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Heidi Scott Giusto, PhD
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Top tags: Career Support  COVID-19  Working Remotely 

20 Ways to Provide Career Support Virtually during Covid-19

Posted By Administration, Friday, June 5, 2020

Supporting job seekers virtually online assistance during these unprecedented times? Here are 20 actions career service professionals can take to support job seekers from afar, beyond offering one-to-one phone and video conferencing consultations.

Take Care of Yourself First

1 If you are stressed out and unable to bring your whole self to your work, then you won’t be as effective. These days, I’m typically walking or running each day because it helps my physical and mental health (and gets me out of the house!). Whether you use a meditation app like Headspace or follow health and wellness Instagrammers, make sure you’re taking care of yourself.

Let People Know You’re Thinking about Them

  1. 2Send check-in emails to see how your job seekers are doing. Be genuine in expressing your concern. For instance, if you know something personal such as the name of a family member or a pet, mention them in your email as well.

  2. 3Be human. You can spend a few minutes asking the person how they are—how they really are—before diving into a résumé critique or a session on using LinkedIn. And, you can share how you recognize this pandemic has rocked all of us. Yourself included. I firmly believe that by showing you care, you will gain trust, which will encourage a job seeker to value your advice.

Offer Bite-Sized Inspiration

4Send a motivational quote regularly to your job seekers, or share one each week digitally. Mention why you find each quote particularly compelling.

5 Compile a list of your top job campaign books and send the list to your students or clients. In a sentence or two, explain why you like each book.

6 Offer free resources. If you are self-employed and have a pay wall for certain handouts, webinars, etc., consider lifting the pay wall for existing clients. If you’re in a career center, be generous in the amount of information you offer to students. I err on the side of not wanting to overwhelm people with resources, but you can make it manageable by calling attention to actionable takeaways and point out what is most valuable in the information you’ve selected.

7 Identify and distribute free resources from other experts. Thankfully, many organizations and individuals are being generous with their time and sharing their expertise.

8 Curate a list of job boards and send it to your job seekers, briefly explaining the merits and specialty of each one.

9 Start a newsletter or email blast in which you notify job seekers of virtual networking events and job openings when you find them.

Look for New Ways to Add Value in Your One-to-One Work

  1. 10Provide written critiques of job seekers’ application materials. If you are accustomed to only speaking with your students when providing feedback on their work, start using Track Changes and marginal comments in MS Word.

  2. 11Encourage your job seekers to assemble a portfolio of work, résumé supplement, or website that builds their professional brand.

Create Content That Addresses Today’s Most Pressing Problems

  1. 12  Host a webinar on a topic that you know is top of mind. What are you seeing people struggle with repeatedly? If you have multiple people asking how they can stay productive in the summer if they don’t have a job or internship, then that might be a perfect topic. Frame a webinar around the topic you’ve been hearing about, and be sure to record it so you can send it to people unable to attend live.

  2. 13  Record a video chat with another professional in which you discuss key strategies for résumé or cover letter writing, and make it widely available.

  3. 14  Take this time to be creative and pursue a new type of resource. Have you been interested in starting a blog for your employer (or yourself)? Or a podcast? Perhaps this would be a perfect time to try it, and you’d be creating useful, freely available content.

Nurture Connections

  1. 15  Facilitate a mentorship relationship. Career services professionals can contact alumni who have indicated on their alumni profile page (if the university has one) that they are open to mentoring. Consider pairing one or two students with an individual willing to mentor. Of course, establish clear expectations for both parties.

  2. 16  Create a private Facebook group that allows your contacts to connect with and support each other.

  3. 17  Support your students or clients online by liking, commenting, or sharing their LinkedIn posts. Connect with them on LinkedIn to open your network.

  4. 18  Make connections for them, if you can. This can facilitate informational interviews.

  5. 19  Host a virtual networking or support call. A fellow coach and former professor I know offers free Friday afternoon “check-ins.” She convenes the group and then the members share how they are doing. It’s minimal effort for her but is a contribution to her network and clients.

20 Reassure students or clients and be optimistic, even as you acknowledge the great challenges that 2020 has thrown our way. I tell my clients frequently, “I’m in your corner!” A sunny disposition and steady support doesn’t cost a dime but can be invaluable.

Closing Thoughts

A sucker for a great quote, I have been referencing Fred Rogers quite a bit lately. Rogers said,

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

As for me, I want to be a helper. And I’m sure you do, too. I hope these strategies help us all embrace the great opportunity we have to be a solution to the giant problem that many job seekers have before them through no fault of their own.

Tags:  Career Support  COVID-19  Working Remotely 

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5 Ways to Accelerate a Job Campaign from Home

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 6, 2020

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And that doesn’t mean the tough get up and leave! Times are difficult, but adversity gives people an opportunity to leverage resiliency. Thankfully, job seekers have many opportunities to increase their marketability and accelerate their job campaign while coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Even better yet, the suggestions below are free.

Improve Digital Presence

Now is the time for students, seasoned professionals, and everyone in between to optimize their use of LinkedIn. Résumé writers and career coaches can counsel their clients and students to use the platform with purpose. I encourage my clients to determine their goal for LinkedIn and then create a customized plan to achieve it. Oftentimes, we discuss becoming more active, posting content and writing comments that demonstrate subject matter expertise, and professionalizing their profile.

LinkedIn has launched a profile section called Featured that allows members to highlight selected media and images. It’s a tremendous tool; this section even appears before a person’s Experience section. (LinkedIn is still launching this section, so if you or your clients do not see it yet, you will soon.)

Using a professional picture on LinkedIn, and other professional sites, is imperative. A wonderful tool is Photofeeler. This website allows users to upload a picture and receive anonymous feedback from others. The only action a person must take to receive feedback is to give it. Users rate how competent, likeable, and influential a person appears. I have found the results match the feedback I give my clients, but I like that Photofeeler provides objective input from many other users. (In my test, I received feedback from 38 people.) The site also offers suggestions on taking a professional selfie at home, should you decide you need a better picture. You can find that information here: Good news for folks stuck at home during social distancing!

Canva, an online design site, is another resource that people can use to enhance their digital presence. A person can easily customize a LinkedIn banner (the horizontal image that appears at the top of a LinkedIn profile). Canva has a free version and allows a person to try Canva Pro for free for a month.


Learn a New Skill

People can add to their professional development in a formal capacity through certifications and coursework. I recommend looking at Coursera, TedX or other massive open online courses (MOOCs). Students can take courses from a wide range of universities on an equally wide range of topics (from Innovation to The Science of Beer!). Most of these courses are free, although some offer a certificate for a fee. I have had clients use MOOCs to facilitate a career change and rebrand their professional skillset.

For folks looking to learn new skills through a less formal process, books and YouTube University are also great options. I learned how to uninstall and reinstall a toilet from YouTube videos! And, in the process of doing a little Internet research while writing this article, I registered for a course on Google Analytics.

Master Video Conferencing

There will be little room for not having this skill after the pandemic. By the time of this publication, I suspect everyone will already have seen the “video conferencing gone wrong” clips of a woman filming herself going to the bathroom and of a man walking around in his underwear. Spare your clients and students (and yourself!) from this embarrassment by encouraging them to learn how to use video conferencing effectively.

I recently wrote an article, “Vital Tips for a Successful Video Interview,” that can also be a resource. But more than just reading about how to use video conferencing software, I urge my clients to practice using it and making sure their software is updated. Practice also makes perfect in terms of learning how to optimize lighting and positioning of the camera. I encourage everyone to learn several platforms like Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, and Google Meet.

Pick up the Phone

Reconnecting with colleagues, friends, and family members to see how they are doing allows an individual to share their situation as well. These can be social calls, but job seekers can also mention their job campaign and report on how it’s going. Speaking about an active job campaign reminds your contacts of your situation, and they might be able to help. Even during difficult times, I recommend that clients keep their attitude upbeat and

perspective optimistic when communicating. Keeping a gratitude journal can help. (Make a gratitude journal for free with these prompts.)

This is also an optimal time to make new contacts and inquire about informational interviews. I encourage my clients to conduct informational interviews, even now, because no two situations are alike. Some people are incredibly busy as they work from home and ensure their children are doing schoolwork remotely, but others are impatiently waiting for the economy to reopen. Or, retirees are being extremely diligent about staying home but also wishing they could do more to help. Given these situations, job seekers can identify companies and people they would like to learn more about and then send emails to request informational interviews. The worst that can happen is that they do not get a response.

Serve Others

I recently read a LinkedIn post about how interviews in the months ahead will likely include a new question: How did you help during the pandemic? Not all of us are front- line workers putting our lives at risk. But we don’t need to be to help others. Job seekers can volunteer for a non- profit organization, offer a free resource if they have one to give, work outside their normal hours to accommodate clients’ schedules, volunteer a remote service or skill, offer to buy groceries for a neighbor, and the list goes on.

Being a helper in this time is much more than a way to help a person get a job; it also fulfills a basic human need to be needed. Sociologist and counselor Steve Rose, PhD, has written that “the need to be needed is an individual’s sense of significance rooted in the sense of being part of a community or cause beyond themselves.”* All of us can find purpose and meaning when times are tough— whether that stems from unemployment or simply being stuck in our homes.

Closing Thoughts

Job seekers can take these steps to help accelerate their job campaign, but these actions are valuable for any professional who has down time and is proactively managing their career—perhaps yourself.

* Steve Rose, The Need to Be Needed

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Offer Thoughtful Resume Feedback in Less Than 60 Minutes

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 3, 2020

When I was in graduate school, I worked at Duke University’s Writing Studio as a writing tutor—a role that initially terrified me. How would I provide constructive feedback in only 50-minute sessions? What if what I thought students needed didn’t align with their top concerns? My fears subsided after realizing that if I had questions about something, another reader likely will, too. This empowered me to offer feedback in areas that maybe weren’t on the writer’s mind, but were vital to address.

Providing targeted feedback on a resume under a tight time constraint is a valuable tool for career service professionals, whether you are a self-employed resume writer offering hourly consulting, a higher education professional working in career services, or a government/non-profit employee helping veterans.

Here is an approach to help you improve the resume while honoring the concerns of your client or student and conveying what you see as the greatest areas for improvement—which can sometimes be different. You can apply this strategy whether you have 10 minutes or 60. This process works equally well for in-person and virtual meetings that occur by phone or video conferencing.

1) Ask what the person is most concerned about. Doing so helps you identify their perceived pain points. For instance, someone might be concerned about one particular bullet point. Or, they might wonder how to add a Volunteer section without extending the page length.

2) Ask what industry and job they are targeting. To keep the person focused, I recommend using language like “In one or two sentences, please tell me what industry and jobs you are targeting.” If they struggle, you can ask thoughtful, clarifying questions to guide them to their answers.

3) Take a minute or two to assess the resume. Tell the person what you’re doing. “Thanks for letting me know your top concerns. Let me take a minute to review your resume.” Stick to that timeframe. You shouldn’t need more than that for focused sessions like these.

When you’re reading, assess first for Higher Order Concerns (HOCs). These are “big picture” concerns such as not having a clear industry or job target, poor readability, and lack of accomplishments and keywords.


Next, evaluate for Lower Order Concerns (LOCs). These often align with the person’s stated concerns. Examples of LOCs include bulleted information simply conveying a task but not a metric of success, inconsistencies in formatting, missing name and contact information on a second page, and an occasional typo.

4) After reviewing the resume, quickly reconcile what the person stated as their concerns and what you noticed to be areas for improvement. If they asked about something minor—an LOC—and you have major concerns— HOCs—then request permission to give additional feedback. “I know you stated you were concerned about X, and I’m happy to address that. Would it be okay if I also gave feedback on other areas that I noticed could be improved?” Then, honor the person’s preference. Maybe on that day, they can’t handle suggestions that would require overhauling the resume. (You can always invite them back for another consultation or to work with you in greater depth at a later date.)

5) Offer up to three pieces of feedback that target HOCs. Anything more will overwhelm a person in a short session. Discuss each suggestion and ask if they have questions. Some people will want directive feedback (“fix it for me”) while others will hear your feedback, restate it (which shows you they truly understand), and then be ready to move on because they are confident they can fix the issue independently. If you only have 10 minutes, consider offering only one suggestion and then dig into it deeper. Aim for quality of feedback over quantity.

If the person did not have any HOCs, or they were able to easily handle your feedback regarding HOCs, then move to LOCs. Similarly, limit your recommendations to, at most, five suggestions. A seasoned professional like a veteran transitioning out of the military might be able to handle three HOCs and five LOCs, whereas a student applying for an internship might be able to apply feedback effectively about only one HOC and one LOC. A good indicator of what the person can absorb is how engaged they are. If they are taking notes, asking questions, and implementing improvements, then they can handle as much as time allows. If they have a deer-in-the- headlights look, then it’s better to help them directly with fewer suggestions.

6) Ask if your feedback has been clear and whether they have any questions. If they do, address them. At the end of the session, express thanks for the opportunity to assist them. Never forget they are trusting you to help them in one of life’s most important areas: financial security.

After more than 1200 sessions at Duke’s Writing Studio, I gained confidence in providing targeted suggestions during short sessions and immense satisfaction knowing I was doing my part to help a person improve their situation. With a structured approach to providing feedback, you’ll be ready for whatever a client or student throws your way! 

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