Making the Most of LinkedIn in College

According to their website, LinkedIn “operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 500 million members in over 200 countries and territories.”  Sounds like you should create a LinkedIn account when you graduate from college and begin your career…right?

Wrong.  Here’s why:

  1. There are over 500,000,000 people on LinkedIn.  This means one thing:  networking.  As we say here in the Center for Career Planning, “You get jobs by talking to people.”  What better place to start than the place where 500,000,000 people are a click away?  LinkedIn updates you on your connections’ activity and makes it easy to reach out to professionals in your field for advice.  On LinkedIn, opportunity can find you instead of the other way around.
  2. “There are more than 40 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn. They are LinkedIn’s fastest-growing demographic.”  Your peers are joining LinkedIn and making connections before they graduate.  Stay ahead of the game by joining now, and help each other out by giving each other recommendations and endorsements for their skills.
  3. Many companies post their job openings on LinkedIn.  Not only does this make your job and internship search easier (think of the countless hours you’ve spent on Indeed or Monster), but it allows you to explore career paths and learn more about what you can do with your Bachelor’s degree in a given field.  Because your LinkedIn profile is essentially your online resume, it’s easier than ever to see how a business management professional started out as a graduate with little experience and climbed the ladder to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
  4. A new feature called Lynda.com allows you to watch videos and learn valuable skills using your LinkedIn account.  Lynda.com gives you access to over 5,000 online video courses in business, technology, and creativity.  Not only can you market yourself on LinkedIn, but you can also make yourself more marketable by learning new skills from these courses.

So get out there, create an account on LinkedIn, market yourself and your experience, and connect with people you know!  Don’t wait until graduation.  Start your professional career now!

Why Mock Interviews Are Important

Do you get stumped by the tell me about yourself question? Not sure how to respond when asked where you want to be in five to ten years? Learn how mock interviews can help and schedule one with the Center for Career Planning!

Mock interviews are extremely beneficial for multiple reasons:

  1. They help you become more comfortable with the interview process. They allow you to detect your mistakes and pinpoint your strengths. Not only will you become more self-aware, but you will also become more self-confident with each mock interview you do.
  2. If you already have some experience with being interviewed, mock interviews can help hone your skills and allow you to become even more comfortable and ready for that next interview in the future.
  3. Mock interviews will also allow you to receive constructive criticism. Constructive criticism is an essential part in progressing forward and, as stated above, will help you craft and hone your skills.
  4. Lastly, mock interviews allow you to become generally more knowledgeable about the interview process. From body language tips to standard interview questions, a mock interview will help prepare for anything that will surely be observed or be present in an actual interview. 

Professional Attire

The first steps are complete:  You created a stellar resume, applied for a job, and now have an interview this Friday!  Then… this crisis happens.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, friends.  The Center for Career Planning is here to help you dress for success!  Here are our tips on wearing professional attire:

  1. Research the company to figure out how they dress on a day-to-day basis.  While wearing a suit is impressive, it’s a little too over-the-top for a cashier position interview.  If the company’s norm is casual, dress a little more tailored – think back to what you wore for your CNU admissions interview.  If the company norm is dressy, make sure to match that.  What you wear says a lot about you.  If you don’t know, it is better to ask your interviewer ahead of time about their ‘dress code’ than just to guess.
  2. Stick to neutral, dark colors like navy, gray, and black.  While bright colors may be in style, you will stand out to your employer by blending in.  The focus should be on you, not your hot pink blazer.
  3. If something is obviously too large or too small, elect against it.  Similarly, do not wear a skirt that is too short – it should hit just above, at, or right below the knee.  Make sure your clothing items are not wrinkly.  Even the most professional-looking outfit will fail if it doesn’t fit correctly or match conservative business norms.  Remember, the goal is to look professional, competent, and capable.
  4. If you love jewelry, pick one simple necklace or bracelet and/or simple earrings.  Again, a job interview is not the time to be flashy.  Your outfit should not be distracting but rather should make you look ready and put-together.
  5. Black, not white, socks.  Don’t forget this, gentlemen!
  6. It is important to appear well-groomed.  Although your attire makes a great first impression, that goes out the window if you look messy.  Keep your hair neat and short, makeup to a minimum and neutral, and nails and facial hair trimmed.  Avoid wacky colored hair dye and shower at least the day before.  Don’t go crazy with perfume or cologne.  Brush your teeth and remember to put on deodorant!

As always, you are more than welcome to stop by the Center for Career Planning (CNH 305) if you would like our second opinion on your interview outfit.  Good luck, Captains!

How to Market Yourself to Employers When You Don’t Have Job Experience

How many times have you seen a job posting for an “entry-level” position that requires years of relevant experience?  Searching for jobs can easily become frustrating for undergraduate students and recent college graduates when most of today’s employers are looking for someone who has already held a similar position.  You can’t start your career until you have a college degree, but your college degree does not give you the experience that employers typically require, so where do you go from here?

Here are our tips on how to market yourself to employers when you don’t have job experience.  It’s all about showing off your skills!

CCP Blog Meme

  1. Capitalize on the skills you have gained throughout your college education.  Every presentation you have given has helped you improve your public speaking skills.  Every research paper you have written has helped you refine your writing skills and given you experience using Microsoft Word.  Every group project has taught you more about collaborating with other people and working as part of a team.  Public speaking, writing, and teamwork are all abilities that employers look for in potential employees!  Mention these abilities and experiences in your resume and job application and be sure to speak more in-depth about them in your interview(s).
  2. Don’t forget about the skills you have acquired from your extracurricular activities.  If you have served as an officer of a club or head of a committee, you have gained leadership experience that employers are seeking!  If you and a select number of people in your club, organization, or department were tasked with researching a topic, planning an event, proposing a policy, or something similar, tell your potential employer.  They want to see that you have been given responsibilities and that you handled them well.
  3. Promote the skills you obtained elsewhere.  Have you always been creative and inventive?  Did you learn how to effectively speak with customers at your previous job?  Does professionalism or problem-solving come naturally to you?  These are skills that other applicants may not already have, so definitely share them with your potential employer!  Show them that you can bring something different to the table – something that another applicant may lack or need further training.

Good luck, Captains!  We know the skills you have learned at Christopher Newport University and elsewhere will propel you into new waters.

As always, the Center for Career Planning is here to help you as you prepare to market yourself to employers.  Stop by our office (CNH 305) or call us at (757) 594-8887 to set up an appointment for resume and CV reviews, job search help, or a mock interview.

Make the Best First Impressions

Hope the first week of classes has been going well and that those 8am classes haven’t been too bad to wake up for!  Here in the CCP, we are preparing for the CNU Employment Open House this upcoming Monday, August 31st from 11:30 – 2:00 pm in the DSU 2nd floor.  That’s right, just three days away, so mark your calendars to attend.  If you are looking for an on campus job, this would be a great event to attend as there are many CNU departments attending.  However, none of these jobs will come walking up to you.  You need to do some prep work beforehand.  First impressions are made in the first 3-5 seconds before meeting someone, so manage your image and you will be off to a good start for the semester.  Here are a few tips to creating the best first impressions you can give to prospective employers, but also those professors too.

  1. Analyze your attire. Do your clothes give off the appearance you want to give to those who have never met you? Think about the particular job you are trying to achieve. If going for a more formal industry, maybe a suit is more acceptable than a more laid back and creative employer. Think twice when looking in the mirror. “Who should I be impressing today?” (probably not that cute guy next to you in class…)
  2. Role-play your verbal communication. Do you speak clearly, professionally, and at an appropriate pace and sound level when first meeting someone? People can tell when you are nervous and speaking at 50mph. Practice with a friend to decrease your nerves and have them give you constructive criticism to improve your first impression.
  3. Evaluate your non-verbal communication. Do you shake hands like a limp fish? No one likes that type of handshake, but also not a handshake that almost breaks their hand. Again, practice with some friends and other non-verbal communication cues such as maintaining good eye contact. Wandering eyes mean you are not interested and employers will sense that.
  4. Examine your attitude. Do you smile when first meeting someone, even if you’re busy and have other things spinning in your mind? Are you focusing on the employer to give them your full attention? If not, you could be harming your first impression. It only takes a few seconds to ruin.
  5. Scrutinize your grooming. Just wake up from a nap? Well, don’t make it look like that when you first walk in. Maybe touch up on your makeup or tuck in your shirt tail. And please get rid of the flip flops. Before leaving the room, have your roommate give you a quick “thumbs up” before leaving.

Remember these for Monday and see you at the Open House! Happy Friday!

Tips taken from Forbes’ website. For more information go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2013/09/09/5-tips-to-create-a-positive-first-impression/

Open House Flyer with Department Names