Friday, November 30, 2012

Job-Hunting with Zombie Strategy

I came across this and just had to cross-post.

Sheesh. It's not enough that Abraham Lincoln is now a zombie-hunter. It's not enough that Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has been dragged into the fray.

Well, I guess if you can survive the Zombie apocalypse, you can survive anything. 

Have fun!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another Social Job-Search Website

Here's another new website which says it's different than the rest: Revl. According to the above link (which reviews the new resource), Revl is "designed to give recent college graduates a leg-up in finding employment within their intended career."

I did go to Revl, and found I could set up an account by logging in with my LinkedIn account. It seems to have a snappy, attractive interface. I'm not entirely certain what makes it different from LinkedIn, since it seems to have imported my LinkedIn information as a base from which I could start revising.

The reviewer also says that Revl was launched because "LinkedIn and similar sites tend to skew towards an older audience, with 79% of its users reportedly aged 35 or older, leaving the younger members of LinkedIn often on the sidelines when competing with seasoned professionals."

If you agree--if you've found LinkedIn to be daunting, or not as appealing because of generational factors--you might want to check out this new resource.

Oh! Canada! Teachers!

Canadian Teacher Career Fair
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
10 a.m. - noon
Castellani Art Museum
Niagara University

For more information, contact NU"s Career Center:

  • Drop in; lower level of Seton Hall
  • Call; 716-286-8500

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Job-Hunt Zen: Be the Mirror

Today's link is to a practical way to tailor your resume. You know you should be doing that for each and every job you are applying for--right? (Sending off a passel of generic resumes is the quickest way to get yourself tossed into the cyber-black-hole.)

Have the job posting in front of you as you tailor your resume. This writer suggests two word processing windows next to each other as you work, so you can keep a steady eye on how your resume answers the exact qualifications the employer is seeking.

No, you cannot remake your English degree into a degree in Biomechanical Engineering of Multimodal Spectrometrics (not that there is any such thing... as far as I know). But you can figure out what to highlight, and what to let recede into the background. You can mimic the linguistic style of the job posting. If you are responding to an item that is typeset or displayed on a company website, you can replicate some of the design details in your response.

This is a strategy in other forms of communication, too. You can get people to like you, see you as credible, take what you have to say seriously, by mimicking some of their body language. 

For instance, you already know you should dress like you anticipate your interviewer will dress. That is, if it's a formal place, by all means pull out the business suit; but if it's a casual place, tone down the sharp edges and cut back the starch in your collar.

Likewise, if you're at a networking lunch, and your prospective employer (or anyone you're trying to get to do you a favor) picks up his or her piece of chicken with fingers--you can do likewise. On the other hand, if you see the person using knife and fork--you should do so too.

You can even replicate some of an interviewer's gestures or posture, as long as you can do so without looking contrived. (See the first item on this website, for example, "Mirroring":

I suggested that this is a Zen approach to job hunting, because you are not changing your own essence, any more than a finger pointing at the moon becomes more important than the moon. (See discussion of this traditional koan, or riddle, at Of course, Zen holds that there is no self... but that's another discussion!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bigger is Not Always Better

Job Boards are not the only arrow in your quiver as you stalk the wily employer. You've heard that many jobs are not posted in public forums; and that networking is among the most important elements in your job-search strategy.

Still, it's worth devoting some time to looking at public postings. Today's link scratches down a layer, beyond the obvious Monster job board, supplying you with industry-specific job boards. If you're interested in technical writing, media jobs, or public relations, there are specific online job boards that have postings in these areas.

Presumably, these specialized job boards won't have as many listings. But that's a good thing, because you don't have to sift through stuff you're not interested in.

Bigger is not always better!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Back Up! Avoid Disaster!

Here's a good article, comprehensive but brief, on why and how to back up your electronic files.

Let me add a story about "why." I heard this one told in a church many years ago, when we were all still using floppy disks. The point of the story in the church was perseverance. You can draw some additional conclusions about backing up your stuff.

A woman worked hard to complete her Ph.D. dissertation. As do all dissertations, it involved several hundred pages of carefully edited and revised writing, and notes on probably several hundred resources she had tracked down, read, thought about, annotated, and used as research in her dissertation.

She had gotten through almost all the steps except the final printing. She had gotten a job, packed her belongings into a rental truck, gotten safely to a new city, starting a new job in a month or so. She had multiple copies of her dissertation on floppy disks, duplicates, in that truck.

Then the truck got broken into. Everything was stolen. Including the floppy disks. 

Yes, she had to start all over again writing the dissertation. There went several years worth of work.

You may not have a dissertation at risk. If you lose all your stuff, though, you'll probably be really, really inconvenienced. Your resume, love letters, family pictures, research projects, papers from previous classes... gone?

Back up your stuff. Use several formats. I've got my stuff on my hard drive, on a USB stick, in the cloud, and on the university servers. Okay--I'm not perfect... it's not all a complete copy of everything everywhere. But at worst I'll lose a week's worth of work if two of these go down.

Monday, November 19, 2012

You (FORD), Me, We

As you head out to Thanksgiving break, perhaps you'll find some serendipity in your path--people you can talk with about your job and career goals. Or maybe soon you'll attend an officially-labeled "networking event" (like the one from November 1 listed here: You'll probably see a handful of these every year at NU.

But what's next? Once you've gotten the moxie to approach someone, what do you say?

Here's a roadmap for making small-talk. 

  • You: First, ask about the other person--"you." If you're shy or tend to freeze up, use the acronym "Ford"--family, occupation, recreation, dreams.
  • Me: Next, talk about yourself, or respond to comments with similar information from your own perspective and life-goals.
  • We: Finally, locate common ground, areas you both enjoy, or are interested in.
The example I've linked to offers a sample scenario from a formal networking event, but you can adapt easily to other situations.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Selling Your Community Service

If you go to Niagara University, you go to a special place--you already know that. One of the things built into NU is community service: recognizing that you have skills and talents that can serve others.

Here's part of our mission statement, from "Our Inspiration" at
  • Niagara University strives to develop leaders who will make a difference in their local communities and the larger world. We teach students about the challenges and causes of poverty, and we support service learning activities where our students reach out with compassion to serve people's basic needs.

But did you know you can sell community service as an asset in the job hunt?

Above is a link to an argument that community service "should be required curriculum"--and here, of course, it is. Goes without saying. But this argument can give you some useful material as you write your cover letters and speak with prospective employers, especially when they ask "what makes you special?"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Stand Out, by the Numbers

You've probably heard me nagging you at one point or another about the "Seven New Job Search Basics," whether I've used exactly this language or phrased it slightly differently.

Here's a blog post that suggests why doing the stuff that should seem like common sense actually will make you a stand out in your job search. You'll see brief descriptions of what these are, how and why to do them:
  1. Internship
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Professional Organization
  4. Value Proposition
  5. Informational Interview
  6. Expertise
  7. Thank-You Note
But what's really eye-popping is how few job-seekers actually follow through with them.

I'm not sure how the statistical data were gathered--I find it mind-boggling to think that only 1 in 100 people sent a hand-written thank-you note for an interview! (Maybe some of the 99 others sent email? texted? one can hope...) But if this portrait of job-seeking America is only slightly on the money, then you can see how doing the simple, obvious stuff can seem extraordinary!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Visual Resume Service

The blog Hack College has taken note of a new web service for students graduating from college, looking for a creative edge in the hard work of getting a job after graduation. It's called Tyba; their main page is here:

If you're going to get googled (and you probably are) when you apply for a job and make it past the first cut, having a landing page that says something positive about you is a good idea. After all, you don't want the only or highest google results for your name to be Facebook tags of your (ahem!) indiscreet photographs, do you?

Tyba looks like a slick place to build a landing page; images, themes, even the possibility of short videos embedded. The four sample landing pages seemed well-designed, with intuitive and professional-looking, moving graphics.

You cannot and should not rely on people randomly finding such websites which promote your skills; clearly, you have to drive visitors to a page showcasing your talents and personality. So don't abandon your elevator pitch, your keyword loaded resume for ATS systems, or your face-to-face networking.

Shakespeare Conference

Everyone is invited to and welcome at the mini-conference on Shakespeare's Comedies presented by the Department of English, and sponsored by the Vice President's Academic Fund for the Improvement of Teaching. 

The conference will be held Tuesday, November 27, 2012 from 4:20 to 8 p.m. in Dunleavy Hall Auditorium.

Admission is free; there will be food! 

For more information, contact Dr. Phil Collington, Associate Professor of English,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Study Abroad, special presentation Weds. Nov. 14

Dr. Sherri Brown took a small group of students on a study tour this past summer to Italy, Greece, and Turkey. The title of our short-term study abroad was “The Social World of the Apostle Paul.”  

Three students are finishing up their final projects for the course next week by participating in International Week, giving a presentation at the end of the Study Abroad Fair on Wednesday. 

They will be in the Gally Multi-Purpose Room from 2-2:30 pm on Wednesday, November 14, sharing their experience and incorporating current research.

More information: Sherri Brown, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies -

No Howling! Help with Final Projects

Back by popular demand! The Library and Writing Center will be holding a supplemental workshop next week, before Thanksgiving break.

This is an informal session to provide extra assistance for students working on completing final projects. 

It will provide students a chance to ask questions about research needs, and to learn some tips about how to finish papers and presentations with less drama.

Click the Q code for registration, or visit

For more information:

Melissa Langridge at the Library,
Martha Krupa at the Writing Center,

Monday, November 12, 2012

Blogging for Dollars

Make money in your spare time from your home or dorm room. 

Yes, I know that sounds cheesy. But this is not a gig stuffing envelopes, or calling people to sell them a product that is a piece of junk, or even a picking up after the robo-caller promises to lower the interest rate on credit cards. (These are all examples of scams, of course.)

Rather, it's a list of ten places to find jobs online, including many asking for help drafting or revising online materials, press releases, and so on. The pay rates vary enormously, and the subject matter can by anything from soup to nuts. Some of these listings call for people who can do the work quickly. Some ask for a sample of your writing. Some are on topics that may be too technical, but some are fairly general interest, common sense writing. 

If you are an English major seeking to boost your portfolio of work-related experience, or if you're considering writing for a living, then here's a good starting place to get your feet wet.

As you can find quickly from checking out links, the author of the post to which I have linked above, Tom Ewer, has a book available (which appears to be self-published); and he's got a blog on his own project at developing his freelance writing into a fulltime living. Of course, he's got experience, and he's got recommendations and more visibility than someone just starting out. But he seems to be well on his way to a sustainable source of income!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dinner Etiquette

If you missed the October 30 etiquette dinner at Niagara University (, there probably won't be another one for some time.

However, while you wait and wonder how to eat escargot (or even wonder what an escargot is... a snail; eww), here is a link that gives you a brush-up on how to impress others with your table manners.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Social Media Training

I've gotten permission, wangled an invitation if you will -- English majors and other undergraduates are welcome to attend this event!

On Tuesday, December 4, 5:30 p.m., Bisgrove Hall, Room 351, graduate students are invited to a social media workshop. It will be presented by Michael Freedman, Associate Director of Public Relations and Online Content at Niagara University.

The organizers describe the topic this way:
  • Social media is today’s fastest-growing form of communication. Employers want you to be friendly and accessible, especially through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. This workshop will explore the use and potential of social media, its best practices and how social media is applicable in the work place. It will model and demonstrate how social connections can help you achieve professional and academic success. Our goal is to provide our graduate students with opportunities to succeed during and beyond their years at Niagara. We hope you can join us in attending this exciting professional development workshop designed for NU grad students, faculty and staff.

RSVP requested, not required, at

Nov. 16, 9 a.m., Olga Karman Reading

  • Niagara University’s English Department presents Olga Karman, author of Scatter My Ashes Over Havana
  • Reading (9 a.m.) and Book Signing (10 a.m.)
  • Refreshments will be served
  • Friday, November 16, 2012
  • Gallagher Center Multipurpose Room

A teacher, poet, memoirist and short story writer, Olga Karman is the author of Scatter My Ashes Over Havana and two books of poetry, AdiĆ³s and Border Crossing. Her poems have also appeared in The Nation, The New Republic and numerous anthologies.

In 1997, after an exile of 37 years and prolonged anguish over her Cuban identity, Karman made a momentous return visit to her native city of Havana. These experiences formed the material for her memoir, Scatter My Ashes Over Havana.

For more information, please contact the English Department at 716.286.8630 or email

LinkedIn Multipliers

Instant network. Well... almost.

Here's a story and a set of strategies from someone who built a network from scratch  in the U.S. four years ago. He moved here from France in 2008. Four years is a blink of the eye in the business world.

What I like here is that he describes a strategy of snowballing his connections on LinkedIn. One connection leads to two more, which lead to two more apiece, and so on. In other words, networking is more than just meeting one person face-to-face, making the LinkedIn connection, and then staring at that one lonely "friend" on LinkedIn. 

Use each connection as a multiplier.

Exciting New Course for Spring 2013

New course, Spring 2013

History 347A: Contemporary Problems - Domestic
Special topic: Making the Modern Ghetto: Origins of the Urban Crisis

Course description: 

Focus on the postwar transformation of urban America: causes & consequences of modern urban poverty, including:
  • the "Underclass" debate
  • racial and economic inequality
  • urban planning
  • deindustrialization
  • suburbanization
  • the Prison-Industrial Complex
  • the War on Drugs
  • postwar popular culture
  • hip-hop culture

The legacy of the urban crisis remains a haunting shadow narrative which contradicts popular assumptions regarding American exceptionalism and democracy. Students will be expected to ask questions and discuss what are often perceived as highly-charged, sensitive taboo topics. In examining this story we will not only engage the past but also the present and its most pressing issues. These, ultimately, are our objects of study: not lists of names and dates, but dynamic stories of change and how people cope with, understand, and challenge the worlds they inhabit.

  • This course will be offered spring 2013 only.
  • History 347; appropriate for any advanced undergraduate
  • MWF 1:25 - 2:20 p.m.
  • Counts as Social Sciences distribution credit

For more information Professor Michael Durfee, a one-year Assistant Professor in History, visit

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Grunt Work

The ground floor is where many employers seek to hire new college graduates. You don't have the insider skills or lightning reflexes yet to be a superstar; you need to get acquainted with your field beyond anything we can teach you in college.

Here are four articles that can give you a sense of what's good about grunt work -- and what's not:

Note: At the request of Online MBA dot com, I have removed the link that appeared here when I first posted. The organization is being penalized by Google; I'm not quite sure why. You can find the article again by searching for this string: online mba "33 insider" tips

Monday, November 5, 2012

Work, without the Bother of a Job

Freelance work is not for the faint of heart. You have to keep your network active, continue seeking new freelance opportunities even as you're doing the work of your current gig, and you have to supply stuff you might rather take for granted--health insurance, retirement plan, quarterly tax filings.

But if freelancing is not yet the "new normal," it seems like we're decidedly drifting that way.

The first link above is a discussion of where the hot-spots are in freelancing. Not surprisingly, most of the focus is on social media. However, if you're not a high-tech person, don't worry--if you're a traditional college age or recent graduate, you are a digital native--you've lived with social media all your life.

The second link is to one of five articles exploring the impact of social media on how companies do business. It's not just about freelancing--but it is about companies struggling leverage social media and its implications.

Lots of clickable links to explore in both!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bloopers, Resumes and Cover Letters

Hi, folks; it's time for another bloopers file! Here are six mistakes that (of course) you will never, ever make. Some additional thoughts:

Item 6 deals with choosing the correct gender-inflected honorific for a cover letter: is it Mr. or Ms? I'm so happy that the academic title "Dr." has done away with that issue! But if the first name is ambiguous, and you must pick how do you tell? One way: google that name--see if you can find some gender-related pronouns connected to the individual you'll be addressing. Or search around on LinkedIn or other social media.

Item 5 deals with diction. You want to avoid writing a formal letter or resume as if they were text messages. Likewise, you want to avoid slang and cliches. It's the same principle as avoiding misspellings and grammar gaffes. If you cannot impress a prospective employer when you are making your best effort, then how can that employer trust you to impress his or her customers?

Item 1 is about taking your time before hitting the "submit" button when you're applying online. Before you attach any computer documents to an online application, you might want to corral final draft materials in their own folder, and triple check that these are actually the "final draft" materials. 

Another thought: consider your reader with any attachment files' titles. It's a real pain to have to open a gazillion or more files that all have the same title: "resume." Unless you receive specific instructions, you will probably make a better impression by attaching your name to documents: <Smith, Resume> or some such.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Where's the Love?! HELP!

Hi folks. Earlier this month, I posted a "Good Karma Opportunity" on my blog, and emailed to all English and English-Education students. Here's the original posting:

I'm asking all English and English-Education majors to take a survey--no money involved, no sweat, no hardship.

I heard back from Ms. Kuntz -- the response rate has been disappointingly low. Without your help, her research project has some serious difficulties. Here's what she has written:

  • Thank you so much for sending out my survey to your students. I unfortunately only got one student to fill out the survey. Therefore to make the survey more appealing to students, now if they fill out the survey they have a chance to win a Tim Horton's gift card. The student who filled out the survey can retake it and enter to win the card. If you could please resend out the link to my survey: and stress that they could win a gift card and that the survey about mental health takes less than 20 mins to fill out. 
Please? Let's show our English Department Spirit! Thank you!!