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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Ask yourself questions about your Greek experience:
Use “Greek” power words: Power words are used to describe experiences listed on your resume and should represent a specific skill gained from that
- 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?
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.
- Suggested “Greek” power words: Achieved, Arranged, Assisted, Attended, Chaired, Collaborated, Coordinated, Communicated, Entrusted, Led, Organized, Planned, Publicized, Ran, Served, Sponsored, Supported, Volunteered
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
- 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?
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.
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.
- 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)
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