New grads are accustomed to interacting with on-campus recruiters representing hiring companies. But not nearly as many external recruiters help place new grads within their clients’ organizations. The reasons for this are pretty straightforward, but does this mean New Grads should not include external recruiters in their job search? Read the article I wrote for Job-Hunt.org for insights:
Article: Recruiters and New Grads
Recently, I’ve had several discussions with colleagues and candidates about the value education plays in their candidate selection. There is no doubut that formal education enhances one’s standing amongst candidates. In past articles, I’ve even mentioned going back to school during the job search to show you’re proactive about keeping skills sharp or learning new talents.
Brian Jenkins, a member of the BrainTrack.com, offered to share his insights on the topic of online college courses and provided several resources in the guest article below.
Online college courses provide a great way to enhance your resume and improve your chances of getting a job. Taking the courses shows prospective employers that you’re making an effort to increase your value to a company. They help you stand out from the rest of the job pool, which is probably full of people just as qualified as you. For example, engineers seeking a management position can greatly enhance their report and memo writing skills by taking free online writing courses. Once you’ve completed a course, you can include it in the “education” or “specific skills” section of your resume.
Taking relevant free courses also gives you a competitive edge over co-workers for higher-level jobs. Besides the additional skills you’ll acquire, taking the classes shows initiative and a strong desire to learn as much as you can.
Through OpenCourseWare, many colleges and universities offer free access to courses taught during previous semesters. OpenCourseWare provides actual materials used in classes, suggestions for reading material, and lecture notes. Some classes include audio or video lectures, and others offer quizzes so you can test your knowledge before taking the next course.
To see a list of the colleges and universities that offer free courses through OpenCourseWare, check out the OpenCourseWare Consortium’s web site. Some of the schools that offer free classes in a wide variety of subjects: Yale University, UMASS Boston, Utah State University, UC Irvine, and Notre Dame.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT offers a a great deal of free courses in Business; Engineering; Architecture and Planning; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Health Sciences and Technology; Science; and Management. MIT’s Sloan School of Business Management also allows you to take many of its popular undergraduate business courses free of charge.
Columbia University’s Seminar in Branding
Branding is important to many businesses. Columbia University’s Columbia Interactive provides a three-part series on Brand Leadership. Part one of the e-seminar, Brand Identity and Strategy, includes a video lecture, visual examples of strong brand identities, and guest speakers from the private sector. The second part of the series focuses on experiential branding while the third part delves into branding and the creative organization.
Free Writing Classes
Many employers complain that employees lack good writing skills. This can be a major problem for those seeking management positions due to the need to write reports and memos. MIT’s Advanced Writing Seminar exposes you to the various types of writing you may encounter in a professional career. The UK-based Open University offers a free class called Essay and Report Writing Skills. New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) makes available its Technical Writing Course which combines theory and practice to prepare people to become technical writers. NJIT also provides a free Proposal Writing Course.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing has become extremely important for many businesses with an online presence. Laura Lake, a marketing consultant, social media marketing strategist, and About.com guide, provides a free, seven-day Social Media Marketing Online Crash Course.
Many small businesses would like a strong online presence but may not be able to afford an expert web designer. Also, even if a company has a web site, management needs someone to maintain it. You can get the skills to create and maintain web sites at w3schools.com, an organization that claims to be the world’s largest web development site. Training is available in HTML, Browser scripting, XML, server scripting, web services, multimedia, and web building. These types of skills make you valuable, especially to small businesses that don’t have a Web expert on staff.
Savvy job seekers can take these free online courses to enhance their resume and to get an edge on the competition. And since you can take these courses online, it’s easy to work them into your busy schedule.
Getting a job after college used to be a lot easier. Having a new degree with knowledge of the latest academic principles in your field and new technologies made you a great candidate. But now, you need more to differentiate yourself and compete for the fewer jobs available.
To add to the challenge, companies expect some level of experience working in the “real world” BEFORE you graduate. The value of internships and co-ops has risen considerably. Read more about this in my latest article for Job-Hunt.org.
If your kids are entering high school right now, they probably need to start thinking about what professional fields interest them. If you are anticipating a mid-life career change, you need to be thinking, too. The hard part in this exercise is picking a career path that will exist in our country eight years from now. It’s a continuously moving target.
Check out my latest article for AOL for a good reference for this exercise and some thoughts on strategy.
In February, I volunteered at Southern Methodist University to help work with students on their resumes (Dallas Morning News article on event). As a MBA alum, it was fun to reconnect with that world. I even worked with the football team’s starting running back. Throughout all my conversations with the students, I had flashbacks of being in their shoes and having the challenge of presenting myself well in a few pages with “limited” work experience.
The summary of my advice to these students is presented in this blog post. Hopefully, many college students will benefit from the experience. I have broken down the observations and advice into different elements of the resume.
- It is essential to present your work experience in terms of RESULTS. Using bullet items like “attended meetings” or “did research on companies” does not say much for your efforts. Instead, think of the result: “Championed research project that allowed company to choose between two $2M options for software vendors resulting in a $200,000 cost savings.”
- Students should include large projects they worked on for professors, even if unpaid. Treat the opportunity as another job.
- Be sure to use titles for each job–even Sales Associate or Intern. You need to make the experience sound important.
- Each job should be listed with the Company, Location, Dates on first line and title on second line (all in bold) followed by bullets of the responsibilities, activities and results. I prefer inserting the dates using a right justified tab.
- Do not leave key details out. Students who are a part of a group that does volunteer work should list some of that activity. Reading to underprivledged children or raising money for causes shows how one cares about others and the community as a whole.
- Do not forget to include leadership roles. Treat these as work experiences, too. Include achievements in these roles.
Summary vs. Objective
- Companies like reading a quick summary about you. Your “objective” can be embedded in the summary statement. The generic objective of “student looking to grow within a progressive company” is overused and obvious. Instead consider adding more about you: “A proven leader with experience and strong education in Finance who seeks a full-time position focused on corporate finance and mergers and acquisitions.”
- Students may have to customize this Summary for many different companies if the opportunities are different. Providing a very specific statement connects one to the job more effectively.
- Within the Summary, students should embed the key skills they have mastered.
- A simple way to do this is to end the Summary paragraph with the phrase, “Skill set includes:” followed by two or three columns of these skills.
- The skills listed should be pertinent to the job (programming languages, Microsoft tools, specialized programs, drafting, etc.). Listing communication, presentation, self-motivated and others like this is too generic and does not differentiate you from others.
- Do not be afraid of a two-page resume versus one page. As long as you have real content, it is acceptable to go beyond the first page.
- Use the address you want correspondence to go to. Having two addresses begs the question, “Which one do we send the offer letter to?”
- Use fonts that you see in the company’s materials. Formal font is Times. Informal is Arial. Keep it around size 12.
- Stay away from using a lot of lines and making the resume too busy-looking. By bolding the header sections (Summary, Experience, Education, Activities and Honors) plus each job header (company, title), along with adequate spacing between each section, lines will not be necessary.
- Use page breaks if you think the first line of the next page might float to bottom of the previous page when printed on someone else’s printer. Email your resume to others to make sure formatting does not change depending on who opens the Word file.
- Be concise. Extra words in descriptions does not help make it sound better. Good content does.
- Stay away from acronyms and terms that people do not typically know. Same goes for jargon and slang.
- There is no need to add references on the resume. You should have a separate sheet of references for when they request it. And they all know, “references are available upon request.”
- Avoid too much personal information. Birth dates, personal photos, hobbies, marital status, personal health and affiliations are usually not important to the job you are applying.
- Use action words when describing what you have done. Examples include coordinated, assisted, managed, planned, designed and implemented.
- Proofread your document several times. Walk away and come back to it later and proofread it again. Ask someone else to review your resume. See if these readers understand the information you are trying to convey.
A little bit of extra effort goes a long way when it comes to resume writing. This is the first impression. There is no accompaniment of a sparkling personality. Although the content is the key, a poor presentation can distract the reader and cause them to move on to the next resume in the pile. Just like showing up to an interview in a suit, you want your resume to be “well-dressed,” too.