Wednesday, April 30, 2014

College to Career: Networking, Job Search Engines and Building Relationships

A typical day in the life of a Career Services professional involves the question, “How do I start my job search?” My top recommendation for job seekers is to determine a strategic plan and cast your net wide. First things first, use the resources that are provided to you as a student or alumni of your university. OK, prepare yourself for a shameless plug for Career Services offices across North America. Career Services, and the online job board administrated by your university, should be your best friend throughout your college career and especially as you near graduation. I can assure you that you will never find a group of individuals that are this committed to your professional success. Consider the alternative of applying on a Fortune 500 company’s website. You may be one of a thousand applicants. This same job could be posted on your University’s career job board, and you could be one of twenty applicants. As you can see, much better odds here. Plus, if you build a strong relationship with your Career Counselor, he or she could be your personal advocate when speaking with corporate recruiters. 

Relationships with your Career Services office should not be your only priority as a soon-to-be-graduate. Your professors and academic advisors frequently receive job leads through their wide array of professional contacts. Many employers value referrals from individuals who have daily contact with students, especially in the classroom. Be proactive in getting to know these key individuals, as they will be more willing to connect you to new opportunities as they come along. These individuals can provide guidance, honest feedback, and mentorship as you make your way into the job market. 

With the excessive amount of technology at our fingertips, the job search process does seem quite daunting to the average college student. I will also add that not all online job search engines are created equal. In my recent experience, the days of Monster and Career Builder are quickly fading. Most corporations have a website with a career landing page. With that being said, the new wave of job boards is more of a resource guide format. The magic of job search engines such as and, is that they compile job postings from thousands of career pages. These are posted into a searchable format with the ability to sort based on location, job title, and more. Most contain a feature to set up email notifications based on your search requirements. This is a great tool for any busy job seeker!

Personally, the most impactful career-planning tool has been my professional network. Talk to your family, friends, and Delta Gamma sisters. You would be surprised who they know and how willing they are to help. As I began looking for one of my first professional positions, I was ready for a huge change. By simply reaching out to an alumna in the area, she forwarded my email to her “little sis” who later became my manager. My Delta Gamma relationships provided an instant professional network. Of course, there is one caveat: you have to do your homework first. Perfect your resume, research potential industries and positions, and target your contacts. I would recommend all initial contact within your network to begin as an investigation. “Do you have any advice for…? What has been your experience in…?” If your initial contact is impressive to the reader, you never know who that email could be forwarded to. 

Keep in mind, that your dream job is just a step away but requires a few strategic moves. Stay focused and you will get there!

Guest Blogger: Lauren Delibro Smith
Lauren DeLibro Smith-Zeta Nu, Montevallo is currently the Employer Relations Specialist for the UAB Collat School of Business Career Services office and recent Master of Business Administration graduate. She resides in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, and currently serves as the Region 3 Finance Specialist.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

College to Career: Utilizing LinkedIn

277 million members and growing by the second. That’s how many millions of people have access to your LinkedIn profile! So how, in the world do you make your profile stand out and be a useful tool amongst a pool of millions? The answers are simple and plentiful!

LinkedIn is a way to:
  • Create a personal brand
  •  Set a clear intention for the future
  •  Share your story and dreams with the world
  • Be generous through connecting people within your network
  • Learn about companies, career paths and FIND A JOB!

Polish the Profile
Every relationship begins with a first impression. Think of that recent internship interview, or a teacher you met for the first time, maybe even a significant other and that first time you locked eyes. You notice their physical appearance and usually the first thing that comes out of their mouth! The same thing happens with a LinkedIn profile.

A professional and crisp photo can grab someone’s attention along with the tagline at the top of your page. No selfies, pets or boyfriends in the photos! It’s time to act like a professional. A tagline shouldn’t just be your title at your job, or shouldn’t just say “student”. It should be a creative catchphrase that describes who you are or what you do.  An example would be, “Three-year honors student and aspiring marketing guru”.  Think beyond the norm! Polish the first impression aspect of your profile for greater impact.

Mesmerize and Summarize
After your photo and your tagline, comes the summary. Think of the summary as your elevator speech - concise, confident and passionate. What do you want a potential networking connection or employer to know about who you are and what you have to offer?

Think personality.  What are you really good at and where do you want to be in the future?  Get creative and have fun with it! It’s always great to include what some of your hobbies or passions are that you do in your free time. Employers want to see that you will bring more than just work related skills!

Bragging Rights
It’s time to brag about your experiences! This is different than a resume, so use paragraph form instead of bullets. You are telling a story. It does not have to be overly formal and you can share not only tasks but also goals you’ve accomplished or things you learned throughout the internship or job. Be sure to add to the organizations, education and volunteer experiences and causes sections as well.

There are also some great features on the site that allow you to upload photos, videos, or projects you have taken part in. This is an impressive way to showcase a portfolio online! Now that you have a beautiful profile, how do you actively use it to network, connect and find jobs?

Connect With Your Connections
Ask your first connections to connect you with a second connection so you can do some informational interviews or distribute your resume! Find those people who have something in common with you (an alumni group, a volunteer organization etc) and they will be more likely to connect! Use your invites to personalize how you connect, don’t just send the auto message!

You Don’t Need a Job…
You don’t need a job you need an informational interview! Use this approach to learn more about a company or the industry of interest before you go for a real interview. Ask them about their career progression, their experience with their company and what advice they have for you! Use LinkedIn to do your homework prior to those calls. And then keep up those connections! Meet them for coffee, send them a hand-written thank you note or give them a call. You never know when you may need their help again or when you could help them!

Be the Brand You Want to be!

It’s time to be the brand you want to be and update your LinkedIn profile today! You may be one in 277 million, but you have all the tools you need to summarize, mesmerize, and connect!

Guest Blogger: Aundrea Dahl-Zeta Epsilon, Santa Clara
Aundrea was a CDC from 2010-2011. After her travels she became an HR manager at a Target store and also participated in their university recruiting program, helping with career fairs, interviewing and resume reviewing. She is currently working as a Recruiting Coordinator for LinkedIn.