Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Engaging Your LinkedIn Network

In today’s workforce, you need to incorporate various job search tactics to compete with those who are also on the job hunt. Social Media is an indispensable tool for your job search efforts. LinkedIn is just as important to your career development strategy as writing a winning resume. However, once you have built your LinkedIn profile and obtained endorsements and recommendations from colleagues, it is not over. Keeping your account active is important as you proactively work your network. Here are tips to help you stay engaged:
  • Where are they now? Periodically, go through your network connections. Look to see if any of your connections have changed companies, job titles, posted new content or started new conversations. Exploring connections can clue you in on new happenings within your network and give you the opportunity to reach out to those with whom you have been out of touch. If they have updated their profiles, congratulate them on a new job or comment on an update they have shared.
  • Post it! You have re-connected with your network and with people you are following, but now look at yourself. Have there been any changes in your professional life? Update your status if you have a new job, a new role, a new project, or new education or training to share. Confidently communicate you accomplishments and successes. Your ability to assess and showcase your achievements can increase your profile views. Active updates invite your network to follow and reach out to you.
  • Do I know you? The very nature of networking is to meet new contacts and to exchange ideas. This can open up new opportunities. But, should you accept every invitation on LinkedIn? You might hit “reply” first. This will allow you to send a return email instead of immediately accepting the invitation. This is a chance to inquire as to why the individual would like to connect. It is possible that this person also attended Western Governors University or they are in the same industry and simply want to build their own network
  • Company contacts. LinkedIn also offers a great way to find contacts at companies that interest you. Researching the company and profiles of those currently employed at the company can be one more step toward getting the job you really want. 
For more personalized assistance on how to leverage LinkedIn in your job search or for answers to any career question you may have, please contact our professional staff for an appointment. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

11 on 11: Career Resources for Veterans, Military Personnel, and Families

In honor of Veterans Day, November 11, WGU Career & Professional Development offers 11 career resources available to current military personnel, veterans, and family members. We salute the men and women who have served and continue to make sacrifices to protect our country.

  1. Boots To Suits: Boots to Suits commits to helping the men and women who served this country to find meaningful employment.  The mission is to achieve success in business and education while networking into quality professional positions with reputable companies.
  2. Brothers Fund: Brothers Fund mission is to help veterans fulfill dreams and business ambitions by providing them with loans to start or grow their own businesses.  
  3. Feds Hire Vets: This is an official website of the U.S. Government operated by the Office of Personnel Management serving as a one-stop resource for Federal veteran employment information.
  4. G.I. Jobs: The G.I. Jobs mission is to simplify the military transition experience using education and employment tools and resources to guide you to a successful career.
  5. Hire Veterans: Through alliances with many veterans organizations, networks, and other military agencies, HireVeterans.com has established its brand as a top e-recruiting site for the veterans of our armed forces.
  6. Hiring Our Heroes: Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, was launched in March 2011 as a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment.
  7. My Next Move For Veterans: You've served your country. No you're ready for a new challenge. What do you want to do for a living?
  8. United States Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service: This website features resources to assist veterans prepare for and obtain employment.
  9. TAOnline.com (Transition Assistance Online): Founded by former military personnel, TAOnline.com has been recognized by industry experts and organizations as a top leader in providing veteran jobs.
  10. Veteran Recruiting: Veteran Recruiting (VR) is a division of Astound Virtual who has revolutionized the way military friendly employers, service members, veterans, and military spouses connect as it relates to the job search. 
  11. Veterans ReEmployment: A one-stop website for employment, training, and financial help after military service.

All of these resources in addition to several Military-to-Civilian Skills Translators can be found on the Resources for Veterans page of our website. We empower WGU students and graduates to explore, develop, and actualize individual career paths by providing current resources and strategic guidance. Please do not hesitate to contact a career specialist for personalized student-veteran career assistance.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Holiday Job Search Tips

As the holiday season quickly approaches, you might be considering taking a break from your job search. However, this could be a mistake! Despite popular belief, hiring does not come to a halt over the holidays. In fact, many organizations seek to fill job openings by the end of year that have already been allotted for this year’s budget, while other organizations are planning ahead and eager to have new employees on board as soon as the new year begins. To make the most of your holiday job search, take a look at the tips below.

Attend Holiday Events: Tis the season to socialize and be merry with your family, friends, neighbors, community, and various other groups. In addition, many regional professional associations will have a holiday luncheon or end of year networking event. Plan to arrive prepared with a 30 second standard greeting that is positive and informative. Ask lots of questions to elicit a conversation or develop a connection. Create tasteful business cards with your name, phone number and email address. This is actually one of the most fruitful networking times of the year!

Make the Calls: Holidays can be a good time to catch recruiters, hiring managers, and others at work but be smart, prepared and strategic. Don’t just start cold calling. Use the quieter time to follow up on an application, reconnect, and ask insightful questions. Also, think of someone who is in a position or industry of interest to you – send them an email introduction and follow up with a phone call to set up an informational interview. This risk might pay off.

Set a Schedule: It is easy to become distracted so set up a plan for the holiday season. Schedule your days and set SMART goals. For example, "Every weekday I will submit two applications and I will contribute to a minimum of two discussions on LinkedIn. Each week I will reach out and connect with five contacts in my network."

Know Your Industry: Depending on your goals and your targeted industry you will want to tailor your approach to looking for work during the holiday season. For example, teachers will have between now and a school district's winter break to connect with school personnel. In addition, some industries offer temporary, seasonal positions that have the potential to lead to full-time positions or serve as a way to add additional skills to your resume and expand your network.

Volunteer: Volunteering can be emotionally and spiritually uplifting. It is also a great way to network and connect with others in your community. Helping others really does help you too.

Send Holiday Cards: Send a holiday card to everyone on your networking list. Pick a non religious card that is both seasonal and professional.

Stay Optimistic: Most hiring managers tend to be more receptive to job seekers who express confidence and have an optimistic frame of mind. Use the holidays to renew and appreciate the good in your life. Also, it is okay to take a little "holiday" from job searching. Make sure to take time for activities that you enjoy and find rejuvenating.

Contact WGU Career & Professional Development: Need a resume reviewed, your LinkedIn profile updated, or interview practice? A WGU Career Services Specialist is just a phone call or email away…It turns out that career services offices are also notoriously quiet during the holidays.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Create a Resume with Personality

Resume templates are easy to use and easy to find on the internet but templates are known for boring  recruiters and hiring managers. If your resume looks the same as everyone else’s resume it will not stand out from the crowd.  Your resume needs to be the right amount of required skills and personality. This is the challenging part. “Personality” does not mean including hobbies or your favorite color. Nor does it mean using fancy fonts, colors, or images. You want your resume to reflect your work ethic, soft skills, and passion for your chosen career.

Recruiters and hiring managers suggest that resumes can stand out from the competition without sacrificing the professional look and feel. Here are a few tips to help accomplish this goal, starting from the top:

1.  Connect with Me: Make sure your contact information is thorough and complete. Use your full name, address, city, state, and zip code. Include one phone number with the number most likely to be answered and make sure you have your voicemail set up with a professional message. It is also suggested that you include a professional email address, one that uses your first and last name, if possible, and is not a work email address.  If you have a LinkedIn account, place your LinkedIn URL next to your email address but make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and not just a “cut and paste” of your resume.

2. Engage! Create an engaging summary of qualifications to grab the employer’s attention and create a strong first impression. Employers initially skim resumes, only spending 10 – 20 seconds per resume, so the top half of the page is the most important. This is your chance to introduce your knowledge of your industry and the specific job to which you are applying. It is here that you can show your strengths and diversity of experience. Elaborate on areas you have worked on that are relevant to the job description. Visit the resume library to see some examples of an engaging summary!

3. Highlight Results: In your employment section, you will want to use bullet points to highlight your accomplishments and the results of your actions. This area can include metrics, quantified achievements, and specific skills required for the job. Here’s an example:

·       Created a searchable database to log departmental reports, decreasing time spent locating reports and eliminating use of paper copies resulting in a monthly savings of more than $1K. 

Your employment section should go back 10 years or to high school, whichever comes first. You will include all of your work history within this time frame, even the jobs that are not in the field to which you are applying. An employer evaluates this particular section for relevant skills and knowledge and to see a complete work history without any obvious holes in your timeline.

4. Beyond Paid Experience: If you do not have recent work experience or are new to the world of work you can include a volunteer section, relevant coursework and projects from your education, and highlight industry certifications. Your volunteer section would be formatted the same way as your employment section, specifying the organization, your role, and the dates. Volunteerism can also show employers that you are a well-rounded individual involved in community activities. Another great way to show personality!

5.  In Conclusion:  You can close your resume simply with the last job entry or with professional memberships or training that is relevant to the job. It is suggested not to include “References Available Upon Request”. Employers assume you will be able to provide references. You will want your references typed up on a separate document and you will typically provide references on the application and/or in an interview.

Spending some time to personalize your resume by reviewing the job description, company profile, and even the company’s LinkedIn page can show the employer the depth of interest you have for the job. Use the resume resources available on the WGU Career & Professional Development website to create an eye-catching document and before you hit the “send” button, let our professional staff review your resume and guide you through any additional ways to make your resume stand out from the crowd. We can help you to create a polished, professional document that showcases your personality while still presenting a resume that employers seek.