Friday, April 29, 2016

Networking: Leverage LinkedIn's Alumni Tool

You often hear about the importance of networking, but networking can seem vague and challenging to do. Luckily, you are part of an extensive network of WGU students and alumni and LinkedIn has created a great tool for you to use to tap into that network.

LinkedIn's Alumni Tool

LinkedIn's Alumni Tool helps you explore student and alumni career paths from colleges and universities worldwide and build relationships that can help you along the way. Review the steps below to connect with WGU Students and Alumni today.

Find: Navigate to www.linkedin.com/alumni to start. The school you will see will automatically default to Western Governors University if you have Western Governors University on your LinkedIn profile as your most recent education.

Explore: There are almost 60,000 WGU students and alumni on LinkedIn! You can narrow down the profile results in a variety of ways. At the top of the Alumni page you will see three subheads: "Where they live," "Where they work," and "What they do."  You can also click the arrow to the right to view additional categories, which include "What they studied," "What they're skilled at" and "How you are connected."

Research: Say you are a current information technology student living in Austin, TX and you would like to see where other WGU students and alumni in Austin are working and the positions they hold within IT. Click on the magnify glass by “Where they live” and type in Austin, Texas in the search bar. Select Austin, Texas Area. Next, click on the blue bar that says “Informational Technology” under “What they do” and you have a list of where students and alumni in the Austin area are working in IT. This is just one example, the search options are endless!

Connect: Most individuals want to help out fellow students and alumni and are happy to have a conversation and exchange information. If you find someone who is working at a company of interest and/or in a position of interest, request to connect. Keep the request simple, for example:

I am a fellow WGU IT student in the Austin area. Thanks for considering my request to connect.

If they accept your request to connect, consider reaching out to schedule an informational interview. You are not asking for a job but rather gathering information to explore career options and learn more about an organization, their needs and the requirements for a particular job.  Your initial outreach could be something like:

Thanks in advance for your time. It is great to connect with a fellow WGU student/alum. I am reaching out because I would like to learn a little more about your company and career path.

I am currently employed as a (position title) with (xyz company) while pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. I am exploring options for the next stage of my career.  

If you could spare 15 minutes out of your busy schedule, I would welcome the opportunity to ask you a few questions on an informational basis.  

Follow-up: After conducting an informational interview, make sure to send a thank you note. You can also ask if they have other connections that they would recommend with whom you speak. Keep your new connection informed of any career updates and, if appropriate, let them know if you find a position within their company to which you would like to apply. They may be able to provide you with a name to address your application materials or offer to share your resume with the recruiter or hiring manager.

Before reaching out, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and is focused on your career goals. WGU Career & Professional Development provides great resources for strengthening your profile. We are also available to provide one-on-one assistance to make sure all your LinkedIn questions are answered

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Good Questions to Ask at the Interview

You've probably heard it a million times: A job interview should be a two-way conversation. You may assume that means someone asks questions and you offer answers. But that's only half of the conversation. Interviewers expect you to ask questions, too—and asking thoughtful questions can polish your image as a job seeker.

Asking questions is one way to show that you are interested in the job. It shows you've researched the organization and you've heard what the interviewer has told you about the job. Your questions also will help you see how the job and the organization fit into your career goals.

When preparing questions before the interview, your first stop should be the organization's website—don't want to ask questions that are already covered online. Next, pay close attention to details that come to light during the interview—you'll want to include questions on information you hear.

Here are examples of questions you can ask (and why you should ask them):

  • What does a typical work day look like? What is a typical week like in this job? (You're showing interest in life on the job in the organization.)
  • With whom would I be working? Who would be my supervisor? (You're looking seriously at your potential place in the organization.) 
  • What are the challenges facing the person in this position? What are your expectations for this role? (You're asking about your fit within the company and your future with the organization.)
  • Why did you choose to work for this company? (Ask this question of anyone you meet during your interview. It gives the interviewer a chance to "sell" the company and gives you insight into what others think about working for the organization.)
  • How would you describe your company culture? (Are you and the company are well matched? Is this the environment you want to join?)
  • What is the natural career progression for employees with my skill set? (You're demonstrating that you're thinking about a long-term future with the company.)
  • Does this organization have a formal mentor or coaching program? How is it structured? (This illustrates that you are interested in being a good employee and improving on the job.)
  • What kind of internal and external training do you provide? (This question illustrates your desire to excel in the job.) 

After you've asked your questions, restate your interest in the organization.

Then, ask for the job—this reiterates your interest in joining the organization.

Finally, ask these few last questions:

  • What is the next step in the hiring process? 
  • When will you make your decision? 
  • May I call you? 
  • When is a good time? 

For additional assistance with interview preparation or any additional career questions, please contact WGU Career & Professional Development.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Emerging Trends in the Job Market – Are You Ready?

The world is changing rapidly and as a result, the way employers hire and the expectations of professionals are also changing. Members of NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) recently discussed emerging trends in the workplace and how these trends are impacting both new and seasoned professionals.

Overall the job outlook has improved since 2008. However, competition is still a major factor in the job market so taking steps to make sure that you are enhancing both your job skills and soft skills is a must. One key observation is that professionalism is still a critical career indicator. Research shows that while many graduates are well-educated, there is the perception that they are inadequately trained because of a lack of social skills. A study done by NACE revealed that 70% of employers felt that new graduates were inadequately trained. However, this question was asked to senior leadership – executives who did not actually have consistent direct contact with graduates, which means that this perception may have been formed in part by social interactions with new graduates. Professionalism cannot be neglected as part of the job search and so taking time to understand proper business etiquette can serve you well.

Additional insight was provided regarding employer trends including:

  • 53% of employers are concerned about competition for talent
  • 64% of employers prefer to hire people with relevant experience
  • 71% of employers are actively promoting diversity
  • 75% of professionals, typically in mid to high level jobs, identify as passive (not actively seeking a new position) and employers are looking for ways to tap into these candidates
  • Employers are focusing on engaging with talent via social media and technology
  • Employers are proactively managing their brand and want to be identified and recognized as employers of choice
  • One third of employers are now hiring international professionals
  • Employers are increasing salaries and offering signing bonuses for premium candidates
  • Employers are recruiting via branding and social media, and an increase in video interviewing is starting to emerge 

You have already made a step in the right direction by deciding to pursue your degree. Being aware of the latest career trends can be another helpful resource. We invite you to contact WGU Career & Professional Development to discuss your goals and to begin working on a plan that will help you to stay on top of your career.