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Updated: 13 min 37 sec ago

Ask a Career Coach: How to Prevent Being Laid Off From a New Job, Sort of

Mon, 05/15/2017 - 11:16am

Today our guest blogger Jessica DeCotis answers another question.
The Question: “Hi Jess, Last year I [was] employed at a company, and then a month later they had a layoff and let me go. [I am] worried that a company I’m currently interviewing with might do the same thing. What can I do to make sure it won't happen again?The Answer: The short answer is, nothing. There is never a guarantee that a company won't let you go due to layoffs or otherwise. However, there are other things you can do to make sure the company is financially healthy. Here are some steps to take:1. Do your researchLook up news articles on the business and industry. Look for news about:a. Recent layoffsb. Acquisitionsc. Hiring freezesd. A new CEOe. Ongoing litigationsAny of these could be a sign that the company may be going through some significant changes and that could include layoffs. If you find any of these articles in recent news, you can follow step 2. 2. Inquire furtherAsk your interviewers. Once you’ve found articles on the company, it doesn’t hurt to politely bring them up in an interview or phone call. It will also show you’ve done your homework. You can say something like, “I saw that your business was recently acquired by the XYZ company, what changes do you foresee happening in your department in the near future.” You will most likely not get an admission about possible future layoffs, but if the hiring manager admits not knowing what to expect or doesn’t sound believably optimistic, it could be a sign of things to come.3. Be directIf you’re still concerned but would like to keep moving forward in the process, let the hiring manager know you have a few questions. You can ask if there have been any recent layoffs. If yes, ask why. If no, you can ask, how often are products canceled or priorities changed? If the answer is "recently there have been a lot of products canceled," This could be a sign that this company is dealing with budget and cash flow issues. If you have even an inkling that it would be a poor decision to take a position somewhere, don’t do it. If you’ve received an offer, let the company know that you are grateful for the offer but you've decided to stay where you are and would love the possibility of working with them in the future.By Jessica DeCotis, Career Coach If you would like a personalized session to refresh your resume, prepare for an interview, or learn the best techniques for a targeted job search, JDec Marketing and Career Coaching can help you. No matter your current job situation, there is an affordable option for you. For more information, please visit

Tips for the Introverted Networker

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 12:55pm

Networking events can be scary for even the most extroverted person, so for introverts the thought of it can be even more challenging. However, networking is a crucial part of the job search and one’s career development as a whole. Introverts should have a much easier time with the networking process by utilizing these helpful tips:
Don’t discount your prep workGoing in well prepared can really help with the anxiety of having to talk to a group of strangers. Before you go to your next networking event, spend some time thinking about what it is you are hoping to gain from the event. Then prepare some questions that you’ll ask others in order to achieve that goal. Also, make sure you have some things prepared for you to share as you can’t rely on the other person to carry the entire conversation. Practicing these questions and answers before you go can help with your confidence once you’re actually there. If you’re worrying less about what to say, you’ll be able to focus more on listening!
Utilize the buddy systemIf you don’t have to do these events solo, then don’t! Try and bring a colleague or friend with you so at least you’ll have a safety net if you’re finding it hard to connect with others. This type of backup can help make bigger events less intimidating. If you are unable to bring someone else with you, try and make at least one solid connection early on so at least you’ll have someone to sit with and who can help introduce you to others.
Use technology to your advantageIf a guest list is available before the event, use LinkedIn or Google+ to get some more information about them. Knowing their background will make it easier to come up with relevant questions and conversation starters. Finding things in common can also help form a more memorable connection and knowing their background info beforehand can help make that happen.
Set a goal and follow upBefore the event, set a goal for making connections and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. It’s okay to start small but as you get more comfortable with networking, try and increase your goal for making connections. It’s okay not to spend a lot of time with your connections at the networking event. Most introverts feel more comfortable in more intimate, one-on-one settings. Once you feel like you’ve made a solid connection with someone, politely break it off and ask for their business card so you can follow up with them. This way you can continue strengthening the connection, but in a setting you feel more comfortable in, such as one-on-one at a coffee shop. Just make sure you actually do follow up with them!
Confidence is keyNetworking is simply developing relationships and sharing information and resources for mutual benefit. Get rid of the notion that you’re there just because you need something from someone else. This type of mindset is belittling to yourself and can make you feel guilty about trying to make connections. Instead, focus on the fact that everyone is there to try and gain something and that when you share your professional expertise, you position yourself as someone who has knowledge or resources that might be valuable to others!
By Njyhalo Pavati, RIT Office of Career Services Graduate Assistant

Ask a Career Coach: How to Assertively Deal with a Toxic ‘Manager’

Mon, 03/20/2017 - 10:34am

With this post, we introduce a new contributor, Jessica DeCotis, RIT Alumna and founder of JDec Marketing and Career Coaching. Her Ask A Coach series provides career search and management advice.
The Question: Dear Jess, I have a boss who is a real life gaslighter. He consistently makes me feel like I’m crazy. He tells me to do something one day, and when I do exactly as he’s asked, he screams at me that he would “never ask me to do such a thing!” I am at a loss. This happens multiple times a week. I am afraid of him, and can’t stand the thought of going to work everyday. I never had a problem with my managers in the past. What can I do? I’m new here and I don’t want to give up easily.
The Answer: I’m so sorry you are going through t­­­his. It’s true what they say, misery loves company. I firmly believe that these “managers” are unhappy, whether they admit it to themselves or not. The fact of the matter is that you need to take steps to protect yourself because you’re working with a toxic person who somehow gained access to a role with subordinates.
1. Recognize Your Worth by Becoming Self-AwareYou were hired for your position because you possessed a skillset and the right kind of potential for growth. Do not allow anyone to minimize that. Everyone has room for growth, but being told you’re bad at your job, or you’re not doing it the right way, when you are clearly following direction, is wrong. Own your strengths, your skills, and your potential. But also, own your weaknesses (the real ones, not the ones made up by someone with a complex). View your limitations as opportunities for growth, because that’s exactly what they are. With this 360 view of your abilities you will be able to stand up for yourself because you know your worth. If you can clearly see that despite your best efforts you are being treated unfairly and disrespected, do not allow it.
2. Remain Calm in the Midst of Manager MeltdownsDo not return fire with fire. If your manager is being aggressive, you will need to keep your cool. If you are aggressive back, you could end up in trouble with HR. Fair, or not, that’s how this usually goes. A tyrant tends to have very thin skin and they score lower on the proverbial emotional intelligence scale. The slightest infraction could very well send them on the defense. Do your best to remain levelheaded and don’t stoop to this person’s level. If you are being yelled at, tune into your self-awareness and assess the situation for an assertive, but firm way out. You can say something along the lines of “I understand there is a matter to be discussed, but I do not appreciate being yelled at.” If the negative behavior continues, you have every right to leave the room. You can also calmly mention, “I will be happy to continue this conversation when you have calmed down.” It is then at your discretion whether to report this poor behavior to HR or not.
3. Document, Document, Document I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. However, I find it very important to protect oneself in a hostile work environment. After any meeting with your boss, send him/her an email that records everything you discussed. You should include action items, due dates, and what you have already achieved. If your boss raised his or her voice at you in any meeting, and you’d like it documented, you can include a line that says something like, “I understand you are frustrated, but as we discussed, in the future please know that raising your voice at me is not a productive use of our time.” Documenting is also important to ensure that if your boss is in fact gaslighting you, you will have recourse. You can refer back to your email record of the conversation; what he stated he wanted and what you agreed to take action on. Be vigilant. If there is an update to any discussion, even just in passing, make sure you document it.If you end up finding another job, or quit because you feel bullied or abused, you can present your documented complaints to HR (you don't have to wait until you quit, this is a personal choice). If you work at a larger company, this should technically go in your manager’s file. If there is work place abuse going on, I recommend enlisting the services of an employment lawyer, who may be able to help you get unemployment if you feel you were bullied into quitting. Again, I’m not a lawyer, but I have heard of cases like this.
4. Look For a New PositionIt doesn’t matter if you’ve only been at a job for a short time. You should never allow someone to mistreat you. Not every scenario has grounds for quitting, but if you are being gaslighted, bullied and/or abused at work, you must strongly consider leaving.Your health should be considered when weighing options about leaving a job. Stress can have some pretty dire consequences. Look at this situation as a bridge to a new opportunity and gained emotional intelligence. It’s very hard to advance under a tyrant, and ultimately you could be doing yourself a disservice if you stay. If you have to put this position on your resumé, and you are asked why you’re leaving, you can simply put it back on yourself and say something along the lines of, “I misjudged the position and gained more self-awareness. This current position has shown me that I prefer to work in an environment that…” Then you can elaborate on positive aspects of environments you’d like to work in, because you have a desire to succeed. Don’t forget to look for the signs of a great potential manager while you’re interviewing. You don’t want to end up in the same situation again.
To summarize, please don’t allow yourself to be mistreated or intimidated. There are some no-so-great ‘managers’ out there, but just because their management and people skills are incredibly lacking, doesn’t mean that you should suffer. No matter what scenario you find yourself in, you must always do what’s best for you, your health, and your career. This will put you on a path to finding a manager who is a real leader and deserves to work with you.
If you would like a personalized session to enhance your resumé, or learn new skills to advance your profession, JDec Marketing and Career Coaching can help you. No matter your current job situation, there is an affordable option for you. For more information, please visit

Using Google+ For Your Professional Networking and the Job Search

Mon, 09/26/2016 - 3:41pm

One of my favorite cliche lines in regards to career advice is, “You gotta network to get work.” It may be corny, but that doesn’t make it any less true. A great way to enhance your online professional networking profile is by utilizing Google+. Here are a few tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your Google+ profile.
Your ProfileWhen you create your Google+ profile, create it as you would your LinkedIn profile. Be articulate with your descriptions and present yourself in a professional manner. Recruiters actively search social media platforms such as Google+ for candidates who may be a fit for their openings. Knowing that, it is worth taking a few minutes to do some research and keyword optimize your profile in ways that maximize its chances of showing up in recruiters’ searches. An example would be reading job postings for jobs you are interested in and taking keywords from them to add to your profile.
Relationship CirclesDifferentiating your professional contacts from your personal contacts is very important when developing your Google+ profile. The best way to do this is by utilizing the Google Circles feature. This way, when you add new professional connections, you can group them together with other related connections. For example, you could add circles for co-workers, professional connections, other people in your industry, or even individuals in a new industry that you're interested in sharing information with and receiving information from. You can also decide what information in your profile is visible to each of your circles. Here’s some more information about Google Circles, including how to create one.
Google CommunitiesGoogle Communities are groups created on a specific subject that can be literally anything. Searching for communities related to your professional interests can be a great way to engage with other professionals and stay up to date in your field. Any individual can create a Google+ community around any subject of their choosing to engage other users on the network with an interest in that subject. As a result, communities can create a direct connection with your target audience, helping them join the discussion.
Engage!Networking will never be useful if you approach it passively. To make meaningful connections, you must take the initiative and engage with other users. One way to do this on Google+ is by commenting on your connections' posts so you can add value to the post or stimulate further discussion and debate. Sharing their posts is also useful as it helps them reach a larger target audience, and helping others is a great way to start a relationship. Posting content is also another great way to engage others. When doing so it is important to segment what you share with whom, so that your content shares are always highly relevant and to share them in a way that stimulates discussion and interaction. For example, sharing an article as an open ended question and asking others to share their insights, etc. 
By Njyhalo Pavati, RIT Career Services Graduate Assistant

Using Vault in Your Job Search

Thu, 05/26/2016 - 12:52pm

Over the past academic year, this blog has discussed the benefits of sites like LinkedIn and Careerealism, and for my last post as an intern here, I thought I’d shed some light on Vault.  You have free access to this valuable tool through Job Zone - find it on the main Job Zone menu once you login, on the right column.  This career intelligence website is geared toward employers and new or transitioning professionals seeking employment alike. It provides readers with comprehensive reviews of companies, job opening information, advice on resume composition and interviewing, and partners with colleges (RIT included) to assist any student, staff member, or alum in their career search. Additionally, Vault offers more than 100 career guidebooks that are focused on specific industries, periods in an individual’s career development, internship programs, managing finances, and more. They provide users with the tools for success, so in that same vein, here are some do’s and don’ts for utilizing Vault as an RIT alum: 
1.       DO start with general industry research, then delve deeper into your projected area of interest. For instance, the “Wealth Management” guidebook section offers guides on that general sector of employment, but also on hedge fund jobs, private equity, investment management, and venture capital positions. Once you know the facet of an industry in which you’d like to work, that guidebook will be the most helpful for you. 2.       DON’Toverwhelm yourself with the amount of available information. For instance, in the “Resume” section of Vault, there are several blog posts regarding formatting, deciding what type of resume to create, putting resumes and cover letters together, etc. Try to zero in on what you truly need assistance with first. If you find that you require more information, rather than pouring over every blog post, search the website and gain specific insight that way.3.       DO check the job board for available positions. Websites that are not affiliated with a university in some capacity may provide you with some job openings, but they may not be the safest place to look. The jobs on Vault are accompanied by rankings of their respective companies, as well as reviews from people who have worked there. You’ll find real and accredited positions that are updated daily. 4.       DON’T just apply for a full-time or internship position because it’s “trending” on the website. Sure, those internships are worth looking into, but if they do not engage your passions or interests, then popularity of the company should not be a prime reason to pursue them. Don’t, however, discount these positions either. RIT partners with relatively large companies with high-rankings and the high profile of a position that truly interests you should not be a deterrent. 5.       DOfollow Vault on social media and subscribe to email updates. Getting the scoop on an industry, company, or position right at its release will give you a leg up if you decide to apply. Vault is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest. On the latter, for instance, they have one board devoted to snippets of advice from experts in various fields. A quick perusal of that site may provide you with just the career development advice that you need. 6.       DON’T discount the power of networking. Vault’s blog also goes into detail about expanding your professional network, identifying key players in your network, and how to maintain rapport with the people in it. “Networking” may sometimes seem like just a buzzword, but knowing how to strategically navigate through career development situations while being backed by a solid network can afford you more professional opportunities.
Want to learn more? Check out Vault’s website and whether you’re transitioning between careers or industries, a new graduate seeking employment, or are simply curious about the available rankings and reviews information, you’ll benefit from its partnership with RIT. 
Hayley Johnson, RIT Career Services Graduate Intern

Is 2016 Your Year to Advance Your Education?

Mon, 01/11/2016 - 10:33am

So, you’ve obtained a Bachelor’s degree. Perhaps you’ve started your career, perhaps you’re still hunting for a satisfying position, or perhaps you’re looking for a job change. Thinking about going back to school? RIT has you covered. Here are some reasons to acquire a Master’s degree (or even a PhD) from your alma mater, along with a brief overview of some of the programs we offer. 1.       Advance within your field. RIT awards Master’s degrees in programs such as design, visual communications, business, communications, mathematics, engineering, NTID, and more, hosting 70 in total. Let us say, for example, that you have a B.S. in computer science, and are looking into the M.S. program here. You can take courses within clusters having to do with robotics, cryptography, big data, and more, all culminating into a thesis or project and public presentation.  If you think this sounds similar to your undergraduate studies, you’re right: the layout of the programs are somewhat alike, but the materials studied allow you to advance current skills and move up in your current company, or potentially obtain a higher position even at entry level. 2.       Take advantage of the convenience factor. Most RIT graduate courses are taught in the late afternoon and evening. That way, you can enroll as a part-time or full-time student, and still work at your original or a new position during the day.  Additionally, adult and continuing education programs here allow transfer credits, offer certificates, and have partnered with the Yellow Ribbon Program. RIT faculty, staff, and fellow students make it possible to work and attend school simultaneously. 3.       Connect with company recruiters. As an alumnus, you are most likely aware of our career fairs. Although alumni are welcome to attend, it would not hurt to inform a potential employer of your Master’s candidacy and studies. It is optional for most Master’s students to complete a co-op, but researching what attending companies are looking for may ultimately lead you to see that they value a continuous pursuit of more training and education. 4.       RIT provides tuition benefits for employees of the college and for eligible family members. Do you or does someone in your family work for RIT? You could obtain a tuition waiver up to 100 percent! The majority of RIT graduate programs are 30 or more credits in total, so depending on your status as an employee, you could take between 6 and 12 credit hours per term with the benefits provided. Click this linkto find out more about your eligibility to enroll in courses using the benefits. 5.       Increase the amount of research you engage in. RIT is heading in a more research-oriented direction, and with that comes a significant focus on graduate students and their work. Several programs end with a thesis or project, such as computer science mentioned above. For instance, RIT graduate Nate Fisk created the Rochester Cyber Safety and Ethics Initiative prior to his graduation, which explores and seeks to correct internet security concerns.  Sanjay Mathur sought to assist consulting companies with his project, Improving Customer Satisfaction in the Telecom Industry Through Improved Project Selection Methodologies. Wherever your interests lie, departments encourage passion projects and outside research, particularly at the graduate level.
Want to learn more? Check out all of our graduate programs on the web! 
By Hayley Johnson, RIT Career Services, Graduate Intern

Top Trends in Resume Writing

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 9:56am

Hunting for the perfect position? Seeking to change careers entirely? Fresh out of your undergraduate or graduate studies? Consider these developments in the resume-composing realm to revamp your list of accomplishments.1)      Digitization: You know about the importance of LinkedIn, the value of your presentation on social networking sites like Facebook, and that taking advantage of free cover letter and resume critiquing sessions. But have you considered the inclusion of videos, social media campaign examples, or mobile-friendly copies? Certain alum, of course, will know that a digital portfolio is often preferred for certain applications, and previous co-op experiences or passion projects will have helped with that. For others, however, if you are applying to more non-traditional industries, start-up companies, or even simply a general job posting, consider adding electronic elements that award your accomplishments a modern twist. An employer may rely on smartphone technology to view your resume, so ensuring that yours is accessible is also key. A recent article from Inc. notes that some companies are now using Instagram to engage in a process known as “purple squirrel hunting,” in which they pursue the most qualified candidates that may be already working, thus they would require less training. With you cooperative education experience, this could prove advantageous to the average job-seeking RIT graduate.2)      Design: Innovation in resume formatting is certainly more applicable to some program graduates more than others, but it is nonetheless attractive and becoming increasingly popular. Consider adding colorful, but not too overpowering, images such as timelines that track accomplishments, charts that compare project growth, pictures that note where you hail from, photographs of major influencers, and the like. As long as text is still the main component, and there are not too many sections, infographics can add a unique element to a resume that extends beyond traditional templates found simply via popular search engines. Stick to a one-page limit, but lay out your profile in a more creative manner. 3)      Highlights: Facebook recently unveiled a new feature that attaches star icons to events such as starting a new position, a marriage, the birth of a child, et cetera, and these occasions are what one sees when scrolling through another user’s profile from years past. Why not do something similar with your resume? At each previous position, mention key projects that you assisted with or developed, and note your specific role(s) at any given point. Additionally, include awards received or other forms of recognition and promotion from whom you report. Achievements are just as important as job titles; what did you add to the organization that could transfer over to a different company? Start over: This may sound intimidating, but imagine deleting everything in your resume and starting from scratch. Which successes can you remember that would highlight your assets? Which are less important or relevant? Starting from the beginning can allow for a completely new layout and order of accomplishments, stemming from a new mindset when switching career paths or simply looking for a different position. Ensure that you have a copy of the original resume to copy certain items from, but do not resort to sticking the exact outline use.

By Hayley Johnson, Graduate Intern, RIT Office of Career Services & Cooperative Education

Considering a Mid-Career Change?

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 1:38pm
Are you thinking about a change in your career direction?  Are you currently between jobs or without a job?   It is tough to decide to make a change, and for many it is even harder to decide what you would like to do and then to commit to pursuing it.  The following ideas may help you get started on the process.1)       Self Assessment- Why are you thinking about a change now? What options do you want to consider?People consider a mid-career change for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it is a process you initiate and sometimes it is not.   Perhaps you are seeking a lifestyle change or a more satisfactory work/life balance.  Maybe you are hoping for increased compensation or benefits.  Some folks are looking for more challenge or excitement (and some are looking for less!).  Perhaps you are looking for more direct ways to help others in the work you do.  A career values card sort may help you prioritize the most important factors for you in your work and your life.  I have found that a reprioritization of our values is often what leads us to contemplate a change.Which of your interestsdo you want to focus on in your work?  An interest inventory may assist you in determining how your interests relate to occupational possibilities.  Here is the O*NET Interests Profiler that will generate some occupational possibilities for you after you answer some questions about your interests.Carefully evaluate the skillsand abilities that you have.  Identifying what you enjoy doing and are good at can be key to career satisfaction.  How can the skills you have be transferred to a new opportunity?  This blogabout transferrable skills will give you some ideas about how to leverage you current skills into new opportunities.  The Skills Profiler takes you through a series of questions that allow you to identify skills and activities you have. This leads to a customized Skills Profile that includes:  a summary of identified skills and work activities, a list of occupations matched either to skills or work activities and a link to occupation profiles for more detailed occupational information.  The My Skills My Future website suggests occupations that might use similar skills to other jobs that you have had.Some personalities are more attracted to certain occupations more than others.  If you have not already done a personality assessment that yields a Myers-Briggs personality type, here is a quick inventory that will generate it for you.  Then, you can go to the Personality Pagewebsite that has information related to personality as it relates to career choice, relationships, and personal growth.2)       How do I find out more about the career options that appeal to me?I would suggest that you first do research on reliable websites and in relevant books.  Two websites that are good starting places are the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*NET.  It is also very helpful to get information from people who are already doing a job that you want to learn more about.  This process is called networkingor informational interviewing.  LinkedIn can also be a very useful source of information.  Here is an article that introduces the benefits of using LinkedIn Alumni in the career search process.  Often information really is the key that will help you determine how interested you are in an alternative you are considering.3)      What are the gaps between your current qualifications and occupations that appeals to you?  Are you willing to get more education and/or training?If you determine that additional education or training would be necessary for an occupation that appeals to you, you have some serious thinking and planning to do.  In what ways could you obtain the skills:  a graduate degree, a college course or certificate, an internship or apprenticeship experience?  If you think you might go back to school for another degree, be sure to research the typical job outcomes for people who have attained that degree.4)      Resist the “quick fix” to current unhappiness.You are undertaking a big change.  Be careful and thoughtful in your self-assessment and information gathering.  Curb the impulse to make a quick change so that you can thoughtfully choose an option that is right for you.5)      You don’t have to do this alone.  Be willing to ask for help and get support where you can.The RIT Career Services Office has many services for alumni.  You may already be aware of those services if you have found your way to this blog.  We have a Career Services Coordinator who works with graduates from your RIT major.  Check our website or call our office at (585) 475-2301 to find out who your Coordinator is and get in touch with him or her.  Your Coordinator can help you assess the risks and benefits of making a mid-career change.  There is lots of good information on our website that will assist career changers.  Here are two more sources of information from RIT Career Services that could be helpful:  Career Resourcesand Changing Careers.  And don’t hesitate to contact our office with your questions.
Carolyn DeHority, Assistant Director-Career Counseling, RIT Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education

How Do I Connect With RIT Employers?

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 1:31pm
As an RIT alum, you may be wondering if you can still connect with our recruiting companies.  The good news is - you definitely can, AND they want you to!  Companies who successfully recruit co-ops, interns, and new graduates value the skills and experiences of RIT alumni, and look to us when they have experienced hire opportunities.  Here are some ways you can connect.

  • Use RIT Job Zone.  You have continued access to our online job listing system (see the main Alumni page of our website to login or register for an account).  This allows you to view current job postings, search our employer database for company contact information, and gain access to additional resources, including CareerSearch, a comprehensive database of companies sorted by industry and geographic location.
  • Upload your resume into the Alumni Resume Book.  You'll find this option in the Documents tab of Job Zone.  Our employer partners have access to this resume book and use it to reach out to alumni who fit their current needs.
  • Attend the Career Fairs.  If you're in the Rochester area, you're able to attend any of our general or major specific fairs.  The Spring Career Fair is Wednesday March 4 from 10-4 in the Gordon Field House; bring your alumni ID to enter.  All attending company information is on Job Zone.  Also coming up this spring is Creative Industry Day, on March 19th, and the Hospitality and Service Management Fair, on April 7th.
  • Attend company information and networking events.   Many companies who are on campus to recruit provide these sessions to informally meet with students and alumni, and share information about their company and available opportunities.  All information is posted on Job Zone under the Events tab.
  • Join our LinkedIn group - RIT Career Services.  This gives you the opportunity to network with employer members, and many companies post positions at the experienced level on the group.
  • Meet with your Career Services Coordinator in our office - in person, by email or by phone, who has additional company connections and resources specific to your field of interest.  If you're not sure who your Coordinator is, call our office at 475-2301 to get connected.
Let us assist in your job search efforts; we're here to help you achieve continued career success!

Holiday Strategies for Your Job Search

Wed, 11/26/2014 - 9:44am
Temping though it may be, don’t stop your job search efforts just because we've moved into the holiday season.  There are still jobs available; in fact, companies may want to fill positions before the end of their fiscal year, or may want to interview for positions that will become available after the first of the year, in their new fiscal year.  This time of the year also provides unique opportunities to make new contacts.
Here are some ways to stay active over the next couple of months:
Review your search strategy.  This is a good time to evaluate your search efforts, to determine what's been working and what hasn't.  You want to focus your time and energy on activities that move you closer to your goals, and let go of things that haven't been working.  Also review your marketing materials - resume, portfolio, LinkedIn profile, to see if any updates are needed.

Polish your presence.  The holidays are also a good time to get a makeover - hair, wardrobe - to be sure you're presenting a professional, up to date image.

Follow up on any pending positions to which you've applied, or for which you've interviewed.  Reconnect with the recruiter or hiring manager to let them know you’re still interested in the position, and to see where they are in the hiring process.

Contact the third party recruiter (headhunter) you’re working with (or find one in your field), to update them on your status, and see if there are any new positions they've received for which you may be a good match.  Remember that recruiters work for their company clients, not for you, so it's up to you to keep yourself front of mind.
Keep checking job sites for your field, RIT Job Zone, and company sites for postings.  Companies may receive fewer applications as people’s minds are elsewhere, so be diligent in checking for new opportunities.
Work part-time.  The holidays often opportunities to pick up some part-time employment.  In addition to the extra money, you'll also meet coworkers and customers who may provide tips or connections for  your job search.
Volunteer.  Look for opportunities to participate in charity or community service projects.  This allows you to give back, to utilize your skills or develop new ones, and connect with other volunteers, who may know of opportunities in your field.
Step up your networking activities.  Reach out to your contacts with a holiday greeting, and a brief update on your status.  This includes your LinkedIn contacts, and the holidays may be a good time to find additional alumni contacts with whom you can reconnect.

Attend community, association, and organization holiday parties and get togethers; make it your goal to meet new people with whom you can develop a networking relationship in the new year. Ask questions and absorb information you can use later.  Don’t forget family and neighborhood parties; every get together is an opportunity to develop new contacts.  Keep things light – don’t overwhelm people with your problems or job issues; keep a few business cards handy; and always think about how you can help other people you meet.
Keeping your job search active now will put you that much further ahead when the new year begins and help you maintain a positive attitude.  Enjoy your holidays, and remember, the Career Services Office is always here to assist with your job search efforts!

Back to Basics: Tips For Career Success, Emily Ellis, MBA '07

Fri, 08/01/2014 - 1:47pm
Whether you are gainfully employed or actively seeking employment, there are a few universal tips that will be helpful in putting yourself on the path to success. While the individual details may vary, we can all agree that we are in pursuit of at least one universal goal: to be successful. To be successful in our current careers, in finding a new role, in the pursuit of a completely new career path, or just in finding general, personal fulfillment. Here are a few universal tips that you can apply to pursuing your goals, regardless of what stage you are in.
1.       Know who you are. This seems simple, but have you done an honest self-assessment yet? Write down your strengths, weaknesses, personal and professional values, likes and dislikes, etc. into a document in which you will be the sole reader, allowing you to be completely open and honest. Include your vision for where you see yourself going professionally in the next 5-10 years. What types of roles are you looking to pursue? Do you have the skills for those roles, or are there gaps that you need to address? What kind of growth opportunities do you need to feel successful? What type of work environment do you prefer? When you are done answering these types of questions, you should have a lengthy document that gives you a better picture of what you are looking for. This is the start of your Professional Development Plan. Your path should align with who you are and what’s important to you.
2.      Brand yourself. Know who you are and what you have to offer an employer. You’ve done your self-assessment and, hopefully, have a good handle on the types of roles you want to pursue (whether they be new roles or growth opportunities within your existing company). Craft your resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profile, and any other materials, to reflect your strongest skills and abilities, along with your professional values. You need to succinctly deliver the message to employers about who you are and what you have to offer. This is your brand. Once it’s developed you need to maintain it and continue to promote it. Maintain your credibility by not losing sight of your goals and values.
3.      Keep an open mind. It’s good to have a plan in place and know who you are, but you need to remain flexible. We live in a very dynamic world with ever-changing factors that impact our lives and decisions every day. Your Professional Development Plan is meant to be a living document that you modify and adapt as you gain new information. Consider all possibilities before ruling them out.
4.      Stay positive.  No one wants to work with or hire a negative person. Attitude really can be everything. Have you heard the saying “People won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel”? It’s true. If you are a negative person, you exude it and it can be very apparent the minute you walk through the door. Stay optimistic and be friendly! You are always making an impression on people. Make it a good one.
5.      Take responsibility. Own your role and the outcomes of your actions. Having trouble finding a job? Get turned down for a promotion you were hoping for? Missed a project deadline? Don’t blame others. Every experience is a learning opportunity. What could you have done differently, in retrospect? How can you improve going, forward? Sure others may have been involved in the outcome, but do you have control over them and their actions? You are responsible for your own success. No one is going to define it for you or lead you to it.
6.      Make friends. Get to know people. Find out how you can help them by utilizing your unique knowledge, skills and abilities. The positive attitude mentioned above can really help you with this! Networking is important. You hear it all the time, but it really is invaluable. It can be your key to getting noticed for advancement in your career. Knowing the right people who can speak to your talents and abilities favorably can be the extra leg up you need. Everyone knows something that you don’t. Learn something new from them. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and utilize your network in different ways. Create your own personal board of directors to help guide you and act as a sounding board as you make career decisions. Utilize your network to identify contacts that can give you a heads up about upcoming positions opening up at a company you are really interested in working for. Have someone review your resume. We can all help each other in some way. Don’t be afraid to reach out and initiate a connection. Promote your progress!

There is no doubt that the job market can be tough, and it is always easier to look for paths to success while you are still employed. However, I think all of us lose site of the basics at times. We get tired and frustrated of pursuing goals that seem like they may never come to fruition. Don’t be afraid to step back and modify your plan and strategies. Seek outside assistance if you can’t seem to get out of a rut on your own. Maybe you are missing something because you are too close to the situation. Regardless, don’t lose sight of these simple tips for success.
Emily Ellis, MBA '07, is a Higher Education and Career Services professional.  We welcome guest posts on any topic related to career and job search success.  Email Kris at if you'd like to contribute a post.

Questions to Help You Maximize Your Job Search

Thu, 05/15/2014 - 12:55pm
Are you in the middle of a job search?  While searching and applying for jobs, take some time to ask yourself these questions, designed to help you focus, re-energize and move your search forward.
·        Is your search organized?  It’s helpful to manage your search as you would any other project; breaking each task into manageable steps with action items, setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals, and regularly evaluating your activity and efforts.
·         Are you branded?  In simple terms, your brand is who you are and what you have to offer.  It’s the perception other people have of you compared with similar people.   Assess your skills, values, strengths and weaknesses, and determine what sets you apart from the competition.  Be sure your brand is consistent throughout all aspects of your search:  marketing materials, social media and interviews.  Research your targeted industry and field, and make sure your brand fits well and matches key positions.
·         Are your marketing materials complete?  Develop an advanced level resume - targeted to your specific field and each position - that accurately reflects your brand.  Include cover letters that match your qualifications to each specific job, provide appropriate supporting materials, including portfolios and samples of your work.  Today marketing materials also include LinkedIn and other social media, so be sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and highlights your accomplishments and qualifications – you want it to help sell you as the best candidate.
·         Speaking of social media, are you using LinkedIn fully?  Make sure your profile is 100% complete, with a professional (yes it’s important) photo, a keyword-rich summary, recommendations that support your goals, and regular activity status updates.  Join groups, and be active by starting and joining discussions to demonstrate your expertise.  Find recruiters for your industry, apply to posted jobs, and connect with RIT alumni in your targeted companies.  Check out the new University Alumni feature, which helps you locate alumni easily by location and industry.  Don’t forget Facebook and Twitter as well; Twitter has been described as “the new resume.” 
·         What are you doing to access the hidden job market?  This is the most important, and least utilized, step of the job search process, and provides the most return on investment for your time and energy.    Create a targeted list of companies, based on your self-assessment results and research of the industry.  Use resources to find contacts within those companies with whom you can connect.  LinkedIn is a powerful tool for finding key company contacts, and the RIT Alumni Network will help you connect with RIT alumni in your targeted companies.  Professional associations are also a good resource for meeting people in your field, who can often lead you to company connections.
·        How do you present yourself?  Here’s another opportunity for honest self-assessment.  Have a positive attitude, with no outward negativity towards your situation or former employer.  Be enthusiastic, eager to learn and grow, confident, prepared, polished and professional.  Make sure your relevant skills are current (take classes or get training if needed), and that you’re technologically savvy.  If applicable, be ready to address questions related to your age and/or perceived overqualification – remember, value trumps everything, so know yours and be prepared to present it confidently!

Can we help?  Our office is available to assist with any aspect of your job search; call us at 585-475-2301 to schedule an appointment with your advisor, or email Kris Stehler.  Share your thoughts and suggestions below, and if you have a question you’d like addressed in our blog, let us know.

RIT Career Fair - Just Do It!

Fri, 02/14/2014 - 11:28am
You may be one of the older attendees, you’ll have to fight the crowds and the weather, and parking is hard to find, but should you come to the RIT Career Fair as an alumnus/a?  Absolutely! 

 Benefits of attending the Career Fair include:·         Potential job opportunities, either at the fair or future opportunities with companies to follow up on after the fair.·         Connecting with targeted employers; establishing initial contact, and networking to find other company contact information for your specific field or desired job.·         Networking, networking, networking – with targeted companies, with other companies, with other attendees; you never know who you will meet who might be able to help your search!
Tips for a successful fair experience:·         Have realistic expectations; don’t expect to come away with a job, but try to gain information on the companies, and the right contacts for you to follow up. ·         Prepare your 60-second commercial (elevator speech) – your introduction that demonstrates your brand and career goals, and emphasizes why you’re a perfect candidate for this company.·         Bring your professional (and reviewed) resume, and other marketing materials appropriate for your field.   Business cards are a great addition; you can even jot a quick thank you note and attach your business card and another copy of your resume, circle back around and leave on the company’s table after you’ve talked with them – that will ensure you’ll be remembered!·         Research the attending companies, so that you can determine how and where you will fit in, and be able to demonstrate a perfect fit when you approach the recruiters.·         Emphasize your skills – both those related to the job, and also the transferable skills you’ve developed from previous work and life experiences, even volunteer work.  For experienced alumni, remember you have a history of dedication, commitment and maturity that a new graduate doesn’t have – you have to be confident in your skills and abilities and the qualities you bring to a new company.·         Send thank you notes to the contacts you meet and follow up after the fair.  ·         Don’t be discouraged if you meet with resistance or a seeming dead end; keep to your goals and collect all the information and contact names you can for future follow up.
Here are the specifics on our upcoming fair:·         Wednesday, February 26th, 11am-4pm, RIT Gordon Field House·         Fair is open to RIT students and alumni only  - you need to bring an alumni ID (which you can get from the Registrar’s Office), or a resume with your RIT degree indicated·         All majors/fields represented – check RIT Job Zone for a list of the 250+ companies attending·         Interview day Thursday February 27th – bring your calendar in case you’re scheduled for interviews·         Parking is limited; there will be a shuttle bus for lots G and H
Here's a webinar that has more information on preparing for our, and other, career and job fairs -
So if you’re in the Rochester area, plan to attend the fair; come with your resume, your positive attitude, your realistic goals, and your RIT “can-do” spirit!  If you can’t attend, or if you live out of the area, you can still participate by adding your resume to our online Alumni Resume Book in our Job Zone system.  This book will be available to all attending companies after the fair; when we offered this in the fall, we had an enthusiastic response from recruiters, who will have more time to review alumni resumes for a match to their needs after the event.
To participate, you must have an updated profile and an uploaded resume in Job Zone.  Here is the process for adding your resume to the resume book:·         Update your profile and upload a resume in the documents section of Job Zone.  If you haven’t accessed Job Zone in a while, the system will prompt you to update your profile before you can proceed.·         In the Documents section, you’ll see a tab for Opt-In Resume Book·         In this section, you’ll see “select resume books” under each of your documents – click this for the resume you’d like to put into the book·         In Target Opt-In Resume Book, click select, and select the book titled – Alumni Spring Career Fair 2014·         Click Submit and your resume will be put into the book·         *Note: if you haven’t accessed Job Zone in a while, it may take 24 hours after you update your profile before you can use the Opt In Resume Book feature

If you have questions or difficulties, just email me at   See you at the fair!

Strategic Guidance: Why You Need Your Own Personal Board of Directors

Tue, 01/28/2014 - 3:30pm
“Mentor” is a word that most of us are familiar with, and we understand how a mentoring relationship works and how it benefits us. However with the changing nature of society and the workplace, the prevalence of mentors has decreased. The world is much more face paced than it once was, and people do not have as much time to allocate to others in a formal mentoring role.  That does not mean that there are no resources for personal and professional guidance - you can turn to your Personal Board of Directors for assistance.
What is a Personal Board of Directors?Every company has a Board of Directors established to keep the best interest of the company in mind and provide strategic input, without bias. You can and should embrace this concept at an individual level to ensure your own professional success. A Personal Board of Directors is a group of people that are hand-selected by YOU for very specific reasons. They are people who support your goals and who you trust to consult for honest, insightful advice. They do not necessary know that they have the designated title of being on your Personal Board, but they do know that you will consult them for insights and they will be happy to oblige, because they are within your trusted circle.
Who is on my Personal Board of Directors?You want to be very strategic about who you put on your Personal Board of Directors. The members should not consist of all of your close personal “buddies”. Consider adding your boss or respected colleague, as someone who can give insights on your current performance and understands the company that you are currently in. You might also consider an additional member who lies outside of your current company, but still within your industry. This person would be someone who is knowledgeable about the field and can provide industry-specific insights that are not focused on you as an individual. Alternatively, the next member might be someone who knows you very well on a personal level and understands your thought process and how you tend to respond to situations emotionally and ultimately reach conclusions and make decisions. Your Personal Board can be as large or as small as you want it to be but, as you can see, you can be very strategic with selectivity.
Once your Board is created, it is important to communicate with each member about your goals and keep them up to date about what is going on in your professional job search and, in some cases, your life in general when applicable. Remain open to suggestions and thank your Board members for their part in your efforts.

How will it benefit me?There are many benefits to developing a Personal Board of Directors. First, it gives you the benefit of experience. You can seek advice from people who hold positions that you aspire to attain, or have extensive knowledge in an industry that you are pursuing. You can work smarter to develop valuable connections with people who have a vested interest in your success and will propel you forward. As is true with a business board of directors, you want to diversify your team so that you can benefit from the various perspectives and opinions that can be offered. Seeking out people with different life and professional experiences will help you uncover and fill any gaps that you may have in your strategic plan.

Your team of Directors is always happy to help and want to see you succeed. I encourage you to think critically about the supporters you have in your life and utilize them strategically to advance your career.  I don’t think you will be disappointed with the results!
Have you developed a personal  Board of Directors?  How have you used them to advance your career?

5 Ways to Re-Energize Your Job Search in the New Year

Mon, 01/13/2014 - 11:24am
Whether you’re new to a job search or continuing along a (too-long) journey, the new year is a chance to start fresh.  You’ve likely been slogging through the job search process 24/7, head down and eyes bleary, concentrating on sending out your resume and making yet one more networking connection.   Take advantage of a new calendar year to do a mental reset to review and refocus your efforts.  Here are some suggestions to help re-energize your job search.
1)  Review what’s been working – and what hasn’t.   Take a breath from your frantic job search activities and do some self-reflection.  Are your career goals still the same?  Are they clearly reflective of your values and skills, and articulated through all your marketing materials?  Is your brand well defined and a good representation of who you are and what sets you apart from the competition?  Then look at your search for the past year; what activities did you focus on, and what gave you the biggest return on investment?  What didn’t work as well?  Have a critical eye, and “clean out” what’s not working for you; for example, it may be easy to respond to posted positions online, but if you’re not getting responses, it’s more beneficial to focus the majority of your time and effort on other activities, like making targeted networking contacts. 
2)  Reconnect with old contacts, including your references.  Update them on your status and job search, ask for referrals for informational interviews, confirm that your references are still willing to speak on your behalf if contacted.   Also follow up with any new contacts you met over the holidays; arrange networking meetings to get better acquainted.  Remember that networking is a two-way street, so always find out how you can assist your contacts as well. 
3)  Set and commit to new goals. Try something new and maybe out of the box to connect to people (increase your network)–  i.e. join a MeetUp group (  or professional association – and plan to attend meetings monthly; connect with RIT alumni – through LinkedIn, your local chapter or the Alumni Relations Tiger Locator database; volunteer for a cause outside your normal areas of interest; ask someone to mentor you; start using a new social media site, like Google+; be more active on LinkedIn (think contributing your expertise, helping others and finding back-door ways to get into targeted companies, not just randomly sending connect invites).
4)  Do a targeted marketing plan.  If you already have one, review and revise it.  This important tool helps you focus your job search by summarizing your key qualities (values, core competencies and skills), as well as your preferred job titles, work environment and targeted companies, into a comprehensive document.  See here for more on developing a marketing plan -
5)  Refresh yourself – get a new LinkedIn profile picture and update your status, update yourself - get a new suit, accessories, (don’t hesitate to check out your local consignment shop for professional wear at a bargain) or haircut, start meditating, be grateful, pay it forward at the drive through, smile at a stranger.  Activities that make you feel good about yourself will give you new confidence.
6)  This one’s a bonus – schedule a meeting with your advisor in our office.  Bring your review and ideas, and we can help you formulate some new goals for the year ahead.  We can work with you in person, through email or by phone – just call our office at 585-475-2301 to schedule an appointment.
When you freshen up your routine, you’ll find yourself with renewed energy and a positive attitude, and  you’ll approach your job search tasks with a renewed sense of vigor.
Let’s hear your suggestions - what have you done (or will you now do) to put some new energy into your job search this year?

Do you have a question or topic you’d like to see addressed in a future blog post?  Email  

Re-Boot Camp Week 8: Creating a Clear Vision and Goals

Tue, 07/30/2013 - 9:59am

According to the World English Dictionary, vision is defined as the ability or an instance of great perception, especially of future developments.    This perception is especially necessary during a career change or a job search; a clear vision gives you something to strive for, and allows you to move forward toward your career goals.  Vision is actually the complement to the self-assessment work you’ve been doing to develop your brand and clarify your values.  The results of that work shows who you are and what you have to offer – what makes you unique.  Adding a vision to the package gives you a direction in which to take your unique skills and strengths. 
A career vision is essentially a mental image of your future career – a picture of your ideal, fulfilling, perfect career.  Once you develop your vision, you can use it as a compass on your career search journey, keeping you on a straight line to success.
As with other steps along the way, developing a clear career vision takes work, but take time with it, as it will help motivate the rest of your search.  Start the process by reviewing your branding statement and core values; these, as you now know, show you who you are now, and what is most important as you move forward – what is non-negotiable in a future career.
Now comes the fun part of this process – unlimited, creative, imaginative thinking!  Most people hold themselves back through negativity, fear, and self-imposed restrictions, and this then limits their visions.  This is your vision, so let your imagination run wild – dream big!  This is usually difficult for most people, so here are some exercises to help generate your creativity. 
  • ·         Your Dream Job:  What would you want to do today if you had no bills to pay, commitments or restrictions, and unlimited cash reserves?
  • ·         What Does Your Future Look Like:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?  10?  15? 
  • ·         Career Success:  What does success in your career mean to you?  Think of your future self achieving success – what have you accomplished?
  • ·         Your Unique Self:  Back to your brand – what makes you distinctive in your chosen field?  How can you leverage that in your career vision?  What special gifts do you have; how can you share them? 
  • ·         Your Obituary:  Not something we like to think about, but this can be a helpful activity.  What would you like your obituary to say about your career accomplishments, achievements, the impact you made on your field, and people you helped along the way?  Remember this is something only you will see, so give yourself the credit you will deserve when you’re doing your dream job.
  • ·         The Ideal:  How do you picture your ideal career and life?  Include all elements of your perfect life – career, location, family, hobbies, volunteer activities – everything that will fulfill you.

Once you’ve completed your visioning exercises, put everything together in a cohesive statement (similar to your branding statement).  Put your statement where you can read and say it often; reinforcing the image will help you make it happen. 
Now you have bookends – your branding statement summarizing who you are and what you have to offer, and your career vision showing where you want to be.  With these, you can now develop a plan to get from here to there, using specific goals and action steps.  Effective goal setting is an essential part of the career and job search process, and will keep you moving forward.  You’ve heard that goals should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely; these elements clarify exactly what is expected and ensure accomplishment of the set goals.  Here are some additional tips for setting effective goals:  prioritize your goals, so you can focus on those that will move you forward; break your goals into manageable tasks, so you don’t feel overwhelmed and can accomplish them more easily; celebrate your accomplishments – this motivates you to take on other goals.

If you believe it, you can do it – creating a clear vision and setting effective goals help make your career search goals a reality, and give you the motivation and confidence to move forward in your journey. 

Re-Boot Camp Week 7: Powerful Professional Presence and Presentation Tips

Tue, 07/23/2013 - 8:38am
You’ve heard it said that you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and this is especially true in job search activities – networking and interviews.  Most job searchers spend the majority of their time focusing on the nuts and bolts of putting a resume together, applying to jobs, reaching out to contacts for assistance.  It’s important not to neglect what might be considered the “intangibles” – developing those qualities that will make a positive first impression, and lead you to more interviews and the job you seek.What I’m referring to specifically is your professional presence, and in creating a strong and credible presence, you will establish trust in your product – yourself – and will be able to effectively initiate and build relationships.  Professional presence is your complete package.  This includes your image; your dress, style and attention to detail.  You don’t have to spend a fortune or wear the fashion of the moment, but should be in line with the professional dress for your industry or field.  This may mean toning down your dress if you’re a recent graduate, or updating your wardrobe if you’ve been out of the job seeking mode for a while.  Body language is also important; you can tell the difference between a confident person – head held high, hand outstretched for a firm shake, smiling, leaning forward with interest to hear what’s being said – and someone who’s unsure of themselves – head down, shuffling feet, no eye contact.  Ask people who know you how you come across and work on building confidence with your body, if necessary.  Another key element of professional presence is your approach; when you meet someone, are you confident in what you say and how you say it?  You’ve heard of course that you should have an elevator speech prepared, in which you summarize your brand and goals.  Have several versions of different lengths prepared for different situations, and practice repeatedly, so that you incorporate the information and it doesn’t sound rehearsed.  You may have a more technically detailed speech for a professional association meeting than for a general networking event, for example.  Confidence is key to powerful professional presence – you have to live your brand, every day in every way. Many situations call for polished presentation skills, from an individual interview to a networking event, to a formal presentation to a group.  The following helpful tips come from Donna Rawady, an experienced career coach ( strong imagination may help public speaking jitters.I’ve been presenting in front of audiences, small and large, for 25 years. And although I enjoy it, it’s not unusual for my breath to shorten and my palms to get sweaty, in those few minutes before stepping on stage or in front of a room full of people. I realize that for some, public speaking is much more stressful. For others, it may be paralyzing.For those of you who either choose to present, or are in professional roles that call for public speaking, using your imagination may help.In the days prior to your presentation, try visualizing regularly, a perfect presentation and audience response.Imagine that you’re completely relaxed, in control and feeling great. Visualize right down to the details of what you’ll be wearing (which should be something you feel great in).At first, simply visualize yourself comfortably calm, and imagine your audience approaching you afterwards to thank you for a great presentation.While you’re visualizing, make an effort to relax your hands and fingers. You’ll be amazed at how this small action will help your entire body relax. (If you find yourself tensing during your presentation, consciously relax your hands and fingers. It may help you mentally tap into the relaxed state of mind you experienced during your visualization.)In addition to conditioning your mental state, be sure to be well prepared. Once you’ve memorized the flow of your presentation, you can incorporate the overall flow of the presentation into your visualization.
So before your next presentation, give it a try—sit back, close your eyes, relax, and imagine the best.

Re-Boot Camp Week 6: Gap Analysis & Execution Plan

Tue, 07/16/2013 - 8:11am
A job search is a journey; you start at a certain point, with a destination in mind, and take specific steps to reach that destination.  As with any journey, it’s important to have a map, compass, good hiking boots, and snacks to help you along the way.  In spite of your planning and preparation, however, unforeseen circumstances and obstacles can appear at any point and sidetrack or derail your journey – people don’t respond to your networking requests, your perfect resume doesn’t get you the interview, you make it to the final round of three and are not the ultimate choice.  These disappointments can make you doubt you’re on the right path and cause your motivation to falter.  At times like these, it’s good to take a step back, see where you are and what you might need to get back on track and reach your goal.
First, determine whether your goals are clear, and if they’re in line with your brand – refer back to your marketing plan.  If you’re comfortable this is the case, it’s time to determine where the gaps are – what’s preventing you from getting from your present point to where you want to be.  This involves digging deeper than you may have been doing up to this point.
The gap analysis process works best as an exercise, so grab paper and pen to make a table (or get on your computer).  In the first column, list your skills, qualifications, abilities, education, training, certifications, and any other qualities that are needed in and relate to your goal job.  Then take the job descriptions of recent jobs to which you’ve applied, and/or postings you’ve seen that would be your ideal job.  Go through each and pull out the qualifications, skills, knowledge and requirements needed for these jobs, including all specific industry keywords, and put these in the second column.  Cross out the common skills from both columns; these are the areas you match the postings.  What remains are gap areas, or where your skills do not match the job descriptions.  Your next column is for specific actions to close these gaps, with the following column indicating the expected results from these actions.  The last column is for people who will be helpful in accomplishing these results.
Closing your gaps can involve a variety of activities; if you need more industry specific or updated technical knowledge, you can take a class or explore online training, for example.  Volunteer activities can provide experience in a new field.  Consulting or freelance projects can supplement your skills with real world experience.  Stepping up your networking efforts can connect you with key industry contacts who can provide an entrée into a targeted company. 
And if your analysis seems to reveal that you’re doing everything right – the skills you have match perfectly to those in your ideal job descriptions, or you’ve filled your gaps, and you’re still stuck, it may be time to explore other options and develop a Plan B.  Based on your priorities and the realities of your current situation, alternatives may be necessary.  This might be a “gap job,” or a job to just make money while you’re working towards your goal job on the side, deciding to move to a different geographic location because your chosen field is not in demand where you are, or even rethinking your ideal job altogether because it’s not feasible at this point.  It’s ok to go back to the drawing board, do further research, and develop a new marketing plan to focus your skills and accomplishments in a new direction with more viable options.
You don’t have to take this journey alone.  Our office is a resource to help with the gap analysis and execution plan process.  We’re familiar with what it takes to succeed in your chosen field, and can work with you to overcome the obstacles you’re facing. 

It’s said that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step; your job search may seem like a long journey, but taken step by step can lead to a satisfying destination.

Re-Boot Camp Week 5 - Expanding Your Online Presence and Connecting with RIT Alumni

Tue, 07/09/2013 - 8:14am
For those who have not yet jumped into the social media pool, or who have only dipped in their big toe (a LinkedIn profile, for example), a job search presents the perfect opportunity – in fact almost a compulsion – to dive into the deep end.  Today’s work environment demands a degree of social media savvy – you can keep up and thrive, or get left behind. 
Why expand your online presence?  Put simply, when looking for a job, you want people to find you – and be impressed with what they see.  The image you present online is your way of introducing yourself – your first impression to potential employers.  A majority of recruiters, both corporate and third party, use LinkedIn and other social media sites to source candidates for open positions, so if you’re not fully utilizing these sites you’re missing out on potential opportunities.   In addition, most companies (85-90%) check online for information on candidates.  You’ve probably heard that you should Google yourself to see what you find; most often people think only of negative results, such as college party pictures, or a convicted felon with the same name as you.  But having no online presence, or an incomplete online identity, can be equally as damaging; you’ll be perceived as dated (not good if you’re an older candidate), not relevant to your field, or you’ll just be invisible and passed over. 
So the first step is to do an assessment of your current online presence.  You will of course want to clean up any “digital dirt,” or inappropriate material you find.  Remove pictures or comments, change privacy settings on personal pages, and even consider using a service for assistance in online presence management.  Then it’s essential to increase your positive search results by expanding your presence.  Be sure you’re participating in the top three social media sites – LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  On LinkedIn, have a powerful and dynamic profile (view the presentation Connections: Using Social Networking in your Job Search on our alumni career page, for specific tips), join groups, and connect with key people in your targeted companies/industries (like RIT alumni; more in a bit).  Set up a Facebook account, a separate one for professional purposes if you’d like it separate from a personal one, or use the lists feature to separate your personal and business contacts.  Connect with friends and business colleagues, follow company pages, and showcase any projects, part-time work, community activities or other highlights you’d like people to see.  Set up a Twitter account; follow industry experts and companies, connect with recruiters and others in your field, and demonstrate that you are current with the latest technology.
Whether you’re currently employed or looking for your next challenge, it’s important to showcase your expertise and accomplishments.  There are many ways to create an online portfolio to show your work; use LinkedIn applications to add videos, slideshows or articles to your profile, or build your own website with work samples, links to articles, information on awards received, and you can even start a blog, to post commentaries on your industry or field.  There are many sites to help you make a website and profile your work, including,,,,,, and   
In expanding your online presence, your other goal is to find people.  You want to connect with people who can help connect you to the decision makers in your targeted companies.  Cast a wide net with this; ‘friend’ old high school and college friends on Facebook, connect with former business colleagues on LinkedIn, and follow industry experts and professional association members on Twitter. 
You also want to connect with RIT alumni, and there are many ways to do this.  If you’re in an area where one exists, join and become active in an Alumni Chapter (  Even if you attend a sports or social event, you’re still able to network with other RIT alumni.  The Alumni Network ( through the Tiger Locator lets you search on a number of criteria, including geographic location, major, field, and company, for alumni to whom you can then reach out.  The RIT Professional Network is a tab in Job Zone, our online job listing system, and is a database of alumni willing to connect with other alumni for informational interviews; you can search by field, company or major.  In Facebook, you can search for and join groups from RIT.  LinkedIn is a great way to connect with RIT alumni.  Join the alumni groups – the Official RIT Alumni group, the unofficial group (started before the official group), the group from your college, and our RIT Career Services group; once a group member, you’re then free to interact with other members, some of whom may work at your targeted companies.  Of course other groups will be helpful, and may have alumni members as well – you can join up to 50 groups, so be sure to join a variety of industry related as well as RIT related groups.  Under the Network tab (across the top), click alumni and you’ll see a list of RIT alumni, for the date range you specify, as well as where they live, where they work and what they do.   You can also do an Advanced People Search, which is helpful if you’re looking for alumni at a specific company.  Once you have prospective contacts, reach out to connect (with a personalized introductory message), or get introduced through other connections you may have in common.  Connections may be able to help you bypass the standard application procedure and provide a reference (or at least an introduction) to a hiring manager. RIT alumni are very willing to assist one another, so take advantage of your shared alma mater experience to expand your network and further your job search efforts.

Re-Boot Camp Week 4: Promotion & Networking Strategies for Introverts

Tue, 07/02/2013 - 7:39am
Are you an introvert? Are you uncomfortable in crowds, and happier in one-on-one interactions or small groups?
Do you prefer more in-depth, rather than surface, relationships with people?
Do you prefer to take time to reflect before you answer questions or contribute to a conversation?  Do you try to avoid idle conversation or small talk?
Do you get reenergized by being alone, and feel you need privacy?
Do you tend to keep your thoughts and emotions private, often saying little?
If you answered yes to the above questions, you’re most likely an introvert, or have introverted tendencies.  If you’re interested in doing a more in-depth assessment of your personality type, our career counselors can provide testing and analysis.  Contact our office for more information.
Being an introvert is often considered a disadvantage, at least in the work world, and especially in a job search.  Surely it is the outgoing, energetic person who circles the room at a networking event, making sparkling conversation with everyone, who has the advantage and will get the job.  Having gazed with amazement at these seemingly indefatigable bundles of energy, introverts are apt to think they haven’t got a chance at competing, and go home to wait for the phone to ring.  Introverts tend to believe that people should recognize the quality of their work and their accomplishments at face value, with no self -promotion.  The effort required to outreach for assistance seems overwhelming, they often don’t ask for help with their search, and avoid networking like the plague.
The good news is it’s not necessary to change your personality, either for your job search, or for success on the job, but you may have to adapt your approach to successfully interact with extroverts and become a more effective networker.  Here are some tips.
First, recognize that introverts have many strengths and success qualities, and advantages over more talkative networkers.  Introverts are good listeners who really focus and reflect on what’s being said, which allows them to develop solid relationships with people (a distinct benefit in networking). 
Don’t be afraid to toot your horn; this may feel uncomfortable for you, but it’s necessary to show everyone that you’re the best candidate by showcasing your skills and accomplishments.  Develop key talking points about yourself that you can use for different situations – networking events, interviews, talking with your seatmate on a plane.  Go back to your brand; this is the essence of who you are, and should be the starting point for telling your story.  The more confident you are in your brand, the better able you’ll be to negotiate networking situations.
Try to network one-on-one, where you may feel more comfortable.  Prepare, so you feel more in control; set the goals for what you want to accomplish, conduct research on the person you’re meeting with (LinkedIn is good for this), and their company, have a script or questions outlined, and remember you’re there to collect information – this is where introverts shine!   As networking is a two-way street, look for ways you can help people in addition to them helping you; you may feel more comfortable in this role.Create a networking plan that is structured, with specific activities, goals, and a timeline.  Don’t schedule too many networking activities for one day.  Network when your energy is highest if possible.  Build in rewards for completed tasks, and always take time to renew your energy.
At networking events, have realistic expectations; you don’t have to collect business cards from everyone in the room, and ask all of them if they know of any jobs for you.  The purpose of networking is to develop mutually beneficial relationships based on shared interests.  Set a specific goal for each event, i.e. talking to three people, with whom you’ll follow up after the event (using the one-on-one strategy above).   Some amount of small talk is inevitable, so prepare with conversation openers.  Know the event – its purpose, the type of people who may be there.  Take a support person; even if you don’t stay together during the event you’ll feel better knowing someone is there who has your back.  Get the lay of the land before approaching anyone and plan your approach; you may want to join a small group, or look for someone who’s standing alone.  Set a departure time in advance; if you end up staying later, that’s fine, but at least you’ve given yourself permission to not stay until the very end.  Give yourself kudos afterward, for pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone to do something to move your job search forward.  Then take time to renew your energy - probably by yourself in a room with no other stimuli!

Like any new talent or skill, it takes practice to become an effective networker.  By working with your strengths as an introvert, and having confidence in yourself as a candidate, you’ll start to reap the benefits of networking, and that will give you the encouragement you need to continue!