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Heidi Scott Giusto, PhD
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Networking Tips Pandemic Style

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Empower Job Seekers
to Network “Pandemic-Style”

If you’ve been working with students and clients during the past seven months,    has your suggestion to network gone over like a lead balloon, or led to lamenting that so many in-person events are no longer happening? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. In  a  course  I’m  currently  teaching,  the  students  were  supposed to travel to New York City and Paris and have in-person meetings with company executives, so I’m familiar with the massive changes that have been brought to campuses around the world.

There is a silver lining, though. While it’s true that group gatherings have largely been eliminated for the duration of the pandemic, numerous options for networking still exist. In fact, job seekers may  be  pleasantly  surprised  to  know that the pandemic has opened doors for some increased opportunities. Here are    six ways that you can guide them in networking “pandemic-style.”

Nurture Existing Connections
Networking is fundamentally about building mutually beneficial relationships. To this end, now more than ever is a good time to “check in” with existing connections. This can be done by emailing, calling, or even texting. People will appreciate knowing that someone is thinking of them and wondering how they are doing.

Attend Networking Events via Video Conferencing
Many regular networking events have been moved to video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. The wonderful advantage to video conferencing is that we are no longer limited by geography, which means it’s possible to attend more of these events than if they were held in-person. For example, a person can attend an event on Monday from 4-6 p.m. that would have occurred in one city and attend a second one from 6:30-8 p.m. that would have been located in a city an hour away. Point out to networkers that this is a perfect time to try out and visit new groups to see which one(s) they like and benefit from the most and want to attend regularly.

Build New Connections
Your students and clients can also build new connections via networking held through video conferencing. I have found this to be particularly true when the networking event uses small group discussions. In Zoom, these are called “Breakout Rooms,” which allow for more intimate discussions and encourage relationship building. The platform Hopin offers networking capabilities akin to “speed dating.” Emphasize that it’s essential for networkers to follow up with the people they meet in these interactions so they can continue to meet and get to know       each another through phone calls or additional video conferencing.

As locations open up, meeting in-person with another individual might be an option. These one-to-one meetings can be outdoors to allow ample room for social distancing. Setting clear expectations is crucial to ensure that both parties are comfortable with an in-person meeting. For the duration of the pandemic, it’s likely best to forego exchanging business cards and shaking hands, but networkers can still enjoy the other aspects of meeting in- person that can’t quite be fully conveyed onscreen.
Devote Time
to Professional Development
Just like networking events, a multitude of professional development opportunities are now online. Personally, I have found more of these activities than I know what to do with! Encourage your students and clients to choose one or two—or as many as their schedules permit—and to keep an eye out for activities that include other participants, which is a surefire way to build new and meaningful relationships.

Partner with
an Accountability Buddy
Whether  it’s  to  take  a  self-paced  course  together  or have  a  weekly  check-in  to  review  each  other’s  goals, wins, and misses, suggest that pairing up with an accountability buddy might be helpful. This type of consistent contact with another person offers many advantages, fosters support, and  will  likely  deepen  the relationship.
Be Professional but also Real
Given the need to be professional in personal settings, more conversations have opened up to include family/ life topics. As a result, boundaries between work and personal life have been breaking down at lightning speed. I have overheard a president of a company tell people on a video call that she was in her “jammies,” I’ve seen more pets than I can remember, and men and women alike pause conversations to help children with schoolwork. There is absolutely a time and place to be strictly professional, but the conditions brought about by the pandemic encourage us to bring our whole selves into our work lives.

When I work with my students and clients, I recommend that they strive to create ideal conditions for networking calls and video conferences by choosing a quiet, uncluttered setting, wearing professional attire, and maintaining a businesslike demeanor. However,   it’s   important   to   give   grace   to   yourself and to the person you are networking with when life  interrupts.  And,  it’s  okay  to  share  some  personal details  as  long  as  doing  so  doesn’t  distract  from  the professional objectives the networking conversation is premised on.

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Blog Writing Shows Expertise

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 21, 2020

The prevalence of content marketing has led to an explosion of blog writing—
whether for a personal or business blog, a website, or a LinkedIn article. It's also
relevant to job seekers: 77% of internet users read blogs, so writing blog articles
can be an effective way to show productivity and increase visibility by sharing
knowledge in an area of expertise.

Below is a step-by-step guide to writing an engaging blog article. While it is
geared toward coaching clients, students, and job seekers, coaches and résumé
writers can also use this process to bolster their own online presence.

Step 1: Determine the goal for the article

What is the desired outcome? For many job seekers, businesses, and career
service professionals alike, the goal is to show expertise on a particular topic
and to build brand visibility.

Step 2: Establish broad categories
of topics to write about in light of the goal

Have your client explore the following questions:

What general areas can | write on that show me
as someone who is knowledgeable in my field?

Of those categories (generated above), what will
my intended audience likely value, or find most helpful?

Urge your client to consider the perspective and knowledge they have to offer
to readers. When thinking about this, they should determine if the selected
category or categories align with their overarching strategy. For example, | tend
to write about proactive career management and writing well; those are my
professional “bucket” categories. A project management professional might
write about various aspects of project management, while an operations
director might share a perspective for increasing efficiency. In contrast, even
though | love to travel, writing about that hobby wouldn't advance my goals
unless | wanted to transition into the travel industry.

Step 3: Select a specific topic

In each article, make one main point and one main point only. Note that this
very article is about writing a blog post—not “Blogging.” That is too broad.

Assuming the plan is to write more than one article, it’s helpful to generate a
list of topics by brainstorming ideas alone or with a colleague or collaborator.
Often, two brains are better than one. If not under time constraints, be aware
that the best ideas might corme when your clients allow themselves to think
creatively. Whenever the ideas occur, record them to revisit later. That way, once
your client or student is ready to start on an article, they already have a list of
topics to choose from.

The prevalence of content marketing has led to an
explosion of blog writing—whether for a personal or
business blog, a website, or a Linkedin article. It's also
relevant to job seekers: 77% of internet users read
blogs, so writing blog articles can be an effective way
to show productivity and increase visibility by sharing
knowledge in an area of expertise.

Below is a step-by-step guide to writing an engaging
blog article. While it is geared toward coaching clients,
students, and job seekers, coaches and résumé writers
can also use this process to bolster their own online
presence.

Step 1: Determine the goal for the article

What is the desired outcome? For many job seekers,
businesses, and career service professionals alike, the
goal is to show expertise on a particular topic and to
build brand visibility.

Step 2: Establish broad categories
of topics to write about in light
of the goal

Have your client explore the following questions:

What general areas can | write on that show me
as someone who is knowledgeable in my field?

Of those categories (generated above), what will
my intended audience likely value, or find most
helpful?

Urge your client to consider the perspective and
knowledge they have to offer to readers. When
thinking about this, they should determine if the
selected category or categories align with their
overarching strategy. For example, | tend to write about
proactive career management and writing well; those
are my professional “bucket” categories. A project
management professional might write about various
aspects of project management, while an operations
director might share a perspective for increasing
efficiency. In contrast, even though | love to travel,
writing about that hobby wouldn't advance my goals
unless | wanted to transition into the travel industry.

Step 3: Select a specific topic

In each article, make one main point and one main
point only. Note that this very article is about writing a

blog post—not “Blogging.” That is too broad.

Assuming the plan is to write more than one article,
it's helpful to generate a list of topics by brainstorming
ideas alone or with a colleague or collaborator. Often,
two brains are better than one. If not under time
constraints, be aware that the best ideas might come
when your clients allow themselves to think creatively.
Whenever the ideas occur, record them to revisit
later. That way, once your client or student is ready to
start on an article, they already have a list of topics to
choose from.

Step 4: Outline

Organize the key points for the article in whatever
format works best, whether that is a traditional outline,
a visual spider web map, or paragraphs. This outline
will serve as a guide for the draft.

Step 5: Draft

Agrad school friend of mine once told me to “start with
what's easiest,” and that is some of the best writing
advice | have ever received. Sometimes people get
stuck because they don't know what the first sentence
should say. Start with whatever idea, section, or
paragraph feels easiest—even if that information goes
in the middle of the article. After that part is written,
move to the next part that feels doable. There is no
need to write the introduction first, the body second,
and the closing last; it’s OK to skip around during the
drafting process to keep the momentum. Each line
does not need to be perfected yet because that line
might get cut later. The goal at this point is getting
ideas written down.

For blog articles, a “how to” approach tends to be
helpful, as does a “step-by-step” format. Otherwise,
the lessons we learned in high school English courses
still hold true: open with a “hook” and thesis staternent,
include three points or so that are supported with
evidence, and then close with a takeaway that pushes
beyond just restating the article’s content. There are
countless ways to veer from these structures (and |
encourage people to do so!), but your clients will likely
find them helpful as a starting point.

Step 6: Revise

Once a full draft has been written (which might take
several discrete sessions), | find it’s beneficial to let it sit, then review it with fresh eyes and edit. To gauge if their writing
is effective, urge your clients to seek an outsider’s feedback—either
from you or a friend or colleague. If they do, they should guide the
reviewer by specifying the type of feedback that they are looking for.
For example, rather than just saying “Let me know what you think,”
stipulate instead, “I'd like to know if my writing is clear and concise.
The audience is educated, but not knowledgeable on this topic. I'm
open to minor wording changes, but that’s not my main concern.”
After feedback is received, edit accordingly.

Step 7: Consider formatting and SEO

Select an appropriate image or images for the article. Clients should
be encouraged to think strategically about the title in terms of search
engine optimization (SEO), and they may want to consider SEO when
formulating subheadings as well. SEO tends to be a moving target,
so suggest that your clients consult a recent article or two on what
seems to “work” to help them get hits. But emphasize that the content
should be their top concern. Even if an article appears at the top of a
Google search, it likely won't matter if the content is not good.

Step 8: Proofread

As the saying goes, “the devil's in the details.” No one should skip this
crucial step. In very prominent places | have seen both “quality” and
“excellent” misspelled. Readers might forgive one typo, but they are
not likely to overlook several. If your client is in a field that professes
attention to detail, excellence, and/or writing, then they should take
this step extra carefully. If a typo slips by, though, it’s not the end of
the world. The fact is, this can happen even if there was a thorough
proofreading process, but measures should be taken to minimize
these occurrences.

Step 9: Publish!

After proofreading the article, confidently hit the publish button. If
your client doesn't have their own dedicated website, you can suggest
they use LinkedIn as a blogging platform and showcase their article(s}
in the “Featured” section of their profile.

Remember Ernest Hemingway's wisdom: “We are all apprentices in a
craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Encourage your clients
not to let insecurities stop them from getting their ideas out into
the world.

Takeaway

Whether you're helping clients, job seekers, and students
attract job prospects through content creation or looking
to bolster your own visibility, blogging can be a useful tool
for networking, demonstrating subject matter expertise,
and executing a successful job campaign.

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Succeed in One Way Interviews

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 10, 2020

Coach Job Seekers to Success in One-Way Video Interviews

You just received an email with the news every career coach loves to hear: “Thank you so much for helping me with my résumé. I’ve been invited to interview for my dream job!” You’re over the moon for your client or student, but as you keep reading the email you get an uneasy feeling in the pit in your stomach. The soon-to- be interviewee has also shared the interview details for your input and guidance, and it includes instructions for how to log in, record answers via a webcam, and then submit the answers for review. Huh?

If you have not already learned about or have experience with this newer form of interviewing—asynchronous or “one-way” video interviews—I’ve written this article to bring you up to speed so you can help job seekers successfully navigate these situations. Whereas most video interviews occur like video calls with friends or family—where two people talk “real time” using software like Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or WhatsApp—candidates do not directly interact with anyone at the hiring organization when interviewing in one-way video interviews.

Advantages of One-Way Video Interviews

Service providers like Interviewstream tout benefits such as faster placements, a more efficient process, and cost effectiveness. Candidates have the flexibility to conduct the interview using any type of device at a location and time of their choosing, so long as the interviewee submits the interview in the timeframe set by the employer. With 900+ employers using services like Interviewstream, as well as universities using them for interview preparation, this form of interviewing is likely here to stay.

Challenges of One-Way Video Interviews

In researching this topic, the word that kept coming up was “dehumanizing.” Candidates tend to despise this form of interviewing, calling it awkward and viewing it as insulting. One article written by a Forbes career expert even encouraged candidates to refuse these types of interviews because the author saw them as a way to tee up for discrimination by allowing employers

to narrow the list of candidates without taking the time to get to know each person.

Unfortunately, despite candidates not liking these interviews, this is an example of having to make the best of a bad situation. If an individual wants a job at Company A, and Company A uses one-way video interviews as a screening tool, that individual must either participate in the interview on the company’s terms or lose the opportunity. No one I know has chosen to walk away from this interview format, which is probably wise considering the current state of the economy.

Format and Preparation

Interviewees should expect to view only one interview question at a time (as opposed to having the full set of questions up front). They may or may not be able to record their response several times. I have interviewed job candidates who have had one chance, three chances, and as many chances as they wanted to record each response. Having limitless re-record opportunities seems to be the most challenging option

August 2020 | PAGE 18

because candidates might struggle to determine when their response is strong enough to move to the next question, which can invite fatigue and result in sounding “canned.”

How should candidates prepare for such variety? Just like they would for any other interview. I teach my clients and students to research the company in advance, reread the job description, carefully consider their qualifications and what they will contribute to the company, and be ready to answer common screening interview questions. These questions tend to be about the candidate’s background, strengths, weaknesses, challenges they’ve faced, and why they’re interested in the role or company, to name a few. I encourage clients to think strategically about mentioning key skills and qualifications in case the first screening of the interview is run through artificial intelligence, which can help determine if candidates qualify by “listening” for key terms.

Mastering video conferencing as a genre of communication will help job seekers far beyond just a one-way video interview, too. To this end, I advise my clients to know how to use their webcam or built- in video camera and ear buds or a headset, learn how to arrange lighting so their face is clearly visible, dress professionally, and remember to look directly into the camera. And, of course, to smile and have good posture! These little steps show a candidate’s enthusiasm and preparedness.

Perhaps most importantly, I recommend that job seekers practice answering common interview questions while recording themselves on a free platform like Zoom or through built-in software like Quicktime. I encourage them to create separate recordings for each response, then watch their recordings and objectively evaluate how they did, with attention to both content and presentation. While having job seekers do a live mock interview with you can be beneficial for all types of interviews, encouraging a client or student who is expecting a one- way video interview to practice recording individual responses is particularly helpful because they have to take control of when to hit record, when to stop, etc. If they struggle to see their own flaws when evaluating their performance, they can share the recordings with you, or a friend or colleague who they can trust to be frank. Receiving constructive criticism and making improvements accordingly boosts confidence, which can help tremendously during the interview process.

Takeaway

For better or worse, one-way video interviews are an emerging technology used to screen candidates. If this type of interviewing is as new to you as it is to many job seekers, I hope this overview will be a valuable resource as you coach your clients and students to interview success.

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Promoting Racial Justice as a Career Service Professional

Posted By Doug Phares, Monday, July 27, 2020
 

 

 

 

Promoting Racial Justice as
a Career Service Professional

The protests across United States are highlighting the work that still needs to be done in the country to achieve racial justice. Career service professionals can influence and create positive change because of our unique role that intersects preparing job seekers and at times collaborating with organizations, hiring managers, and recruiters. If career service professionals like myself aim to help clients and students in the most effective manner possible, it is on our shoulders to understand the past and the present—and racism’s role in both—so we can serve everyone equally well.

My understanding of this complex topic has been growing and evolving since 2005, when I started graduate school to earn a PhD in History at Duke University. Serving as a grading assistant for an early American history course, I quickly realized I would never understand the history of the U.S. if I didn’t understand slavery’s role in it. I diverted my original research agenda and seven years later I graduated after having written a dissertation on slavery. Today, I see our nation’s founding and past inherently intertwined with the pressing matters of racial justice, our workforce, and the economy.

COVID-19, Black Americans, and the Economy

The pandemic has caused an even more precarious case for Black Americans as far as employment than it has for white Americans. Consider these statistics:

As of 2019 (which now feels like a million years ago, I know), Black workers had fewer employment opportunities than white workers, they had fewer well-paying, stable jobs, and their employment fluctuated more than it does for white workers. One author took note of “systematic racial differences in labor market outcomes.” In other words, even when the unemployment rate for Blacks was historically low (5.5%) in September 2019, Black workers were still disproportionately affected by unemployment (unemployment for whites was 3.2%).

Let’s look at 2020. The recent historically high unemployment rate because of coronavirus has unduly affected Black Americans even when the economy seemed to rally recently. In May, the overall unemployment rate reported by the Labor Department fell to 13.3% (from 14.7% in April). Good news! For white Americans, the news was even better—the rate fell to 12.4%. Yet unemployment rose to 16.8% for Black workers. A report from the Economic

JULY 2020 | PAGE 16

Policy Institute noted, “The pandemic and related job losses have been especially devastating for black households.”

As 2020 progresses, the situation for Black Americans and many people of color remains bleak if we can’t make great strides toward racial justice. Jobs are harder to come by and, as of this writing, information published on the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention website suggests racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionally affected by COVID-19 illness and death.

Ways to Help

Enhance Self-Knowledge and Awareness

A great step toward promoting racial justice is increasing your knowledge. Here are resources that serve as a starting point for anyone looking to educate themselves on issues of race and racial justice in the U.S. (See the Sources section for URLs to these resources and other sources consulted in this article.)

1619 Project. This ongoing project by the New York Times Magazines won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize and examines the legacy of slavery in the U.S. Its launch in 2019 correlated to the 400th anniversary of when the first enslaved Africans were brought to Virginia, marking the birth of African slavery in the American English colonies.

“Talking About Race,” National Museum of African American History & Culture. This free, no-registration- required portal helps people explore the topics of race and racial identity. The site is also tailored for different audiences, such as “I Am an Educator,” “I Am a Parent or Caregiver,” and “I Am a Person Committed to Equity.”

Harvard University’s Project Implicit. This series of assessments allows users to respond to questions on a wide variety of topics, including race, and
then receive information about their individual beliefs and attitudes. These assessments can be

a powerful way to enhance self-understanding.

Anti-racism Resources.

This robust Google Doc designed to educate white audiences was created in May 2020 by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein and includes a plethora of links to documentaries,

books, articles, and podcasts to consult and names of organizations to support.

Take Action

In tandem with increasing one’s knowledge and awareness, each individual can promote racial equity and justice in their own ways, but here are a few suggestions tailored toward career service professionals.

Ensure your “office”—virtual or traditional—is a safe space where your students or clients can openly talk about their concerns. At the outset of a résumé writing project, I openly ask my clients whether they think they might have any obstacles to overcome. This question has sparked discussions on a wide range of concerns, and we strategize ways they might be able to overcome potential biases in the hiring process.

Be open to talking about racism (and other forms of discrimination). There has been attention focused lately on white people not being willing to talk about race or racism for fear of saying something wrong. But sidestepping this topic is not helpful to the students and clients who might be experiencing it. I don’t know if I’m getting it right all the time, but I will tell clients that I genuinely think it’s awful if they have to be concerned about prejudice in a given situation—whether it’s because of their skin color, age, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, etc. I want people to know I care. Everyone has a story and it’s a privilege to be a part of it. This

often leads to a heartfelt conversation about the client’s personal values and the strategy we’ll use in the application process.

Support programs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. DE&I is a growing and important field, and you can volunteer your time to

JULY 2020 | PAGE 17

supporting programs that aim to create more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.

Push for more equitable hiring practices. Anyone in a position to influence hiring practices directly to ensure they are equitable can help achieve diversity in a company, which also has been shown to improve the bottom line.

Closing

There are many ways we, as members of our communities and as career services professionals, can support racial justice—from volunteering at organizations providing career services to those in need, to intentionally patronizing Black-owned businesses, to supporting Black career services colleagues, to speaking out against overt racism as well as microagressions, to donating money, and supporting protests.

To my colleagues who are people of color: I will never be able to understand racial injustice from your perspective,but please know I STAND WITH YOU.

Sources

1619 Project: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/08/14/ magazine/1619-america-slavery.html

Anti-racism Resources Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/ document/d/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO-QgirITwCTugSfKie5Fs/ preview

“Talking About Race,” National Museum of African American History & Culture: https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking -about-race

Harvard University’s Project Implicit: https://implicit.harvard. edu/implicit/

Employment and Coronavirus Statistics and Information:

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/ reports/2019/12/05/478150/african-americans-face -systematic- obstacles-getting-good-jobs/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/06/04/ black-unemployment-2020-joblessness-compounds -anguish-over-brutality/3138521001/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need -extra-precautions/racial-ethnic-minorities.html

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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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