Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reboot Your IT Job Search

If you’re in the Information Technology Sector, then you know that new technologies are born every day. Some say that students are being taught and trained for technology that hasn’t even been invented yet. Let’s look at some ways to stay on top of your job search as we’re zooming forward in our techno-world at warp speed.

Don’t go crazy. You might have heard the saying, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. If you’ve been on the job hunt for 6 months or more, using the same strategy with no results, then maybe it’s time to change your approach. If you’re looking only at IT-specific companies then you might be missing out on a large part of the job market. Just about everyone uses some sort of technology today. The retail sector, financial agencies, and higher education - you name it and there’s probably a computer involved. So, when you approach your job search keep your options open to the various different industries. To widen your vision, visit our Occupational & Industry Research page for some great ways to look deeper into various company backgrounds. Then, hop over to our Employer Research page to help identify companies that might be a good fit.

Say it with skills. IT recruiters look for specific information on resumes to help make it easy for them to identify applicants based on their technical knowledge and competencies. One of the easiest ways for you to make sure that you are highlighting these competencies is to include a list of your technical skills: Operating Systems, Databases, Computer Languages and Protocols, and Software knowledge and experience. These skills should be based on the job description and industry standards. A separate section for your certifications would also be a great idea. Check out the Getting a Job section of our website for more information on launching a successful job search.

Begin with the end. In Steven Covey’s, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,  he mentions that the second habit of moving from dependence to independence is to envision what you want (for your career) and then come to know concretely what to make a reality. What does your dream IT job look like and what will it take to get there? Career planning is a huge part of the answer. Mapping out your career path is a great way to manage your expectations and to achieve your professional goals. WGU Career & Professional Development is here to help with everything from resume development to interview skills to IT Professional Development opportunities. We’re just a click away!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Informational Interviews

By now we have all heard that networking is the key to a successful job search – “it is not what you know but who you know.” Informational interviewing is a powerful (and underutilized) networking tool that can jump-start your career. Review the 5 W’s and the How of informational interviewing and schedule your own informational interview today!

An informational interview is an interview in which the goal is to gather facts and opinions from someone with expertise and experience in a specific field or position. It is important to remember that an informational interview is NOT a job interview. They are investigative opportunities for you to derive information about a job, company, industry, career space or person. They are led by you as the interviewer.

An informational interviews allow you to:
  • Explore your career options and clarify your goals 
  • Learn more about an organization, their needs and the requirements for a particular job 
  • Network with decision-makers and expand your professional network 
  • Generate job leads 
  • Build confidence in yourself, your job search process and your interview skills
  • Demonstrate professionalism, initiative and motivation to a prospective employer by  taking control of your job search by interviewing an employer before you even apply a job! 
Identify with whom you want to interview or what industry, company, or specific position you are interested in learning more about. Once you have an idea of with whom you want to talk to ask family, friends, coworkers, students, alumni, and others in your immediate network if they know of anyone they can put you in touch with. Don’t forget to connect with people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and other social networking sites. Also, by choosing WGU, you are now part of an international network of WGU students and alumni. Make sure to join the Western Governors University Student and Alumni group on LinkedIn and to check out the careers of fellow WGU Night Owls.

There is no time like the present.  Informational interviews are helpful to conduct during career exploration or to utilize as a networking tool during your job search.

Meeting at the interviewee’s work place is more convenient for your interviewee and can also give you a better feel for the job and organization.  However, over the phone or via video conference are other methods to consider, especially if you are conducting the informational interview long distance.

Send a brief email to the person you want to interview explaining your background, career goals, interests and what you hope to gain from the interview. Make sure you state clearly that you are just seeking information – not a job. Request a 20-30 minute appointment .

Prepare for your informational interview as you would for a job interview. Research the person you will be interviewing, their profession and their company. This advanced research shows the interviewee that you are professional and that you respect their time. It also allows you to focus on acquiring information that is not readily available through websites and company brochures.

Prepare questions to ask ahead of time and consider bringing a current copy of your resume with you. However, only share your resume if the person you are interviewing has expressed interest in seeing your resume!

Show up to your appointment professionally dressed and on time. End the interview by thanking the interviewee for their time and asking if there are other people they suggest you talk to. This is a great way to grow your professional network.

Send a thank you note within 24 hours of your interview thanking the person for their time and briefly describing what you learned from the interview. See if your interviewee is on LinkedIn and invite them to join your network. In addition, send periodic updates on your career progress and be sure to let them know if you apply for a position with their company.

Visit the WGU Career & Professional Development website for more information on informational interviews or contact us for individual assistance.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Resume Recipe - How to Cook Up a Winner!

If you cook, you know the importance of following a recipe in order to create a scrumptious meal. In fact, there are several similarities between good cooking and resume writing. Let’s look at a few:

Preparation: Quality ingredients are the building blocks of great cooking. You want to start with the best and freshest you can find. The same can be said for resumes. Research targeted job descriptions within your field of interest to obtain the language and keywords you can use for the ingredients throughout your resume. Think of each job description as a recipe in which the employer is telling you what they are looking for. Key words, pulled from the specific job descriptions, will help you make your resume more appetizing to an employer.

Assembly: Like any successful dish, layering flavors gives the meal a deeper and richer experience. Resumes should be assembled so that the most valuable information is seen first. The Summary of Qualifications should be right after your name and contact information. This is your pitch to the reader explaining how you are qualified for this position.  Showing a robust summary of your best qualities and how they make you a good fit is what will move your resume from dull to delicious! Next, think about what makes you a great candidate for the position. Look to the job description for further guidance. What seems important to the employer? Lead with your strengths and position the following sections accordingly: specialized competencies (technology, business acumen, certifications, etc.), relevant professional experience and education. This layering format prioritizes the most important features so the employer sees them first and is motivated to learn more about you. To assist in assembling your resume, utilize the resume resources available on the WGU Career & Professional Development website including a brief Resumes 101 webinar, a resume builder, and a resume library with industry specific resume samples.

Let it bake. The raw ingredients and the assembly of the dish are only part of a chef’s job. Those ingredients and flavors need to meld into the delicious creation it was meant to be. Your resume is now ready to cook! You have done your research, you put the layers together and filled them in with just the right keywords, bullet points and accomplishments. Now, it all needs to marinate to create the document that results in an interview. One great way to do this, so that it doesn’t get chopped, is to send it to WGU Career & Professional Development for a review. Look to us as your test kitchen. We’re hungry to help you!

Serve it up! After you have created your resume and had it reviewed by our staff, it’s time to dish it up for your audience to consume! There are as many job boards online as there are spices to choose from. Consider using the WGU Students & Graduates Job Board in addition to other popular job boards for your job search needs.

We wish you luck in your job search and remember, we’ll always have a table ready for you to explore and discuss a full menu of other services. Please visit us often to satisfy your career cravings. Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Employer Research

Research. If you are in the market for a job or thinking about your next step, research is a vital part of making a positive impression on a potential employer. You’ve worked hard to complete your degree so now it’s time to make sure you are using every tool available to get the job or promotion that you are hoping for. Taking time to research employers that you are interested in is an essential component to a successful job search. It might seem a bit intimidating at first because it’s sometimes hard to know where to start and there’s a lot of information out there but that’s where WGU Career and Professional Development comes in. We have many excellent resources designed to help you get started in this process.

The first step is to identify what matters to you. This is an important and often overlooked step. You have to have a focus in order to reach your goal. To get started in this process make sure you review our self-assessment and industry research tools.

Next, think about what you value in an organization. Are you open to re-location? Are you interested in a large company or a small company? Is professional development important to you? These are just a few of the things you can consider as your begin researching companies.

Once you have set a foundation, you can narrow the field to 5 - 10 companies that you think would be a good fit and then begin your research. The best place to start your research is with the company’s website and LinkedIn page. You can look for the Mission Statement or the About Us section to get some of the basic information, but don’t stop there. WGU Career & Professional Development has a wealth of information on a wide range of companies including the latest industry trends.

For specific information on companies, check out our Employer Research Resources including CareerBeam (which lists company overviews, key information and business intelligence for 60M+ organizations) and Hoovers (a database with proprietary information on more than 40,000 public and non-public companies and 225,000 key executives).  Remember, the more you know about the company the more targeted your resume and cover letter will be and the more prepared you will be during an interview. Doing your research lets an employer know that you are really interested in them and not just “a job”, increasing your chances of being hired.

WGU Career & Professional Development is happy to assist you in researching employers, defining a job search plan, or answering any additional career questions you may have.