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Posted December 29, 2016 by

Ready to climb the ladder in 2017? Here are 10 things recent college grads should do

 

No matter where one is at in their career, there are always things one can do to learn more, become more valuable, advance in their career, and become a go-to employer that people rely on.

While you may not be where you want to be in your career now, it doesn’t mean you can’t get there in the future. One thing recent college graduates quickly find out is that, even though they finally secured that first job, there is still much work to be done to continue to advance in one’s career and climb the career ladder.

So, what can you do in the next year to advance your career? Start by taking small steps that can lead to big improvements and changes. Do that by following these 10 things recent college grads should do to climb the career ladder in 2017:

  1. Find/consult with a mentor: Everyone could use a mentor – someone who can motivate, inspire and guide them in the early stages of their career. Find someone in your field, career path, or network who can be a mentor to you. Start by asking for an informational interview to learn more about their career. Then if you feel things are going in the right direction, explain your career goals and aspirations and ask if they would be interested in being a mentor. Many people would be flattered, and willing to help.
  2. Take a class: Even though you recently graduated from college, lifelong learning is essential to those who want to advance in their career. Take a class on Udemy or Coursera. Sign up for Lynda.com. Take an adult education class on a topic of interest, or register for a class – traditional or online – at a local college or university. Learning is lifelong, and getting in the habit of adding new skills throughout one’s career will pay off over time – in salary, and advancement opportunities.
  3. Do a social media audit: What does your online brand say about you? Google yourself – the next employer certainly will – what shows up? Review your social media profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, others) and check security settings and profiles and be sure they best represent you to an external audience. Seriously review comments, Tweets or photos and remove/edit anything that could hurt your professional reputation. For example, were you outspoken during the 2016 Presidential election, and perhaps commented, through Facebook, or on Twitter, about the Presidential race, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump? Those comments “live” in search engines, and others can find them. Don’t let social media comments, posts, pictures or shares damage your online brand.
  4. Consult with your campus career center: These people are here to help. Even after you graduate. Reach out to a campus career counselor for help with connecting to alumni, for job search assistance and resume writing guidance. Many people never take advantage of this opportunity. Why not reach out to a trained professional who can help?
  5. Complete a skills audit: Even if you aren’t looking for a job, search for jobs or job titles that may be of interest to you. What skills or requirements do these job applications ask for? Is there a skill (technology) or requirement lacking in your portfolio? In the year ahead, focus on how to develop or improve that skill, to become more attractive to an employer. Try and take on new projects at your current job, or find classes or training to help learn these important industry skills.
  6. Be a team player: You’re not going to be best friends with every co-worker. You’re not going to like every project or assignment. You may even sense conflict with other departments. But don’t mope, be difficult, or develop a bad attitude because of it. Why? Because someday that co-worker, manager, or person who seemed to be difficult on a project could work for a company where you want to work. What will they remember? Your negative attitude – if you let it. Be a team player at work, someone people go to for answers on projects, for assistance, and someone people can count on. Your co-workers will remember that, and will remember you if they are in a position to influence or assist you with your next job or step of your career.
  7. Update your resume: If that dream job opened up tomorrow would your resume be updated and ready for you to apply for the job? If that new networking contact asked for a resume to share with other industry contacts, would you be ready? Don’t delay. Updating your resume before you absolutely need it allows one to devote the time, attention and detail to perfect your resume. Even if you are completely happy in your career, updating one’s resume is a good way to help track new achievements and add any new skills to your resume. Better yet, updating a resume twice a year is ideal. At the end of each month write down your key successes and achievements, and at the six month mark, compile those accomplishments and update the resume. Then do it again at the end of year to make sure all is current and best represents the successes you have achieved at your job. If you don’t track it, you will forget it, and it won’t go on your resume, and your next employer will never know you did it.
  8. Attend an industry networking event: Attending networking events, or joining professional associations can open many doors. Make it a goal this year to attend at least one networking event or industry association event in your field in 2017. Why? Because networking always has been and always will be the key to climbing the career ladder.
  9. Create a backup plan: If you were fired or lost your job today, would you be ready tomorrow, both personally and professionally, for the challenge ahead? Figure out a way to save more money (perhaps through a part-time job?), be sure your resume is updated, and you would know what to do next, if suddenly without a job now.
  10. Be thankful: If you are employed, be thankful, even if you dislike the job, your manager, or career direction. Your current job, job title or situation doesn’t define you, or where you want to go. Keep adding new skills, taking on new projects, and learning. Because, the good news is, where you are now doesn’t mean it’s where you will be in six months, one year, three years and the rest of your career. Make 2017 a success by following the above tips and stay connected with College Recruiter to get job alerts, get career advice, and stay on top of trends and issues affecting both job seekers and employers.

Follow these tips in 2017, and you could make great strides in your career development that will continue to have a positive effect not only next year, but in 2018, 2019 and throughout your career. Start now to succeed later.

Want more career and job search advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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 February 16, 2016 by

7 resume tips for non-traditional college students

Even though the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that the vast majority of today’s college students—73 percent—are categorized as non-traditional college students, or adult learners, still struggle on university and college campuses to find adequate answers to their unique problems and challenges. One of the problems and challenges non-traditional college students face is preparing a great resume prior to entering (or re-entering) the workforce after graduation.

This 4-minute video featuring College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, provides non-traditional college students with resume tips.


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

1) Bend the resume rules.

Many of the standard resume tips college students find on the internet and even from career services experts are great tips, but they’re geared toward traditional college students, students who enroll in college immediately after high school graduation, attend college full-time without taking breaks in attendance, and graduate within four to five years.

Non-traditional college students and adult learners must be prepared to adapt the resume guidelines provided for traditional students, particularly if they have several years of work experience related to their college majors. Some of the guidelines non-traditional college students may want to stray from include sticking to a one-page resume and listing education at the top of their resumes. Depending on years of experience and level of experience, these guidelines may or may not apply.

2) Seek professional help.

All college students benefit from resume editing assistance. However, seeking resume writing and editing assistance is even more crucial for non-traditional college students since non-traditional college students often have multiple exceptions to the typical resume rules to address and multiple questions to ask. Should I list the part-time job I held for only three months and quit when I had my daughter? Is it better to list my sales management position or not since I was laid off after three years, and I was the only person who was laid off? These are questions best answered by a professional. Seek help from career services experts on your local campuses and from College Recruiter’s free resume editors. Don’t edit your resume alone!

3) Avoid affiliations.

Your parents or grandparents may have advised you to avoid talking about politics and religion on first dates. The same general rule goes for resume writing. Avoid listing volunteer work and service positions which reveal religious, political, or other affiliations. Non-traditional college students often feel more grounded and sure of themselves in terms of beliefs and values; however, use caution when sharing those beliefs on your resume.

If you insist on doing so, understand that putting your religious and political affiliations in writing on your resume may open you up to unintentional discrimination by potential employers when they review your resume during the screening process. Review the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website; a good rule of thumb is if it’s an illegal interview question, don’t willingly offer the information to recruiters and talent acquisition professionals by listing it on your resume before you make it to the interview.

4) Update your resume.

If you change jobs, take on more responsibility in your current position, join a new campus or community organization, or earn an additional scholarship or award, add this information to your resume. Regardless of the changes and accomplishments in your life, set a reminder in your phone or on your calendar to update your resume every six months. For non-traditional college students, this regular resume updating is crucial because non-traditional college students typically live active lifestyles, working part-time or full-time while attending college, all the while maintaining community involvement and tending to family responsibilities.

Think of a resume as a working document. You should never create your resume and then file it away. Always be prepared to email an updated copy to a recruiter or potential employer on a moment’s notice. You never know when someone in your social network may hear of a great job opening and think of you.

5) Tend to details.

Countless human resources managers and recruiters have passed over resumes with spelling errors, grammatical errors, and mechanical errors. Use past tense to describe prior jobs and present tense to describe your current position. Use spell check and grammar check. Take advantage of College Recruiter’s free resume editors. Visit the career services office on your campus. Ensure proper spelling of all job titles and companies listed on your resume. Do not misspell your own references’ names. These are small details, but details matter. Employers want to hire professionals who can handle making important daily decisions for their companies; submitting a seamless resume is the first step in proving you’re qualified to make big decisions. Remember, seek resume editing assistance.

6) Address gaps.

Non-traditional college students often have gaps in their work history. When you have gaps in your work history, you may choose whether to list them or not. If you don’t list the gaps on your resume, be prepared to explain those gaps in your work experience in your interviews and/or cover letters. If you list the gaps on your resume, list transferable skills and volunteer duties performed.

For example, if you took three years off from working full-time to stay at home with your child, and during that time you worked in the nursery at your church, volunteered during vacation Bible school, and babysat two other small children one day each week, you can list in-home childcare for three children for three years, volunteer teaching experience for 12 toddlers for a non-profit organization during each summer for three years, and volunteer childcare worker one day per week for 2-10 children. This experience might not feel substantial to you, but it demonstrates that you were involved in your community, managed others, planned lessons, taught skills and material to small children, and a variety of other tasks which you can list as transferable skills on your resume.

7) List all experience.

Entitle your work experience section “Experience.” This allows you the freedom to list all experience in this category, including your military experience, volunteer work experience, internships (paid or unpaid), and paid work experience. Whether you value your volunteer experience as highly as your paid work experience or not, many employers will. Don’t underestimate the value of your own experience.

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