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Career Placement Center on Campus – Can They Help?

career placement centerAlthough the trend has shifted away from the use of the word “placement” in the names of career offices on college campuses, your college or university may still have an office called “Career Placement Center”.

Even if the staff there doesn’t use that name, many students, staff and even faculty on college campuses will often use that term and have the wrong concept of what such an office does. Sometimes college students delay job searches because they perceive that the “career placement center” office will do just that and place them in a job or an internship.

That is a perception that you want to change very early. Do not be misled when you hear the “placement” word because no one, except an employer, can actually “place” you in a job.

The career office can, however, help get your foot in the door with employers because they do the following things to support your job search:

Develop strong relationships with employers

Secure and make available job leads for all students

Share with you what specific employers want

Assist you to create a stronger resume

Help you with job interview practice and preparation

Coach you through a specific job search strategy

Support you with job search tips

Host employers for on-campus mock interviews or real interviews

Provide faculty and administration with feedback about professional skills demanded by industry

Encourage and support positive behaviors

Teach you how to develop job search skills that will lead to lifelong employment

Suggest to employers you would make a great candidate; if they believe so!

Despite all your career center does, YOU ultimately will be in the job interview by YOURSELF and YOU must sell your skills and your brand to employers.

Proactive students are successful, when they take responsibility for his/her own job search.

Keep in mind also that you will have to conduct a successful job search many times throughout your career. Gaining the skills to do it successfully is critical to your long term professional success.

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Posted in Career Advice, Career and Industry Awareness, HBCU Career Programs, Job Search Tips, On campus interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Career Placement Center on Campus – Can They Help?

Working with Recruiters – Why Can’t I Reach You?

working with recruitersIf you want to frustrate recruiters in the job search process, go ahead and make it hard for them to reach you.  What is the point of having multiple email addresses and phone numbers on your resume and then no one can connect with you. Recruiters hate that. Bottom line is that when you are working with recruiters, they must be able to reach you!

Trust me – if you list phone numbers and email addresses on your resume, you should be easily and quickly accessible in both ways.

If you are job searching you must be reading your emails – all of them, including whatever you have in your LinkedIn account.  You must be following up by social media and/or checking your voicemails regularly. Chances if you are working with recruiters, they expect you to be engaged and so they will probably be leaving messages on your phone and sending you emails. This is particularly important if you connected with the recruiter through the career center on your campus.  Now it’s not just your reputation on the line, it is your university’s as well.

Many recruiters will expect a follow-up from a job seeker within 2 to 24 hours. If the recruiter doesn’t hear from you; they will move on! It is that simple. If they don’t get a call back from you, it is safe to assume –they will move on without you and your file gets moved to the bottom of the stack.

When you are working with recruiters, take it seriously. Please stay connected if you are serious about your job search!

You don’t want someone walking away with your job, just because they answered their phone and you did not!

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Posted in Business Etiquette, Diversity Recruiting, Employment Trends, Job Search Tips, Networking, New Grad, Niche Job Board, Personal Branding, Selling Your Brand, Social Media Job Search | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Working with Recruiters – Why Can’t I Reach You?

Summer Job Interview Questions for Teens

summer job for teensI wrote this about summer job interview questions for teens a decade ago and just saw another website (won’t name any names) had pretty much copied the content word for word (:> So I thought I would republish it here since the material is still super relevant. There was no social media when I wrote this back then, so I didn’t need to warn teens about the fact that 90 percent of employers are going to look them up online.  Definitely fix that by reading this – 11 Rules for Students Online.

Some high school teens are making plans to work. For many, this could be a first job. As you consider where to work and what kind of work you want to do, you should also get your high school resume as well as prepare for your interview. Here are eight interview questions employers ask high school students in interviews. These tips will serve as a guide to help high school teens come up with the best answers in the job interview.

Q. Tell me a little about yourself?

A. The interviewer wants to learn more about your skills, abilities and some of your interests. This response sets the tone for the rest of the interview and it is a good idea to make the answer as brief as possible. A rough rule of thumb is to say something about the recent past, something current and a plan for the future. Here is what one freshman student shared in her interview,

Past– My family relocated to this region three years ago and I am enrolled at XYZ High School.
Present – I just finished my Freshman year and I took all honors classes. I am a part of the drama club stage crew and enjoy the theatre and arts.
Future – My goal is to pursue Theatre Arts in college.

Q. Why do you want this part time job?

A. Tell the interviewer why you applied for this position. Talk about your skills and your availability, not the employee discount. As a high school student, you can speak to the flexibility that the job offers, the proximity of the job to home or school or that you are saving for something specific like a summer trip, sports camp or your first car.

Q. Are you involved in extra curricular activities?

A. High school teens should speak about after school activities, elective classes taken outside of school or any volunteer work or family obligations you might have. Do not be afraid to talk about activities such as music lessons, band practice or if you are like my nephew, you can talk about chess club or science camp.

Q. What would teachers say about you?

A. This is a good chance to speak about your good performance in your favorite classes. Speak about teachers who you know would be able to give you a good letters of recommendation.

Q. Tell me about a problem you had and how you solved it?

A. The interviewer wants to learn about you problem solving skills for handling challenges or conflicts. Make sure to give specific examples where you might have had a problem you actually had to solve. Don’t forget to talk about great outcomes.

Q. How many hours can you work?

A. Share your availability to work daily or weekly. If you are looking for a job in retail, do not forget Saturday and Sunday. These might be the days where the employer needs you most.

Q. Tell me about your last job?

A. Share information about job skills or accomplishment on the job. Do not speak badly about any prior employers. Keep this part of the interview very positive and upbeat.  If this is your first job, then don’t be shy about saying that.

Q. Why should we hire you?

A. Here is an opportunity to talk about your job skills, behaviors and achievements and how they could be an asset on your new job.

Interview preparation is really key to interview success!

For extra help, teens can take the job description to the career counseling office at their high school and ask if for assistance. Ask to do a practice interview as well.

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5 Steps to Jump Start your Job Search Right Now

If you just graduated and haven’t landed your dream job yet, then I suspect yourjump start your job search job search should be in high gear right about now. If your job search is not yet picking up steam, here are 5 things to do today to jump start that job search right now.

1. Find the career center on your college campus!  Here are links to the HBCU career centers.  I guarantee you they are open this summer and there are plenty of ways to get help. Find out when they are open for walk-ins or appointments.  Which of the career center’s resources can you access on line?  Find the calendar and schedule career events such as job fairs, workshops and on-campus interviews.  If you are seriously want to jump start your job search, you must engage with the campus career center.

2. Start cleaning up any digital dirt that recruiters might be using to disqualify you as an applicant.  Check your social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and make sure you have a positive image online.  New studies show 86% of recruiters are researching job applicants online.  Find more information on what employers want.

3. Create a LinkedIn account and begin to build your professional brand on line.  One sure way to get serious and jump start a job search is to put yourself out there and start making connections.  LinkedIn is an awesome way to do that.

4. Buy a copy of my new book Resume Guide; How to Look Good on Paper.  If you need answers to questions like – How do I handle a low GPA in the job search? Where are the weak spots on my resume? My book can help.  Write the resume send it to me and I will send you feedback.

5. Post your resume on a few job boards including the one used by your HBCU career center and the job and internship board at TheHBCUCareerCenter.

There are no guarantees in a job search.  To find success you need steady and consistent attention to job search best practices.

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Plan to finish your internship in style

HBCU students are participating in summer internships all across the country.  Black male in style

One of your goals should be finish your internship in style.  What do I mean by that? Finish your internship experience positively and in a professional way.

How to finish up with style!

-Thank your supervisor and tell them what you have learned. Be specific about projects and skills that have taken your professional game to the next level.  Talk about the meaning of the assignments and what it has meant to you to be a part of the team.

– Reach out to professionals in other departments that you want to thank or stay connected with as well.  This is the perfect time to get your LinkedIn account set up so that you can start to build that professional network.  Although your fellow interns might want to connect as friends on Facebook or Instagram, your boss might prefer LinkedIn.

– Ask people how you can stay connected with them. Remember that you are trying to build meaningful relationships not just get new tweeps who want to follow your daily life!  Find out what people are interested in and you will be able to network in more meaningful ways.

– Stay professional and approachable all the way to the very end of the internship.  Your goal is to leave there with bridges built and not bridges burned. Continue to stay out of company gossip and organizational stuff, that you don’t need to participate in.

Work hard on all your projects right up until the very last day.

Remember that the end of internship social event is not the time for you to “let your hair down” especially if you want to get an offer for a full time job after graduation or if you are hoping to intern again next summer.

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Best Commencement Address Takeaways for 2017 Grads

Though it’s really easy to get excited about graduating college, in can be very hard to find yourself moved by any commencement address. Think about it, you’re anxious about the future, maybe a little sad, have probably been outside for hours, and really just want to hear your name called and go home.  But as dry as conventional musings about how your class is “the future” (along with every class before and after it) can be, every year there are a handful of commencement addresses that genuinely challenge our expectations and bless new grads with palpable insight. With graduation 2017 in the rear view, here are four standouts from the 2017 season, that every new graduate should hear.

Bernie Sanders- Take Stake in the Future

Sanders’ speech didn’t deviate very much from his campaign trail musings, but none the less his self-described “dose of reality” is something all new grads should hear. The Vermont senator was adamant about reminding the graduating class that the future of the United States —and the world— is in the hands of young people. While noting that we live in what he calls a dangerous political time, Sanders was clear in his message that football is a spectator sport, but democracy isn’t.

Senator Sanders wasn’t wrong to point out the peril that our country is in, especially as it relates to access to education. The current presidential administration has shown little interest in supporting students stuck under the weight of crippling student loan debt or for students trying to educate themselves in a way that will negate that debt. For Sanders, the only solution is our unapologetic interest in creating a better and more equitable world, not just for ourselves, but for our descendants.

Oprah Winfrey- There Are No Limits on a Life of Service

Oprah Winfrey is no stranger to philanthropy. According to a report from People Magazine, the former TV personality is the most philanthropic-minded celebrity “by a huge margin”. In 2016 Winfrey dropped about 40 million of her own dollars into helping the Oprah Winfrey Foundation support programs that provide women and children with access to a decent education.

While Winfrey was elated that many members of Agnes Scott College’s graduation class are going on to serve with organizations like the Peace Corps and Teach for America, the mogul was quick to mention that her “whole life was a prayer” and “an offering in service.” She emphasized how first we must serve the self by fostering it into its most actualized version; something we do through our interactions with others and in our education. According to Winfrey, it’s after we elevate our own minds, that we can entertain a constant state of humility that shows our higher calling to us. Maybe you don’t have two years of life to give to the Peace Corps or $40 million to make education more accessible, but what you can possess is a drive to always find your passion, because it’s the passionate attitude, not just the laundry list of accomplishments, that can change the lives of those around us.

Betsy DeVos- Know Yourself and Don’t Back Down

Okay, so this one isn’t exactly about the speech per-se, but is easily in the pantheon of potential learning experiences. #BackstoBetsy was trending on Twitter after Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, was almost booed off stage during her commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University.  If there’s anything for the new grad to take away from DeVos’ speech it is the eminent reminder that at the end of the day you have to know what you’re ‘about’ and try not to let go of it.

In every sense the Bethune-Cookman president would’ve preferred that the graduates sit around and say absolutely nothing. No boo’s and no backs turned. There is so much pressure when people leave college to just take anything that’s thrown at them, but my advice would be to try and approach the after-college years like these grads did – determined and uncompromising. Uncompromising isn’t always a bad thing.There may come a time —on any career path— when you feel that an employer is testing your integrity. But in the face of something that represents what you think is truly wrong with the world, you don’t have to yield. There’s always room for people to pick a side and stand up.

Will Ferrell- Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Will “we’re going streaking!” Ferrell is arguably the most left field orator on this list. None the less, his speech contains one of the greatest takeaways for any new grad — don’t take yourself too seriously! Ferrell explains how as an undergrad he would regularly abdicate his work-study responsibilities to wander about campus. After a friend invited him to “crash” a literature course, Ferrell stole a janitor’s outfit and cleaning supplies before strutting into the classroom mid-lecture. The actor told the professor —while in character— that he’d been sent to clean up a student’s vomit. Much to Ferrell’s surprise, the professor was amused and a month later pulls him over on campus to call his janitor act “one of the funniest” things he’d ever seen.

Ferrell ultimately colluded with the professor who asked him to come in and surprise another class with the act. After a few tries, the students caught on and would eventually break to indulge him. It was the willingness to put himself out there that opened Ferrell’s mind up to the idea that large groups of people could find him funny. For the actor, it was the professor’s support of his good attitude and craft that he used to “give myself [Ferrell] permission to be silly and weird”. For the new grad, that anecdote is paramount. Imagine if Ferrell had taken himself so seriously that the idea of crashing a lecture while in character was off the table? He’d have never envisioned himself as who he is today without seizing that opportunity to be vulnerable and creative. As a student leaving college, it’s important to never be so rigid in your perception of yourself or a space, that you miss out on dynamic exposure to new ideas.

Last Words

When we leave school, inspiration and purpose are the things we crave. To have all this knowledge without an outlet can be maddening. Sure, each of these speakers had something different to say, but the through line is to always seek out your passion and use it. If being passionate equals philanthropy, shaking up the political system, or just making people laugh, then it’s worth doing. The path post-transition isn’t always clear, but if we aim to know ourselves and our environment then there’s always a move to make.

Article by Raz Robinson, journalist and freelance writer, based in New York City and Philadelphia. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, email at razrobinson9(at)gmail(dot)com, or follow on Twitter @razrobinson.

Posted in Career Advice, College Life, Education & Training, Employment Trends, First Year on the Job, HBCU Career Programs, HBCU's and Politics, Life After College, Millennials at Work, New Grad, Professional Development, ReSkill America | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Best Commencement Address Takeaways for 2017 Grads

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