Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Is your Interviewer Stupid?


Sometimes, interviewers don't know how to interview. I mean, there is no formal training or certification required to interview candidates, and some people sitting on the other side of the desk may be clueless.

If you get a dud, you might want to consider whether this is an organization you really want to work for. If the interviewer doesn't know how to do his or her job (which after all, is your opportunity to get a first impression of the people you would be working for) perhaps you might consider looking elsewhere. If your interviewer is clueless, what is your boss likely to be?

Another approach, however, is to try to figure out what's behind the question... even ask the interviewer! 

And remember, some interview questions are flat-out illegal. Here's a list of the kinds of things prospective employers may not ask you--as well as information on legal questions (suggesting what they are actually entitled to know, and how you might respond): http://www.gsworkplace.lbl.gov/DocumentArchive/BrownBagLunches/IllegalorInappropriateInterviewQuestions.pdf

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat @KennedyExec!

Friday, February 27, 2015



CareerRealism suggests that you document everything you do on the job, so the next time you're hitting the pavement seeking a new job you'll have the information at your fingertips. Then you have the quantifiable accomplishment you can highlight on a resume, or at a job interview: "Increased sales by 25%" or "Shaved 10 seconds off the hold queue for telephone inquiries."

But what if you haven't done stuff like this? What if your biggest accomplishment was "Wrote a bunch of papers for English classes and turned them in on time while working almost full time"? Or "Elected Secretary of the Blah-Blah honors society." After all, you're still in college, and probably working an outside job which pays bills but doesn't offer much chance for bragging rights.

Two thoughts.

First, document everything. Keep a professional journal, a log, a box of paper, or some kind of written list of things you've done that you are proud of. When it happens, write it down and date it. Include a picture, a copy of an email, the grade you earned, the number of hours you worked. Code your entries. If you are keeping an electronic file, put classes, work, honors, service learning in different colors. If you are tossing stuff into a box of paper, make a marginal note in the upper right corner of each piece of paper reminding yourself of what this page is about.

Second, every so often (preferably before a job interview or "need a resume tomorrow" moment), spend some time sifting through the file, or the box, and practice condensing and sprucing up your accomplishments in resume-speak. 

  • "Held a 3.5 average while working 30 hours per week" is better than "worked a lot, got good grades." 
  • "Streamlined minutes and record-keeping on a cloud-hosted storage web-file" sounds much stronger than "Elected Secretary." 
  • "Tutored students who subsequently improved from C- to B average" is more impressive than "Did service learning for after-school homework help."
Doing the record keeping makes you aware of the need to ask for more information about results. And having a bunch of concrete information written down when it occurred helps refresh your memory at a time when you most need it. After all--what did you accomplish four years ago? Probably a bunch of stuff, but you would have trouble pulling it together into a coherent narrative right now. 

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat @AriellaCoombs

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Resume


EpicCV has some thoughtful tips for people developing their first resume. The first link discusses length; the second page discusses your "Work Experience" section. You'll find information on

  • What to include, and what to omit
  • Formatting tips 
  • Ways to make content appealing, readable, succinct

The abbreviation CV stands for "curriculum vitae," Latin for the facts about your life, qualifications, experience. It's basically the same as "resume"; the two terms can be used interchangeably, although CV is more frequently used in academic settings, and Resume in business settings.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bad Career Advice


Good advice in today's link: there are old wives' tales and generally outdated or bad advice abut job-hunting and careers as a whole.

Some of the myths debunked here are useful for those just starting out to know. Other information helps you understand how to continue climbing onward and upward, not sideways or down.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat @Jenna_Goudreau!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Documentary Screening, Kent State in 1970, 3/25/15

On Wednesday March 25, Tom Grace will introduce the screening of Fire in the Heartland: Kent State, May 4th, and Student Protest in America, a documentary that details the 1970 shooting of unarmed students at Kent State University by the National Guard. Tom is one of thirteen students shot in the massacre, during which the guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others.

This event was and is directly connected to student activism. Some of the students who were shot had been protesting the U.S. bombing of Cambodia. The National Guard was quick to respond to Kent State’s campus because of the tradition of activism among the students involving civil rights and peace protests. Following the shooting, four million students across the country participated in strikes, marches, protests, and rallies to show their solidarity with the students of Kent State.

Niagara University’s newly re-constituted Black Student Union is proudly hosting this event on March 25 at 6 PM in the Gallagher Multipurpose Room. Discussion following the screening will be led by Danielle Judge and Lou Dejesus of the Buffalo Anti Racism Coalition. All are welcome and refreshments will be served. An informational flyer is attached.

Documentary Summary:

Fire in the Heartland: Kent State, May 4th, and Student Protest in America is a documentary film about a generation of young people who stood up to speak their minds against social injustice in some of our nation’s most turbulent and transformative years, the 1960s through the 1970s. On May 4th, 1970, thirteen of these young Americans were shot down by the National Guard in a shocking act of violence against unarmed students. Four, Jeffery Miller, Sandy Scheuer, Bill Shroeder and Allison Krause, were killed. Immediately afterward the largest student strikes and student protests in history swept across 3,000 campuses nationwide, punctuated ten days later by the shooting of African American students at Jackson State University. There, James Earl Green and Phillip Lafayette Gibbs were killed. This student protest in America did not arise from nowhere. It represented an active voice of protest against the terrible and continuing violence against African Americans and the perpetration of one of the most corrupt, violent and terrible wars in US history against the Vietnamese people.

The story is a personal story for those who tell it and for every viewer who lived through these times, but also for their sons and daughters, and for all Americans. This is not just the story of a violent turning point, but also of a hoped for new day for a generation and the music, art, literature, and politics that accompanied it. It is told by over 20 voices of those people at Kent who lived through a movement that began in alliance with the civil rights struggles, with silent vigils and education efforts, that grew into massive demonstrations, sit-ins, strikes, and activist protests, and that went on after the tragic events of May 4. They include men and women, activists, musicians, attorneys, teachers, historians, journalists, photographers, veterans, musicians, poets and artists. This is their story and a story of all times when human beings are faced with injustice and are asked to choose—to stand by or to stand up, to stay silent or to raise a voice, to stay safe or to put themselves at risk, sometimes at very great risk. This is a story that resonates as much today as it did in the 1960s and 1970s.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Video Thyself before the Interview!

Here's a totally giggle-inducing video:


It's a split-screen showing (a) what an interviewee says, and (b) what the prospective employer hears. 

Did you know that Niagara University's Career Services can keep you from sticking your foot deep into your mouth by offering you practice interviews? You can probably even ask them to video the interview... or you can turn on your webcam and ask for help analyzing the results.

Make sure what you say is consistent with what you want your prospective employer to hear!

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to Fast Company!