Campus & Culture
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Campus & Culture
From the resume bolster to the benefit of networking, gathering work experience can be one of the most beneficial things a college student can do. However, job hunting isn’t easy. The tedium of putting together resumés and cover letters is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding gainful employment. COVID-19 has only further added to the stresses of combing through job boards as each employer seems to be experiencing their own difficulties in navigating the “new normal” of their workspaces.
SJU News sat down with the University’s Career Development Center (CDC) to learn about how to find, secure and network your way into the jobs you want without losing steam.
Your professional brand is made up of your experience: who you are, what you do; your attitudes, habits, values and goals. It is your image and the message people perceive when they encounter you.
This self created image is crucial in setting you apart from your competition and establishing trust with future employers. Internships, speaking engagements and networking events are all great opportunities to build and show off your own strong professional brand. What are five things that make you unique to a prospective employer? Be sure you can talk about them when opportunities arise.
Once you figure out the type of positions you are interested in, create a personalized plan framed by your objectives and talents. It always helps to look for employment in industries that are actively recruiting. Simultaneously, increase your networking efforts within your chosen industry to discover what new talents you may need to add to your toolbox.
Then, you will be ready to show you are the greatest candidate for your dream job. You can use educational resources like the National Association of Colleges and Employers to learn more about the 8 Career Readiness Competencies employers are looking for in candidates.
When looking for jobs, Trish Shafer, executive director of SJU’s Career Development Center, recommends looking into a business’s culture and what current or former employees have to say. A useful resource for information like this can be company review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed and Comparably. Conducting this kind of exploratory research can give you an idea on if the company aligns with your professional brand.
Attending informational sessions on campus is another great way to obtain knowledge about what companies are all about.
“There are lots of excellent campus resources for locating insider information on a prospective employer,” notes Shafer. “This kind of information can let you know right away, even before you apply, if it's going to be a position or business that you'll be satisfied with.”
A critical step in being hired is customizing your resume so that hiring managers understand how effective you will be in any desired position. Rather than simply listing your achievements, quantify your performance by including growth numbers and percentages that demonstrate the value you bring to the table. Organize this data in bullet points that concisely convey what you have accomplished and the value of the contributions you have made.
Shafer also highly recommends making an appointment with any one of the counselors at the University’s CDC for resume help. The CDC website can also provide templates, samples and tools to assist you with crafting your resume.
Every student should see a career counselor during their time on Hawk Hill, especially since it's a free service!
“Most people don't realize how beneficial it is to sit down with a professional counselor and discuss your objectives,” says Shafer. “What are your core beliefs? What kind of effect do you want to make on employers? What are your main strengths?”
Developing a relationship with a career counselor will help you get on the right track. Book your appointment.
CDC counselors review and approve resumes on a day-to-day basis, so upload yours to Handshake for a chance to receive a professional critique and feedback.
The CDC website also provides virtual job search resources like a complete virtual job search guide, specialized virtual workshops, a collection of 2-minute tips job search videos and a video library created specifically for Hawks by the CDC staff.
“Check out Canvas,” urges Shafer. “There is a career toolkit for current students that covers topics like resumes, networking and job searching with instructional materials.”
Have a specific question for a career counselor? You can send a quick email to email@example.com, which will get a reply in one to two business days.
Whether you're looking for an internship or a job post graduation, regularly using your network — either in person or virtually — may help you uncover fresh opportunities to drive your career ahead. Studies show a clear link between success and the development of a strong network.
“Students need to actively check the Handshake calendar,” Shafer emphasizes. “There are so many events listed from employers that are held online nowadays. The first step to expressing interest to an employer is to show up to these events.”
If a hiring or networking event has been advertised on campus, carve time out of your schedule to attend! Employers recognize that kind of effort and reward it. All upcoming networking events, both in-person and online, will be listed on Handshake.
While your resumé and cover letter act as an initial introduction of your skills and accomplishments, most employers will go to LinkedIn to assess your potential and gain an understanding of your professional identity and history.
“This is the time to create or amp up your presence on LinkedIn,” notes Shafer. “Make sure you have a professional headshot, a detailed description of your previous roles and a well thought out overview. Engage with others posting in your networks and share links to your own work on your feed so the people you're connected with can see you are active.”
Job seeking is highly proactive. Reverse hiring tactics enable candidates to be their own recruiters, which means hiring managers and recruiters may not discover you but you can locate the recruiter of the firm you want to work for.
Reach out to recruiters via email or contact a current employee at the company through LinkedIn.
“It’s important to stay consistent and present when trying to attract a specific employer,” says Shafer. “Become a familiar face to an employer by reaching out to them online and actively attending their events. They tend to place a higher weight on your candidacy if you have personally expressed interest.”
A great way to make these “two-steps-away”-type connections is through the Saint Joseph’s alumni network. SJU Connects is a virtual platform that gives students the opportunity to review alumni profiles and set up a meeting with fellow Hawks who are happy to talk about their professions and connect you with others in your desired industry. Never underestimate the help that can be provided by the Hawks who came before you.
Expand your skills and qualifications. Taking online classes is one of the simplest ways to build your professional value. Many businesses and educational organizations now provide free or low-cost online seminars on a wide range of topics like programming, internet security, marketing and finance. Skills can also be developed through your experience. Volunteer with an organization or join a student group to expose yourself to different roles and build a well-rounded set of skills that employers look for in a candidate.
Throughout your job search journey, incorporating these tips will help lead you to your dream job, no matter if it is an internship, part-time or full-time position. But first, you must have a clear vision of what you want to pursue.
“It's really understanding your own value,” remarks Shafer. “Have your own vision. Have intention.”