Career Resources

Friday, December 28, 2012

Start the New Year right by logging into LinkedIn daily

Most people these days understand the value of being on LinkedIn but not as many understand what to do with it after they've established their profile. LinkedIn is a professional networking site and the key word here is “networking.” If you’re not actively using it to brand yourself as a professional who stays current in his or her field or if you not using it to stay on the radar screen of the people in your network, then you’re not using it effectively.

Start off the New Year by making it a habit to log into LinkedIn each and every day and do something on it. Use your status update to post links to articles you’ve read, conferences you’re attending, professional activities you're involved in or opinions you have about recent developments in your field. These status updates will show up in the newsfeed of all your connections, positioning you as a career professional that is interested in and serious about your career field. Another tip is to post or answer discussion questions in the groups you’re a member of. Lastly, comment on or “like” others’ posts or send them a direct message to congratulate them on a recent accomplishment.

By being active on LinkedIn each and every day, your name is bound to pop up when someone has a position to fill for which you would be the ideal candidate.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stay in touch with a holiday greeting!

Yesterday I received a beautiful holiday card from a former student of mine. She included a very nice note to say thank you for my career advice and to update me on her career. I really enjoyed receiving this card, and I'm sure the mentors and other people in your network would love to receive a card from you as well.

Students often ask me how to stay in touch with the people in their network after their initial contact. I always tell them that the holidays are a great time to stay in touch. Usually I advise them to send an email, but I think sending a card makes an even greater impression, because it takes a little more thought and effort.

And with that, I wish you all a wonderful holiday season and all the best for a year ahead filled with much career success!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Three great tips from a college recruiter

Last week I had a recruiter come in to speak in my career management class, and I wanted to share three great tips that she gave to my students.

1.  Turn the interview into a conversation.
The recruiter advised my students not to get nervous about their interviews. (I know that's easier said than done!). However, she recommended treating an interview as "having a conversation." One of the primary things that recruiters are looking for in a candidate is their ability to fit in with the team and company. The more you can be personable, develop rapport with your interviewer and ask engaging questions, the more you will increase your chances of landing the job.

2. Be strategic about your LinkedIn headline.
Most students tend to put statements like, "Current student majoring in X at Y university," as their LinkedIn headline. The recruiter suggested that instead you put key words in your headline regarding the type of position you are seeking so that when recruiters do a search on LinkedIn to find appropriate candidates, they'll find you. So change your headline to something like, "Junior marketing student at Y university seeking position in social media or graphic design."

3. Connect with recruiters on LinkedIn.
To be honest, this was a surprising one to me. I assumed that recruiters didn't want students they didn't know invading their professional online space. And, although this particular recruiter welcomes students connecting with her, I need to warn you that there are some recruiters who wouldn't appreciate this approach. She stated that she didn't mind students adding her to their LinkedIn network, but she didn't want them sending her emails through LinkedIn because she didn't have the time to read them nor the inclination to respond. When in doubt about connecting with a recruiter on LinkedIn, I would highly recommend you speak with your college's career services center to get their advice.

By connecting to recruiters on LinkedIn, they'll see your status updates on their LinkedIn home page. And by posting frequent updates relevant to your field, you can position yourself as someone who is staying current with the latest developments in the industry, as well as staying "top of mind" with the recruiter.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cover Letters: Hit 'em with your best shot - right away!

I often review students' cover letters before they send them to the employer. There have been many times when students do a terrific job of expressing their enthusiasm and interest in the position/company and why they would be a great fit - but sometimes they do so in the last paragraph. I always advise them that they need to grab the attention of the recruiter from the get-go and to make their first paragraph compelling enough that the reader wants to continue reading on.  So, take a moment to review your cover letters to see if you are putting your best foot forward - in the opening paragraph.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Seniors: Looking for a job? Practice MOTS

I have been meeting with a lot of anxious seniors lately who are concerned about their prospects of getting a job. Typically, I run down my checklist with them to make sure they are completing all of the necessary steps required in the job search.  Many times students assure me that they are indeed doing all of these things but are looking for some additional secret strategy from me, like a magical key that will unlock the hiring doors to the world of employment.  Unfortunately, there is no such key.  The "un-magical" answer is to adopt what a local Boston weatherman used to say about the weather in Boston:  MOTS - meaning "more of the same."  And this is exactly the approach to adopt in securing a job.  Keep on doing what you've been doing and eventually it will pay off. Actually, I guess if I had to say what the magical key to landing a job is, it would be perseverance.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seniors: Are you ready for fall recruiting?

Since summer is my favorite season, I always hated those relentless and annoying back-to-school commercials that infringed upon the lull of the all too short summer season and yanked me back to the stark reality of fall, which is why I'm reluctant to post this today.  On the other hand, since the goal of my blog is to help you succeed in your career, I feel the need to post this now, lest you miss out on the critical fall recruitment window.  Because, just as they say in those equally annoying commercials for bankrupt businesses, "once it's gone, it's gone."

Many seniors are surprised when I tell them that certain companies, industries and programs recruit only in the fall semester for full-time positions.  They mistakenly think that all companies recruit in the spring since it's closer to graduation.  The accounting, finance and consulting industries, for example, typically recruit in the fall, as well as several leadership and rotational programs.  Bigger firms, with more formalized programs, tend to recruit in the fall, as opposed to smaller firms which might hire more on an ad hoc basis.  However, since many seniors have their sights on the top firms, it's in your best interest to get ready sooner than later.  I always tell my seniors to be ready to "hit the ground running" at the beginning of the fall semester.

So, what does that mean?  First of all, it means making an appointment with your college's career center.  Fall appointments in my career center fill up very quickly, and I would assume it's the same on many college campuses, so you should book an appointment as soon as possible.  I would suggest calling now to book a September appointment.

Listed below is my senior "to do" list for the fall recruiting season, which I recommend you discuss with your career counselor at your appointment.
  • Make sure your resume is perfect and is strategically targeted to the industry you want to enter
  • Have a cover letter reviewed to make sure you're writing them correctly
  • Schedule a mock interview to practice and perfect your interviewing skills
  • Attend your school's career fair (even if you think there are no companies you're interested in - I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised)
  • Go to as many industry and company events as possible to network with recruiters
  • Establish a LinkedIn profile or update the one you have
  • Practice and hone your 30-second pitch so you can deliver it flawlessly
By gearing up early, you'll be able to take advantage of any and all opportunities that come your way this fall.  Come spring break, you'll be in that enviable position of being able to totally relax while some of your friends are scrambling to gear up for the industries that recruit in the spring!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Do resume fads and gimmicks really work?

A solid resume is one that shows you understand not only the job that you’re applying for, but also how your skills and experience can benefit the employer. If you can do that, your resume will be effective, regardless of the format:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Five simple steps to move you forward in your job search

It's that time of year again...the time of year when I feel compelled to give a pep talk to all of the recent grads out there who haven't landed a job yet.  I'm sure you just loved answering all those annoying questions at your graduation party from friends and relatives.  "So, you got a job yet?" or "What are you going to do now? or "Do you think all that tuition you paid was worth it?"

Many recent grads see it as a sign of failure that they haven't landed a job by graduation. However, this is far from the truth.  In fact, the college rankings journals such as BusinessWeek don't even require employment statistics for each graduating class until the end of November, realizing that it can take three to six months to land a job. Hopefully, this bit of information will give you with the boost of encouragement you need to move forward.

The things is, however, you're not going to get a job by laying on the beach all day, or idling away the hours on Facebook, or by working a ton of overtime hours at the job you had in high school.  These strategies will not land you a job.  So, what will land you a job?  Read on to find out.

Stop clicking 'send' 
How easy (and gratifying) it can be to sit at your laptop and click 'send' as you apply for positions you find online.  Since it's so easy to do, think about just how many other recent college grads are doing exactly the same thing. Scary, huh? Well, there's a solution.  Identify the companies you want to work at and find alums from your school who work there.  Then have a conversation with them over coffee and impress them with how eager you are to work at their company and break into your field. By the way, companies love it when prospective employees demonstrate passion for working at their company.

Create your destiny
Get an internship at your dream company. This is a great idea for several reasons.  It gets you up and out of the house, allows you to hone your professional skills, keeps you current in your field AND could possibly lead to a full-time offer if you "wow" them with your amazing abilities.  If your dream company doesn't have any posted internships, create an internship proposal for them.

Go for the bronze

I think students put way too much pressure on themselves to land the gold medal in their first job out of college.  Remember that your first job is only one out of many that you will have over the course of your lifetime.  You may have to, in some cases, settle for something less than your dream job.  Remember, a job is better than no job.  But you may end up loving a job that you thought was "less than."  At the very least, you'll be honing your skills and building your resume, making you a more marketable candidate in the future.

Boost your ego

Think about the things that will boost your confidence, and then do them.  It might be having lunch with your favorite high school teacher or coach who thought you walked on water.  Or it might be challenging yourself at the gym to achieve new workout goals.  You could also boost your confidence by taking a course in a subject you love, and excelling in it.

Reward yourself
Establish daily and weekly goals for yourself that move you toward your dream job and put them in your planner, if you have one.  By setting and meeting goals, you'll not only feel good about yourself but you won't feel so guilty when you do decide to go to the beach...after you've completed your job search activities. Find other ways to reward yourself after you accomplish each of your goals.

Lastly, avoid the doomsayers who spin horrid tales of woe about the dismal employment situation - they will only defeat your spirit.  I'm not denying that it's tough to get a job, particularly in certain industries, in uncertain times.  However, as with most things in life, it's the students who keep their eye on the prize that emerge victorious.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Desperate times call for non-desperate measures

Their tans are starting to slowly fade as seniors return from tropical sojourns to resume classes and finish the home stretch of their college experience.  For some, the reality of finding a job is hitting them hard and causing a lot of anxiety.

Admittedly, the stakes are high since most seniors need to make money to start paying off, in many cases, exorbitant tuition loans.  Then there's the whole issue of moving back home.  After four years of freedom from parental rules, many college seniors dread the thought of this.  This issue is particularly critical for international students who need to find a job within a year of obtaining their OPT status, or else move back to their home country.  Times like these can cause students to take desperate measures.  The purpose of this post is to prevent you from being one of them.

A senior from China recently came into my office to show me a resume that he had paid $80 for through a resume writing company.  The $80 was actually a bargain since he had used a Groupon - the real price would have been $200. He suspected that his new resume wasn't worth the $80, and that's why he brought it in to show me - and it wasn't.  He also wanted me to warn other students not to do this. Essentially what the company had done was to slap a "Summary of Qualifications" on top of his existing resume and thrown in a ton of key words, some which were not an accurate representation of who he was. His new resume went onto two pages and his "Education" section was buried at the bottom of page two.  This approach is not appropriate for a new grad seeking an entry-level position. I was simultaneously feeling sorry that he felt the need to take such a desperate measure and upset at the company that had taken advantage of him.

That same week, another student came into my office for a resume review.  This time it was a junior seeking a finance internship. She knew that she was late in the game and was getting desperate so she literally threw everything on her resume, whether it was relevant or not, resulting in an overly crowded resume that presented her as a "Jack of All Trades, but Master of None." She had taken this approach based on advice from a peer. While it's great to get advice from your peers about the job search, it's probably also a good idea to meet with a career counselor at your school.

For sure, Gen Y'ers have become used to instant gratification, so it's understandable that the relatively long process of looking for an internship or job might cause them to take desperate measures. However, if I had one word, and only one word of advice to provide to these students, it would be to "persevere," to stay the course and continue to do the the things they have been taught to do by their college career centers and online career resources.  These resources will provide you with the right career advice which has been developed through years of experience.  The counselors at your career center have your best interest at heart and want to see you succeed.  Take advantage of them, as opposed to unscrupulous businesses taking advantage of you.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lessons to be learned from a cover letter gone viral

By now, most business students around the world have heard about the horrifyingly egotistical cover letter written for a summer analyst position at J.P. Morgan by an NYU student named Mark. We discussed it in my career planning class last Friday, and my students were unanimously shaking their heads in disbelief at the egotism and audacity conveyed in the letter.

However, a few minutes before handing them copies of the now infamous letter, I was explaining how a cover letter is a marketing tool, a way of promoting your abilities and qualifications to a prospective employer.  I explained that you need to make a case in your cover letter as to why the company should bring you in for an interview. So, I asked them, "Isn't that exactly what Mark did?"  The room got silent. It is a puzzling paradox because Mark did promote himself in his cover letter. The problem is that he took it to the extreme.

While it is easy to ridicule Mark's behavior with smug thoughts of, "How could he have been so stupid?", I'm sure that college students are secretly left wondering, "What is the appropriate way to write a cover letter?" They may become so fearful now of saying the wrong thing that they become paralyzed about cover letter writing or won't send them at all. And rightfully so. I'm sure they fear that their career prospects could as easily be jeopardized with the simple click of the forward button. They are probably equally as fearful about coming across as arrogant or egotistical in their cover letters. However, we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water here since appropriate self-promotion is a required part of the job and internship application process.

Having been a college career advisor for six years, I know students struggle with the concept of self-promotion in cover letter writing, and this story is only going to intensify the issue. I think it's partly due to the fact that they have been collaborative team players all of their lives and would never brag to teammates or friends. I always tell them that, although you wouldn't brag to your friends, it is perfectly fine, and necessary, to promote yourself to an employer if you want to get an internship or job. This concept may be particularly difficult for international students to grasp, whose native cultures engender and value humility.

Assuming Mark's cover letter is true, he does possess some excellent qualifications, and some parts of his letter are good.  The major problem with his letter is that his word choices present him as being superior, rather than qualified, "I am unequivocally the most unflaggingly hard worker I know."  And therein lies the problem. There is a huge difference between promoting your qualifications and egotism.

Listed below are my lessons to be learned from this unfortunate incident to protect your cover letter from going viral.

Have your cover letter reviewed by a career counselor. In their eagerness to apply for internships and jobs, some students skip the all too important step of having their cover letters reviewed by someone at their career center, especially when the application deadline is imminent. I always advise my students to have at least their first cover letter reviewed to make sure they're on the right track. Your college's career counselors will be able to give you a reality check and tell you if your cover letter is adequately conveying your qualifications, without coming across as egotistical.

Be careful what you put in writing.  This isn't the first time someone's career has been compromised due to the click of a forward and send button. Several years ago there was a prominent story about a lawyer who was told she would never find work in the legal field again because of some nasty emails she angrily fired off to a lawyer regarding a position she didn't get, who quickly forwarded her emails to everyone he knew in the legal community. This is a great professional lesson to learn in general, and the sooner you learn it, the better.

Don't use a generic cover letter.  Many students are tempted to use the same cover letter for every job and simply substituting the company name.  This is bad practice for many reasons (please see my previous posts about cover letters). With this approach, it is way too easy to forget to change the company name every time it appears in the letter.  This is exactly what happened to Mark when he wrote, "I hope to augment my character by diligently working for the professionals at Morgan Stanley." Um...the letter was addressed to J.P. Morgan.

Assume that your cover letter will be read.  When asked whether they read cover letters, recruiters' and hiring managers' responses vary widely. Some do and some don't, with the latter choosing to jump right to the resume instead. When writing your cover letter, however, you need to go on the assumption that it will be read, and you need to make it as strong as possible.  I always advise my students that their cover letters need to be so strong that, if read separately from their resume, they would make a solid case as to why the student should be brought in for an interview.

By following these tips, your cover letter is sure to gain notoriety...for all the right reasons.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Informational Interviews: Make it easy for them to say "Yes!"

In the past couple of weeks, I have been approached by two people to do informational interviews. Unfortunately, they were not executed in the best possible way to ensure a response.  Continue reading to see how you can avoid making these same mistakes.

One person left me a voice-mail message asking me if I would call her back. Because I am so busy, hardly ever use the phone anymore,  and communicate primarily through email, the chances that I will call her back are pretty slim.  She also didn't provide enough information about herself in the message so I really had no clue who was calling and why.

Later, a student who was writing an article for her school newspaper contacted me to get my perspective on the job market for college students. She did use email, which was better, but she listed her questions in the  email, which I was supposed to write out answers to. I found this approach to be somewhat impersonal and a significant time commitment.  It would have been much better if she had instead asked me if I had 15 minutes to discuss her questions, either in person or over the phone.  If she had, I would have gladly told her when I was available.

Do I want to help these people? Absolutely! Being a career counselor, obviously it's in my nature to want to help. If they had only made it easy for me to respond to them, things would have turned out a lot differently.

I always teach my students to send an email when contacting someone for an informational interview. Most people find it quick and easy to respond to an email. When reaching out to others for an informational interview, your goal should be to arrange a mutually convenient time where you can ask your questions, either in person or over the phone.  You should never put your list of questions in the email.  In your email, you can also state a little bit about yourself so the respondent has a basic idea of who you are and why you're contacting him or her.

Remember:  They're the ones doing you the favor so you need to do whatever you can to make it easy for them to help you.  By following my advice, you'll increase your chances of receiving a resounding "Yes!" to your request for information.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Key words are key to getting hired

This article from the Wall Street Journal ( is an excellent reminder of the necessity of integrating industry key words into your resume and cover letter. As the author points out, the majority of  mid-size to larger firms are increasingly using text scanning software to identify qualified candidates. A great way to find industry key words is to read job descriptions for the positions you're interested and use as many of those key words as possible. 

A cool way to graphically see how well your resume or cover letter matches the job description is to copy and paste it into Wordle ( Then do the same for the job description.  In a matter of minutes, you'll get a visual graphic that pictorially displays whether or not you're a good fit for the job.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why hiring managers don't like blind dates

I wrote an earlier post around the theme of "It's not who you know, but who knows you." My point was that job seekers need to get known by the employees in the companies they want to work in so that, when an opportunity becomes available, they will be one the first people who get called in for an interview.

Yesterday, I attended a webinar given by Dick Bolles, renowned author of the best-selling career book, What Color is Your Parachute (  One of the key points he made is that when companies are hiring, they want to minimize as much risk as possible, given the huge monetary investment they are making.  How do they do this?  The least risky hiring method for companies is to promote employees from within, Mr. Bolles stated.  It makes sense.  Managers know these employees well and have witnessed their quality of work firsthand.  And what do you think was the second least risky hiring method?  It was for companies to approach current employees for referrals of people who would be good candidates.  In fact, many companies award bonuses to current employees who refer a candidate that eventually gets hired.

Conducting informational interviewing is a great way to get known by a company, as I emphasized in the post below.  So is attending professional meetings and conferences pertinent to your field.   Think of it this way.  If you were going on a first date with someone new, which would you prefer: a blind date or a date with someone who was recommended by a friend?  I think the answer is obvious.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Informational interviewing pays off

If there's one piece of advice I could give you at the start of the new year, it would be to make a resolution to do an informational interview. Yesterday, a woman who wants to break into the career counseling field contacted me to do one.  I was immediately and immensely impressed by her professionalism, her proactive approach and her sincerity.  After speaking with her for only 30 minutes, I knew that she was passionate about pursuing a career as a career counselor and I found myself wanting to do everything I could to help her succeed.

I have always been a strong advocate of students conducting informational interviews and this experience made me realize again just how impactful they can be.  As the interviewee, I felt honored that this person, just starting out in her career, was consulting with me and valued my opinions and insights.  At the end of our conversation, I found myself telling her to contact me anytime at all if she had any further questions.  And I meant it.  Because I was so impressed with her, I had no doubt that she would be one of the first people I contacted should there ever be a vacancy in my department.

I hope that this story is enough to convince you of the value of doing informational interviews.  If you do your homework, approach the informational interview in a professional manner and demonstrate your passion for pursuing a career in that field (this is key!), I'm sure that you will make an equally strong impression.  Your interiewee, no doubt, will be as flattered as I was that you are seeking out his or her advice.

And so I invite you to make a New Year's resolution to conduct at least one informational interview this year.  I can guarantee you that you will be glad you did.  Remember, too, that informational interviewing isn't just for those starting out in their careers.  It is an extremely valuable tool that can help anyone who is looking to switch jobs or switch careers.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Does your LinkedIn profile need a makeover?

The beginning of a new year is a great time to give your LinkedIn profile a makeover, especially if it's something you created a long time ago and left on the shelf to accumulate dust like so many tacky knick-knacks.  A "dusty" LinkedIn profile could definitely tarnish your personal brand and professional online image because, even though you may not have looked at it in months, you can bet that others have.

So take a good, hard look at your LinkedIn profile and determine if it portrays an accurate image of you - the image that you want to convey to your professional network.  Now is a great time to update your profile with a more current job description, books you're reading, events you're planning to attend, and perhaps even a new photo.  In writing your updated job description, make sure to highlight key accomplishments that you have achieved.  If you haven't been doing so before, the new year is a great time to begin updating your statuses frequently with professional pursuits.  By making these changes to your LinkedIn image, you will be positioning yourself as a professional who takes the time to stay current with his or her online brand, and employers will make the inference that you are someone who also stays current in your field.

You just never know when a great opportunity is going to present itself.  Shouldn't your LinkedIn profile be ready for when that happens?