Time To Set New Goals For The Next Journey Ahead

how_to_set_social_media_goals1By: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

As the end of my fellowship approaches, which baffles me the more I say it, it has been amazing to see the goals that I made for myself come to completion. When I began, one of the first blog posts I wrote was geared toward goal setting. I specifically mentioned how improving my presentation abilities and to at least give 100 presentations by the end of my fellowship was one of my top goals. Well, I didn’t quite count each presentation I gave but I am confident that I easily surpassed presenting 100 times throughout my time here as a fellow. With each presentation, I saw myself gaining more confidence as I presented to students, faculty, board of trustees, and even elementary aged students at Haw River Elementary’s Career Day.

Creating goals for yourself before you start a new position is certainly advice I will continue to give out and follow as I progress in my career. Not only did it help me to focus on and strengthen specific skills but it also allowed me to reflect on each step I took towards reaching that goal. To see the growth in myself since when I first began has been invaluable. When I began this journey in July, I couldn’t have imagined all of the wonderful opportunities that would be afforded to me both professionally and personally.

When you start a new position, the giddiness to meet your new colleagues and the excitement to begin the work that you believe you are so destined to do, is probably one of the best feelings to have. How do I know? Because those were my exact feelings when I began my time here at Elon University and I am so grateful to currently have those feelings once again. I am excited to say that after my fellowship ends I will be traveling back to my hometown of Richmond, VA to work with the students of Virginia Commonwealth University as an Assistant Director for Career & Industry Advising with VCU Career Services. So what are my next goals to be set for this new position? As of right now, I am still mustering those up, however, keep up with me via LinkedIn and you will be sure to find out. 🙂

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Resume Tips Courtesy of Beyoncé

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By: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

Beyoncé has been causing so much commotion these days with her Formation song and music video, as well as rumors of a new album dropping. So being a card-carrying member of the Beyhive, I couldn’t help but to find some way to incorporate her into my next blog post with a professional development flair of course. All this time, I had no idea Beyoncé was so skilled at resumes. Did you? With five song titles sang by the chart-topping American singer, look and see just how much Beyoncé knows about resumes and what you could learn:

  • FORMATion
    • Although this song may have a totally different meaning, getting your resume in FORMATion is an absolute must! There is not a ‘perfect’ way of formatting your resume. The go-to section headers that you typically see listed on resumes are Header/Identification, Education, Employment/Internship Experiences, Activities, & Skills. Some section headers may be optional based on your field. Make sure your resume format has a clean and functional overall design to it with easy-to-read fonts and a visually appealing layout. There should never be too much white space but also keep in mind to leave enough white space so it doesn’t look too crowded.
  • Flawless
    • Beyoncé hit the nail right on the head! Your resume should be flawless of all spelling and grammatical errors. Have several people look over your resume for any of those mistakes. We often become blind to our resume flaws since we spend so much time crafting them to be as perfect as can be.
  • Upgrade U
    • While Beyoncé may be focusing on how to upgrade her partner, Mr. Carter himself, when it comes to resumes upgrading or updating your resume is essential. When you start a new position or begin an internship, update your resume as soon as possible. It’s a pain to have to do it right before your resume is needed again. Keeping your resume updated causes less stress.
  • Countdown
    • Like Beyoncé does in this upbeat R&B love song, your resume must countdown. Doesn’t make sense? Well, when it comes to the jobs and internships you list on your resume, they should be in reverse chronological order. Whatever position you are currently in or have most recently completed goes first and so on. If you have multiple sections of jobs/internships, each section should have the positions listed in reverse chronological order.
  • Ego
    • Just because you aren’t Beyoncé doesn’t mean you can’t have a big ego too. Your resume is the first impression that employers have of you. If you have any accomplishments you achieved while in your job or internship, don’t be shy, include them! For example, if you increased sales by 50% or you increased followers on Instagram by 65%, list this as one of your job description statements.

Are there any other songs by Beyoncé that could relate? I would love to know!

P.S.  While writing this blog, I found this awesome video by a Morehouse College student, Christopher Sumlin, that also saw how Beyoncé gives the best resume tips 🙂 Check it out!

Wait! What Did You Just Ask Me!? How To Navigate Illegal Interview Questions

ilegal-interview-questionsBy: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

Picture this: You are invited to interview for that dream job you have so desperately wanted ever since you could remember. During the interview you are asked one final question that doesn’t sit quite right with you. The interviewer asks, “I notice you have a Hispanic accent, where are you from?”

You may think nothing of it at first; however, the interviewer may be treading on thin ice and seeing if you can legally work in the United States.

Interviewing for a position can be stressful enough but then when you are possibly asked illegal interview questions, things can get even tougher. Here are some tips and guidelines to keep in mind if you ever find yourself being asked an illegal interview question:

  • Illegal vs. Awkward—there are certainly illegal interview questions that interviewers feel the right to ask and should not. However, those questions might not necessarily be illegal but just plain ol’ awkward. For example, an interviewer may ask you, “how long have you been working?” They might be trying to guess your age but because they know not to ask that outright, they ask this instead. It’s more so an awkward question for them to be asking you how long you have been working rather than an illegal one.
  • How do I even respond to that!?—If you are asked what you think is an illegal question, there are several ways you can choose to respond. First, you could refuse to respond to the question. If you make this decision, be prepared for the interview possibly ending prematurely. The second option is to answer the question head on. If you feel comfortable answering the question, although you know it isn’t a question they should be asking, then answer. Lastly, you can ask them how the question is relevant to the position. If you decide to make this decision, be sure that it comes off as polite as possible.
  • Give the benefit of the doubt— Most of the time, if an interviewer asks you an illegal interview question, chances are it was more accidental than purposeful. Don’t first assume that the interviewer is trying to intentionally invade your privacy for malicious reasons. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Direct answers usually make better impressions, but if you don’t feel comfortable with the question asked, then follow the guidelines above to manage that question.

So how about the person that landed an interview for their dream job but was thrown off, when asked, “Where are you from?” Consider addressing it head on or redirect the conversation to a more relevant topic such as your strengths, work ethic, ability to fulfill job duties, or informing them that you are fluent in English as well as Spanish and how that will serve as a benefit in the role.

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

By: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow

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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!

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! 🙂

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?

Confessions of a Goal Digger

downloadBy: Latisha Taylor, Career Advising Fellow 

These past couple of days I have experienced so many firsts! Just to name a few, I have now had my first sessions of drop-in hours, one-on-one appointments with students, and I have also given my first presentation to students here at Elon!

I had the opportunity to talk with the Leaders Impacting Values-based Experiences (L.I.V.E) Directors about what we do in the Student Professional Development Center and what resources would be valuable to them. Just some background knowledge on our L.I.V.E. Directors here at Elon, there are 5 Directors who are all students and are all members of Fraternity & Sorority Life. These students work with chapter leadership & House Captains to create experiences related to areas of the Fraternity & Sorority Life Chapter Development & Performance Program. Did I mention that these are students!? The work they will be doing is awesome! In addition to presenting to them, I asked them about what their goals were with collaborating with our office and what they hope to accomplish with this wonderful partnership. Little did they know, I was on my way to achieving one of my many goals by simply getting the chance to present to them.

Before I started this position, I made it a goal of mine to sharpen my presentation skills. I often times got the feedback that I would speak too fast while presenting and to watch out for my filler words, which I definitely need help with avoiding filler words! It’s so hard! 😦 So with that goal, I thought to myself, practice makes perfect! In an effort to create a measurable goal I told myself that I will present at least 100 times by the end of my fellowship. That might seem high but I don’t think I will have any problems getting to that number at all!

I mention goal-setting to say this, setting goals is important, almost everyone know’s that, but setting goals before you start a position is essential. It allows for you to have a vision of what you hope to accomplish so that you go in already working on set tasks. Also, if you have already formulated your goals before starting your position it shows initiative and that you have a plan to stay and grow with the company to complete those goals.

With that being said, I have a lot of other goals that I have set for myself (hints *the confessions of a goal digger*) within this fellowship and I hope to share more with you all as I continue my ‘Elon’ journey!