Make A Professional Impression With Your Resume!
The job of a resume is to make employers want to interview you. Does yours make them rush to the phone to set up a meeting? If not, follow the steps below.
Start with a blank page, not a template, and list each of your experiences (ie: volunteer, internship, or employment) that has relevance. Go for volume here and focus on details and specifics of what you did with these experiences. You will condense this information later.
Describe your experience in terms of the functions you performed and what you accomplished. Use action verbs to strengthen descriptions. Employers are interested in how successful you were in the past because it predicts future performance.
Jobs and education are listed in reverse chronological order-the most recent experience first. This format is best for those who have some experience directly related to their objective.
Highlights qualifications, skills and related accomplishments with little emphasis on dates. This format is not recommended as employers usually prefer past employment information.
Similar to functional resume, but with employment history listed in a separate section. This style is best for people who have little related experience but lots of transferable skills, new graduates, career changers who have gaps in their work history, and those who have had many similar jobs.
Use the resume checklist to self critique and ask several individuals who are familiar with the type of employment you are seeking to look it over. Always ask someone at the Career Development Center for a resume review before distribution.
Check that your resume is mistake free, has consistent emphasis (bold, underline, italics) and is well laid out on the page. Print your resume on 24 lb. cotton bond paper. Use pure white, cream, ecru, or beige paper. Never photocopy your resume, always print your resume using a laser or high-quality inkjet printer.
Alternate Resume Types
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): Software used by 80% of large companies and 50% of medium companies designed to facilitate electronic recruiting and applicant tracking.
How Can I Make the Most of ATS?
- Skills: Match your skills with keywords and language from the position description
- Spelling: Avoid errors, spell out strengths, competencies, abilities, and include industry-specific abbreviations or acronyms
- Font: Use web safe fonts (Arial/Helvetica, Times New Roman, Courier, Tahoma)
- Format: Stay away from templates, special characters and formatting; no tables, graphics, images, or PDF formats!
- Sections: Use common headers and include an Executive Summary with bullets
- Dates: Start with employer name or job title, never left align dates
- Relevancy: Target each resume and only include relevant information even though length is less critical
A Curriculum Vitae ("CV" or "vitae") is a comprehensive, biographical statement emphasizing your professional qualifications and activities. In general, curricula vitae are three or more pages in length. An advantage of the CV format is significant freedom to choose the headings and categories for your information and the strength reflected in their arrangement.
When Is a CV Appropriate?
A CV should only be used when specifically requested, this might occur in the following instances:
- Applications for admission to Graduate or Professional Schools
- Providing information related to professional activities such as applications for professional memberships, leadership positions, and presentations at professional conferences
- Proposals for fellowships or grants
- Applications for positions in academia, including school administration (elementary or secondary), principals, superintendents, and deans of schools
- Higher Education positions in teaching, research, administration, and institutional research
- Independent consulting in a variety of settings
Qualifications or Skills
A summary of relevant strengths or skills which you want to highlight.
Listing of positions (part-time, full-time, volunteer, temporary and permanent) related to the type of work sought.
List the names of courses you have taught, institution and dates where taught, and brief course descriptions.
Include only if relevant to the position/grant for which you are applying (countries, dates, purpose)
List all relevant certifications and the year received.
Grants Applied for/Awarded
Include name of grant; granting agency; date received; title or purpose of research project.
Give bibliographic citations using the format appropriate to your particular academic discipline for books, abstracts, reviews, articles, papers, creative works, technical reports you have authored or co-authored. In fine arts areas, this can include descriptions of recitals and art exhibits.
Give titles of research papers and professional presentations using the format appropriate to your particular academic discipline; name of conference or event; dates and location; and a brief description.
List professional committees, including offices held, student groups you have supervised, or special academic projects; relevant volunteer work and community service organizations.
Cite as for grants; give major activities and relevant to professional training and research programs; characterize the subject field of inquiry.
Honors and Awards
List only those pertaining to professional training and research programs.
Memberships in national, regional, state, and local professional organizations, significant appointments to positions or committees, student memberships are appropriate. If offices are held, note title of the office and dates of incumbency.
If you served in the military, you have developed a whole different way of talking, writing and explaining what you did while serving. And, most civilians will be totally confused and not understand what you did in the military.
How Can I Translate My Military Skills To Civilian Terms?
It's important to use key words like key words from your military experience that will attract employer's attentions such as:
- Work well under pressure
International resume and employers place a big emphasis on your personality - including your cultural competence, and how well you will be able to work and thrive in an international environment. It's important to not only highlight your professional personality, but emphasize your cross cultural skills, and addressing your international experiences as strengths.
What Sections Should I Include on my International Resume?
- Courses with international focus
- Class projects - stress working as a team, project outcome and any multi-cultural environment
- Cross-cultural international experiences in North America or abroad
- Volunteer experiences
- Clubs and organizations
Keep in mind that unlike a U.S. resume, international resumes may require you to list your name, social security number, age, marital status and family dependents. Be sure to follow the specific employer instructions for each international application.
Academic portfolios assess learning over the course of your college career. These may include reflections on experiences (e.g. study abroad, volunteer service), graded writing from first year through senior year, general professor feedback on assignments, and more. It shows growth of skills and learning within an academic context.
Professional portfolios reflect your best work, meeting the needs and standards of an industry/employer.
How Should I Go About Creating My Website?
There are many free and intuitive resources out there to choose from. Weebly and Wix are good drop-and-drag resources with templates for creating websites. Carbonmade and Behance are great for design/branding/photography/fashion portfolios. A LinkedIn profile and is a virtual resume, but you can also share writing, presentations, and design.
Think strategically. Who is your audience, and what do they need/want? Portfolios should contain your best work-not all of your work-and be sorted by skill. Spend some time thinking about and writing down all that you do professionally, and then sort by skill and the level of importance to your audience; or try re-organizing your resume by skill.
Get that resume read! If the job of the resume is to get you an interview, the job of the cover letter to get your resume read. Cover Letters give you the chance to show your personality.
State why you are writing and indicate your knowledge of the employer in the first two or three sentences. When possible, name the position for which you are applying and how you heard of the opening. If you are writing as a result of a personal referral, someone known to the reader, state it in the first sentence. Just make sure that you have that person's permission to use his or her name!
In the body, communicate the ways your skills and experiences can be of value to the employer. You will want to balance your confidence with humility. Highlight prior experience that will make your background come alive. Paint a picture of the type of person they want to hire by describing how your experience relates or is transferable to the employer.
Always thank the person for their time and indicate the step you will take next. This can include reasserting your interest in the position and arranging for a specific time when you will contact the employer to set up a meeting. Avoid endings which lack assertiveness such as "Please contact me..."
- Individualize each letter so that it is unique to that particular employer
- Start your letter off with a strong sentence; one that almost begs the reader to read on.
- Keep your letter to one page.
- Make your letter look graphically pleasing. Center your letter. Top and bottom margins should be equal. Side margins should be 1 inch each. Use the same header that is on your resume.
- Use good quality paper that matches your resume.
- Ask directly for a meeting and indicate that you will call within a week to 10 days to arrange a convenient time. By mentioning when you will call in the letter, you are showing serious interest and initiative. Remember - you must do what your letter says you will do.
- Mention your resume and any other enclosures.
- Keep a copy of every letter you send out. When you make follow-up phone calls, it is always helpful to have a copy of your letter in front of you to know exactly what you wrote to this particular person, especially since all your letters will be different.
- Make it perfect: no typos, no misspellings, no factual errors. After spellchecking on your word processor, proofread your cover letter carefully.
- Use qualifiers. "I feel that..." or "I think that..." These qualifiers only weaken what comes after them. Usually, these statements can be left out and the remaining sentence can stand as is.
- Start every sentence with "I."
- Send a "one size fits all" letter that looks like it could have been sent to anyone.
- Point out what the employer can do for you or what you hope to gain from this job. Rather, show how your accomplishments can address the needs of this particular employer.
- Repeat everything on your resume.
- Copy sample cover letters and present them as your own.
References available upon request is the phrase often used and intended to signal the end of a resume. References are never printed as part of the resume and are typically not included with the resume unless specifically requested by the employer. Always have a copy of your references available.
Who should I ask?
- Ask 3 or 4 professionals who can say something about your work performance, either on the job or in the classroom
- Choose references who will speak favorably, consider professors, friends of the family or previous/current employers
- One reference can be a professor, at least one should be a current or former direct supervisor, and one can be a co-worker.
- Provide a copy of your resume so they can speak intelligently about your past experience as well as the quality of your work
What does the Reference Page look like?
- Use the same header as on your resume
- Include name and current contact information, including email address, and working relationship
- Reference page should not exceed one page
- Send this with your resume only if specifically asked, but always take a copies with you to interviews
Mrs. Jane Jones, Professor of Economics
College of Business and Public Administration
Old Dominion University
2102 Constant Hall
Norfolk, VA 23529
Dear [Name of Employer]:
This reference letter is provided at the written request of [name of student], who has asked me to serve as a reference on [his/her] behalf. It is my understanding that [name of student] is being considered by your organization for the position of [job title]. Please be advised that the information contained in this letter is confidential and should be treated as such. The information should not be disclosed to [name of student, if student has waived access] or anyone in your organization who would not be involved in the hiring decision regarding this individual. Additionally, the information should not be disclosed to anyone outside of your organization without the consent of the student.
I have known [name of student] for the past [number of months, semesters, years] as [he/she] has taken the following courses which I teach: [list courses, give brief description of content of course]. As [his/her] professor, I have had an opportunity to observe the student's participation and interaction in class, and to evaluate the student's knowledge of the subject matter. I would rate the student's overall performance in these subjects as average. This is evidenced by [his/her] grades-[state the grades].
[One or two specific examples of the student's performance may be appropriate.] As part of [his/her] grade in [name of course], the student was required to prepare a paper. The paper was designed to measure the student's ability to research, to analyze the results of the research, and to write. [Discuss how the paper submitted by the student indicated to you the student's skills in these areas.] Based upon this, I rate the student's skills as competent, but not excelling.
The one area in which the student performed above average was in oral communications. [Give specific example to support this.]
Based upon the student's academic performance and my understanding of the position for which the student is applying, I believe the student would perform (place overall evaluation here).
If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact me.
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers
Your greeting should be formal: Dr./Mrs./Ms./Mr.
Mind Your Manners
Use Please and Thank You.
EXAMPLE: Inquiry from Jane Doe Regarding a Volunteer Opportunity with XYZ Company
Address your Subject
Always include a subject in your message, and make it as specific as possible.
Write in complete sentences and be concise.
Do NOT use phrasing, text messaging, all caps, exclamation points or emoticons.
Check for spelling, grammar, and proof read before sending.
Use a signature
Include your name and your contact information.
Avoid music, TV, laptop or other noises in the background while making the call.
EXAMPLE: Good Morning, May I please speak to ______________? My name is _____________ and I am a (jr/sr) majoring in ________ at Old Dominion University. I was interested in a (fall/spring/summer) employment opportunity and was hoping you had a few minutes to speak with me about internship/practicum opportunities in your organization.
Prepare your introduction
If necessary make an outline of what you intend to say. Don't read this outline word for word - but rather use it to help you keep the conversation focused and on track.
Speak clearly and slowly
You might need to practice before you call.
Be prepared to ask questions
Discuss your availability, and how you can contribute. If there are no immediate openings, ask for other leads OR tell your contact you will check back at a later time
End with gratitude
Thank the employer for their time, and confirm what your next steps are, and if necessary send them a copy of your resume.
A thank you letter is a very important piece of professional correspondence directly related to your interview. Follow up is a crucial component in making and maintaining a positive impression with those individuals with whom you have demonstrated a genuine interest and motivation towards.
Most students tend to email thank you letters to employers, but a handwritten letter is a great way to show extra initiative. In deciding on a format, consider what the employer has told you about the recruitment timeline and whether or not there is enough time for a hand written letter to arrive before a hiring decision is made.
Saying "thanks" can help you stand out from the crowd and continue a positive rapport with the employer. Consider the following:
- express your appreciation for your interview
- reconfirm your interest in the position
- summarize your interest in the organization
- provide any additional information that may have come up in the interview
- stress points that highlight your strengths, skills, or accomplishments
If you interview with more than one person, it is a good idea to send a thank you to each individual. This means that you need to get the names, titles, and contact information for all of the people who interviewed you. It is a good idea to ask for business cards.
Dear (CONTACT's NAME),
Thank you for taking the time to meet with on (DATE). It was such a pleasure speaking with you about (JOB TITLE). After hearing more about your company, I am confident I can make a (POSITIVE ADJECTIVE) contribution at (COMPANY NAME).
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Dear Mr. Example,
Thank you for the time you took to talk with me on Monday afternoon about the sales position at ExampleSales Inc. Your company has such a great product to offer its clients and after hearing more about the position I feel I can make a positive contribution as part of your team. I'm looking forward to finding out the next steps in the hiring process. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further information regarding my application.
ODU Marketing Major
Class of 2013
National Association of Colleges and Employers: Four Important Things You Need to Know About Thank You Notes
The job search is a blur of information exchange: e-mailed resumes, online applications, interviews via video conferences. Don't let the fast pace fool you. Common sense and courtesy still apply, including taking the time to say thank you.
Could your thank-you letter make or break a job offer? Consider this: If your application and interview are equal to that of another candidate, the person sending the thank-you letter gets the recruiter's attention one more time.
Like cover letters, thank-you letters are concise and personalized. The key is making a connection to the person and reiterating an idea discussed during the interview.
- Send a thank-you e-mail or letter within 24 hours of your interview. Consider the company culture. Because recruiters travel extensively, e-mail may be the best route. A follow-up business letter sent through the post office is a nice touch.
- Take time to take notes. Immediately following each interview, write down the information discussed while it's still fresh in your mind. If you are meeting with multiple people, find time to note each specific conversation. When you write your thank-you note(s), use this information to remind the interviewer of an idea or discussion that came up during your interview.
- Who receives a thank-you note? Anyone who interviews you gets a note. The notes may only vary by a sentence or two-make sure you reference specific conversations.
- Ask each interviewer for his or her business card. You'll walk away with important information. You'll have the recruiter's full name, spelled correctly, e-mail address, street address, and other contact information.
Job Search Strategies
In this job market, starting and continuing a search can be a daunting task:
- Identify several industries where you are most likely to find your desired occupation
- Consider employers, companies, businesses in this industry regardless of location
- Target similar organizations that are in your geographic region
- Look for competitors, companies smaller than the initial list
- Abilities, interests, values, strengths, weaknesses
Know the Market
- Research fields, industries, companies, and geographic regions
- Applications, networking, use variety of resources
Job Application Strategies
- Handshake and On-Campus Interviews
- Newspaper Want Ads
- Professional Journals
- Internet job banks such as USAJobs, Simply Hired, Career Connections, and Monster
Use various sources, apply directly to job openings that are posted. You will need an excellent resume and cover letter.
- Develop good cover letters
- Address specific company representatives
- Target desired jobs whether or not the job is currently open
The key is to target a well-researched list of companies based on your company research.
- Career Fairs and Information Sessions
- Informational Interviews
Talk to people you know and develop a list of contacts. Utilize Informational Interviews to meet with contacts to gather industry information and to develop more contacts.
Employers Seek Candidates Through:
- Internal Promotions
- Personal Referrals
- College Recruiting (entry-level)
- Unsolicited Resumes
- Staffing/Placement Agencies
The last place employers look for candidates is the first place candidates look for jobs.
Let Career Development Services provide personal coaching (via email, phone and in person) to help you with this difficult process.
- Evaluate your progress and manage your expectations
- Analyze your results, talk to a career coach
- Modify strategies, change inputs
- Inventory your own job search skills
- Get help from Career Development Services where needed
Beware of JOB SCAMS!
ODU Handshake employers and job postings are screened by ODU Career Development Services staff but we need you to "watch out" and be aware of job/internships offers that are "too good to be true!"
Not all employment opportunities are legitimate. Based on national information, some scams are posing as potential employers to collect personal information from or to defraud job seekers.
- Does the company have a website?
- Does the website match up with the posting?
- Does the website look legitimate?
- Look to see if the organization is using a company domain versus a general Gmail or Hotmail account
- Match the e-mail address to the company domain. Watch for e-mail addresses that are similar looking, but not the same.
- Look for "stock photos," grammatical errors, and poor use of English language.
- Be leery of non-approved employment flyers on college campuses and other establishments.
- Use social media to research each employer, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn.
- Research the company on websites such as Glassdoor.com for feedback and complaints.
- Be cognizant of unsolicited e-mails that are not specifically directed to you. Feel free to call CDS should you have any concerns or questions.
- Keep your private information private! Don't share personal information, e.g., social security numbers, banking information, credit or debit card numbers, PINs, passwords, birthday, address, mother's maiden name).
- Never process ANY financial transactions. For example: Some companies offer opportunities to "make money really quick." They will offer a "one day only special." Their intent is to defraud you by sending or wiring money to your bank account. They will ask you to cash the check or send the monies to other accounts. Once your bank or financial institution processes the scammer's check or financial request, you may be informed the monies are invalid or "not real." In the meantime, you are held responsible for the funds the bank has sent at your direction to other accounts.
Fraudulent companies are phishing for the unsuspecting, including you. Be aware of what you share and post online. If you feel uncomfortable or aren't sure about certain companies or employers, talk to someone in CDS.
- do not provide any personal information if you do not know the company name
- do not proceed without further investigation if the email address does not match the company...
- are offered a large amount for little or no work...
- are offered a job without ever interacting with the staff or supervisor...
- are offered a check before you do any work...
- are asked for your credit card, bank account, or copies of personal documents but you get nothing in writing...
- are required to send any payment by wire service or courier...
- are offered payment in exchange for use of your bank account; often for depositing checks or transferring money...
- receive a large check or money order unexpectedly...DO NOT deposit or cash it!
Please report it to ODU Police Department on Monarch Way (across from ODU Bookstore) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fight Fraud: Common Questions about online Scams
Remember... if you have any questions, talk to a staff member from CDS before pursuing any opportunity. If an opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you believe you are the victim of a scam, contact ODU Police Department email@example.com
Network Your Way to a Job
Develop your brand; starting with your 30-second commercial. A 30-Second Commercial is YOUR opportunity to market YOU. It's your unique response to the question, "Tell me about yourself." While each interview is different, you can count on this question being asked every time-it's the most common icebreaker used by interviewers. A polished response is a first sign of preparedness. Remember, first impressions are lasting, so you may only have one chance to get it right!
Your 30-second commercial should answer the following questions:
- Who am I?
- Why am I talking to you, and what is my objective?
- What is my past experience and what are my strengths?
- What are my past accomplishments?
- How did I achieve those accomplishments?
- What are my passions?
- How do my passions apply to this company/job?
Sample 30-second commercial
"Hello, my name is _________. I am extremely interested in the __________ position that was recently posted on your company's website. I am pursuing my Bachelor of Science in Communication and offer an unparalleled level of energy and excitement, and I am extremely reliable. In fact, it was because of my work ethic that I received 1st place in ODU's Student Employee of the Year as a sophomore. In my search for a new opportunity, I'm prepared to offer this same level of dedication to your company, and I'm excited about the new challenges ahead of me."
Find common ground; connect and learn through mutual interests. Students are often hesitant of the networking process - but shouldn't be. Asking people for advice, assistance and information is a part of any job search. Keep in mind that your network often begins with people you already know - family, friends, professors, advisors, mentors, and co-workers. For most people, talking about their background, interests and expertise comes easy - beginning a conversation is often easier than you think.
Develop an plan of action:
- Personal Goal
- Overall Strategy
Become first in mind; reach out and make the most out of every interaction.
Informational interviewing is a conversation initiated to obtain facts or opinions, an opportunity to get an insider's view on a particular career or industry. It is not a job interview and can be used throughout your career, not just when you're thinking about a new position or a new line of work.
- To gather information and reach tentative decisions about yourself and your options
- To gain new networking contacts in a different fields or organizations
- To research companies: Would I like working in this culture? Are there opportunities for advancement?
- For self‐assessment: Would I like this line of work? What would I need to do to be competitive in this field?
- Identify people to interview. Ask friends, family, faculty or employers for names of people who work in the profession you hope to enter
- When setting up the interview, introduce yourself and why you're calling. Indicate where you got the person's name. Ask if the person would be available for a short meeting to discuss his or her occupation. Explain a little about your own background and why their occupation appeals to you... but never give the impression that you're asking for a job
- Treat it as a business appointment and conduct yourself in a professional manner
- Write a thank‐you note afterwards. Stay in touch if you've followed up on their suggestions. Build a strong mentoring rapport; you may have developed a great networking contact!
- Can you tell me how you got to this position?
- What do you like most about what you do, and what would you change if you could?
- How do people break into this field? Do you have any suggestions for me?
- What are the types of jobs that exist where you work and in the industry in general?
- What does a typical career path look like in your industry?
- What are some of the biggest challenges facing your company and your industry today?
- Are there any professional or trade associations with whom I should connect?
- What's unique or differentiating about your company?
- Be Prepared. Have your 30 Second Commercial and introduction (including a strong handshake and good eye contact) prepared in advance. Determine ahead of time what information you hope to gain from your contact and ask specific questions.
- Be Targeted. You may think to yourself "but I don't know anyone", however if you were to make a list of people you come in contact with on a daily basis - you'd quickly discover you know a lot of people! If you really want to expand the network of people you know, consider joining a club, organization, professional group or community meeting - get involved. You never know who you will meet and who they will know - their contact could lead you to your next job!
- Be Professional and Focused. Asking for networking advice or information is not the same as asking for a job! Your networking meetings are a source of information, contacts and advice. Focus on asking for one thing at a time and having a meaningful conversation.
- Be Referral-Centered and Proactive. The person you are networking with may refer you to someone else, be prepared to collect business cards, make new contacts and stay up-to-date with job leads, remember to thank the individuals for their time and information.
- Be Patient and Dedicated. Networking often does not provide immediate results, rather it provides you with one more resource you can use within the job search process. Be persistent in following up with your job leads, and stay in touch with the people you meet. Networking should be a part of your long term career plan.
Background: Tell me how you got started in this field. What was your education? What educational background or related experience might be helpful in entering this field?
Skills/Abilities: What skills/abilities are utilized in your field? What special training is recommended? What skills are especially important for someone in this position? What characteristics do the achievers in this company seem to share?
Problems: What is the largest single problem facing your staff (department) now? What problems does the industry as a whole have? What innovative things are being done to solve these problems?
Rewards: What do you find most rewarding about this work, besides money?
Potential: Where do you see yourself going in a few years? What are your long term goals? In what ways is a career with your company better than one with your competitors?
Job market: How do people find out about your jobs? Are they advertised in the newspaper? On the web? By word-of-mouth? By the Human Resources Department?
Reliability: Is turnover high? How many have held this job in the last 5 years? Has your company experienced any downsizing, layoffs in the recent economic crisis? What products (or services) are in the development stage now? Do you have plans for expansion? What are your growth projections for next year?
The industry: What trends do you see for this industry in the next 3 to 5 years? What kind of future do you see for this organization? How much of your business is tied to (the economy, government spending, weather, supplies, etc.)?
Advice: How well-suited is my background for this field? When the time comes, how would I go about finding a job in this field? What experience, paid or volunteer would you recommend? What essentials should my resume contain?
Demand: What types of employers hire people in this line of work? Where are they located? What other career areas do you feel are related to your work?
Hiring Decisions: What are the most important factors used to hire people in this work (education, past experience, personality, special skills)? Who makes the hiring decisions for your department? Who supervises the boss? When I am ready to apply for a job, who should I contact?
Referral to other sources: Can you name a relevant trade journal or magazine for me to review regularly? What professional organizations might have information about this career area?
Referral to others: Based on our conversation today, what other types of people do you believe I should talk to? Can you name a few of these people? May I have permission to use your name when I contact them?
Do you have any other questions or advice?
- Do offer a firm handshake, make good eye contact and be prepared to introduce yourself.
- Do keep your resume up to date, and have it available to share with contacts who request it.
- Do take every opportunity to expand your network and utilize your networking skills as a valuable part of the job search process.
- Don't tell your networking contact your life story - instead focus on one or two pieces of information or questions at a time.
- Don't be shy - confidence is a quality that employers typically look for in the people they hire.
The best jobs go to the best job seekers - and often those who are successful in their job search have put their networking skills to good use!
Being an introvert does NOT mean you don't have social skills. However, it does mean that being around lots of people at one time can be draining. Top 10 networking tips for introverts:
Join the crowd. If people seem to be congregating in one area, join them and strike up a conversation.
Set reasonable expectations. When attending an event, prep yourself mentally for what you are there to do. Is your goal to meet more people? Is it to learn more about the organization's culture? Is it to meet one or two specific people? Make sure you set reasonable expectations beforehand, so that you have a goal in mind. It is a great way to keep you from getting overwhelmed, too.
Start a conversation with a loner. It's usually easier to start a conversation with someone who is standing alone, because they will most likely be happy to have someone to talk to-and as a result, are often more personable and easier to connect with.
Avoid barging into groups. A cluster of more than four people can be awkward-and tough to enter. Join the group on one side, but don't try to enter the conversation until you've made eye contact with each person at least one time. Usually, people will make room to add you to the "circle" of conversation, and you can introduce yourself then!
"Look mom, no hands!" Keep at least one hand free at all times! This means no eating and drinking at the same time if you are at a networking mixer or conference reception. This way, you can still shake hands with people without being awkward and fumbling around.
Be yourself. Networking events are meant as starting points for professional relationships. If you can't be yourself-and you aren't comfortable in your own skin, then the people you meet will be connecting with someone you're impersonating, and not the real you. Be genuine. Authenticity tends to attract much of the same.
Be present and engaged. Ever talked to someone that acts like you're the only person in the room? Someone who listens, and makes you feel like everything you are saying is important? I love those people! They really make you feel heard. Keep eye contact, and lean in or tilt your body towards people when you talk to them. Not in a creepy way, but in a, "I'm listening to you, and I'm fully present" kind of way.
Treat people like friends. Unless, of course, you are a terrible friend. Would you go to a friend and interrupt their conversation, hand over a business card, and walk away? No. Networking events are not transactions. Treat new people as you'd treat your friends-built rapport, be trustworthy, and then talk shop.
Follow the 72 hour rule. After a conference or networking event, you have about 72 hours to follow up with a person on LinkedIn or via e-mail. Reference something that you talked about and ask what the best way to stay connected might be. After 72 hours, they just might have forgotten you.
Practice makes perfect. Well, not really perfect. Progress is always better than perfection! The point here is that networking is a skill, like any other professional skill. It is a muscle that you have to develop and grow. While others may look like born networkers, they are more than likely just more experienced with it. Mistakes may happen, but the only way to learn is to get out there and do it!
Tiffany I. Waddell is an assistant director for career development at Davidson College.
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Personal Branding With Social Media
Build your brand online and network with professionals in your field using social media that reflects your career or professional goals.
You may want to create separate personal and professional social media pages.
- Use a professional-looking picture-you can use the same picture on all of your social media pages
- Add the following to the "about" section: internship and other educational experience, a short bio, and links to other professional social media
- Follow organizations you're interested in to discover intern and full-time job opportunities, announcements about the company, and potential contacts in the organization
- Drop in your professional photo
- Customize your headline with keywords and phrases that are related to your desired industry or profession
- Request a connection with professionals you've worked with at internships or met through networking channels. Be sure to "personalize" your request by offering some information on why you would like to connect
- Use keywords in your summary statement. Many employers search by keyword, so use keywords-technical terms and skills-from your field. Not sure what your best keywords are? Find profiles of people who hold the job you'd like to get and see which keywords they use.
- Write short text. Describe your skills and abilities in short bursts of keyword-rich text. Use bullets to separate information.
- List all your experience. LinkedIn, like other social media, helps you connect with former colleagues and networking contacts who may be able to help you find a job opportunity. It also gives an employer searching to fill a job a description of your expertise.
- Ask for recommendations. Collect a recommendation or two from someone at each of the organizations where you've worked. Don't forget to get recommendations for internships you've completed.
- Refresh your news. Update your status about major projects you've completed, books you're reading, and professional successes you've had, at least once a week. This lets your professional contacts know what you are doing and serves as a sign of activity for potential employers.
- Use a professional profile photo. Your cover photo can indicate your interests
- Choose a Twitter handle that will be recognizable as you
- Tell your story in your bio: university, class year, major, and keywords describing your career interests
- Add a link to your LinkedIn profile, your personal website, blog, and/or online portfolio
- Drop your professional-looking picture on your main page
- Select a username that is consistent with your other social media platforms
- Create a bio that reflects your goals and brand. Who are you? Why are you using Pinterest? What are your professional aspirations?
- Create boards using images and content to share your interests and experiences in your field
- Mark boards "secret," if they are going to contain content you would prefer to keep private
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.