• How to select a career mentor

    May 10, 2016 by

    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.

  • How to brand yourself on social media

    March 29, 2016 by

    There’s a whole lot of buzz right now about how important it is to brand yourself on social media. Should you create a separate personal and professional brand? Should you invite employers to connect with you on social media, or keep all social media accounts strictly private, adding only friends and family to connect with you? Should you boycott social media altogether?

    Whoa there, Tiger. Before you go rogue on us and refuse to interact with the world from this day forward, let’s take a step back and consider a balanced approach to branding.

    Today’s Tuesday Tip offers tips on how to brand yourself on social media.


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

    1) Be consistent.

    Consistency is king in relationship building. Why? Most people—healthy people—enjoy knowing what to expect from others; that makes them feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed. If people can typically expect you to behave in the same manner, with few exceptions, and your behavior is polite, courteous, and kind, people will enjoy being around you. They will most likely want to be around you in the future and accept your requests for appointments, phone calls, and other interactions. It’s important to brand yourself as someone who is consistent.

    On the other hand, if you behave in an inconsistent manner—even on social media—and your comments run the gamut from thoughtful and kind to harsh and critical, your contacts/friends online may begin to shy away from interacting with you. Even if you have much to offer by way of expertise, you might find that your acquaintances are less likely to respond to your comments and invitations if you don’t behave in a consistent manner.

    Remember the analogy used in the video embedded in this article of Madonna and Britney Spears. Madonna maintained a consistent marketing message or brand out of the gate. Her fans (and haters) knew what to expect from her from day one. This was never true of Britney Spears (or Miley Cyrus, for that matter). Deep down, most people really like knowing what to expect of others, particularly those we have relationships with.

    2)  Be kind.

    Golden rule, people. Simply treat others as you want to be treated, or as my career mentor Samantha Hartley says, and as I mentioned in a recent Tuesday Tip video, “as offline, so online.” Treat others well face-to-face (with kindness, courtesy, politeness, encouragement, positivity, humor, etc.). Interactions on social media should be no different, right? When you brand yourself on social media, ensure that you leave people with a positive feeling after they interact with you.

    3) Be strategic.

    Be strategic when you brand yourself. Put some thought into choosing what you post because it matters; it can affect your employment opportunities.

    Who are you on your best day? Are you reliable, caring, outgoing, considerate, and on time? This is the best you to portray on social media. This is how to brand yourself on social media.

    If you have difficulty figuring out who you are in terms of your career path and how to brand yourself, you’re not alone. Branding yourself is a lifelong process; you simply get started while you’re in college, and you continue working on it throughout your career. If you need help determining how to word your headline on LinkedIn, sections of your resume, or even where you’re heading in terms of your career path, visit with your career services specialists on campus. Take free career assessments on campus. It’s never too late!

    For more tips on using social media in your job search, follow our blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

  • Keeping it old school on social media

    March 01, 2016 by

    Even in the digital age, there’s something warm and fuzzy about throwing it back to the good old days and keeping it old school when using social media. Maybe this seems ironic, but it makes a lot of sense; whether you’re searching for jobs, networking professionally, or connecting with friends, it helps to apply the same communication skills you use when interacting face to face to your online communication via social media. Recruiters and talent acquisition leaders—your future bosses—are looking for employees who exhibit great communication skills. If you can apply the following five tips to your use of social media, you’ll definitely improve your odds of landing internships and entry-level jobs.

    This Tuesday Tip video, featuring Bethany Wallace, Content Manager for College Recruiter, offers five suggestions for college students and recent grads for using social media old school style.


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

    1. If you can’t show Grandma, don’t show anybody.

    When using social media platforms, particularly platforms which are image-heavy like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, avoid posting photos (or posting comments or status updates) containing images or words you wouldn’t show or share with your grandma. If your grandma is a hipster, this rule doesn’t apply to you. Think about the stereotypical grandma who might be offended at the notion of seeing her grandson’s photos of a wild party. That’s the grandma we’re referencing here.

    If that mild-mannered, conservative grandma wouldn’t want to see it or read about it, chances are your potential employers don’t want to see it or read about it either. So don’t share it on social media. Remember that just because you think you have your privacy settings locked down doesn’t mean they’re truly secure. Your friends can always tag you in photos. Facebook is publicly traded. And your friends and contacts can also take screen shots of what you post before you realize you need to delete the scandalous content. So play it safe and follow the grandma rule, particularly prior to and during your job search.

    2. No phones allowed.

    If you’re a traditional college student, your parents can probably tell you lots of stories about what it was like to attend parties and other college functions sans cell phones. Most wild college functions were never documented; the only records that exist of the crazy things that happened at sorority houses in the 80s and 90s live in the memories of the people who attended.

    Take notes from the old folks on this one. The benefit to turning off your cell phones at the door of functions with your friends is that you won’t wind up posting any scandalous photos on social media, only to regret those posts later. It might seem fun to share the photos now, but when you begin searching for a job or internship, and employers Google you and find said photos, you’ll wish you’d followed the “no phones allowed” rule once in a while. You might want to suggest to your friends that they follow suit and turn off their phones, too. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find that you have more fun when you aren’t worried about taking selfies or being caught doing something silly.

    3. Pay attention; you’re creating a brand.

    When sharing, posting, liking, or communicating in any way with your contacts on social media, remember that you’re creating a brand for yourself. As The Police so aptly put it, “I’ll be watching you.” Your contacts—particularly recruiters and potential employers—are watching you. People often pay more attention to your online activity than what you might think. Be sure that you mindfully interact online and treat others with courtesy and kindness. Portray the image of yourself you want others to see. Brand yourself intentionally because if you don’t, you’re still creating a brand; it will just be a personal brand you’ve created haphazardly.

    When you interact through social media, commenting thoughtfully on photos and status updates also lets your contacts know that you care about their content. This helps build genuine relationships. This is another way to apply old school communication principles to your online interactions.

    4. Request a meeting with professional contacts.

    After you’ve interacted with a professional contact online for a while, don’t be afraid to make the suggestion that you meet face to face, to ask for your contact’s phone number, or to request a Skype visit. Taking the next step toward more personal face-to-face interaction is always preferable because it gives you the opportunity to get to know your contact better. Professionals—whether employers or mentors—understand that you are networking in order to gain understanding about your career field and to seek job opportunities. Make your intentions clear when requesting a visit. If you are attempting to learn more about the career field, tell your contact that. If you want to learn about the company your contact works for, state that when you request to meet for coffee.

    Most people are open to this type of request if they have time in their schedules. Even if they can’t meet face to face, they can often visit over the phone or online. Moving from social media, like Facebook messaging or direct messaging on Twitter, to a phone call, is a positive step toward building a lasting professional relationship.

    5. “As offline, so online.”

    This tip comes straight from marketing guru Samantha Hartley, owner of Enlightened Marketing. In the world of social media and electronic communication, people tend to interact more abruptly and to leave their manners at the door. This is a major faux pas if you want to maintain healthy professional relationships with your friends, professional contacts, and coworkers (and land jobs in the future).

    Remember that when interacting on social media and through email, it’s just as important to treat people with courtesy, respect, and kindness as it is offline (face to face). As offline, so online.

    For more Tuesday Tips and suggestions about using social media effectively in your job search, follow our blog, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.