them understand what to know before starting a blog. It is a helpful process, even if it isn’t college-centric. The article should help to take the “scary” part of starting a blog out of the equation. Also, since this article is more about the college portfolio portion, that resource may help students with the blogging basics, if they are not already familiar with the blogging process. I highly recommend they “study up” on that process so what I am sharing here makes more sense in the context of their online portfolios.

Reminder: There are some basics to setting up a blog like choosing a domain, choosing the software (I recommend WordPress), going through the settings, etc. That is where the link above is helpful for going through those basics. There are also some wonderful articles on the Internet. Students can find them through a simple “Google Search.” We are going to move forward with the assumption they have the basics set up and are ready to move on with the content (blog posts).

The graphics for a blog portfolio

We wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk a little bit about the graphics for college students’ online blog portfolios. Of course, one of the key aspects is to include a nice headshot of themselves. Possibly, students want to include some action shots (i.e. graduation; working with something that fires up their passion; etc.). Be creative! Find high quality photos representing who they are and where they are going in life.

In addition to the images of students, there is also a need for a graphic appeal to their sites. One possibility, especially if students want to develop the branding component of their portfolios (the brand of “you”), is to hire a professional. It can be expensive but is something they should consider if they want to ensure they are using the most effective graphics for their online portfolios.

There is a new way of soliciting graphic design examples from the professionals. It is call crowd-sourcing, and it is done by groups like Designhill.com. The idea is to take the heavy lifting and hard work out of students’ efforts to come up with a description of what they are looking for in a design and sort of present it as a design contest to a bunch of professional designers.

By doing it that way, the heavy lifting is done by the graphic designers, as they vie to get students’ attention with their wonderful design skills. They peruse all of the designs, and choose the one that appeals to students. That way, students are not spending all their time (and money) going through multiple iterations with one designer, only to possibly be disappointed with the final outcome.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to interview the co-founder of just such a company, and he explains it much better than me, in this interview. Watch as Rahul Aggarwal, co-founder of Designhill, explains the concept of crowd-sourcing the graphic design process:

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

Turning a blog into a college portfolio blog

Now it is time to discuss blogging in the context of being a recent graduate. Ideally, if college students are reading this, and they haven’t yet graduated, it is a great time to start the blogging process. Of course, they wouldn’t want the blogging to interfere with the time they need for their college studies (or social and relaxation time). The reason it is a great time is it 1) gives students time to network prior to graduation; and 2) gives them time to write articles about their experiences with their projects, while it is fresh in their minds.

Fresh in your mind also creates that sense of “real person,” transparency, and engagement → all very popular in our culture.

For college students who graduated some time ago, this doesn’t leave them out of the game. I have been blogging for years, and I am just now starting to re-purpose my essays into blog posts on my site at Tech-Audit.com. Many of the articles on that site were inspired by experiences in corporate America, but also, many of them were inspired by knowledge gained during my college studies. Now, the next step is to re-purpose my essays.

Process overview

Like I mentioned, I am getting ready to add some of my essays and papers to my blog. Students can set up their blogs to indicate (i.e. in the tag line) this is a portfolio. That way, readers will expect that is what they are reading, records of students’ projects and accomplishments from college. This gives an audience a chance to feel like they are being included in something special.

In my case, I set up a professional blog on the topic of finance and technology and where they intersect. I am about to embark on including my essays into the blog. It is possible, since my current degree is I/O Psychology the blog will morph into a bit of a different topic. That is okay. Today, there are so many options to make modifications on our blogs; the sky is the limit.

It may not be ideal to change the name or tagline, as it would be recommended we stick with the original intent of the blog (and that is what students are likely to read in the “how to blog” type articles), but in this case, we are sort of defining our path as we go. Also, loyal readers will become interested in what YOU have to say because this blog is more personal about students own paths and accomplishments, so an audience is less likely to care if they change the tagline later. When viewers get attached to a blog about a certain topic or company, it is a little different. In those cases, the audience may not be as attached to the person and may become be more bothered by a tag line change. Fortunately, this is a blog about and by students, so they have more leeway.

So, here is my process, as an example for you…
I’m looking through the essays I wrote in one of my favorite classes, “Social Psychology.” I found one titled “Group Cohesion.” Ok, that sounds interesting.

Let’s take a look at this essay that earned a grade of 100%, and then you tell me:

Group cohesion

For research to have scientific merit, one of the components needs to be the analysis of future implications. In other words, what is the outcome of this research? As a part of that analysis, questions like, “How does this research affect the scientific community, or a specific group, or the subject of the research?” may be asked.

Ok, I am yawning, even though I wrote it. It was great for the class, but will people read it on the blog? Honestly, I’m not sure I would read it! So, let’s revise it a bit:

Why group cohesion is so important

Research often plays an important part in understanding how we relate to one another, even how we relate to each other in social media. While we may not want to spend all of our time studying research expertly performed by scientists, it is helpful to consult what has been studied.

One reason quality research is so important is it analyzes future implications. In other words, if done correctly, it helps to identify what the outcome of the research is. After all, how important is the research if it doesn’t help us to apply it to what we are doing and help us to improve our skills?

Ok, it might still bore us a little, but college students can start to see how they can take their academic work and play with it, mold it, and make it into something interesting. It is possible, if students truly enjoy writing, they may end up with a completely different blog post when they are done.

Remember those APA formatted references at the end? I suggest students find a link to the resource (journal), even if it is a link that requires payment and use that inside their articles (instead of the “References” section). Why do I suggest that? Many times readers are confused and steer away from their posts because they don’t know what to do with the “References” section. It is easier for readers to understand a link in the middle of the article and helps them feel more comfortable. Students can still write a final paragraph thanking the researchers of the journal articles they consulted, but they want to ensure it is written in a personable enough manner that readers are not scared off and away from their blogs.

Don’t forget how to format those articles with proper APA formatting. College students never know when they will have the opportunity to be published in the peer-reviewed journal. That is worth retaining those skills they have learned in college!

Note to the non-writers:
If students detest blogging, there is still a place for them. What I described above was how to blog their essays. They are certainly welcome to just paste the essay “as is,” and let people know they are reading students’ essays (see note at the end of this article regarding the university and any policy concerns). That is ok. It is about managing expectations, and letting your readers know what they will find on the site/blog/portfolio.

University student receiving award courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Volt Collection/Shutterstock.com

Those accomplishments

We didn’t forget about the accomplishments! Sometimes, those are the easiest because college students can insert an image of themselves receiving an award, or a snap of the award itself, or whatever the accomplishment is. Maybe they have a video. It can be uploaded to YouTube and inserted into a blog post with a description of the accomplishment. Again, don’t forget to consult the “how to blog” expert articles for more details and tips on how to do this.

After blogging everything possible about the portfolio

Yay! Congrats to you!

Keep in mind college students may feel like they have blogged everything they can think of as far as accomplishments and school papers, essays, etc., but… They are accomplishing things every day! The path of accomplishment is not over yet. So, there is no reason why students cannot continue to write about their current accomplishments and insights as they come to them. In fact, I dare say they have become experts in other areas, even beyond what they learned in college by the time they’ve reached this point.

Granted, students may not feel like they are writers, and they have had it with writing. I can’t assume just because I love writing that means students love writing, now can I? That is ok, too. In that case, they want to package up their blogs as if they are literally that online portfolio of what they have accomplished in their degrees.

Promoting a portfolio

College students will want to include the link on their LinkedIn profiles. There are options to insert external links, and that is a great place to insert the link to their blogs/portfolios. If students have opted to keep it as just a portfolio, then list it as a portfolio. If they have opted for it to be a continuing blog, then list it as a professional blog.

Now it’s time to get started

Do students have ideas coming to mind? Initially, they can almost copy/paste their work from college. Please do keep in mind any plagiarism rules that may exist in college. If they are currently attending college that may be a concern; ensure writing on students’ blogs doesn’t flag a “TurnItIn” alert that affects their current studies. Students will definitely want to check with their universities if they are current students and have these concerns.

I hope college students have seen this is not the impossible task. If they start something like the blog set-up, and are not entirely sure they “did it right” or they want their portfolios to always look that way, they do have the option to change it easily without impacting the content they have entered. This allows students to get started today and tweak it as they go.

Isn’t that really the way life works? We have to get off our duff to get going and get it done, but we can fine-tune our process as we experience more life lessons along the way. It doesn’t stop at college graduation. We have the opportunity to continue the learning process and impart that to others, as we go through life. Now, let’s share it, shall we?

Looking for additional job search tips for college students and recent graduates? Go to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

Photo of Deborah Anderson

Deborah Anderson, guest writer

By Deborah Anderson

http://www.Tech-Audit.com

@techauditcom and @socialwebcafe

Deborah Anderson is on her way to finishing her doctorate in I/O Psychology. Along the way, she has served as Chief Technology Officer in the financial industry (in Beverly Hills), Director of Marketing in the health industry, Host of an iHeart Radio marketing talk show, and even a #1 Jazz Singer (Deborah E). From this background, she shares insights to help others overcome their challenges and succeed in their personal and professional lives.

Posted February 13, 2016 by

Balancing academics and work as a college student

Photo of Anthony Taylor

Anthony Taylor, guest writer

Students go off to college, but it’s not the rosy life they see in the movies. There are bills to pay, tuition to afford, books to buy, and honestly, balancing finances at a young age is hard. Studying in college and concentrating on getting good grades is tough enough without throwing in a job into the mix. But the money has to flow in to either support the family or to support getting an education. Whatever the reason, here are a few tips to help college students juggle their working and studying lives.

1. Find a job with flexible hours: Let’s face it; students are in college now. There will be coursework and assignments with tight deadlines, and studying should always be a priority. An education will serve as the building blocks for the future so students shouldn’t push it in the backburner. They should find jobs where they can easily accommodate their studies, too, so neither one suffers. These jobs could be within the college campus, as those kinds of jobs understand the balance between work and study, and they can help college students manage their homework.

2. Manage time wisely: With so much on the line, it is wise to have a good time management schedule. College students should know where they spend their time. Many successful people plan nearly each moment of their day to get the most out of their 24 hours. Many times we end up wasting time and not realizing it when we could be putting it to good use. Use lunch breaks to catch up on math homework, or grab a few hours of work during a long lunch break in college. Those few hours can add up during the week. Students need to keep checking in to see if they’re on track per their schedules to know they’re not overcommitting themselves or falling short of their goals. If students know they function better in the mornings, they should get evening jobs so they can do coursework or assignments when they’re fresh and vice versa.

3. Have family support: This goes without saying; without a support system, college students will find it very hard to adjust both lives alone. Students should inform their managers at work, friends, or family to support them in this decision, and help them both personally and professionally. This kind of support will help students infinitely when they feel the pressure is too much, or they need help with managing homework.

4. Know what they want: College students should choose jobs wisely if they can. Students should think about how what they do now could benefit them in the future. Remember, everything can be added to their portfolios. If working in a store, think of inventory – managing time and stock. All of this could and should be interpreted as work experience, and this could boost entry into the working world by gaining experience, references, professional growth, and of course, the money.

5. Be creative in getting homework done: By having a job, college students are effectively cutting down on their study hours. Students must be smart about juggling their time, and try listening to lectures while working. They should also keep their managers in the loop so they get that support system. This way, students can learn, revise, and perhaps even do homework during work hours, which don’t require much brain activity like sorting mail, etc.

6. Take a mental break: It is important to have some time out from studies. Always having studies/ homework on the mind will stress students out, especially if they know they can’t do it during work hours. Allow a study free zone while at work. Know there is nothing students can do about it, so they should give themselves permission to relax. Many times we block ourselves, and take on more stress over things we cannot control. Those moments students are not thinking about studies could benefit them in the long run. This way, they can approach their assignments with a fresh mind.

Smiling college students holding hands at graduation courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

7. Stay focused on the end goal: The end goal should be graduating. Many times, once students start working, they find it hard to stay focused on education. It becomes easy to forget about studies and think about short term benefits, such as getting paid. This spending power lets many people forget about graduating. College students must find ways to motivate themselves. Keep pictures of graduates at their ceremonies or photos of people who managed to reach the pinnacle of their careers to have an aim and a goal to reach.

8. Research on future courses: Students should find courses relevant to them and their future interests. Don’t choose a random course because friends are taking it, or because somebody else has a strong opinion about it. Students need to discover what they are passionate about and what they see themselves doing in the future. Doing some research on courses will help them achieve their future goals.

9. Be smart financially: Money can flow through college students’ fingers like water if they’re not careful. Keep track on spending and where the money has to be allocated. If there are bills to pay, keep that money aside, or pay off debts before doing anything else. This helps students become more financially independent. This not involves their weekly paycheck, but also their tuition. Most colleges have hefty fees so be sure to enroll in a program where there are future benefits. Don’t get a job and go into debt due to careless spending, as this will cause a downward spiral.

10. Be passionate: Happiness can only come from within. College students should be passionate about the courses they will be taking; passion will get them through tough times. If students truly do something they love, they will excel in it. Be happy at the workplace. Find a job that is mentally stimulating or has a good work team. This makes a huge difference in students’ mental health and happiness, and when they’re young and balancing their work and study lives, this is very important.

The balance for managing studies and work can be a fine line, and one that should be carefully monitored so college students don’t end up suffering by their decision to work. This has become a recent trend, as many young students have bills to pay, and this enables them to gain work experience while also getting homework help and inspiration from their coworkers or family.

Need more tips for college students, check out College Recruiter’s blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Anthony Taylor is a writer, student and editor on student’s writing website. He loves reading, writing motivational stories and spending the time with his family. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+ for more interesting stories.

Posted February 02, 2016 by

Creating a reference page for your resume

The job search involves multiple steps. One of the first steps involved is creating a reference page. The step prior to this is writing a basic resume. You will edit, tailor, and tweak your resume each time you apply for specific positions. Next you’ll want to create a separate reference page.

How do you select people to serve as references? How do you create and maintain a reference page?

Check out College Recruiter’s four-minute video about creating a reference page for your resume.


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

1. Create a separate reference page

Be sure to indicate to potential employers who will review your resume that you have a reference page available. At the bottom of your resume, type “references available upon request.” Creating a separate reference page is helpful for a few reasons. It saves space on your resume, and when employers choose to pursue you further in the hiring process and want to check references, they must contact you to obtain a copy of your references. This allows you time to quickly call or email your references; your references are then better prepared to provide positive, clear answers about your qualifications for employment.

Type your reference page using the same font and format as your resume; you want to ensure that employers easily recognize that your reference page matches up with your resume if the two pages become separated. For this reason, you’ll also want to include the same or similar header at the top of your reference page listing your contact information (name, address, phone number, and email address).

2. Ask first

Always ask people before listing them as references; when people are prepared for reference checks, they can provide glowing reviews of you without feeling flustered. They are also more likely to serve as a reference in the future if you treat them with courtesy and respect by asking for permission to list them as references on the front end.

3. Hesitation means no

If people hesitate to say yes when you ask for permission to list them as references, do not list them as references, even if they eventually give you permission. There’s some reason for their hesitation. You don’t want to take any chances on one of your references giving you anything less than a stellar review; there are many times when employers checking references pick up on tone of voice or implied hints dropped by references over the phone or even in emails. Don’t let one bad reference check cause you to miss out on a great job opportunity. Move on and ask someone else to serve as a reference for you.

4. Go above and beyond

Employee Reference Check Form courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Sinseeho/Shutterstock.com

Try to provide more than the minimum number of references required. Most employers request at least three references; list five to seven instead. When human resources professionals, hiring managers, or recruiters check your references and need quick responses, this provides them with more than enough people to call or email, and if they don’t hear back from the first three people on the list, they can call one or two of your other references instead.

5. Provide variety

When selecting your references, provide potential employers with variety. Think about offering recruiters a broad overview of your qualifications, including your work history, educational background, and volunteer and extracurricular involvement. Include references like coworkers, supervisors, former professors, students you partnered with on major projects, fellow volunteers, directors of non-profit organizations who managed fundraisers you participated in, etc. The longer the relationship you’ve had with your references, the better; one of the questions employers might ask of your references is how long they have known you.

6. Clear communicators

Select references who will not only speak highly of you but who will also speak clearly and concisely about you, and preferably in an upbeat manner. Your favorite former college professor might be the nicest guy in the world, but if he’s extremely soft-spoken and stammers most of the time, you might consider finding another former professor to ask to serve as a reference. Remember that about 80% of employers check references, with about 16% checking references prior to the interview. Be sure you select references who will serve as cheerleaders for you prior to your arrival at the interview.

7. Titles don’t always impress

Avoid listing references simply because their job titles look impressive on your reference page; instead think about what your references will have to say about you. Can they provide real, concrete examples about the ways you’ve demonstrated your skills and abilities? If not, why are you listing them on your reference page? Remember that recruiters and hiring managers want to know if you’re a good fit for the open position. If your references can’t provide information to reassure employers that you’re the best candidate for the job opening, find references who can. Be sure your references know the real you.

8. Maintain and update

Keep your reference page updated with current contact information. Don’t make it tough on employers to check your references; they might give up if they run into snags when checking your references and move on to the next candidate in line for the job.

9. Say thanks

Lastly, be sure to thank your references each time you obtain an interview or land a job. You never know the difference your references’ reviews can make in your job search. Your references serve as part of your network of supporters, and maintaining positive connections with your network always pays off.

For more Tuesday Tips and job search secrets, follow College Recruiter’s blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.