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On your marks! Get set! Go get a job!

by Shannon Stollenmaier, staff writer



HPU graduated more than 600 students just last week, and already many seniors anticipate pomp and circumstance of the May 2003 graduation ceremony. But before they throw that cap up in the air in frenzied excitement and grab hold of that hard earned diploma, they still have a spring semester to complete and a great deal of preparation before taking a place in the work force. Put on your running shoes, seniors, and all the rest of you, too. It’s still a long race ahead!

The job racetrack
It's not the person who is most qualified who gets the job. Rather it's the person with the best job search skills, said Mary Schilling, director of the Career Development Center at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. HPU’s Career Service Center (CSC) can teach you the strategies you will need in the job search process. “We are in the business of arming students with job skills that they will utilize for a lifetime,” said Lianne Maeda, director of CSC. What are some of these strategies and how can they help us run on the job racetrack and emerge victorious?

1) Self-assessment
Northwestern University asked 500 employers to observe behaviors that work against a job applicant’s progress in the job search. According to the study, one of the most pronounced weaknesses was that applicants did not know themselves. Through self-assessment, you will be able to pinpoint your skills, determine what you possess in the way of character, creativity, and talent, and what type of job will be most satisfying. At HPU all students in COM 1000, Career Skills, take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Instrument. In addition, self-assessment guides are available at CSC. These include Career Kokua, an online information delivery system provided by the Department of Labor, and Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS), a series of quizzes and questionnaires to help students construct a career profile.

2) Set career goals
After self-evaluation, you can begin to develop a career plan by setting goals that are in line with your skills, salary range, environment, and the locale in which you want to use them, said Schilling. For example, your degree may be in business administration, but you have a wide range of fields to choose from including banking, computer business systems, sales and marketing, and human resources.

3) Do the research
Before applying for a position and especially before interviewing you should research the industry and company. It is crucial to know the company’s services, products, mission statement, and organization. Employers noted this as a second major weakness among job applicants according to the Northwestern University survey. When applying, compose a tailored cover letter for each position you apply to, emphasizing job-specific facets of your educational background, work, or internship experiences and applicable skills.

4) Establish a network
A network is a system of friends, family members, co-workers, faculty, alumni, and former work or internship supervisors who can offer you leads to potential job opportunities, career advice, and general support. If you get a lead through the network, be sure to follow-up so you don’t harm the reputation of the person who helped you. Also, be sure to express your gratitude for the opportunity your network resource provided.

5) A powerful resume
Resume writing is truly an artform. Because an employer spends an average of only 30-45 seconds perusing a resume, you had better be sure that your resume captures his or her attention. An effective resume reviews your qualifications, education, training, and work related experiences in a clear, concise manner that can be easily digested. “The most challenging part of the job search process is marketing yourself, putting the right pieces together in the most dynamic, effective way possible to get your point across,” said Maeda.

6) Prepare the interview
Anticipate questions and prepare answers. Role play with a friend. The CSC provides a videotaping service where your interview with a career counselor is recorded. “The videotaping process simulates the real anxieties and atmosphere of an interview. This is an extremely helpful tool for students because they can see themselves and get feedback from our counselors,” said Maeda. Finally, prepare questions for the employer that convey a genuine interest in the organization and the company’s needs. Follow-up with the employer one to two days after your interview, once again showing initiative and interest.

7) Evaluate offers
Be sure to assess the offer in terms of the interests, skills, values, and preferences you established during your self-assessment and career plan development.

Keep in mind that your first job does not determine your career path forever. Think about the position as a launching pad for your future.

“The biggest mistake students make is that they wait until the last minute,” said Maeda. “The most successful people are those that plan ahead and prepare. In truth, the entire four to five years of a student’s college career should be a preparation for his or her career. The academic career is synonymous with a career. It’s a work in progress.”



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