Five Career Planning Steps
- Assess Yourself:
What interests and skills have you developed?
What do you like best: working with people, things, or ideas and information?
What subjects really interest you?
- Explore Possibilities:
Read about various career possibilities of interest to you.
Get experience: part time work, volunteering, co-op education.
Explore options through apprenticeships, mentoring, and career days.
- Inform Yourself:
What are the qualifications needed?
What are the projected needs for this type of position in the future?
What are the working conditions: working alone, with others, indoors, outdoors, etc.
What are the work place laws you need to know about?
- Prepare Yourself:
Have your resume and cover letter ready and available.
Make up a job hunting plan including goals, contacts, and schedules.
Find out information about the company.
- Present Yourself:
Make sure that your resume is articulate and professional.
Make sure that your appearance is professional, well groomed, and presentable.
Networking accounts for a substantial amount of career placements. It means using both professional and personal contacts to help you find employment openings within organizations.
What is the Purpose of Networking?
The process of networking is to let people know the following:
- You are actively looking for a job.
- Your skills.
- What type of career you are seeking.
The people you network with may be able to refer you to organizations that are currently hiring or to get actual interviews or job offers.
Who Should You Consider Networking With?
While in college you may believe that you have no contacts you can help you with finding employment. However, everyone you know can be a useful contact in your job search. Consider starting your network with the following:
- Friends & Acquaintances
- Classmates, Team-Mates, & Co-Worker
- Colleagues from Professional Organizations and Religious Groups
- Former Teachers and Faculty
Effective networking can be a tremendous boost to a job search, but using inappropriate techniques can cause you to lose valuable opportunities. Make sure you approach people to whom you are referred in a professional and courteous manner. When approached in this fashion, most people are willing to share information because they like to help others and/or they like to stay well connected themselves. When speaking to a contact that you have been referred to, mention the name of the person who referred you early in the conversation.
Develop some sort of method to keep track of each phone call, letter, interview, follow-up and promise. You accomplish this by keeping record or by using a card filing system. Without some sort of system, you may soon become quite confused.
Return the Favor
Remember networking is a two-way street. By developing a network, you are developing a group of people who are willing to help you and that you might have to one day help them in return. Try treating the person to lunch or send them a simple Thank You note to those who have been extremely helpful in your search. When you have accomplished your goal, let them know that you have obtained a position and thank them once again. Then, keep in touch. Your network can be vital to your future professional development.
An important aspect of your job search is understanding yourself. An evaluation of yourself can help you decide what you are looking for as a career and what you have to offer. Below are 20 questions developed by executive recruiters to help you know yourself and your career aspirations better. They are also questions that a recruiter may ask you during an interview. Make sure that you answer these questions honestly; don't try to kid yourself! Review these questions about once every three months. It will help you to keep track of your career goals and the qualities that you can bring to the table.
- Would I work better in a large or small organization?
- How important is geographic location to me? To my family?
- Am I a loner or do I work better as a member of a group?
- Am I more comfortable following than leading?
- Do I analyze better than I execute?
- Do I prefer to work with people or things?
- Do I work more successfully under pressure?
- Am I a good planner or idea person?
- Am I a good listener?
- Do I think well on my feet and make decisions well?
- Do I express myself well orally and in writing?
- What characteristics do I admire in others?
- Which function of my job do I perform most effectively?
- Which function of my job do I perform least effectively?
- What do I enjoy doing most?
- In the past six months, what accomplishment has most satisfied me?
- What have I done to correct my shortcomings?
- What level of responsibility do I aspire to in five years?
- What should I be earning then?
- How will I achieve these levels? What skills do I need?
For most fields, without an interview you will not get a job. Therefore, effective interviewing skills are a must! Others will be competing with you to obtain the same position. It is critical not only to convince an employer that you can do the job, but that you can do the job better than the other candidates that are also competing for the same position. Steps you can take: BEFORE, DURING & AFTER an interview that will help place you ahead of the competition and ease your tension about interviewing.
Before the Interview
The time that you spend preparing prior to the interview will be time well spend in your job search process. The following are some tips on what you can do to prepare yourself for an interview.
Understand What Employers Look For
- Interview Preparation/Knowledge of Employer: Are you knowledgeable about the employer and the industry?
- Self-Confidence/Verbal Communication Skills: Do you have the ability to listen effectively, verbalize your thoughts clearly and express yourself confidently?
- Goals/Motivation: Do you demonstrate an interest in the employer and a desire to work hard and succeed? Do you have the ability to identify and work toward specific goals?
- Qualifications: Can you relate your academic program, skills and/or prior work or internship experience to the needs of an employer?
- General Personality: Do you exhibit these traits: Poise? Enthusiasm? Ambition?
- Work Ethic: Are you someone who is willing to accept responsibility and keep commitments?
Research the Employer
It is important that you research an employer so that you can relate your abilities to the needs of the employer. Also, by having "done your homework," it will show an employer that you are interested in the organization and the position.
Be Prepared to Answer and Ask Questions
Employers will ask questions to generate an idea of the type of employee that you would be and the type of personality that you have. Employers will also give you an opportunity to ask questions that you might have about the organization or the position itself.
Have Your Document Handy
You may wish to carry a briefcase or a professional looking notebook with your questions written in advance. It is a good idea to include additional copies of your resume, letters of reference and a quality pen.
Arrive At Least 10-15 Minutes Early
It is critical that you arrive on time to an interview. Arriving late to an interview not only wastes the interviewer's time, but also sends the message that you are not serious about your job search or about keeping commitments.
During the Interview
During the interview it is your job to convince the interview that you are the most qualified applicant for the position. Remember, you only have one chance to make a good first impression! The following are some tips on what you should do and not do during an interview.
- Give the interviewer a firm handshake
- Be enthusiastic, confident, courteous & honest
- Be aware of your non-verbal behavior
- Convey interest and knowledge in the position and company
- Stress willingness, ability, and compatibility Avoid the use of non-sentences such as "umm," "uh," "ya know," "well," and "yeah"
- Always present the best of your background or qualifications
- Listen to the questions carefully and give clear, concise and thoughtful answers
- At the close of the interview, establish a date for your next communication
- Always remember to thank the interviewer for his/her time
- Don't address the interviewer by his/her first name unless invited to do so
- Don't let the employer's casual approach fool you--maintain a professional image
- Don't dominate the interview or appear arrogant
- Don't criticize yourself or discuss your personal problems
- Don't speak or act in a nervous manner
- Don't ask questions that the interviewer has already answered
- Don't interrupt when the interviewer is talking
- Don't bring up negative information about past jobs, co-workers or former employers
- Don't smoke or chew gum
After the Interview
It is a good policy to send the interviewer a thank-you letter as soon as possible after the interview. Be sure to reiterate your interest in the position and the organization. If you get no response from a thank-you letter, or if a date has passed when an employer was to contact you, don't hesitate to phone the organization. Above all, let them know of your continuing interest in them!