For many people the idea of putting in a two weeks’ notice has a negative connotation attached to it, when in reality it can be seen as a step in the right direction. If a job is not working for you, don’t feel obligated to work in misery. Miserable workers are not exactly the most productive workers. Do keep in mind that I am by no means advocating that people put in a two weeks’ notice at the first sign of discomfort. Instead I am suggesting that people consider moving on if solutions to issues have been given a fair shot. Once you have established that things just are not working out, you can take comfort in knowing that finding a new job that better suits you is beneficial for all involved. Obviously, eliminating the daily debate of whether or not to call in “sick” to work helps you achieve a healthier mental state, but also remember that when the right job for you has been secured, the company or organization you’re working for will also benefit from your enthusiasm to contribute. Additionally, leaving a job provides room for someone else who might be a better fit for the position to come in.

Now that we have established that leaving a job is not the worst thing in the world, the actual process of leaving can now be addressed. Just like any other type of relationship, there is definitely a bad and a best way to put an end to things. Here are a few things to keep in mind when going through the motions of putting your two weeks in…

  1. At the very least notify your employer two weeks before your intended last day keeping in mind that the more time you give them the better.
  2. Type up a short letter clearly stating when your last day of availability will be.
  3. In your letter stating your last day of availability do offer to help your employer out by training new personnel, passing along unfinished tasks etc. in order to create a smooth transition for all.
  4. Before notifying your boss, plan ahead deciding what you would like to say. This will ensure that the conversation is kept professional and eliminates the potential for emotions to arise.
  5. If possible, notify your boss in person. Give them the typed up letter for future reference.
  6. In your conversation with your boss or in your letter stating your last day of availability, don’t feel like you have to explain why you’re leaving.
  7. Finish up any projects or figure out who will finish them once you are gone.
  8. Only notify your colleagues that you’re leaving once you have told your boss.
  9. Finish strong. Don’t peter out on your daily attendance, tasks or termly goals.
  10. Ask your boss if they would mind being a future reference for you. Of course only do this if your overall time at the company/ organization consisted of a positive experience.

With a little bit of careful planning, the seemingly scary task of putting in a two weeks’ notice can be viewed from a completely different angle. I’m sure many of us have heard the saying “when one door closes another door opens”. It’s important to realize that you have the power to close the door. Don’t wait for someone else to close it for you. Instead know that submitting a two weeks’ notice can get you one step closer to your career goals and give you the potential to thrive.

posted by Adriana Aguilar, Career Assistant

In my employment at The Career Development Center, I have come across many people who need to find something else to take up that last inch or two at the bottom of their page. Assuming you’ve used all of your professional experiences already, there’s a few options there, but let’s focus on my favorite— the activity section!

Now some people have reservations about using the activity section, “but it’s unprofessional,” “but it’s irrelevant.” Nah. Not really. When a recruiter looks at your resume they can see a lot more than just a list of jobs, and what school you went to. They start to see your personality, how you chose to format things, the font you chose, and what order you put the sections in. Sure, maybe they don’t look into all of this on the first round going through resumes, but if they make it down to the final ten resumes, you can bet that yours will be examined beyond scrutiny. This is where your activities section comes in.

Each workplace has its own culture. Let’s think about it: when you are at work you will spend 8+ hours a day with a certain group of people. You will likely make friends with these people, and the entire workplace may choose to engage in activities (like Frisbee Fridays). Having your hobbies you do and sports you play on the bottom of your resume will show them a few things:

  • You are a well-rounded person, not just an academic
  • You can operate in a team environment and make connections with people
  • You play, and laugh, and can fit in in the unique culture of the company

So, if you have space for an activities section, it can make the difference between being the new hire and staying on the job search. If you ever have questions about what you should include in your resume, please visit The Career Development Center at Oregon State University.

Part of becoming a good interviewer is understanding what your audience is looking for when they ask questions. Having a foundation of understanding can help you feel more comfortable in an interview and answer the question with accuracy. I cannot pretend to know exactly what every single employer may be looking for, but I can tell you what I have gleaned from my time doing mock interviews. I have learned what makes for a great interview answer through hearing many good, mediocre, and bad examples. The main thing that employers are looking to learn about you in an interview is, who you are. I know many of you might be thinking “but I thought they are looking to find out if you can do the job?” This is somewhat true. But if you have made it to the interview process, they probably assume that you can. Now it is a matter of will you fit in here and be able to do the job. The more you are able to let them understand you and how you go about doing work (solving problems, working with others, process for doing things) the more likely you are to get hired with a company in which you will fit the culture. Let’s go through some specific examples of common questions and what an employer is probably looking for:

  1. Tell me about yourself?

    This question seems to be the most hated of all interview questions. The frustration comes from how broad this question is and not knowing where to start. Relax. All the employer wants to know is a little bit about your background and the events that have led up to you interviewing for the job. What sparked your interest in (insert job here)? Was it your major in college? An interest area that you developed from a volunteer event? How did you get here?

  2. Why do you want to work for (insert company/organization here)?
    A common mistake that people make with this question, is assuming that it means what it says. It DOES NOT mean “why do YOU want to work here?” What it really means is, “what do you know (or think you know) about our company, have you done your research, and how do your values align with ours?” When you answer this question you need to be well researched about what the companies mission statement and/or culture is and how you can relate that to yourself. The organization or company wants to feel as if they are the only company you would ever consider applying for, as if they are the best choice in the world! So make them feel special and consider what it is you admire about what they do. Do NOT, under any circumstances, reply “I need a job that pays well.” Even if that is the truth! That does not make them feel special.
  3. What are your greatest strengths?
    This one is slightly more straightforward. You should, in fact, list some of your strengths. When I say strengths, I mean character strengths (organization, leadership, helping others,etc.) , not skills (bilingual, can use a computer). However, simply listing your strengths is not enough. Listing strengths does not tell an employer anything except that you know how to list things that sound like they would be good things to exhibit. Instead, pretend that the employer has added to this question “tell me about a time in which you have used these strengths.” When you tell a story about using the strengths you have listed, you are then explaining what those words mean to you (it could be different depending on the person) and how you actually can demonstrate your use of them.
  4. What is your greatest weakness?
    This is another question that people really dislike. The point of this question is not to make you feel embarrassed or stupid. The point of this question is that everyone has one. Be honest when you answer. What is something that you struggle with (procrastination, timeliness, etc.)? It’s okay because everyone struggles with something; to err is to be human. The trick to this question is to follow it up with a story about a time when this weakness has come up for you and what you did about. Did you learn something? How did you overcome it in the future? Telling this story will demonstrate how you go about dealing with your weakness. They want to know that you can recognize your weaknesses and that you know how to combat them.
  5. Tell me about a time when you have worked on a team?
    This is a pretty straightforward question. However, make sure that the story that you tell about your teamwork includes something juicy! A little bit of conflicting ideas, members who didn’t pull their weight, or something that went wrong. Why? Because then the employer gets to hear about how you work with others. What do you do when there is a conflict? They want to hear about your process for being a good group member in a professional manner. This tells them how you will get along with other staff members and what kind of personality you will contribute to the team.
    There are often hidden meanings in interview questions. The best thing to do is to take the route in which you tell the most about who you are and how you go about doing things. This is always going to be the best way to let the employer learn about you and whether or not you will be a good fit for the position and the office culture. And then, if you do not get the job, you can be confident in knowing it is because it would not have been a good fit for you. If you get it, you can be sure that it will be a work environment where you are going to get along great with your new team.

Cover letters are something that not very many people hear about until they are well into their college career, but over the past few years the tendency for an employer to ask for a cover letter has become more and more popular. I was curious to find out why that is and why cover letters are so important to employers in the hiring process so I decided to sit down with someone who has had to interview and hire people in the past, my mother. The purpose of this interview was to ask her not only why cover letters were important but also to get her own personal view on why, if they are so important, don’t people hear about them until they are well into college as well as maybe any advice she had on how to write a cover letter.

I began by asking her when she first heard of a cover letter and as it so happens she never heard about them until she had lost her job and started going back to school, which is crazy and she said she feels like if she had heard about them sooner she might have felt more prepared in applying to school and getting a new job. Then we started talking about why a cover letter is important to the employer when they are looking to fill a position. She told me the biggest reason that they are important is because “they give you a sense of the persons’ character and personality (if done right) that you can’t get from a resume and that might just be what gets them that interview.” This reminded me of something I learned while working at Career Services at Oregon State University, which is that a resume is the facts of what experienced you have gained and when and where you completed said experience, but a cover letter is the passion; The passion of not only why you did said experiences but also (and more importantly) why you are looking to start this new experience that you are applying for. As an employer my mother said that there is nothing better than reading about why someone wants to work for you and why they are so excited to be a part of your organization, because I mean who wants to hire someone who isn’t excited to be there right?

So advice from an employer’s view on how to write a cover letter is very simple in my mother’s eyes, “Cover letters take time and thought. You can’t just throw something together because you don’t know what to do and hope that it works. If you don’t know how to do something ask, plain and simple and it is no different with cover letters. There is tons of good information out there that can help you with all the formatting and content of what should be in each paragraph. But it is not enough to simply look up an example and then just wing it on writing one. You also have to research the company or organization to which you are applying and ask yourself why you want to work for them. If you can’t convince yourself that you are excited, you will never convince an employer. But the most important thing is to make sure that you are tailoring in to the company and even to the person who is going to be interviewing you. This way they know that you did your homework and it shows that you are the kind of person who doesn’t take the easy way out. So if you are applying for something that requires a cover letter take your time, do the research, put some thought into it, and ASK FOR HELP. A second pair of eyes is always helpful too.” The only thing that I have to add to this is that a great place to ask for help is somewhere like the Career Services Center at Oregon State University, where people are trained on how to help you write and effective cover letter.

The last question I asked was “When do you think students should learn about and start practicing writing cover letters?” Her answer: “If it were up to me students would start with cover letters and resumes in the 8th grade, because this way when they go to look for a job while they are in high school they have already been exposed to the concept of a resume and cover letter can at least write one that will make the employer take notice. Instead of being so lost and maybe not getting a job or interview simply because they were never taught a basic skill that isn’t going to go away at any point in their life.” This is just something to think about. Why is it that some people can graduate high school never even hearing of a cover letter much less learning how to write one? If you or someone you know has anything to do with primary education this might be something that we can look into, it may not be something as drastic as making a full class or anything but maybe just a workshop that students can take even just in high school that will give them the chance to at least get some kind of exposure to this necessary skill.

posted by Alyssa Zeigler, Career Assistant

It doesn’t take long for a boss to know if they are going to hire someone. Studies show that at times it can take less than 90 seconds. There are many things that you can do to make sure that these first 90 seconds and the remaining time in the interview work to your advantage. How Interviewers Know When to Hire You in 90 Seconds helps point out the biggest mistakes, what makes the biggest impact and other tips to create a great first impression!

After reading through the article check out how you can get some Interviewing Practice through Career Services!

Making a first impression is more than an impressive resume and answering interview questions. Your body language can have a huge effect on how people and employers percieve you. Amy Cuddy takes this idea and goes further. She talks about how our body language can effect how we see ourselves. Her study showed that taking on power poses for two minutes can raise testosterone and lower cortisol, thus improving confidence. Cuddy states, “Tiny tweaks and lead to big changes.” This change in self image can improve confidence in, presentations, giving a pitch, or job interviews! Check out the Ted Talk to learn more…

Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

 

It might sound strange, but “storytelling” is an important skill to have when job searching. I have been providing interviewing consultations for the past year and a half, and this is the most important thing that I have learned. Why is it important to be able to tell a story? Ultimately, a good story is memorable and teaches the listener something about the teller. When job searching, the most important thing you need to do well is to be able to paint a picture of yourself for others. Employers want someone with (a) skills to do the job, and (b) ability to fit into their work culture and environment. Your resume will demonstrate your skills. Everyone interviewing for the position probably has the same skills that you do, otherwise they wouldn’t have an interview. So what sets you apart from everyone else? You. You set yourself apart with your personality, values, and goals. All of these things should align with the company or organization and position, for which you are applying. A good story can illustrate this fit.
Now you might be saying to yourself “but I do not have any good stories” or “I am not good at telling stories”. Well never fear! Anyone can become a good storyteller with some preparation and practice. We will start by explaining commonly used method for creating stories. The STAR method:

  • S is for situation. Set up your story with the situation. What was happening? For example, “we were working on a project in math class.”
  • T is for task. What was your job? “I was assigned to create a formula.”
  • A is for action. What did you do? “I did a lot of research to find out what would be the best formula, by utilizing a database.”
  • R is for result. End your story by stating what happened as a result of your actions. “I got an A on the assignment and my professor told me it was well researched.”
  • Now that you know the STAR method, here are some tips on how to create the best stories:

    1. Research common interview questions. These are easy enough to find via google. Sometimes these questions might not seem as if they are looking for a story, but always tell a story. For example: What are your greatest strengths? You might answer simply by stating “I am hardworking, a great listener, and always positive.” But this is not very impactful or memorable. Instead, start with this statement and then follow it up with a story about a time in which you have demonstrated these traits. The story that you come up with, could probably be applied to other questions, even if they do not ask you this exact one.
    2. A good story is specific. A generalization is not a good story. For example “I am a great multitasker because I do that at work all the time. I am always having to balance talking to students, answering e-mails, and programming.” A specific version of that might sound more like this “Yes I can multitask. One day at my job with Career Services I was feeling very swamped. I was trying to finish a blog, create some powerpoint presentations, and answer e-mails, all in between my consulting appointments and meetings. So in order to get it all done, I made a list of all my tasks with the due dates next to them. Every time I had a free minute, I focused on the task at hand. I temporarily ignored other things, like e-mail so that I could accomplish the most important ones. I was able to focus enough to get everything done on time and my work was some of my best quality because I was focused.” This version tells you much more about what I do, how I handle those situations, and if way more memorable.
    3. You can make anything into a story. Think about activities you have been involved with (i.e. school, work, clubs, sports, volunteering, internships, job shadowing, etc.) Which of these activities could contain some stories? Have you ever had a particular experience that has stuck with you? A time when you learned something? If so, great! Use that as a story! If you are having a hard time thinking of a particular story, think of the things that you did on a regular basis and consider turning that into a story. For example: Perhaps you are a student and every term/semester you have to balance school, your part-time job, and time for yourself. Was there a particular term/semester that was hard for you? Think back to that time and think of it as a story.
      “One particular term, I was very busy. I had a lot of hard classes and I was swamped at work. I started to get behind in my classes, so I was feeling overwhelmed. So, in order to make sure I was able to do well, I started asking my professors for help during office hours. I also talked to my boss at work so that they understood what was going on and could help by lessening my hours temporarily. I organized my homework on a calendar so that I always knew when the deadlines were. I ended up catching up in my classes and doing great that term. I learned that sometimes in order to do your best you have to ask for help.” This might seem like something everyone does, but putting it in the form of a story, grabs the attention of the listener, and helps them to learn more about you.
    4. A good story has an end. A common mistake that many people make, is start a great story, but not give it the ending it deserves. I believe this is often due to the fact that they are focused on the tasks and action aspects of the story. These parts are important. But the ending demonstrates the impact of your tasks and actions. For example someone might tell a story like this: “For my science class we were assigned a group project. We were supposed to create a demonstration of a volcano eruption. At first, no one was sure where to start, so I assigned tasks for the group and made sure everyone had something important to do….” And then what? What happened? Always conclude your story with result. How did it go? Did you make the volcano? What grade did you get? Were your group members happy and cooperative? The ending demonstrates that you learned or earned something from the experience.
    5. A good story is authentic. Do not be afraid to tell a story because you think it might make you look “bad”. Unless you learned nothing from a bad experience (unlikely) you can always make it into a good story. For example, everyone is always afraid of the infamous, “what is your greatest weakness?” question. This means that you must reveal your weakness! But, if you are honest, you know what your weakness is. We all have one. What the interviewer wants to know is that you recognize it and know how to deal with your weakness. So how could you demonstrate that…Oh I know! A STORY! Tell a story about a time when you struggled with something. Maybe you failed a test because you procrastinated, or maybe you forgot to pick up your sister because you were not organized. Whatever, your story is, I am sure you learned something from it and now practice ways to combat making the same mistakes again. Or you caught yourself just in time to fix the problem before it got too big. Sometimes the weakness stories are the best stories. They show growth and ability to solve your own problems, which is very valuable.

Well, those are my most amazing tips for storytelling! Remember, storytelling is all about revealing who you are. That person is amazing! Everyone wants to know that person, including your interviewer or potential employer. Limiting your answers to what you think they might want to hear, only puts a barrier between you and your audience. Storytelling can break that barrier. So go forth and tell stories!

posted by Rebecca Schaffeld, Career Assistant

“From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it.” As a member of the Greek community, I am completely aware of the many stereotypes and challenges that accompany an affiliation with Greek life. Every person has a different experience with Greek life but there is no doubt that you have gained valuable skills from your Greek involvement. From attendance at weekly meetings (time management, punctuality, commitment) to officer positions (leadership, delegation, public speaking) to volunteer opportunities (altruism, service, communication), Greek life has not only had an impact on your life, but also the many skills that you can use to serve companies in the work force.

Here are my top 6 tips for how to positively market Greek life on your resume:

  1. Ask yourself questions about your Greek experience:
    • Did you have leadership positions?
      • What did you do?
      • What skills does this require?
      • How does this relate to your future job?
    • What were requirements of membership in your chapter?
    • What skills do you have now that you didn’t have before you joined Greek life?
  2. Use “Greek” power words: Power words are used to describe experiences listed on your resume and should represent a specific skill gained from that
    experience
    • Suggested “Greek” power words: Achieved, Arranged, Assisted, Attended, Chaired, Collaborated, Coordinated, Communicated, Entrusted, Led, Organized, Planned, Publicized, Ran, Served, Sponsored, Supported, Volunteered
  3. Quantify your experience (to the best of your ability): When providing details about your experience, give concrete quantifiable details. These numbers will give your employers a better idea of what you did, how often you did it, and give your experiences more relevance to their company.
    • How many… People at events? Number of events planned? Dollars raised/counted? People working together as a team? Hours put into planning an event?
    • How often… Do you public speak? Attend meetings? Volunteer? Plan events?
  4. Include details: The easiest way to explain the importance of your experience in Greek life is to provide concrete details about your experience. If you don’t provide details about what you did – employers will fill in those blanks on their own, which could be a benefit OR a detriment
    • Ideas of details to provide include:
      • The purpose of an event
      • Who an event served (community, Greek life, alumni, etc.)
      • Your role in the event (coordinated, planned, attended, facilitated)
  5. Tailor your resume: Each resume you write should be focused on the job at hand. Therefore, use Greek life to highlight the specific skills that a company requires. Does their job description include communication skills, organization skills, or management skills? Use specific examples from your Greek experience to show these skills.
  6. Be confident in your experience: No two Greek experiences will ever be the same. Be confident in your experience and recognize the importance of the skills you gained from that experience. If you are unsure about why you joined your organization or what you gained from the organization, interviewers will feel the same way about the experience. While it’s hard to explain your personal attachment to your organization – the skills you learned from Greek life will remain with you forever.
  7. posted by Kirby Erdman, Career Assistant

As a student that isn’t very involved in their chosen field yet, it can be hard to come up with a list of companies to target when it comes time to search for a job for after graduation. You can do general Google searches, but that process is inefficient and can actually be surprisingly ineffective. Even Career Fairs will be very limited help if the field you’re going into doesn’t have a lot of prospects in this region of the US. Here are a few options for you to help you target new companies in your job search.

Be aware of geography. Maybe you’re someone graduating with a major that can work anywhere, but not all majors have that freedom. Do some research on what geographic areas have a high concentration of companies in your field (a well-known example is Silicon Valley) and concentrate your research there. It’s not impossible to find jobs in areas that don’t have a lot of companies relevant to you, but it is going to be harder.

Join a professional organization. Many professional organizations will have specific career resources available to you. You can discover companies in your field through the career resources they provide or even through who they’re connected to on LinkedIn – assuming the professional organization has a LinkedIn presence (they usually do).

LinkedIn is a useful tool in general. You can find jobs, follow companies and see related companies, and even enter cities that you’re interested in and it will pull up companies in the area. Don’t be afraid to message people on LinkedIn to start making connections – either by directly expressing your interest in working for them or using it as an informational interview experience.

Use the internet to your best advantage. Sites like Monster and Indeed are well known, but it might be advantageous to find less well-known sites that are set up differently. For example, Glassdoor is a site that’s more about researching companies rather than finding any job listing – what it’s like to work for that company, salaries, etc. AfterCollegeJobs is a site that specifically advertises entry-level and internship positions that are appropriate for a new graduate. There are undoubtedly many more tools you could use, you just have to find them!

Meet with a Career Consultant. Last, but certainly not least, career consultants are professionals in the field of helping you build your career! Meet with a Consultant at OSU’s Career Services office to get great tips on how to optimize your job search. Sign in to Beaver Careers to make an appointment!

posted by Deirdre Newton, Career Assistant

Why Network? Boom you’re welcome!

 

According to ABC News 80% of jobs are landed through networking, so stop spending so much time applying and get working on networking.

 

  1. Does everyone in your network know you are looking for the next step in your career? If no, let them all know, keep them updated on your opportunities, interviews, and offers. This is not only great marketing of yourself but also helps trigger peoples minds the next time they hear of a job opening.
  2. Why LINKEDIN? – It is in all caps for a reason. It is an unlimited resource for staying connected to your professional network but also helps you connect to people who you may want to work with. I landed a job interview with a company I really wanted to work for just by asking the CEO on Linkedin. So take some time connect with everyone you know and post about topics in your industry to the newsfeed. This shows you are educated of what is happening in your field but also helps people remember you for what you are great at.
  3. Relationships are like pulses. You need to pump in order to keep them alive. Start going to coffee, lunch, or dinner with people that might be able to help you or keep you informed on another career opportunity. This takes a lot of work. It may seem weird to contact someone who you haven’t talked to for a year but just do it! Most people respond well.
  4. Once you have some momentum in your career, start helping others and pay it forward. It seems simple but most people get into their offices, sit at their comfy desk, and never think to maintain relationships outside their inner circle. So pump the relationship and be there for people when they are exploring their own careers.
  5. Send Thank yous! Why is it so hard? Oh wait, it isn’t. This creates a great image for yourself when you show gratitude and also makes you happier.
  6. Being happy, staying focused, and pursuing your passion should make you excited in the morning when networking. If not, maybe it is time change it up and find a new career you want.

posted by Zack Sperow, Career Assistant