Career Resources

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Bloom Where You are Planted

I love hydrangeas so was really excited when I planted a couple of shrubs a few years ago on the south side of my house facing the ocean. They never did well there though because of the strong winds, salt air and constant sun. However, a couple of years ago I planted a hydrangea on the north side of my house where the conditions aren't so harsh, and it is thriving, as you can see in the picture to the left. 
Employees also need to work in an environment where they can thrive and flourish in order to be their most productive, creative and expressive selves. While I realize that most college students are eager to get any job, it is worth taking the time to reflect on the type of environment you work best in and what type of manager motivates you to do your best work. Then, when you are interviewing, you can assess if the company's culture is a good fit for you. is another way you can research a company's culture.

A great tool to help you identify the values most important to you in the workplace is the free O'Net "Work Importance Profiler." (Your college's career center may have other similar assessments for you to use.)  After you determine your workplace preferences, you will be able to find occupations that match your values.  If you need help taking the assessment or interpreting its results, make sure to speak with an advisor at your college's career center.

By putting the time into assessing what's important to you in the work environment, you'll be able to thrive and flourish in your first job out of college by being a happier and more productive employee. Now, what manager wouldn't like that?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Elance: Great Site for Translating Jobs!

I just found out that Elance has a section for freelance translating jobs. Great resource for international students looking to make some extra money!

Friday, September 20, 2013

First Job: Website for Entry-Level Positions

Just found out about this great website that was voted one of the "Top 100" career websites in a study done by Forbes Magazine:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Interviewing: It's Not (Necessarily) About You

We all do it. You go on an interview and on the way home you start replaying your answers in your head. "Why did I say that?" you think, or "I'm so mad that I forgot to tell her about that wonderful accomplishment I just achieved!" Further still, you start berating yourself for the littlest of things: for wearing a navy blue suit instead of a black one, for deciding to accept the glass of water instead of refusing it, for sending an email thank you note instead of a hand-written one. This second guessing increases exponentially which each passing day that you don't hear back from the employer.

You need to keep in mind, however, that not getting the job is not necessarily about you or what you did or didn't do. Very often, interviewees do everything right and still don't get they job. Why? Well, it can be for a number of reasons. Sometimes, to the chagrin of many a job seeker, the employer already has someone in mind for the job but has to go through the formality of interviewing multiple candidates to satisfy human resource policies. Or it could be that, while you are a super well-qualified candidate for the position, another candidate has one key significant advantage over you. Thirdly, the company decides to go with an internal candidate who would clearly have an advantage over you. These are just a few reasons why you won't get the job even if you do everything right. Losing out on a job for reasons that are beyond our control is one of the most frustrating aspects of the job search, but the key to success is to keep on doing your very best in your interviews, realizing that the hiring decision wasn't necessarily about you.

So, how do you know who got the job over you? With a little detective work on LinkedIn or researching the company's employee directory, you can easily find out and then examine that person's background to see why he or she got the position over you. Or you can try calling the employer and asking them, but bear in mind that some employers might not be willing to share this information.

Have you every lost out on a job for a reason that was beyond your control? Please feel free to share it here to help other job seekers know that they're not alone!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Proofreading Your Resume is Critical!

Remember that spell check doesn't always catch grammatical errors or words in all capital letters on you resume so be sure to carefully proofread your resume before you send it out. Read this article for other common resume blunders: 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Don't Let Your LinkedIn Headline Rule You Out

When writing your LinkedIn headline be careful not to make it too narrowly defined that it excludes you from some great job prospects, unless you know for sure that you want one kind of job and only that kind of job. This advice is based on the same principle that I use when advising clients about objective statements on resumes. Having no objective is better than having an objective statement that precludes you from being considering for a job that you ultimately might be interested in. This point is especially important if you're posting your resume to an online job board. 

While you can customize your objective on your resume to match each job you apply to directly, you can't do that with your LinkedIn headline. Also, when writing your headline, try to use key words for the job or career that you are seeking, as opposed to the one you currently have, in order to position yourself as a qualified candidate.

Monday, August 26, 2013

7 Key Ways to Promote Your Personal Brand

Some great, but easy to do tips, from CareerRealism regarding ways to enhance your personal brand. Especially helpful for job seekers:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

This Critical Job Search Tip often Overlooked

When applying for jobs, many people overlook the very important step of saving a copy of the job description for each job they apply for. Why is this so important? Well, by the time you get to the interview stage, chances are that the company will have pulled the posting from its website. Familiarizing yourself with the job posting and determining how your skills and qualifications match the requirements of the job is always an important thing to do before your interview. If you don't have the job description, you won't be able to conduct this critical pre-interview prep.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

So I'm on LinkedIn...Now What?

Most people these days understand the importance of having a professional LinkedIn profile but many people don't know what they're supposed to do after that. LinkedIn was originally designed as a networking site, and it certainly is still that, but it is also a vehicle through which you can establish and maintain your online brand, create an e-portfolio beyond the scope of a traditional resume, search for jobs, get recruited for jobs, and stay current in your career field. Here are my five tips for effectively using LinkedIn to enhance your personal brand, promote your professionalism and increase your career opportunities.

1. Build your network: Invite everyone you know into your network: current and previous colleagues, business partners, friends and family. Before you know it, you'll be connected to most people in your career circle by three or less degrees of separation. Also, make sure to accept invitations to connect with people even if you don't think they can be helpful in your career. You never know where they will be in a year, two years or five years down the road. Continue to expand your LinkedIn network with new colleagues you meet at networking events.

2. Create a compelling headline: As a default, many people resort to using their current job title as their headline and that's okay, but if it doesn't contain the key words of the positions you are aspiring to, then consider changing your headline. Look at your colleagues' headlines for key word clues but remember to make your headline slightly different to convey your own unique competitive advantage.

3. Stay active on LinkedIn: Unlike the social media addiction that people get concerned about when they log onto Facebook at least once a day, logging onto LinkedIn daily is actually a very good professional habit. It shows your network that you're staying current by posting links to interesting articles, commenting on others' posts or posting about professional development activities you're engaging in.

4. Join groups relevant to your career: By joining such groups, you can stay current with what's happening in your industry, contribute to discussions, pose a question, and brand yourself as a thought leader in your field. Sometimes it can be daunting to figure out which groups to join so I suggest looking at the groups that your colleagues are in as a start. Also pay attention to the number of members in a group and join the ones that have the largest membership. 

5. Tap into the power of LinkedIn: There are so many powerful ways you can leverage LinkedIn. For example, when you're applying and interviewing for jobs, do an "advanced search" to see who in your network works or worked at that company and reach out to them to get some insider information. Look up your interviewer the night before your big interview - recruiters say they love that! Lastly, more and more companies are posting jobs on LinkedIn and you can follow your favorite companies on it.

As you can see, LinkedIn is a great resource which, if used effectively, can be a tremendous asset to you and your career

Six College Courses that Help Grads Land Jobs

Read this article from CNBC to discover which college courses will give you the skills that employers are looking for and increase your chances of getting a job.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Check out this excellent blog by Vivian Chao, Boston University management student, which provides great advice on studying for the CPA exam and small business application features:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Ruling on Unpaid Internships: Disaster or Delight?

Last week, Judge William H. Pauley, a federal judge in New York, ruled "that interns on two film production crews, including one from the Academy Award winning Black Swan, were employees entitled to payment with actual money. By not paying the interns, their employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act."

To sum it up, "an intern has to receive training similar to what would’ve been provided in an educational facility and must do work primarily for his or her own benefit, not the employer's. Also, the intern's work shouldn't be the sort of thing the business would have otherwise had to hire someone to do. The work the Black Swan intern did (getting lunch, filing, running errands, making deliveries) didn’t cut it." For more details, please read full article on Slate.

As goes New York, so goes the nation? Only time will tell but the federal government has been trying to regulate unpaid internships for the past several years so it appears we are trending in that direction. Is the government really that concerned about the welfare of interns? Well, perhaps, but the better explanation might be because of the loss in tax revenue. If interns don't get paid, they can't pay taxes.

The bigger question here, however, is whether this recent development is a good or bad thing for college students seeking to gain real-world experience and to build their resumes in hopes of landing the prefect job at graduation. As a college career counselor, I always preach about the value of internships to my students, and I know I am not alone. To be honest, many students have told me that they don't mind doing an unpaid internship in order to gain experience. Shouldn't they have the right to decide if they want to work for free in order to gain experience? Don't get me wrong. Of course, I would rather see my students get paid for their efforts, but I wonder if the number of internship opportunities might dwindle due to these new regulations, particularly with smaller companies with limited resources, and whether it truly is a win for the student.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013

Class of 2013: Be a Super Hero!

Great advice here for recent college grads or anyone seeking to make a career transition. This article by Jacki Zehner, CEO of Women Moving Millions, and former partner at Goldman Sachs, will show you that following your instincts and values will pay off in terms of finding a rewarding career!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Here's some advice regarding effective usage of LinkedIn written by me and other career advisers on the CareerThoughts website:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Perseverance is key in reaching your job search finish line!

Today is the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, and it got me to thinking about the similarities between running a marathon and looking for an internship or job.

I have been working for several months now with a junior who is trying to find a summer internship. Every week, he comes into my office to provide an update about his internship search activities. He proudly opens up his laptop to display the neatly organized Excel spreadsheet depicting all the details of the internships he has applied for.

Some weeks he has exciting news about an alum agreeing to do an informational interview or the fact that he got a phone screen for an internship at a really cool company. Other weeks he shares the discouraging news of losing out on his dream internship to someone who had more experience. Most weeks I can offer him another idea: a new internship posting that just came in or the name of another alum that he can reach out to. Admittedly, there are some weeks when I am out of ideas and have to say something like, "Just keep on doing what you're doing, and I know something will break for you." Often I feel that these words ring hollow to students, but I know they are true because I've seen it happen so many times before. However, this student quickly reassures me, "Oh, I'm fine with it." I admire that about him and his constant ability to quickly get back in the saddle again.

Just a few weeks ago, a senior I've been working with a quite a bit was in my office and feeling really down because she had been doing everything right and nothing had yet materialized for her. Having already perfected her resume, cover letters and LinkedIn profile, as well as honing her interviewing technique, there was nothing more I could offer this student than to say, "I know this is difficult for you, but something will happen soon," as she dejectedly walked out of my office. And something did break for her - actually multiple things! Just a week later, she had three interviews lined up.

I have no doubt that many marathoners are going to feel like giving up today, especially when they reach the infamous Heartbreak Hill, but most of them will persevere past that point to victoriously cross the finish line in Copley Square. Currently, I am training for my own marathon of sorts - a 45 mile pilgrimage over three days. While on the road yesterday, I had this thought, "Just when you think you can't go any farther, you can." It amazed me that my feet kept walking even when my head was saying, "No, I can't do this."

The junior I mentioned above came in last week to tell me that he now had two internship offers and one was at his dream company! I was thrilled to see that all of his hard work and perseverance had finally paid off, and I can assure you that the same thing will happen for you as long as you keep steady on the path.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Take control of your career destiny

We've all been there...waiting, and waiting, and waiting...for the phone call to tell you that you've been invited in for an interview for the job of your dreams. You're feeling powerless, at the mercy of the hiring manager to make a decision about your future, your fate, your career. Imagine for a moment that you held the power in this situation.

Well, you can. It's called informational interviewing. Unlike real interviews, you can initiate an informational interview and, chances are, you'll be granted one, if you approach the situation professionally. Then, treat it like a real interview and prepare for it exactly like you would for a real interview. Informational interviewing enables you to shift the balance of power and control your own destiny. If you prepare well and make a great impression, there's a good possibility you'll be called in for a real interview at some point in the future.

Informational interviewing also enables you to do two things that an online application cannot: get in front of the hiring manager and get inside the company. Then, when you do get the real interview, you'll be much less nervous, having experienced the situation once before.

I've done several informational interviews with people who want to break into the career counseling field. During our conversation, I inevitably ask them interview-type questions such as, "Why do you want to be a career counselor?" or "Tell me a bit about your background." If I'm impressed with the person, I make a mental note to reach out to that person in the event I have a position to fill. I can guarantee that the same thing will happen to you.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What's your vision for 2013?

My daughter's birthday was a few days ago, and I taped a birthday message to our mirror in the hall, along with a sign that read "2013 - The Year of Melissa's Road Trip." She's been talking about doing a road trip across the US for awhile now and, not having realized that old dream myself, I knew that I should encourage her to do the thing that I had not.That sign has been on the mirror for over a week, and we pass it several times a day. Reading that message every day, sometimes several times a day, has embedded the idea in our minds and made it become a reality. It went from a "wouldn't it be nice" kind of thought to "it's really going to happen" fact.

Admittedly, I had never been a big fan of vision boards in the past, not truly believing in their power. My sincere apologies go out to my dear friend and colleague, Natascha Saunders about this, who has always been a believer in their power! In fact, please check out her awesome Vision Statement Guidebook to give you a jump start in pursuing your dreams.

Now that I have witnessed the power of my unintentional vision statement firsthand, I am a convert and want to tell you that vision boards do work. My daughter has already chosen the month she will go on her road trip and who she will go with and has begun the initial steps of planning her itinerary.

So, what's your vision for 2013? Write it on a piece of paper and tape it to a place that you look at every day, or maybe even in multiple places. Before you know it, what you had initially deemed a far-fetched fantasy will become your reality.