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A Good Employment Reference Brings Value

professional references on campusValue of a good employment reference!

Everyone knows the value of a good employment reference to help you stand out in a job search. Lining up a good employment reference is a key part of an effective job search and you want to do it before graduation.

A good reference, of course, does not only have to come in the form of a letter, but can be via conversation with a recruiter, an endorsement on LinkedIn or just in the fact someone refers you for a job.

Many of us who hire people for a living as HR professionals will often say that the reference letter might actually be worth less than the piece of paper on which it is written.   Let’s face it, although it does happen, most people who commit to being an employment reference will only say good things about you.

This article by Lindsay Olsen addresses, what she calls The Ins and Outs of Providing References.  Olsen recommends that you create a separate list of references after asking your contacts to support you this way.

Knowing how and who to ask to be a good employment reference for you can really take a job search to the next level.

Additional reading on references:

9 Key Elements to a Good Cover Letter

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Avoid Dead End College Majors

Lists of hot careHate my jobers are often a favorite of college students as they make decisions about choosing a college major. Since some dead end college majors can lead to dead end careers, it’s a good idea to use these lists to explore potential careers.  No one wants to end up in a dead end career.

However, a word of caution about using these lists.

As college students peruse these hot career lists with dying or growing occupations, they should know that there are many careers and occupations, NOT on these list which could still lead to a dead end career … for them.

College students should know that they can end up in a dead end career, not only because they picked dead end college majors, but because they chose a college major and career that was not a good fit for them.

Just as every career is not for everyone, even if the career is the hot career list, not all college majors are for everyone. Too many college students who turn to these lists for career planning advice, regrettably end up trapped in the wrong majors for them.

Without intervention and changing majors, these students can end up trapped in the wrong careers.

For these college students, a bad choice of college major can lead to a profession where job satisfaction is almost impossible.

3 clues to knowing when you are in a dead end college major?

You have no passion for the subjects in your core classes

If you are a psychology major and not enjoying or doing well in Psych 101, or the basic Psychology course on your campus, this major may not be for you. If you find that you are not reading assigned texts or participating in class discussions, this college major may not be for you.

You have zero curiosity about what’s happening in the occupation

If you have no interest or curiosity about the careers that emanate from your college major or if you have no interest outside the classroom about the major, then you may be in the wrong place. If you are not interested in talking to people in your major, learning more about the major outside of class and finding out about successful career paths for students in your major; you may be in the wrong place also.

You were pressured to choose your college major to fulfill someone else’s dream?

This actually happens a lot more than you think.  Many times college students end up in majors that will dead end for them, because parents, teachers or friends told them it would be a good choice. There is no way to avoid doing your own research to find your own passion.

Choosing a college major is a serious decision and students owe it to themselves to make a thoughtful choice.  If you think you are in the wrong major, please visit your campus career center. (Check out career resources on our site to find a link to the Career Center on your HBCU campus).

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Build a Career Advisory Board

Career advisory boardTime to hail your C.A.B.

If you have followed my blogs for the last several years, you know that I am a fan of developing quick and easy acronyms to reinforce career management ideas. Today, I am introducing one of those acronyms that I have used for years to explain the concept of a Career Advisory Board.

Imagine a cab ride that will get you from point A to point B.  The concept of this C.A.B. is the same – it is a vehicle that will help you get from one point to the next in your career.  I admit, it might be cheesy, but it works!

Whether you are a new, emerging professional or an experienced professional, there is value in developing a career advisory board. If you have to grow or change in an ever evolving workplace, you will need all the help and support you can get.  That is the value of a career advisory board.

Who will you include in your C.A.B.?

There is room for many people in your C.A.B., including former supervisors, mentors, career coaches, professors or HR managers. All are potential members of your Career Advisory Board. Success in today’s workplace requires that we are able to evaluate information from multiple sources and come up with the best course of action for us.

The workplace of today requires us to spend a lot of time on projects with exactly that same concept of gathering and filtering ideas from multiple sources. Your goal should be to evaluate the advice coming in from your Career Advisory Board members and filter out the best information for you to use and apply right now.

Your Career Advisory Board doesn’t have to be large. My recommendation would be between five and ten persons. These are folks you will tell about your professional goals, your milestones and who you know you can count on to support your initiatives and goals.

If you want to step up your networking game too, invite them all to dinner or find a way to connect them to each other.

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The HBCU Career Center Featured Jobs

Featured job 2-7The HBCU Career Center offers a niche job board that is now mobile!

Add resumes, search jobs, set up email alerts and research companies at The HBCU Career Center.

Featured Jobs currently on our niche job board: Apply, share or set up a Job Alert!

Nutrition Education Program Specialist – U of Wisconsin

Clinical Administrative Support Specialist – Dana Farber Cancer Institute

New Patient Coordinators – Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Community Nutrition Program Development and Evaluation Specialists – U of Wisconsin

Inside Sales Representatives – Dell Computers

Associate Director for Finance and Budget – Princeton University

Assistant Director of Campus Life – Bates College

Project and Membership Engagement Manager – Opportunity Finance Network

Program Officer – The Solutions Project

Communications Post Graduate Internships – Society of Professional Journalists

The HBCU Career Center job board is a http://www.jobs.thehbcucareercenter.com.

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January 2016 Unemployment Rate

Unemployment by educationThe US Department of Labor released the Unemployment Rate for January 2016 yesterday. Over the last 12 months, the number of unemployed workers was reduced by 1.1 million. The unemployment rate went down as well by 0.8%.

The jobless unemployment rate was reported for various groups of workers in the unemployment report for January 2016:

Adult men overall 4.5 %

Whites 4.3%

Adult women overall 4.5%

Teenagers 16.0 %

Blacks 8.8 %

Asians 3.7 %

Hispanics 5.9 %

The number of long term unemployed, (those unemployed beyond 27 weeks) remained unchanged at 2.1 million representing about 27% of the unemployed.

Unemployment rates for persons 25 years of age or older by educational level:

Less than High School – 7.4%

High School graduate with no college – 5.3%

High School graduate with some college – 4.2%

Bachelor’s degree or higher – 2.5%

Of course although the unemployment rate is much lower among college educated workers, a good job search plan and career search strategy, as well as knowing what employers want, is required to secure long term employment.

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No Pay Raise; What Else Could You Ask For?

no pay raiseLet’s face it, many of us see our annual pay raise as a way to feel value at work. It reaffirms our importance to the company and it is something employees look forward to – even more than they do the company picnic or Christmas party.

USA Today reported, based on survey data from Towers Watson (a compensation consulting firm) that U.S. employers were planning to give pay raises averaging 3% in 2015.  That was on par with the 2.9% average raise in 2014 and 2013.  However, if you are one of those workers who might be getting no pay raise this year, then what can you do? What else can you ask your employers for in lieu of a pay raise this year? Consider asking about Titles, Time or Transfers.


What about a change in title? Would that make you feel rewarded? Would that make you feel better about not getting a pay raise? Remember – part of your mission in your current work is to always be preparing for your next opportunity. Could a change in your job title have an impact on your future career? Would a more contemporary job title mean something to you as your career progresses?  Think about these things as you evaluate whether or not to ask for a title change at work in lieu of a raise.


Would some extra time off be a good reward for you? For many people this could be a good option.  Some people don’t necessarily appreciate time off in lieu of a raise, especially those who can’t get to choose when they use the time off. There are those workers who think that if the company can’t afford to give a pay raise, things must be really bad. That said, the last thing they want to do is be away from the office. You know – out of sight out of mind? Well if a raise is not an option, think about asking for time off in lieu of a pay raise this year.


So let’s say this year, there is no pay raise, you can’t get a new job title or can’t get any time off – could you get a transfer into another position offering a higher base salary? Many people forget the option to transfer into other roles at work. After all this may be the only way for you to get a salary increase you want or need this year. Look around for abandoned assignments if others have been laid off. Ask about picking up some of these assignments for a bump in salary. After all you will be saving the company money long term.

What would you consider in lieu of a raise?

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