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The Polar Bear Cub – Life Skills For Graduates

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 15, 2016 in Career Path, Interviewing Skills, Job Search

Polar BearThe hope of many college seniors is to quickly land a post-grad entry level position with their first choice company, doing what they majored in, with a competitive salary, and opportunities for professional development. The reality is quite different for many hopefuls.

A polar bear mother spends a few months of the year in a den with her newborn cubs. When the cubs are larger and stronger, they are able to leave the den and walk around. The cubs are glued to their mother’s side for the next few months playfully imitating her hunting habits in preparation for later life. For life after college, many graduation seniors are woefully unprepared as they leave the protective den of their alma mater.

Carolyn Thompson of Merito Group, and author of Resumazing – Ten Easy Steps to a Perfect Resume, touched on some of the more significant challenges that the 2016 class of graduating college students face when they begin to look for job opportunities in her interview with David Rawles, host of Career Solutions Radio.

You can listen to the interview here.

One of the most underused resources on a college campus, Carolyn points out, is the career center. Many students don’t even know where it is and once you graduate, its resources will no longer be available to you. The career center can help you figure out your value proposition and connect you with employers hiring for the skills you have. They also have information on employers that recruit on campus most frequently. While you are still near the den, utilize the resources available for you.

The worst thing that many students realize at graduation is that they did not get any work experience at all and have nothing on their resume. “Any job is better than no job.” Carolyn says. You are developing a history of reliability and dependability by having a regular responsibility outside of school. You can also volunteer or take an unpaid internship to get experience and references. For instance, if you are working in a bar as an accounting major, the bar is still a business that has to do bookkeeping and taxes. Volunteer doing small tasks for them if you are having trouble finding a job in your major or field. Take a lesson from the polar bear cubs and get the experience you need before graduation without the stress of needing the skills to survive.

For all of you graduating seniors in the Metro DC area, APPLY HERE.

To help prepare in the next couple of months before graduation while you are still warm in the den (besides a visit to your career center), spruce up your resume with these tips from Carolyn:

  • Make sure your contact information on your resume is accurate. Typos in your email and cell phone number are very common mistakes.
  • Include at least your zip code in your contact information. Locality can play an important role in certain positions and your resume might not come up in searches.
  • Add a description of the companies you worked for (i.e. public or private, number of employees, revenue – whatever is relevant to the industry).
  • Bullet point your accomplishments outside of your job description so they stand out and set you apart – what you made, saved, or achieved in the role. All polar bears are white to blend in with the snow, but here you need to standout!
  • Write your skills together on your resume so they are easily found and can be reviewed quickly. (Technical skills, licenses, etc.)
  • Make sure the skills you include are relevant to the job you are applying for. Saying you have your real estate license takes up space if you don’t need it for the job.

(Editor’s tip – if you worked through a temp agency, remember to note that on your resume so your employer can check your background more efficiently)

For those young entrepreneurs out there: Carolyn tells a story of a young person who ran his own lawn care business in college. LISTEN HERE to find out how she rewrote his resume to help him land a position as a financial analyst after graduation.

One thing to note for your job search, Carolyn mentions, is that small to mid-size companies have more flexibility in a single position to allow you to learn and do more.  A lot of grads are attracted by marque name companies, but they might not get to do much in the role in such a large organization.

In the interview, David Rawles asks Carolyn about what she thinks is the biggest myth that many students may be thinking as they enter the workforce. Carolyn replies that some people think their first job dictates their future, but this is not the case. If you don’t land your dream job right away, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen later. Many people don’t get the job they thought they wanted and even those who do get their first choice may realize that it’s not for them and change. There is more than one ice floe in the arctic!

For more information about Career Solutions Radio with David Rawles click here.

-Lindsay Sellner, editor

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The Army Ant – It’s Not About The Size, But Being A Team Player!

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 6, 2015 in Self Improvement

Army AntWhile singing the praises about the dominant creatures in the jungle, we often forget the ones who are timid, but portray equally significant characteristics. The dynamics are such that each member, be it big or small have their own role to play. Don’t you sense an analogy here?

Likewise, the workplace too has its own dynamics. Every employee has a definite role to play with an indispensable need to work in a team. We often wonder that how can two completely different job roles be intertwined!

Well, a machine never works without each component functioning in the most synchronized way, right?

To proliferate further consider an army ant. It might seem small, but you would never see one moving alone. There’s always a group of them, either carrying granules of food or simply one of their own when injured. In simple words, it exemplifies the importance of team work, something which can be well applied at the workplace. For it helps you to stay motivated at workplace, the discussion to follow will build on the same line of thought and suggest some ways to be a team player at work.

Don’t Ignore Delegation

A team that works in cohesion, always knows the strengths and weaknesses of each member, much like the army ants. They always have roles assigned to lead the lot, carry food and look after the route to be taken. This way synchronization is never compromised on and every task is accomplished in the most efficient way possible. Likewise, at work you need to divide assignments and project responsibilities according to the proficiency level of each member. This way the work load on each member can be minimized and objectives can be achieved within a smaller time frame.

Take Ideas From Every Member into Account

You’ll never see a group of ants having members being treated unequally, may be that’s the reason for the impeccable team work they put on display.

Similarly, at workplace for a sense of equality to be inculcated, there is a need to respect every opinion that’s voiced, because you never know what idea might just click right and solve a problem. No employee would want to work in the same team as yours, if you don’t take everybody’s viewpoint into account. The need of the hour is for you to create an environment, where each of your co-workers is comfortable suggesting different solutions and ideas.

Be a Pro-active Participant

Seldom are the chances that you’ll see an army ant resting in a shade, being least considerate about its lot. Well, there’s immense you can learn from the same. To be a good team player, you need to be pro-actively involved in what’s going on with your co-workers and friends at work. Come prepared for all team meetings and instead of watching things passively, give valuable inputs.

Team members holding this feature always take an extra step to make things happen efficiently. Be it volunteering for assignments or extending a helping hand to your colleagues, there’s so much you can do.

Adapt To Your Surroundings

An essential quality that is direly required to be a team player is being adaptable in different work environments. Ants make their shelters in deep lying places, cool enough to sustain themselves. But, as soon as it gets uprooted, they quickly move out with speed and bore a new hole in the vicinity. That’s exactly how you can be a team player.

In the modern corporate environment, people join and people leave. Plus, with the increased amount of diversity at workplaces, being adaptable is something that can really set you on the right track!

It’s amusingly beautiful how you can learn so much from a creature as small as an Army Ant. However, the glance alone wouldn’t work. Putting the aforementioned into application is what that’s required at present.

This Guest Post was contributed by Anshuman Kukreti. Anshuman is a professional writer and a keen follower of the global job market. An engineer by qualification and an artist at heart, he writes on various topics related to employment across the globe. Reach him @ LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Bird’s Nest – Building Your Professional Bio

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 22, 2014 in Self Improvement

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Tips to write an effective, professional bio.Nest2

As a talent acquisition and search services firm, we have the frequent opportunity and pleasure to neaten and expand resumes and professional profiles. This helps our clients to better see the experience of a candidate and also helps our candidates land the perfect job. You can find many articles in this blog about tips to write the perfect resume.

This week I had the occasion to help one of my longtime friends write their professional bio. Unlike a resume, cover letter, or profile, a bio should highlight your current company, your immediate related professional background, and also include a bit of your personality in a few short paragraphs. Your alma mater, interests, major projects, and accomplishments should be a couple of sentences and, if applicable, media mentions or notable clients can be included. Incorporate as many numbers as you can and mention if you are involved in any outside activities and member organizations.

All of these points are the “eggs” that need a home outside of your resume. The nest of your professional bio can be used on company websites, requests for proposals, and many other areas. Your nest can only hold a few eggs at a time, so as your career changes and grows, be sure to swap out your accomplishments. It is good to update your bio once a year along with your resume so you aren’t scrambling for it at the last minute.

Below is an example:

 

BEFORE

Harry Miles is the Field Operations Director for Interior Design Company Inc. He has over 25 years of healthcare planning, activation, and patient move planning experience.  He has developed proprietary tools to accurately budget and plan complete facility activations.  Most recently he planned a 300,000 sf in patient facility located in Guam: equipment delivery and installation, activation, training, transition planning, patient move planning and relocation of reuse all completed forty five days. The project was a huge success and finished on time and within budget.  In his career he has planned and executed over 200 projects with an emphasis on patient care and staff safety, budget and schedule.  He has a great deal of experience organizing, training and motivating people toward a common goal.

 

AFTER

Harry Miles, PMP, is the Director Field Operations for Interior Design Company Inc.

Harry attended the University of Notre Dame on a full football scholarship where he played as a linebacker for 4 years while he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science.

Harry brings 20+ years of healthcare operations, logistics and planning experience to his role at Interior Design Company Inc. This boutique Alaskan and Native American Minority Business Enterprise is equally adept at meeting the needs of clients in the contiguous 48 states and all US Territories.

He recently delivered a 300,000 sf inpatient facility project located in Guam on schedule – 45 days from receipt of equipment.  This comprehensive, complex start to finish project included design, equipment procurement, delivery, installation, activation, training, transition planning, patient move planning and relocation.

He has a great deal of experience organizing, training and motivating people toward a common goal.  He has developed proprietary budgeting and scheduling tools that have uniquely allowed him to successfully execute over 200 projects with an emphasis on patient care and staff safety both domestically and internationally.

Harry and his family live in the Washington, DC area. He grew up in South Bend, IN and is an expert in University of Notre Dame sports trivia.  He was a high school State Champion in Tennis, speaks Zulu, the bush language of South Africa, and has a unique passion for large scale implementation and delivery projects.

For more information on Harry and Interior Design Company Inc. services visit his website or email him at Harry’s_email@email.com

———–

If you need help reworking or creating your professional bio, email Lindsay at lindsay@meritogroup.com with your resume and to inquire about pricing.

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Travelers In The Jungle – Set Your Goal To Become A Great Networker in 2014

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 30, 2013 in Building Confidence, Self Improvement

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Boots
Taking a hike in the Job Search Jungle can be a daunting experience, but there are so many people to meet! Put your best foot forward and make your 2014 goal be one of confidence in networking.

Many people find networking a very painful exercise. Why? It exposes us at our deepest level of vulnerability. Executives who are accustomed to controlling a meeting with an agenda can find networking a paralyzing experience because they are planners who have yet to master living in the moment.

One sure fire way to master these skills is to make a plan that you can execute in any situation. In preparing for my upcoming Networking Know How presentation at the National Education Association Leadership Summits in January and February, I found this great article by Shane Parrish, (Farnam Street) on TheWeek.com highlighting Robin Dreeke’s book: It’s Not All About “Me”.

Here are the top 10 points from the book:

1. Establishing artificial time constraints – The first step in the process of developing great rapport and having great conversations is letting the other person know that there is an end in sight.
2. Accommodating nonverbals – You want to look nonthreatening. Smile and make eye contact. How you shake hands matters too – match the strength of the other person.
3. Slower rate of speech – Speaking fast may mean you’re excited, but speaking slowly gives you more credibility.
4. Sympathy or assistance theme – If you’re like most people, you’ve felt a bit of regret when turning down someone seeking help. As human beings, we are biologically conditioned to accommodate requests for assistance.
5. Ego suspension – Put the other individuals’ wants, needs, and perceptions of reality ahead of your own.
6. Validate others – through mindful listening, demonstrating thoughtfulness and honestly understand the other person’s point of view and then build upon that base with your ideas that are not contrary but rather complimentary.
7. Ask … How? When? Why? – Open ended questions require detailed answers; generating two way conversation as opposed to a simple yes or no answer.
8. Connect with quid pro quo – Giving a little information about you will help you engage someone who is either very introverted, guarded, or both
9. Gift giving – This is conversational reciprocation in action. The key is to do this without an agenda. If you have an agenda you’ll come across as insincere.
10. Manage expectations – Underpromise and overdeliver- The surest way to avoid disappointment is to meet expectations.

Purposefully networking to advance your own professional needs is paramount to your success. Mastering the art of networking know how where there is a two way reciprocation and development of a meaningful relationship takes time. Establish trust, be available to others and don’t put your own needs first and your network will ultimately pay off in spades.

So get out there and network!

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The Monkey – Take A Survey!

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 29, 2012 in Career Path, Self Improvement

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Social Media. Social Networking. These are the two hot buttons around these days. How can you use these tools to reach the high performing/high potential candidates that make the best employees? Imagine if you could reach the best people faster, before your competition snaps them up.

We are currently conducting a confidential international research study to learn how people who have been identified as high performers/high potential employees use social media and social networking. Our goal is to gain clarity around where these people are spending their time online in order that employers can more effectively interact with them via social media.

We are conducting online surveys with high performing employees to learn:

  • how they receive their daily news;
  • what they are reading on a personal and business level and how they access and obtain that information;
  • what they do for continuing professional education;
  • how these individuals network on a professional level and what their level of engagement is;
  • how these individuals interact with their personal friends;
  • what they do when they are bored;
  • what sources they use to find jobs;
  • how these individuals share information;
  • what they think about their current employer;
  • how they feel their employer could better position themselves in the market;
  • their top business concerns and what type of research could be done to help resolve these issues;
  • who they consider an expert in their filed and the reasons why; and how do they follow those individuals?

If you would like to participate and receive a complimentary copy of the white paper we ask that you send the link below to any number of people you know that have been promoted within the past 18 months and/or whom you consider to be a high potential/high performer. We estimate that the survey will take no more than 10 minutes to complete. If you reply “yes!” in the comments we can send you the results after they are compiled in January.

The survey will close in one week so please send it out as soon as you can.  We appreciate your help in our research!

The survey can be accessed here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HWHZXMT

Thank you!

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The Trees – Differentiation In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 23, 2012 in Job Search

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What sets one tree apart from another?  In the jungle, these woody plants are a mass of trunks and foliage. They grow at a pace and the larger tress can live hundreds or even thousands of years. What makes each tree unique?

Trees have different origins, sizes, and can serve different functions.  Some trees are edible and grow components that serve as food to the animals in the jungle. Some grow higher than others providing the upper canopy to the ones below that need shelter to survive. Others shed their foliage and provide ground cover allowing other seeds to take root and grow.

As job seekers, consider yourselves as trees in the jungle.  Very similar to each other in the broad sense, but very different in your unique features. No two trees are the same, but how can you set yourself apart and illustrate to potential employers what skills and experience you bring to the table to perform the necessary functions of the jobs you are interviewing for?

Accomplishments.

Recruiters see hundreds of resumes each week where job seekers have painstakingly detailed their duties to the nth degree, but the content is devoid of accomplishments.  The resume ends up detailing the job duties alone, which is something anyone in that position should be able to perform competently and will not set you apart from any other individual who has held the same position. A job description or a description of your day to day activities will not allow potential employers to envision how you will excel in your future company. That is where your accomplishments come in. Accomplishments are what you have made, saved, or achieved in your previous roles that ultimately benefitted the department or company.

Accomplishments are only significant to the environment/situation where they occurred and are thus unique to you.  Make use of bullet points within your experience to set your accomplishments apart from your duties. Use numbers to create objectivity: percentages, dollar amounts or other relative units of measure to show the breadth of impact the accomplishment had on the organization where it occurred.

You are as unique as any tree in the jungle, but you have to showcase your own special features through detailing your accomplishments within your resume.

For more resume tips, pick up a copy of Ten Easy Steps to A Perfect Resume.

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The Chimpanzee – Social Tips For Internship Survival

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 10, 2012 in Career Path

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“5 Tips for Impressing Your Boss at an Internship”

In the African jungle, chimpanzees groom each other daily to solidify bonds with other community members. In the corporate jungle, helping out your co-workers during an internship can also help you develop relationships and improve your chances of survival.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, as the economy improves paid internships are on the rise. However, whether you are interning for a salary or for the learning experience, the relationships you develop at an internship will lead to valuable references and recommendations for the next steps in your career. Of all of these relationships, the one that you have with your boss is probably the most important. So how do you make the most of that opportunity? Here are five tips for impressing your boss at an internship.

1. Act like an employee.

One of the biggest mistakes interns make is acting as though an internship is just something that they are required to do. To make the most of your internship, whether it is paid or not, pick out the most positive cues that full-time employees are giving and follow them. For example, dress like others in the office even if the dress code for interns is more relaxed; offer to take a turn and bring in a treat if the office you’re working in has a snack day; or re-fill the coffee machine or copier as often as you can if it’s a shared responsibility. Make yourself part of the team and show that you have the savvy to fit into the environment of the workplace.

2. Keep busy – even when there is no work to do.

Since even a paid intern isn’t likely to be making as much as a full-time employee, managers often assign tasks to full-time employees first. By the end of the week, this might mean that there is no work for you to do. You should always ask your manager first if there is something to be done, but if there isn’t any work or your manager isn’t available, see what you can do besides surfing the internet. If the office plants need dusting or the shared copy room needs tidying, lend a hand. Offering to do filing for employees who seem to be drowning at their desks or just an extra hand to put together marketing packets will get you noticed as someone who is proactive and motivated. Even if your offers are not needed at the moment, advertising that you are available and enthusiastic will leave a great impression.

3. Be yourself.

When you leave your internship, you want others to remember you as a person, not as the temporary summer intern. The best way to make an impression is to be yourself, and not try to be someone else for the sake of impressing others. Be friendly, discuss common interests, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone you haven’t met yet. They could be a valuable reference.

4. Keep a positive attitude.

Interns have a unique place in the office hierarchy, and occasionally this can engender bad feelings. For instance, a manager might assign a project to an intern that a full-time employee wanted to work on. This isn’t any fault of the intern’s, but it isn’t as though the intern can re-assign the project to the employee who wanted it, either. When office conflicts like these come up, it’s best to keep a positive attitude and not get caught up in recriminations. The worst thing you can do is be remembered as the intern who couldn’t rise above office politics.

5. End with a thank you.

Whether or not you learned anything impressive during your internship, if you want to encourage your boss to remember you in a positive light you should make an effort to thank him or her before your departure. Save the thank you letter for your next job interview; schedule a face to face meeting with your manager and let him or her know what you learned because of their leadership and direction. At this stage, it’s okay to exaggerate a little – for instance, if your manager tried to teach you something but you ended up having to ask someone else for further clarification, go ahead and give your manager the credit. On the same note, you can also let your manager know who else really helped you. Giving out such kudos will definitely help your manager remember you later, as the intern who made the most of the opportunity and wasn’t afraid to give credit where credit was due. You might even get called back for the next open full-time position.

This guest post was contributed by Laura McPherson. Laura writes for Masters in Accounting, a career resource for learning about getting started in the accounting career field.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Predator – Watch out for Exploitative Internships

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 21, 2012 in Career Path, Lessons Learned

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For those who are still in college or just now graduating, the saying, “It’s a jungle out there,” is truer now more than ever. One of the many options that students or recent graduates flock to in lieu of full- or even part-time employment is the unpaid internship. Don’t get me wrong—internships, especially in certain hard-to-break-into industries like journalism, are often the only way to get your foot in the door. But in hard economic times, it’s not uncommon for companies and businesses to offer internships that are either exploitative, technically illegal, or some combination of both. Here’s what you should watch out for to avoid becoming the prey of shady internship programs:

1.      Ask former interns about their experiences; don’t join an internship program blind.

Thanks to the Internet, there’s plenty of information out there about both good and bad internships. Sometimes a simple Google search will suffice. You can also look into websites that rank and review internships, like Vault.com. Whatever you do, try to get in personal touch with a former intern—either through email, on the phone, or in-person—so that you understand from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, what the internship is really like.

2.      You should not be asked to do the same work in amount and kind as a full-time worker.

What makes an internship illegal is getting paid nothing to conduct “essential work.” Essential work is basically a full set of tasks that a full-time employee who gets paid does on a daily basis. Internships are essentially a networking opportunity combined with a few diverse tasks to give you a better idea of what the company or organization does as a whole. If you’re being asked to do essential work, then you’re working for a company that’s breaking the law. For more information about the legality of unpaid internships, check out this article.

3.      Always first seek out paid internships. They do exist.

Of course, the vast majority of internships are unpaid. But you’d be surprised by how many internships are out there that do pay, even if it’s not very much. Paid internships tend to be more serious in the nature of the work you’ll be doing, and they’re more affordable.

4.      There are definite alternatives to unpaid internships. You just have to know where to look.

Although many of my friends and relatives have had internships, and I’ve counseled younger people who’ve participated in good internships, I’ve never done unpaid work in my life beyond extracurricular volunteer work. When I graduated from college and couldn’t find work, I instead took on freelance projects as a writer and consultant. These (paid) projects can be just as rewarding as internships. You’ll establish connections that can lead to full-time work, you’ll learn the basics of various industries, and you’ll be getting paid to boot. So while internships can be wonderful experiences, you don’t absolutely need them to get your foot in the door.

In virtually every industry, there are predators out there. Don’t be their victim. Do your research and choose internships wisely. Good luck!

This guest post was contributed by Barbara Jolie. Barbara is a full time freelance writer and blogger in the Houston area. She enjoys writing about education and the advantages of online classes for all students. If you have any questions email Barbara at barbara.jolie876 @gmail.com.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Terrain – Guiding the Graduates

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on May 11, 2012 in Executive Coaching, Job Search

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I remember it like it was yesterday:  crossing the stage, shaking the Dean’s hand, smiling for the cameras, and feeling ready to take on the world.  Now, I see my friends’ children taking part in the same ritual. These graduates will come home after their graduation parties and beach vacations to find jobs, but will instead find that they are woefully unprepared to navigate the competitive job terrain that holds their fate in its hands.

A recent article in the Huffington Post stated half of college graduates won’t have a job offer upon graduation.

Most people are average.  Average grades with average income potential.  That’s where the term average comes from, right?  It’s the middle of the exceptionally talented, or those with really high GPAs compared to those who may have prioritized the social aspects of college over the academics and may have even worked their way through school. Perhaps they didn’t get to take advantage of the career center prior to packing up and leaving campus.  Within the average pool of people, there are still exceptionally talented people waiting to be plucked into their destiny of success.  Hard work does pay off, and finding a job after college is hard work.

If your recent graduate didn’t have summer internships relating to their studies, or part time work to offer them a glimpse of what professional life would be like after obtaining their degree, they are probably going to have to pay their dues now, as painful as that might be for you to watch.  Recent grads often feel their education should preclude them from starting with an entry level position, but the fact remains, a job with a reputable company is a great starting point for anyone. 

Whether the business is large or small, publicly traded or privately held, full or part time, they need some work experience. They need to prove to an employer they are reliable, dependable, organized, have good communications skills, can follow direction, and that they can work both independently and in teams.  The basics.  They need to take any job they can get and make it their own whether as an assistant manager at a drug store, or as the administrative assistant in an office.  They need to build the list of references that will vouch for them in the future.

For many grads it’s too soon for them to really know what they want to do long term or where their career will take them, so encourage them to just get started. They will learn more about themselves while working than not working and you can learn something from any job, good or bad.  Some of the most valuable experience can be gained in the most unlikely situations. 

Many times the amount of rejections the grads face is overwhelming and they will retreat back to school for more education. Here’s the skinny on that:  Unless the profession they are choosing (like nursing, law, etc.) requires the education to get started, they are going to be in the same boat a few years down the road if they don’t combine that extra learning with substantive work experience. It’s better to obtain that additional degree in combination with some practical application of their studies. Many companies offer tuition reimbursement or special executive on site MBA programs that employees who are positioning themselves for promotion can take advantage of. Developing a healthy balance of education and experience is the most strategic and effective way to optimize your value to current and potential employers.

Telling all of this to your grads isn’t the easiest task, so you might want to consider hiring a coach to work with them.  Through the International Coach Federation website (http://www.coachfederation.org/) you can search for coaches in your local area that offer career services.  The investment there will be well worth your time if you properly vet the coach you choose as someone who has successfully worked with others in the same situation in the past.

Teach your grads to network.  Currently, 80% of all jobs are found as a direct result of networking and utilizing personal connections. Ask your friends who work in your grad’s field for help. You’ll be surprised at how willing these personal connections are to help a young person and how quickly a small network can expand with just a little help from family and friends.  Encourage your job seekers to make a list of companies they are interested in so you can easily see if you have contacts there that may be able to assist them.  Having a well thought out job search strategy they can execute is important.  Setting timelines for follow up and evaluating results can’t be achieved if you don’t have a list to work from.

You might also want to take a look at your grad’s online profile because future employers are looking as well.  Their Facebook page and LinkedIn profile should be clean and professional.  Encourage your grad to remove any photos that may give future employers the wrong impression of their character.  Keeping a diligent eye on their online presence is very important and can be a deal breaker.  Just last week someone in our office pointed out that a person’s wedding website noted they had yet to graduate when the resume they presented to us stated they had completed their degree. That person was due to complete it this year in December but they are looking for a job now. 

Lastly, they can always do volunteer work to obtain more experience.  Many companies and non profits need help so don’t forget to consider those channels as well.

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The Map – A Guide Through The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Feb 14, 2012 in Job Search

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Finding a job in the current climate is a full-time job in itself, but there are ways to make things easier on yourself. Use these points to draw a map to navigate through the job search jungle.

What’s your skill-set?

Firstly, be honest with yourself about the skills you have. Sit down and make a list of the jobs you’ve held in the past, the dates they covered, and the skills required. If you’re an experienced professional, limit your outlines to the most recent ten years. If you’ve been out of the workplace for a while, then list any relevant voluntary posts. If you’re new to the world of work, think about any mentoring or extra-curricular activities you’ve been involved in, including sports or drama. This information forms the basis for the professional experience section of your resume, which in effect is your calling card for jobs and can also be used to help fill in application forms. Other sections typically include some personal details, including how employers may get in touch with you, and relevant educational qualifications. Have a basic prototype curriculum vitae (CV) that you can use as the basis for different types of jobs and industries.

Where are all the jobs?

Secondly, think about the type of job you want, and where those jobs are advertised. Local newspapers and job boards are a great start, but many openings are now advertised only on the Internet. Many appear on professional job boards, but several are advertised only on the website of an organization. Many more openings are not advertised at all, and this is where you need to think laterally about your contacts. Do any of your friends or relatives work in organizations that are hiring? Which school did you attend? Are you aware of any alumni who have gone into businesses that are expanding? What agencies can you think of who deal with your industry, and have you registered with them? What technical and specialist trade magazines are there in your area? Even if they don’t carry situations vacant, the news items offer an insight into companies that are expanding. Many local libraries carry copies of trade magazines, so you can browse at your leisure.

Target your application

Thirdly, once you’ve found a vacancy that looks promising, go through the job description carefully. Make a grid of how your skills and experience are the best possible match for the vacancy, and mentally prepare for your interview by thinking of at least two, preferably three, concrete examples of how you displayed those skills in previous posts. Take your base cv and target it for the post.

Expand your skill-set

If you’re finding that many promising job advertisements you spy ask for skills outside your area, think about how you can upskill yourself. Is there a local college course in your area? Could you work on a voluntary basis for an organization to refresh your skills, and do some good at the same time?

Be realistic

You may also find, especially if changing industries or just starting out, that you need to revise your salary expectations or the type of role you’re willing to take. At the moment, it’s an employer’s market, and although history tells us that everything moves in cycles, flexibility is the key at present. You may also need to be extremely creative in the job titles and keywords you use to carry out your search. Once upon a time, a secretary was a secretary. Now, he or she may go by the title of executive assistant, virtual assistant, or clerical executive. And who’d have thought a librarian’s post would be advertised under the title of information alchemist?

Be patient

However you choose to carry out your job search, be patient. The right job is out there somewhere.

This guest post is contributed by Sally Derby. Sally is an experienced office manager with over twenty years of successful personal job-hunting experience in the administrative field. She writes for Degree Jungle on the topics of interviewing and helping candidates to sell their skills and expertise, on paper and in person.

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