Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Read the Directions!


It would seem obvious, but according to this article, some people do not follow the directions when they prepare and send in a job application. They don't send the requested materials; send in the wrong format; ignore the email where they should send to... or otherwise signal to prospective employers "you need to jump through my hoops if you want a chance to hire me."

If employers are looking for easy ways to cut a list of hundreds of applicants down to a smaller stack for careful review, one easy way is to eliminate those who don't do what is asked of them.

Another reason to read directions carefully: the advertisement or job opening notification is a goldmine of ways you can substantiate why you are an excellent candidate. Examine the details offered by the employer, and highlight areas of mutual interest!

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @IdealistCareers.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

NU Writing Contest; Sneak Peek!

I'm on the Women's Studies committee at Niagara University, so I have advance notice about their doings. Stay tuned to this channel for details on more exciting stuff!

I can tell you about the Susan B. Anthony Writing Awards. These are held each year, open to NU students, and invite submissions for a critical paper on women's or gender issues. 

Two awards will be given:

  • Freshmen and sophomore students must submit a 4-15 page paper about women, women's issues; research or close examination of a text; of interest to a general audience.
  • Junior and senior students must submit a 6-15 page paper about women, women's issues; research; of interest to a general audience.

You can use a newly-composed paper, or one that's been submitted in a class within the last 3 semesters. There will be a separate $$$ prize for each category.

  • Submission deadline: Friday, January 23, 2015, 5:00 p.m. 
  • Tentative awards reception: Wednesday, February 11, 2015, 6 p.m.
  • For more information, contact Sharon Green: 716-286-8071, sgreen@niagara.edu

More information will be available shortly .

Friday, November 21, 2014

Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop in Barbados 2015

2015 Barbados Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop 
May 17-23, 2015 • Application Deadline: January 15, 2015
Poetry and Fiction Writing in the African Diaspora

Thanks and a tip o' the hat to Joyce Tesar!

Handy Toolkit of Scripts


You're an English major, which means you're especially good at writing and speaking.

But that doesn't mean that some writing tasks don't make you squirm more than others. After all, writing lit analysis papers is a very different genre from any of these:

  1. Announcing you are quitting your job
  2. Turning down a project assignment
  3. Complaining about a co-worker
  4. Admitting mistakes to customers
  5. Asking your network for help with the job search

Fortunately, Career Addict has assembled what they call "scripts" for each issue: approaches, language, rhetoric for handling the tricky emotional demands and landmines of each issue, either verbally or in writing.

While I hope you never have to do any of the first four on this list--you might want to make #5 your Thanksgiving Break project!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Appear More Intelligent

... nah; I'm not going to say "more intelligent than you really are."

But one of the claims of this article
is that displaying good listening skills will make you seem like you're more intelligent. 

We live in a distraction-filled world. It seems difficult for students in my classes not to text or play video games in class. I find this mildly infuriating (especially when somebody who was in class asks me "what will be on the exam?" or something I've already discussed at length). I can only hope the texting-zombie-shuffle doesn't carry over into job interviews.

There are also times when somebody fools me, by appearing disinterested--but turns out was listening quite attentively. Apparently, many social situations today do not require the appearance of listening.

If you want to make a good impression on an interviewer or an employer, it's important to look like you're paying attention, as well as actually doing so. Here are some tips to looking engaged.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to Jonathan Burston, ‏@IEASuccess

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Small Steps in Winter Break


So you thought those 32 days between the end of fall 2014 final exams and the beginning of spring 2015 classes would be filled with relaxation and the joys of your favorite holidays: Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Solstice, New Year's. (Hey, I'll celebrate anything for which I get presents!)

Here are some better ideas. Some of them are low-key ideas--stuff you might even enjoy doing. Some is loner-stuff, like polishing your LinkedIn profile, or identifying which companies you might want to target as sources for your ideal first job. Others are more people-focused: volunteering, creating a mini-internship, doing an informational interview, or shadowing an employee whose job you might like to be doing several years from now.

Niagara University's campus will be closed for a chunk of time--but the week or so before classes might be a superb time to drop in to the Career Services office and have some quality time with the staff and resources there, since overall demand will be low.

Remember: whatever you do now will be one extra step toward a great post-graduation career. And a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @thesimpledollar.

For College Students: By the Numbers

For those seeking a first job after college, here are eight great strategies. For instance: why don’t you want to apply for your dream job/dream company first, before you apply for other jobs?

Also, click through on their link to a Forbes article linked at the bottom of the page: "There are several tips and tricks out there to ace interviews" -- six to be exact: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2012/11/12/6-things-you-must-do-to-get-your-first-job-after-college/

Thanks and a tip o’ the Twitter hat to @CareerAddict!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Undergrad Research Conference! Get Published!

Abstract due: Monday, February 23, 2015

Conference date: Saturday, April 11, 2015

Contact: Dr. Tredennick, Bianca.Tredennick@oneonta.edu

Website: http://www.oneonta.edu/academics/english/conferences/ugconf.asp

Is this a "Bring Your Own Chocolate" Event?...

...or will chocolate be provided??

The folks in the library are wonderful! Research & Writing workshop being held tomorrow, Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 1-2 p.m. in the library instruction lab in the basement. Be there, or be a square (of chocolate!)

Free Ebook; Purple Briefcase!

Wow! If you like downloadable ebooks, this is a terrific resource from Columbia University in New York City, where the going is tough, so the tough need to get going! Over 100 pages of job-searchy goodness, and not overloaded with white space or huge fonts. (Really pretty piece of typesetting, too!)

Step by step, sample resumes and cover letters, tips on interviewing and negotiating offers... 

Now, don't overlook Niagara University's award-winning Career Services folks. A book can only take you so far. And of course it doesn't know you personally; you can't ask it questions about your major, your niche in the market. 

And of course, it doesn't have the Purple Briefcase! (Hey, there's something I hadn't seen before! Interactive goodies make job-searching a game! Really pretty website! Niagara University students have it good! When I was a young'un, we had to walk 5 miles, in the snow, each way, barefoot to get job information.... Nah, just a little old fogey humor there. Click here to get your own account: https://app.purplebriefcase.com/pb/account/login/)

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to: @ColumbiaCCE and @NUCareerService!

Monday, November 17, 2014

10 Ways to Find Jobs


Job Support 4 U is a great site out of Great Britain, with a well-organized set of offerings in its navigation bar on the left. Of particular interest to those who feel overwhelmed is the "Job Search Methods" section, breaking your strategies down to 10 categories useful for us U.S. folks:

  1. Cold Calling
  2. Speculative Letters/emails
  3. Internet
  4. Visit Employers
  5. Job Fairs
  6. Friends and Family
  7. Networking
  8. Job Centres (I think this is a G.B. thing, but highly applicable to Niagara University's Career Center, http://www.niagara.edu/career -- and unlike public organizations, this one really cares about getting you a job!)
  9. Work Programme (Definitely a G.B. thing)
  10. Newspapers (meh)
  11. Agencies (meh)
Also useful: the "Recommended Sources & Websites" section, many of which offer resources useful to those of us across the pond.

Thanks and a tip o' the Twitter hat to @JobSupport4U!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Second Interview

What, you mean there’s more than one!? Argh, and I was just getting choked up and nervous over having one interview for this job...

The bigger the company where you are interviewing, the more people have a say in who gets hired. And that means the more people want to talk with you, up close and personal.
  • Human Resources may want to make sure you’re not a raving lunatic.
  • The head of the department or unit may want to know you have the technical skills to do the job at hand, and perhaps to move up out of a beginner position.
  • Your immediate supervisor wants to make sure you don’t have B.O., and so won’t be stinking up all the cubicles next to yours.

Okay, some of that was tongue in cheek. But these resources have some solid advice for “what if” situations:
  • What if you feel like you didn’t do well enough to be called back for a second interview? What are some good “recovery” strategies?
  • What if you were underwhelmed by the interviewer, not sure you want to work for this company? How can you probe to make sure that was a fluke, and not an indicator of a horrible place to work?
  • What if you feel like you’ve given it your all, and have nothing more to say? How do you avoid simply repeating what you told the first interviewer—who may well be sitting in on the second interview?

NU Celebrates Black History, starting 1/19/15

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Contest! $200 top prize!

Norton publishing, the folks who publish our American and British anthologies, are holding a contest open to high school and college students. Full details on the attached flyer; briefly:
  • Who: High school and college students
  • What: Video yourself reciting one of the four poems mentioned, in 5 minutes or less
  • Where: Send to nortonanthology@wwnorton.com (a link, such as one to YouTube)
  • When: Send between Feb. 2, 2015 and Mar. 23, 2015
  • Why: Because you love poetry and money!
  • Email for more info: nortonanthology@wwnorton.com
  • Social: Facebook & Twitter, @nortonanthology
PS: I love Norton because they are the only employee-owned major textbook publishing company (http://books.wwnorton.com/books/aboutcontent.aspx?id=4384), and because they don't go crazy issuing "new! improved! more expensive!" editions of their books to keep students shoveling money into their maw.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Don't Sabotage your Resume!


It's not just what's on your resume that counts. It's the details about how you transmit it electronically that will get you attention--or at least, avoid the kind of attention (hair-pulling, teeth-gnashing) that you don't want.

I love the image that accompanies this blog post: a hiring manager putting his fist through a laptop screen. Yup--I've been there, I've done that. Screwy file names, formats I can't open, typesetting that gives my screen hiccups, inept transmittal emails...

Several years ago, before e-transmission was the default, the English Department was reviewing materials incoming for a faculty position. We got a package -- which, by the way, I opened with my own hands (the package didn't get anonymized through a secretary or anything). And on the outside of the flat mailing envelope, the return address was a sticker with a fuzzy, cute image. So overly sweet I nearly got diabetes just looking at it.

Now, I'm a sucker for fuzzy and cute. But on a professional job application? Really?! We didn't reject that application only on the basis of the return-address sticker. But it helped us put that one out of several hundred applications into the circular file early in the review process.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Alumni news: not just for alumni!


There's a wealth of information on the Niagara University website devoted to keeping alumni in touch with each other, with their alma mater... and with students!

For starters, visit this rogue's gallery of successful graduates to see what the world may have to offer you: http://www.niagara.edu/alumni-news/

Click the "Mentor a Student" button to join a LinkedIn group where mentors who have graduated from NU can respond to specific questions from current NU students. You don't have to be a graduate to join! You do have to have a working LinkedIn profile. It's as good a time as any to get cracking on that key resource you know you'll need anyway! http://www.niagara.edu/mentor-a-student/

Flip through the listings under the "Chapters" button,  http://www.niagara.edu/alumni-chapters/, to see whether there's a friendly face in your hometown (or in a city where you may be job-hunting).

Voila! Presto! Instant networking opportunities!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Singing the "No Experience" Blues--Don't!


If you're a college student getting ready to graduate and hit the job market, you may be wondering: why would anybody hire me? I have no experience!

Well--everyone has to start somewhere. Everyone on the other side of the interview table has been in your shoes at some point, a shiny new degree but no experience.

Besides--you do have experience. It looks more like persistence in coursework; service learning projects; clubs and activities on campus where you've played a leadership role (like working with faculty at the Open House events, meeting and greeting prospective students). Awards, honor societies.

And there are things you can (and should) do to offset the objection that you lack experience, so you're not merely puffing hot air on a list of things any college student could do. You can and should:

  • Find an internship that gives you a taste of the kind of work you want to do in the near future. Even if the internship fizzles (you hate that industry, that line of work), you'll still have developed self-knowledge, a clear understanding of what you can commit to doing well.
  • Connect with others in the field. This can mean informational interviews, or even collaborating with other students who have similar goals and ambitions--pool your resources as you track down companies and opportunities. Who knows--some years from now, you may find one of your college buddies interviewing you for a job.
  • Join and participate in online discussions, forums, face-to-face events (everything from networking groups to job fairs). Get practiced; learn to be comfortable in a variety of situations related to the profession you want to join.

Friday, November 7, 2014

New Tweet: Internships!

I just searched for "internship Buffalo" and found 11 items. I retweeted--for those interested, please see my Twitter feed @jeannelaurel! 

Come on, folks; if a 59 year old fogey can find stuff like this on Twitter, you can too!

Harry Potter's Wand and Your Job Search


I love the title of this post: 5 secrets to create job search magic!

Wouldn't it be lovely to have a magic wand you could wave at graduation, and ¡Poof! You wake up the next day with a job? Sounds delightfully conspiratorial: secrets! Maybe you could even say you have a bit of the phoenix feather in your wand...

But seriously. The take-away from this solid article is that you can't always make happen exactly what you want, exactly when you want it. But you can take steps to be prepared for a job to fall in your lap--or at least in arm's reach.

Actually, "job search" is a misnomer, suggesting that it's something you start doing when you want or need to find a job. But the magic happens when you set up conditions that will bring information your way, so that you can act on it as needed. 

That may include networking, keeping in touch with your alumni association, being visible through intelligent participation (taking part in ongoing discussions, initiating new topics) on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and the rest). 

It may also include researching and keeping tabs on companies you may want to work for--setting up a routine to check their Human Resources bulletin boards online for job postings (which may or may not be advertised elsewhere--after all, ads cost money, but internal company website information is free). Maybe doing an informational interview with someone who has a job you'd want to end up in after a few years.

And it means starting today getting your house in order: spiffing up your LinkedIn profile, developing a strategy to connect with people and information. One step you can take immediately: visit Niagara University's Career Services Center (http://www.niagara.edu/career). After all, you have paid for that resource through your tuition dollars. (Heck, you didn't think the only thing you were paying for were classes, did you?)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Journalism Internship in D.C.


The Chronicle of Higher Education has announced that it is looking for four interns for summer 2015. The gig includes a weekly stipend, and can be set up as a credit-bearing internship with a student's university.

You'll need some experience writing for publication, and a modest portfolio of clippings. Application deadline Monday, January 5, 2015.

Tell me a Story


Literature majors love stories, right? We understand them, too: conflict, foreshadowing, catharsis, resolution... One strategy to writing a winning cover letter and resume is to think of these documents as a specialized form of story.

But what exactly does that mean? Of course it doesn't mean that you can march into an interview and proclaim "My mom told me when I was little that I was going to be great some day..." and then launch into a monologue about when the training wheels came off your bicycle.

So I've linked today to a collection of resources on storytelling and careers--connecting story and strategies for resumes, cover letters, personal branding, interviewing, and even the kinds of stories you tell yourself.