SPSU Alumni have questions, we have answers
Q: Can SPSU alumni make advising appointments with the Department of Career Planning and Development?
A: Yes! Alumni meet with an Alumni Career Advisor by contacting the Department of Career Planning and Development. To schedule an appointment, call 470-578-6555.
Q: What happened to CareerLink?
A: On June 30th, all CareerLink accounts were taken offline. All students from both campuses must now register for Handshake.
Q: Who should I see for advising appointments?
A: Contact our main office at 470-578-6555 and ask to meet with an Alumni Career Advisor.
Which category of KSU Alumni job seeker are you?
Alumni 0-2 years out from Graduation
Diving into the deep end of the job market after graduating can be a frightening experience, but it does not have to be. The demand for recent college graduates mirrors the national economic picture, which means that jobs are scarce, but for college grads with experience and a positive outlook, jobs are available.
So, how do you prepare yourself to be successful in your job hunt? Start with the Department of Career Planning and Development and your Alumni Career Advisor.
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The workplace in the 21st century is very complicated. Workers have more rights and are more transitory than ever before. Similarly, employers are much more likely to downsize, right size or optimize their workers out of a job.
In the current economy, as companies keep cutting jobs and the unemployment rate mounts, it’s more likely than ever that you’ll be competing for scarce job openings against a legion of new college grads — twenty-somethings who are younger than you, more comfortable with computers and new technologies, and who may be more willing to take a position with an entry-level salary and a demanding work schedule.
But with the right strategy, there are ways to use your age and experience to your advantage. Start with scheduling your appointment with your Alumni Career Advisor, 470-578-6555.
How to Handle a Career Transition
All professional performers hit a speed bump on their career journey. It’s obvious something needs to change but less clear whether the solution is to re-route or exit altogether. How do you know if you’ve reached your first transition? The first step is to determine whether you need to fix your performing career, develop a support career, or create an entirely new career path.
If you’ve had some success navigating the industry, the block may be your approach to the business. You may need to relocate to a new market, build your network, or develop a focused business plan.
If you are in a slump between projects, perhaps the solution is developing a dynamic support career that gives you a second focus. The best support careers make use of your other talents, giving confidence and fulfillment that complement your performance work.
If there’s a growing dissatisfaction with the lifestyle of performing or your career circumstances, or it’s simply time for a change, that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You’re evolving, and what you want for your life has shifted. The excellent news is that many careers out there are perfect for your experience, personality, and talent.
No matter where you are in your decision process, be honest with yourself. Open your mind to learning something new about who you are, what you want, and what might be next for your life, professionally and personally. It’s the best investment you can possibly make.
6 Tips for Seasoned Professionals
Here are six tips, along with advice from professionals and the hiring managers themselves, to help you get your years of experience to work for you during the application process and in the interview.
- Keep your résumé short.
- Zero in on your relevant skills.
- Get specific.
- Emphasize your ability to adapt.
- Develop your web savvy.
- Talk about your leadership skills.
(Quotes taken from U.S. News & World Report: “How an Older Worker Can Get the Interview” by Liz Wolgemuth and “6 Ways for Older Workers to Impress Hiring Managers” by Emily Brandon.)
As an older worker, you have a wealth of work experience that a recent grad doesn’t. While it’s good to drive that point home, “your résumé shouldn’t be any longer than one-and-a-half to two pages,” says Jon Zion, president of Eastern operations for Robert Half International, the world’s largest specialized staffing firm and the parent company for staffing agencies Accountemps, OfficeTeam, and The Creative Group.
Use bullets to get in information like job title, date, location, and a few accomplishments.
“You don’t want to say too much,” Zion says. “You just want to create some interest.”
While keeping it to-the-point, make sure you’ve peppered your résumé with the right high-impact words and action verbs. Many large companies now use computer programs that scan your résumé and cover letter for target key words in order to weed out the applications that don’t cut it. If you don’t make it past this automated gatekeeper, a human being may never even see your application. For some extensive lists of résumé key words you can draw on, try Résumé Help, Quintessential Careers, and Professional Résumés.
The longer you’ve been in the work force, the more likely you are to have held multiple jobs at various companies. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you’ve worked in a range of different industries, slapping every job you’ve ever had on your résumé and listing all your responsibilities for each and every position will make you look well-rounded and experienced. Your résumé will just end up being unfocused and likely passed over by busy hiring managers who can’t find the job-relevant info they’re looking for right off the bat.
Instead, highlight only the work experience that applies directly to the job you’re applying for. This usually means you’ll need to custom-tailor your résumé for each position you’re applying for.
You should still provide prospective employers with a reasonably full work history — you don’t want to have a bunch of gaps in your employment history. Just be very deliberate about how you arrange your information: Consider listing your most relevant work experience first, and spend more time describing your work responsibilities at relevant jobs than at non-relevant ones. For those jobs that don’t relate to what you’re currently applying for, you may just want to list your employer and your title; you can answer any questions about what you did there during an interview.
The best way to convey just how much value you can bring to a new company is by giving specific examples of how you improved the bottom line for previous companies you’ve worked for, whether an idea you came up with led to the company making bigger profits or streamlined workflow. Use specific numbers whenever you have them.
“We are really looking at past performance to predict future performance,” says Kristy Rigot, system director for recruitment and retention at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, Fla.
Show employers you’re not resistant to new technologies or other changes. The more you embrace learning and support the evolution of a company, the better your chances are of competing with a bunch of young go-getters.
Give examples of how you adapted when your last company implemented a new software program or marketing campaign strategy, or when one of your employers joined forces with a new business partner that completely changed the way your company did business.
It’s important for job applicants, particularly seasoned ones, to “present themselves as eager to try new things,” says Dale Sweere, the director of human resources for Stanley Consultants in Muscatine, Iowa. “If they can demonstrate through their past experience or give examples of how they adapted to new experiences even late in their career, that is all the better.”
Establish an online presence. Join professional social networking sites like LinkedIn and XING, where you can connect with past and current colleagues and use these connections to search and get recommended for jobs. Previous bosses and colleagues can post comments about your past work performance for prospective employers to see.
You can even go one step further and create a Visual CV, an online multimedia résumé that allows you to include video, pictures, and a portfolio of your best work. Securely share different versions of your résumé with different companies, and control who sees what. Each visual résumé has its own unique Web address, which you could print on a business card or e-mail to a potential employer.
Companies usually want to see that, as an experienced worker, you bring more to the table than just your knowledge. Businesses may look to older or seasoned workplace veterans to teach newbies the ropes and to help them learn how to effectively convey their ideas to senior executives and upper management.
How an Applicant Tracking System Reads your Resume
Returning to the Workforce
Many reasons can cause you to return to the workforce: suddenly needing to transition into the role of wage earner, returning from caring for a child or ill family member, or becoming an empty-nester. Whatever your reason, the workforce can use you and your skills and talents. You can be valuable to many companies.
Regardless of whether you have been away from the workforce for 30 days or 30 years, you can apply the principles of job seeking to your job search and successfully find work. Start with the Department of Career Planning and Development and your Alumni Career Advisor.
How Can I Care for My Children & Make a Living?
You may be a single parent, widowed, going through a divorce, or returning to work to help pay family finances. It can be draining to care for your children and pay the bills, but a focused approach to your job search can make things easier.
Before you begin looking for work, identify your family’s emotional, physical, mental, and financial needs.
Talk to everyone about your job search. Network with working parents who are in similar circumstances. Create a support group for yourself and find a mentor.
Be realistic about the amount of work you can take on. If you are concerned about how you will carry your new load, you may consider taking a volunteer or part-time position before you move on to full-time employment. This can prepare your body for the physical and emotional demands of working and caring for your children.
Once you have a job, establish a schedule with your children that can provide them with a sense of stability and support.
Not Skilled Enough or the Industry Has Changed?
After being away from the workforce, you may feel that your skills have weakened or that you need to learn new things. Whether you feel you need to brush up on your abilities or acquire a new skill set, the Department of Career Planning and Development can help you recognize the marketable skills and talents you have. It can also help you set goals and make a concrete plan of how to get more education or training if you need it.
Look at what you have. Even though you may not have been working in the workforce, you still have marketable skills and abilities. In the time that you have not been working, you have been strengthening yourself in other ways (such as time management and problem solving). Many of these skills are transferable. Consider the skills, talents, and abilities you have gained or improved while you have been away from the workforce. Reflect on how those things have helped you to achieve specific accomplishments. Think about how these skills could help you in your new job. Be proud of the skills and talents you possess.
Sharpen your skills and talents. If you need to refresh your skills or learn new skills, you may consider taking a training course, enrolling in classes, or volunteering for the company. Sharpening your skills does not necessarily mean going back to school. Assess what your skill level is now and where you would like it to be. Career Planning and Development can help you identify resources that can help you bring your skills to the level you desire.
Who Will Hire Me with My Bad Work History?
Perhaps you have large gaps between jobs, have changed jobs frequently, have had attendance trouble, have been incarcerated, have left your previous job on bad terms, or have had substance-abuse trouble. Many things can reflect negatively on your work history, but these things do not have to stop you from getting a job.
Prepare a short statement you can share with a potential employer that can explain your circumstances. Be honest but try to create a statement that can leave a potential employer with a good impression of you.
If you are still trying to resolve those things that are making your work history look bad, consider what resources can help you. Ask everyone you meet if they know of any job openings or anyone who may be able to help you in your job search. Talk to people about your work interests and strengths. Cultivate your social media brand using LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Discuss your networking experiences with your Alumni Career Advisor.
Potential Employers Might Think I Am Too Old
Consider the reasons you are returning to the workforce. Do you have extra time? Are you an empty nester? Have you lost your retirement? Or do you need supplemental income?
Assess your abilities and restrictions. Realistically determine the working conditions you need to succeed.
Think about how your abilities, skills, talents, and experience can help you to succeed in a work setting with those conditions. Look for a job that can allow you to use your strengths. As you talk to potential employers, market those strengths.
Many countries have legislation to protect you against age discrimination. Be aware of the laws in your area. Even with laws in place, employers can still find ways to get around hiring older employees. Before you begin interviewing, talk to an Alumni Career Advisor about how you can resolve potential employers’ concerns.
Plan how you will respond to a potential employer’s concerns if he or she thinks you might not understand technology, are overqualified, or might not get along with a supervisor or boss who is younger than you are.
Maintain a positive attitude about your age and abilities. While some employers may feel that older people are not valuable workers, others feel just the opposite.
5 Ways to Cultivate an Active Social network
Here are a few tips to remember:
Some job seekers mistakenly believe that extended leave is an automatic black mark. Because of this, some lie and claim they were self-employed during their leave. This is a patently bad idea. While it is unlikely that a future employer will investigate the claim, lying during the job seeking process is unethical and can lead to problems down the line. Instead, be honest about your extended work leave. I have found that all hiring managers want is an answer. Where were you all that time? On an extended vacation? Watching Oprah? In prison? They just want to know about the gap.
Keep it Professional
There are two ways to present extended work leave during the resume writing process. The first is to simply include one or two sentences in the cover letter explaining the reason for your extended leave (birth of children, illness, family) and that you are ready to re-enter the work force. Job seekers who opt for this option should keep it short and focus on logical reasons versus cute stories about their children or detailed explanations of medical conditions. Remember to keep it professional.
Include Work Leave on your Resume
A second option is including your work leave directly on your resume. Some job seekers have had success by including their responsibilities and skills used during their extended leave. Scheduling, organizing and multi-tasking are just a few of the skills new mothers hone during their absence from work. These skills, and others, can be beneficial in the work environment.
Unfortunately, the human resources community is divided on the subject. While there are laws governing hiring practices, the truth is a resume and cover letter is your first and often only chance to sway a hiring manager to meet with you. While an extended leave of absence for personal reasons may be admirable to some, actually giving the job seeker a leg up, other hiring managers may shy away from resumes that do not adequately cover the subject.
The best advice may be to carefully research the company and hiring manager for each job you are submitting your resume for and to craft a specific resume and cover letter for each job. Carefully reviewing a company website and Internet research may very well give you inside insight into the company and their practices.
Finding a job after an extended leave can be a long process. In fact, it seems like the longer you were out of the workforce, the longer it takes to become employed again. Try focusing your efforts on professionally representing your time off and be as honest as you can. Remember that finding a job is a job in itself so stay positive, craft custom resumes and cover letters whenever possible and use your interview as a chance to really showcase what you can offer the company.