Friday, September 27, 2013

How Hiring Managers Think

Get inside the minds of people who hire. What do they want? What impresses them? What turns them off? -- Ten meaty interview excerpts from top leaders, outlining what they look for in a successful new hire; click-through links to a longer in-depth interview. -- Ten recruiters and HR professionals, with brief sketches of what job candidates can do to stand out from the pack. -- A series of recruiters on LinkedIn answer questions about what they look for in potential hires. This link gets you to a page with snippets; click on the picture immediately below the recruiter's name (not his or her profile picture to the left) to get the full interview.

What's in YOUR online wallet?

Your online comments can get you hired, passed over, or even fired. Here are three relevant blog posts, with my tongue in cheek take-away as an enticement to read more: -- Don't drink and drug online. -- If you wouldn't say it in the office, then don't say it online. -- Don't get fired for a 30-second, 140-character rant.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Creative Nonfiction journal seeks submissions

Even if you're not interested in submitting some of your own writing, the website has some very interesting samples from this magazine!

International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

Literary nonfiction essay, memoir, commentary
1000-5000 words
Literary nonfiction narrative poetry
Black & white art and photography

Submission Deadline: December 31, 2013
Published by Loyola Marymount University

From the "about us" page on the website:

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share. The individual truth (the lower case version) when artistically rendered in print has the potential to intellectually and emotionally engage readers with just enough power to make one consider the perspective of The Other. With just enough power to make a human being listen to another human being. No small enterprise in a world increasingly dedicated to opening wounds instead of ears.

We're interested in publishing true stories well told. Artful narratives that offer some insight into the human condition. While keeping us enraptured during the process of the telling.

We believe in the individual truth because we know, when taken collectively, it represents the human experience. The Truth About the Fact wants you to help us articulate the human experience with your art. Let's talk. Listen.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Avoid sweaty-palm networking

No, I am not going to tell you to slather your hands in antiperspirant.

Rather, how comfortable do you feel when you are in a network-worthy situation--a party where you know nobody, a job fair where you want to stand out (in a good way), or even the first gathering of a student club you're interested in joining?

Here's an excellent source of information on how to make small talk. Good for all levels of communication, from freshmen to old fogies (like me):

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Market yourself like you live in the 21st century

...even if you really adore Jane Austen, Shakespeare and Chaucer!

1. Demonstrate you have the skills employers want:

  • Data Analysis
  • Online Marketing and SEO
  • Computer Languages
  • Problem Solving and Project Management
What's that? As an English major, you have none of the above? Sure you do--you're just used to calling them different names. Here's a hint: as an English major, you've picked up all but one of these skills; it goes with the territory. And there are many resources for the left-out skill, where you can learn at least a smattering to get you conversant with 21st century skills. Read more here:

2. Put those skills to work for your in material that is optimized for search engines (which is what SEO means--"search engine optimization"). That is, if a hiring manager is interested in finding someone like you, will that manager actually find you, or will he/she find your competition for the job? Here's an article on how to set yourself up in a number of places (not just LinkedIn, although that's one important source of leads):

3. Don't shoot yourself in the foot at your interview: Don't--

  • Make excuses for why you are late, or had your cellphone ringer on, or whatever. Make a checklist for pre-interview stuff, if you need reminders.
  • Chatter like a magpie to offset your nervousness. 
  • Wait until the last minute to do some research and internet-rummaging on the company you hope to work for, so you can speak and ask questions intelligently about the organization with which you are interviewing.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Summer 2014 Internships

Ladies and gentlemen, start your internship search now for summer 2014. The linked articles above indicate clearly that if you wait until (say) March 2014 to start thinking about what you'll do next summer, you will be way far behind the curve, settling for the picked-over internships that nobody else wanted.

Internships can give you a leg up when you start searching for paid, fulltime, permanent work. Internships seem to be turning into a serious "make or break" item to list on your resume. Even if you don't get a job offer from the place where you do your internship, it's still a major gold star on your resume for another company, because it shows you have initiative, training, and moxie.

You can do a simple internet search using the string "internship summer 2014" to start turning over the rocks and seeing what's underneath. Drill down below the surface by adding buzz-words from the career or field of your choice. Better yet, visit Career Services at NU--call 716-286-8500, or email, for expert help tracking down an opportunity that will change the rest of your life.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

English Majors = Well-Rounded

An English degree is not a "vocational" degree. It won't immediately lead you from your graduation ceremony to your first job. Unless you plan a life in academia, you probably won't find anyone eager to hire you because you're an English major.

That said--you do have the well-rounded perspective, the critical thinking skills, the communication abilities that employers say they want. According to Inside Higher Education, an online journal for college and university communities, "majorities of ... public and business leaders value broadly applicable skills like written communication and problem-solving over specific skills obtained through applied training."

In other words, employers can be persuaded to train you in industry-specific skills--if you have shown some initiative while you are in college. What do you need to do? Stuff I've been saying all along:

  • Do an internship
  • Network and connect, in person and through social media
  • Take leadership roles in campus activities
  • Visit your Career Counseling Center
  • Identify a wedge of businesses or sectors you might want to work within
  • Take a minor or even second major that will broaden your skill base

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Treat School like a Job

Treat your work in college as if it were your career.

Obviously, there are some big differences--you're paying for college! But don't forget that you are "getting paid" through the experience and learning that will ultimately connect you to a lifetime of higher pay and opportunity.

If you develop regular, productive work habits now, while you're in college, you'll not only make your college years more productive, but you'll avoid the culture shock of dealing with a fulltime job. (What!? You mean I have to get up at 6:30 every weekday morning!???)

Don't forget that regular visits to the Career Counseling Center, extracurricular activities, networking, and some plain fun should be part of your schedule as well! (Gee, did I really need to tell you to have some fun?) In other words, what you learn in the classroom is only part of the total experience of college--just as what you do that directly earns you a paycheck is only a part of the total experience of a career.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Credit Scores and the Job Hunt

Why care about your credit score? You're not looking to borrow money, but to earn money.

When you seek gainful employment, your potential employer can check your credit record. As the above-linked article points out, you will have to sign a release allowing your employer to look at your credit record. But that release may very well be buried in the fine print--you sign a job application once, attesting that everything you said is true... and buried in that block of tiny print, is a line that adds "I hereby permit The Smith Widget company to look at my credit record, social media presence, etc., etc."

The bottom line: If you have a poor credit record, an employer may pass you over for somebody with a better one. Why? Because you might lie, cheat, steal or mess around with important deadlines. At least, that's the logic behind this practice.

How to get a clean credit record?

Here's a good article about starting the process:

A slightly more complex article:

Final caveat: Do not pay for credit scores or credit-clean-up activities. You can and should manage this yourself.

Monday, September 16, 2013

In a Quandary over Commas?

Ms. Sharon Green will be offering a workshop for those in a Quandary over Commas.

If you're not sure how to include a comma before introductory phrases and clauses -- heck, if you're not sure what that even means, or why you would want to -- this is a great opportunity to fine-tune your writing abilities. 

The workshop will be held Friday, September 20, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Dunleavy 219. If you cannot attend, you're welcome to talk with Ms. Green, or to ask her to set up a workshop for a group at another time. 

Contact Ms. Green in Seton Hall, first floor, where she is Coordinator of Instructional Services for the Office of Academic Support. Her email is, phone 716-286-8071.

In-House Referrals Are #1

Nearly a quarter of all new hires come from referrals offered by those already working for a company. New hires do come from other resources--job boards, college recruiting events, career fairs and social media, but in lower percentages. See the full chart at the link above.

So how should you approach the job search? Networking those who already work at companies where you would like to work. There's a detailed explanation here about how to do it with a light, deft touch that doesn't come across as pushy.

Friday, September 13, 2013

You're HOT, English majors!

It may be time to get excited about being an English major again. (As if you ever weren't excited.) At least, it's time for employers to show you some love. The tides may be turning.

So says this American Express forum article.

You've got mad skillz in writing, communication, research, critical thinking, and a healthy dose of empathy that will keep you from being the office jerk.

If you're still waiting for employers to sit up and contact you just because you hold an English degree--don't hold your breath. You'll turn blue and pass out. But if you want some excellent language about how to sell what you've got, and a good reason to take some pride in who you are and what you know how to do--this is a good read.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Internship Opportunity, Just Buffalo

Hi, folks! I just receive an e-flyer, which I've cut & pasted in at the very bottom of the page. Just Buffalo, which sponsors the Babel series of Very Famous Writers, is looking for volunteers and interns. I've clipped & pasted in the information from their website below. The links should still be "live," but if you have any problems, the relevant page is


Just Buffalo depends on volunteers and interns to help with a wide variety of tasks. This includes assisting in the office, helping with bulk mailings, serving on committees or special project teams, and working at readings and evening events. Flexibility and a willingness to help out wherever needed is especially appreciated!
We welcome high school and college students from a variety of disciplines, including:  English, Marketing, Public Relations, Education, Finance, Accounting, and others.  Placements for supervised internships are made based on office and project needs, staff time available to supervise, and student availability.
If you’re interested in volunteering, the first step is to complete a Volunteer/Intern Application or an Event Volunteer Application to give us more information including your interests and availability. Once received, we will contact you to schedule an interview.
To discuss volunteer or internship opportunities at Just Buffalo, please call716.832.5400 or email

Social Media and the Job Hunt

Almost every company (96%) with a job to fill searches LinkedIn for candidates to fill that job. That's what Career Sherpa (the first link above) reports. Companies are also digging into Facebook and Twitter either to identify candidates, and/or to get a gut feel for who those candidates are, and what they might bring to the company (for better or for worse).

There is a useful link at the end of the Career Sherpa article too, to a U.S. News and World Report article explaining to you, the job-seeker, what you can do to make your online presence stand out when companies go a-shopping for fresh blood. I've posted that link above as well.

Some industries, such as higher education, do not look online for candidates. We're a specialized or niche industry; don't overlook your own industries by-ways and fly-ways (we post our jobs for faculty through specialized outlets, like the MLA JIL, the Modern Language Association Job Information List for language and literature).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What's an English Degree Worth?

$48,000 average.

The link is to a very extensive analysis of what each kind of college major earns, on average, after graduation. 

Are you in the right major? Only if you really love what you're doing.

But keep an eye on making a living after college!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Social Media can Get You Fired

In case you haven't heard it, a story about a Hamburg, NY Walmart assistant manager has hit national headlines. It may eventually make international news, too, as the story has been run in the Wall Street Journal and on UPI (a national wire service). Haven't seen any international coverage of the incident... yet.

An assistant manager at the Hamburg Walmart posted nasty, curse-filled comments about a picture of a few women in conservative Muslim clothing. The post was on his own private Facebook page. After the post caught the attention of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national and well-respected organization, what else could Walmart management do but fire the manager? His career is over.

It doesn't matter that the post was on his own, private Facebook page. It doesn't matter that his privacy settings apparently allowed many people to see it (and get outraged). Remember the lesson we learned from Google: you have "no reasonable expectation of privacy" if you do anything online. (See this link in case you missed that recent non-story, I call it a non-story because it's been in Google's terms of service all along. What?!--you don't spend 8 full hours reading every revision to the terms of service each time one of these social media companies changes its policy??!)

The moral of the story: What you say online can hurt you. This is why the Russian equivalent of the FBI (they call it the KGB) recently switched to typewriters as a security measure:

If it's online, assume the world can and will see it.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Check out Prospective Employers


Arcadia University fired its president. For no (publicly given) reason.

In the article/interview here -- -- you have a textbook case for how to leave graciously, without rancor, without poisoning your reputation, even if your employer did things you find outrageous.

I do not know the complete story; I'm not commenting pro or con about this particular case. Rather, I have two points.

First: Always consider what you have to lose by making a stink. This outgoing president says he was shocked; it came as a surprise; he knows more than he's willing to discuss publicly. But it's a "he said/she said" situation. His employer has done something it feels justified in doing, and wants to keep secret. If the ex-president spills his guts, he may get satisfaction... but he will never work in academia again.

Second: Check out unsolicited, candid employee comments about a working environment before you take a job. In addition to general googling of the company name, here is one source: And yes, there are a few comments about Niagara University up there. (They are not my comments; I neither endorse nor disavow them.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Volunteering is Good for your Career!

Volunteering can do more for you than helping you learn new skills, developing a broadly based network, and at the same time giving you a warm, fuzzy feeling of doing good in the world.

This article from LinkedIn suggests that hiring managers care about your service activities, and may even choose to take a closer look--or even hire you--because of the causes you are committed to helping.

Clearly, it's worth your time not only to do the volunteering, but to promote your activities in that part of your life using the same attention to detail (vigorous, accurate language) that you would for job activities.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Purple Crew

It's the Purple Crew! Here I am (left) with Tim Osberg (right) about to process into the New Student Convention for Niagara University's class of 2017. I'm wearing my finest purple sari!