New Year – New Cover Letter!

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow

As the first month of the New Year winds down, it is time to reconsider New Year’s resolutions. Have you set resolutions and kept them? I have not been one to set resolutions in the past, but as this 10-month fellowship gears up to begin recruiting for the 2016-2017 Career Advising Fellows, I have set personal goals of updating my resume, cover letter, and reference documents.

Regardless of where you fall in terms of searching for a new position, updating your cover letter will take time, effort, and attention to details. Latisha and I recently finished teaching a 3-week January term Transition Strategies course and had the opportunity to review first and second drafts of our students’ cover letters. Then, we held a cover letter workshop for first-year students in one of Elon’s residential neighborhoods! Kicking off the New Year with a new cover letter might be exactly the resolution you need.

As you review your cover letter(s) and make revisions, here are four suggestions to keep in mind. Remember, every cover letter should be tailored to the specific position you are applying for, so do not be afraid to personalize it. In addition, you will find that cover letters vary based on your writing style and the position you are applying for! Please note – my suggestions are mere suggestions, which stem from my experiences as a career advisor, instructor, and job seeker.

  1. Header: I recommend students use the same header for all position materials: resume, cover letter, and references. This allows for your documents to be cohesive, which is helpful when an application requires that all documents are submitted in one PDF file. Having a consistent header also allows for your materials to look uniform. *If you have an updated LinkedIn profile, be sure to customize your unique URL and paste it into your header. Don’t forget to un-hyperlink it though!
  2. Formatting: Be sure to keep everything left aligned. It might feel strange to have your paragraphs begin at the far left, but this is traditional cover letter formatting. Also, for margins, I recommend using the same margins for your resume, cover letter, and references (again for consistency).
  3. Tell A Story: Your resume (which is also updated, right?) will give specific, detailed examples of the work you have completed throughout various experiences. Your cover letter is a space where you can tell a story. Do not repeat exactly what your resume says. Instead, choose relevant experiences that relate to the position you are applying for. In each middle paragraph (aim for 1-2), tell a story that guides the reader through your skills and experiences.
  4. The Closing Paragraph: We want our cover letter to speak to our qualifications and skills, as well as give reasons for why we want the job! In your closing paragraph, use 3-4 sentences to remind the reader of a few skills you bring and thank the person in advance for considering your candidacy. Notice how I do not suggest reminding the reader of how to contact you? This information is above in your header, so no need to use space on it in the closing. Finally, if you have the capabilities to sign your signature, scan it as a PDF, then crop the image, this is a great way to imbed your actual signature on your cover letter.

As you revise your cover letter(s), I hope you will keep these suggestions in mind. Just remember to proofread, proofread, and proofread (and have someone else read your cover letter) before you submit it for a job application! Happy New Year, and happy cover letter-writing!

 

3 Tips for Staying Focused on Your Professional Development over the Holidays

By: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

happyholidays

Time has surely flown by these past couple of months. I blinked and it was December! We all know that with the month of December comes not only holiday celebrations and cheer but also what I like to call End of year-itis. End of year-itis can look different to everyone. It could be in relation to the winding down of another intense college semester. It could be in relation to finishing a huge project at work. With either situation you may be in, the holiday break is much needed and anticipated. However, don’t “break” too much.  The holidays are the perfect time to recharge and reenergize yourself to work on your professional development for that first or next career move. Follow these 3 tips over the holidays to stay focused on your professional development:

  1. Update Your Resume
    • Use this free time to update your resume with new leadership positions you took on this semester or technical skills you just mastered. I suggest creating a master resume that includes every experience you’ve ever had, that way when you’re applying for a position you can plug and pull what’s relevant to that particular position from the master resume.
  2. Research Companies/Organizations
    • This is probably the most important step, but actually performed the least. Often times, we assume we know all there is to know about a company or we focus so much on knowing what the position requires and not on what the company is about. In addition to the typical Google search, try researching companies via LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Glassdoor is a great resource to see current and former employee’s reviews as well as potential interview questions asked.
  3. Conduct Informational Interviews
    • Informational Interviews are first-hand opportunities to gauge whether or not you would like a particular profession or to just get a sense of what that interviewee’s career path was. There may even be an alum from your institution who works in your desired field of interest, and lives in your hometown/dream city that would be happy to talk with you. In addition, by connecting with an alum, they will likely remember you when an opening is available. Click here for sample informational interview questions to ask and click here for sample informational interview requests by email or phone.

Have a Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year!

10 Tips: Media Analytics

Media Analytics post

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow

Panelists Ryan Sweeney (‘10, Strategic Communications) and Nicole Martin (‘03, Business and Economics) engaged with Elon students to discuss all things related to Media Analytics, which was not a major when both panelists attended Elon. Elon introduced Media Analytics as a major for the 2014-2015 academic year, which is exciting for our current and prospective School of Communications students!

Below I’ve listed 10 tips from Ryan and Nicole’s experiences regarding starting a career and being successful in Media Analytics. Personally, Media Analytics was fascinating to learn about as a Career Advising Fellow with no prior knowledge. If you are also new to Media Analytics, keep reading to learn more!

  1. Communication: In Media Analytics roles, you need to tell the story and communicate it to your audience. Especially with agencies – clients are in the daily trenches. You have to see ideas and tell them what they need, while supporting it with data. In addition, it is crucial to be able to have a wealth of info but be able to boil it down.
  1. “Tell me about yourself: Do not go into your life story about siblings unless it is truly fascinating. This really means: how can you fit in here? Your response can include: I am able to change my perspective, I am very data driven, organized, off the cuff, open-minded thinker, strategic, and more! *Think about key words related to Media Analytics
  1. Interviews: You will often be asked, “What did you think about our website?” Be able to give examples of what you like/what you didn’t like. Also, show your curiosity – this shows that you do not necessarily accept things as they are and you want to dig more.
  1. Language: R – stats language is increasingly becoming a favored language for statistical analysis. It is all open source and free.
  1. Skills: Basic business communication is really important – you have to be able to speak colloquially to certain people. Cannot jargon, jargon, jargon because people will get lost!
  1. Social Listening: As trends in the industry are constantly changing, stay current with Avinash Kaushik, Seomoz, FlowingData, Social Control.
  1. On Failure: Failure is fantastic. Although failure is sometimes expensive, so as long as you can plan it out and test, then you have learning opportunities versus huge financial failures.
  1. Advancing your career: Psychology is very important. Panelists recommended students obtain a Master’s in Psychology over pursuing an MBA.
  1. Internships: If there is no internship available at your desired agency/company, offer to come in and write whitepapers for the company – this is a great way to get your foot in the door!
  1. Hiring: Employers want people on the team that are passionate, can be trusted, and can see the big picture. Keep this in mind (in other industries as well)!

We are thankful for the insights of Ryan and Nicole, and are hopeful these 10 Tips: Media Analytics resonate with you, whether you are pursuing Media Analytics or were unfamiliar with the field and opportunities!

 

The Key Thing Missing From Your Resume: Consistency

consistency-is-keyBy: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

I am now knocking on the 4 month door of being here at Elon. Wow, time moves fast! Over the past several months, I have seen what has to be at least 150+ student resumes. I have gotten the chance to review various types of student resumes, ranging from first-year students updating their high school resume to a college resume all the way to law school students polishing their resumes for potential legal opportunities. Although every resume I see is different, there is one thing that seems to remain consistent: no consistency. More often than not, I see students that have really great experiences such as internships, study abroad, and volunteer opportunities. However, the lack of consistency on their resume sometimes supersedes all of those wonderful experiences.

A requirement you will regularly see on a job description includes: Must demonstrate attention to detail. Not having a consistent resume is the first way that an employer will be able to tell if you in fact pay attention to detail. Below are 5 key issues I have noticed on resumes that often lack consistency:

  1. Dates
    • This is where I have probably seen the most lack of consistency on student resumes. Students will be specific in giving the month and year in which they have been employed in one position and then in the other they give the season and year in which they work. For example, I have seen students write May-June 2015 and then for the next job they will write Fall 2015. No matter which route you take, just remain consistent with whichever format you decide to use.
  2. Dashes
    • I have seen this more often than not as well. When using dashes in between your dates, double check to make sure all of them look exactly the same. Whether it’s a long dash or a short dash, they should all be the same.
  3. Spacing
    • When formatting your resume, remain cognizant of spacing. What spacing you may ask? Spacing in-between sections, spacing in-between bulleted descriptions, ALL SPACING! If you use double spacing or 1.5 spacing to separate your sections, please make sure that is being applied to all of them.
  4. Font types
    • I actually see less of this which is a good sign! Needless to say, I have still seen some resumes where students use a certain font type for their heading and a totally different font type for the rest. The only time you may be able to get away with that is if it is a creative/graphic design resume. If it is not, keep it the same.
  5. Tenses
    • Last, but certainly not least, the use of tenses should also be used consistently. If you are presently in the position you should be writing in present If it is a past position you should be writing in past tense. Never should those two tenses be used together in one work experience. A great way to remember this is to check your dates (see above) and if your date includes present, your tenses should be present as well.

The moral of this blog post is to what? KEEP IT CONSISTENT! :)

ePortoflio: Top 5 Things to Consider

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow

Last month, our colleagues in the School of Communications hosted an informative panel about ePortfolios. Students from various majors within the School of Communications received first-hand feedback and information about developing an ePortfolio. If you work with ePortfolios in any capacity, I have provided the Top 5 Things to Consider, based on information from McKinney and FleishmanHillard employees who frequently view ePortfolios as part of talent acquisition processes!

FHRebrand

1. What should I include on my ePortfolio?

The best balance of materials is 1-2 best examples from different categories – hone in on the BEST content. For example, include one example from a class assignment and one example from a student organization publication. Focus on quality and not quantity – share your work with industry professionals, peers, advisors, friends, and family to gather feedback as to which pieces stand out most and should go on your ePortfolio.

2. What about photos and my social media profiles?

Our panelists like photos on ePortfolios, and beyond that, recommend linking all social media platforms to your ePortfolio. Wherever you have a digital presence, link to it!

3. Should my resume mirror my ePortfolio?

These two separate documents should complement and support each other. They should NOT be mirror images of each other. For example, on your resume, explain what you did for a company/position. On your ePortfolio, showcase the actual work through graphics. One great option is to have a link to your resume as a supporting backend page for easy employer reference/downloadable option.

mckinney

4. What about design and platforms – do employers have preferences?

Regardless of the platform, your ePortfolio needs to be organized, clean, and have a memorable URL address – no messy numbers/letters! Our panelists shared the most professional platforms are Square Space and Cargo Collective. These platforms are more design-oriented, reflecting true portfolio websites. As far as design, keep it clean, simple, and intuitive to navigate – the focus should be on your content, not the site itself.

5. Is there a benefit to purchasing a domain name?

YES! This is part of your brand and from a SEO (search engine optimization) perspective, having a domain name makes this a lot easier! However, it is important to note: an employer will not turn down your portfolio because it is not a self-owned domain.

Final takeaways:

Get your ePortfolio out to as many people as possible for feedback before you start sending it out for full-time jobs. You cannot receive too much feedback! You want to aim for ease of access when viewing your ePortfolio, so gain gut reactions to your materials and accessibility. In addition, there should be no typos – NONE! This is grounds for dismissing your candidacy. Ultimately, be unique!

Whether you are a student developing an ePortfolio, a career advisor working with students who create ePortfolios, or interested in developing your own ePortfolio, it is my hope these top five tips will help! A huge thanks to Marianne Gissane and Beth Stevenson for serving as panelists!

6 Ways Your Social Media Presence Could Be Better

Social media buttonsBy: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow 

This past Sunday evening I had the pleasure of presenting to about 100 young sorority women about social media and its importance in their professional future. While advising them on the do’s and don’ts of social media, it made me think back to my own sorority college days, which surely wasn’t that long ago. ;) We worked hard to make a positive impact both on campus and in the community but going to parties and having fun was certainly not too far down on the agenda. It often goes unnoticed that with that fun, sometimes comes unwanted Facebook pictures and tweets posted for everyone to see including employers. So I thought I’d share with you the do’s and don’ts of social media I shared with them that we all may need to be introduced to or refreshed on. :)

Do’s & Don’ts of Social Media

  • Do create positive content
    • What does that even mean, right? Well…post, share, tweet, and retweet articles that interest you. Participate in conversation and debates, when appropriate, about current events and areas of interest.
  • Don’t post questionable photos of yourself anywhere on the Internet
    • Some interesting stats here that just may blow your mind, 91% of employers say they DO use social media to screen candidates; 1 in 3 employers rejected candidates based on information they found about them online. Mind blown!
  • Do Google yourself
    • I know it sounds weird but trust me, you want to see what’s on the Internet about you before employers do.
  • Don’t post negative status updates or tweets
    • Often times, we may get frustrated at work but don’t post about it on social media! Even though your boss isn’t your Facebook friend doesn’t mean that someone that is can’t show them. If you wouldn’t say it in an interview, think about if you should say it online.
  • Do create an awesome LinkedIn profile
  • Don’t make your online presence all about you
    • Think less selfies and more ways to contribute to your professional brand either through writing articles or even blogging, like this. (ha!)

According to U.S. News and World reports, 2010

P.S. What are some other do’s and don’ts you would add to the list?

Full Circle

By: Beth Mannella, Career Advising Fellow

Happy Friday! As I reach my two-month anniversary of starting this fellowship, I am amazed at how several aspects of my experience thus far have come full circle. For example, Ross Wade began this fellowship five years ago and recently came back to Elon University as the Director of Career Development in the Student Professional Development Center! With Ross’s return to Elon, he now supervises the Career Advising Fellows, which is extremely exciting! The opportunity to work closely with Ross, who developed this incredible fellowship, seems surreal!

In addition to experiencing this fellowship come full circle with welcoming Ross Wade back to Elon, when I interviewed for the fellowship, I expressed interest in corporate and employer relations and corporate campus recruiting. Fast forward to this week, where I helped manage our first fall event, employer information session, and on-campus employer interviews! Next week, I will continue to help manage employer-related events, including the following:

  • Sales Meet and Greet
  • Job & Internship Expo
  • Employer Lunch & Learns
  • On-campus interviews
  • Employer Information Sessions

I am beyond fortunate to have the opportunity to serve as the point person for all on-campus employer relations for the next several months and continue to gain experience in this realm.

It has also been wonderful to have a friend (and former colleague) join the Elon University community. When I was in my first year of graduate school, several colleagues began working at Elon, so my circle of higher education colleagues expanded to this institution. Now that I am here in this fellowship and another former colleague has joined campus, things are continually becoming full circle!

As my fellowship “circle” continues to become fuller, one of my greatest realizations over the past two months has been recognizing how important office culture, campus climate, weather (ha!), communication, and a positive attitude blend to enhance this fellowship experience. Thank you, Ross Wade, for developing and implementing this fellowship five years ago!