Where Are You in Your Career Planning? This is a self-administered check list to help you dtermine if you are on target with your career planning/job search. Answer each question “Yes” or “No”.
What You Know About: A. YOURSELF 1. Can you articulate what you have gained from your education'? 2. Can you explain why you chose your major'? 3. Can you name the work activities you do well and most enjoy'? Non-work activities'? Can you list at least five marketable skills and abilities you possess'? 4. For each of your most important job-related experiences. can you list: a. Five things you did'? b. Five things you learned'? c. Several contributions you made or things you accomplished? . 5. Can you describe your greatest strength? Your greatest weakness'? 6. Have you considered your personal ethics and values when identifying organizations for which you might work'? 7. Have you clearly defined your geographical preferences and limitations'? Have you determined the salary range you will consider? B. THE WORLD OF WORK 8. Can you name at least three fields of employment in which you are interested? 9. Do you know the type of organization for which you would like to work? 10. Can you describe the characteristics of the work environment in which you would be happiest and most productive? 11. Can you name at least five kinds of employers that might hire a person with your background'? 12. Can you name at least five position titles that might be appropriate to your interests and abilities'? 13. Do you know at least four or five resources to help you find answers to questions 11, 12 and 13 above? 14. Can you name at least four sources of information that could help you discover potential employers in a particular geographic area? 15. Have you recently talked to at least three people who are employed in your field of interest with the purpose of learning more about what they do?
C. GOAL SETTING 18. Can you clearly and confidently state your career goals? 19. Can you distinguish your more immediate job objectives from your long-range career goals? D. JOB HUNTING 20. Can you name at least five 'employers whom you plan to contact regarding employment in the near future? 21. Are you familiar with the organizational structures, services, programs or products of the employers whom you are planning to contact? 22. Have you prepared a resume with which you are satisfied? Have you asked anyone for feedback on it? 23. Do you know the questions employers are likely to ask you in an interview? 24. Have you used any of the following methods to prepare for interviews? a. Interview Workshops'? b. Role-playing with a friend or relative? c. Video taped practice interviews with Career Center staff? d. Role-playing by yourself in front of a mirror? 25. Have you considered ways of developing job leads other than advertised listings? 26. Have you consulted the schedule of employers who will be conducting on-campus recruiting visits to decide with which you might like to interview? NOW WHAT? Add up your "Yes" answers and score yourself. Total Score 25-34: On the right track. Keep up the good work. Total Score 15-24: Close! Stay tuned in to Career Center programs for additional help. Total Score 14 or below: You definitely need to give more time and thought to your career plans. Come to the Career Center for more help in getting started. Don't be discouraged if you scored low on this "test." The Career Center is here to help you improve your score. Use the Career Manual for specific suggestions, and keep track of your progress. (Adapted with permission of the author from The Berkeley Guide to Employment for New College Graduates by James I. Briggs, Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1984.)
The Job Search: Putting It All Together Finding a job has often been compared to planning a trip. It requires deciding on your destination and your means of transportation, and having a very good map to be sure you arrive at the right place on time. This section of the Manual is designed to give you that road map, to start you off on the right foot so that the time you spend in your search will be profitable. It is followed by some specific pages on the tools of a job search: resume and letter writing, and interviewing. The steps of a job search are really a series of answers to some important questions: SELF-ANALYSIS Who I am? What can I do? MARKET RESEARCH Where can I do what I want to do? Who hires people to do what I want to do? DEVELOPING A PLAN AND NETWORKING How can I contact these people/companies? PREPARING PAPERWORK, INTERVIEWING AND FOLLOW-UP How can I get these people/ companies to hire me?
Self Analysis - Who am I? What can 1 do? A job search starts at the easiest place of all: with yourself. The only catch is that the questions you have to answer are not particularly easy and require you to do some genuine soul-searching. Begin by taking a blank piece of paper and preparing to make lists - lists of ideas, skills, career goals, all kinds of lists. Writing down your answers to these questions clarifies your thinking and allows you to make alterations and additions as you go along. WHO AM I? Consider your values, skills, talents, strengths, and weaknesses. Ask yourself, what is important to you now? Money? Power? Location? Family? Career advancement? And in what priority?
people in specific companies in the industries. These become your contacts. At this point in the job search, one of the most common things to do is to ask in the Career Center for a list of all the companies that have been on campus in the past year to hire people in your field. The Center does have such a list but it certainly isn't a magic answer. It is only a small start in what needs to be a comprehensive researching of the market. The Career Center has other reference material which may be even more valuable. Current business publications, business websites and professional journals should provide ideas. Articles on the business pages of daily newspapers can also suggest leads.
WHAT CAN I DO? This time consider not only your skills and talents but also make a careful analysis of your education and all the areas of employment which it opens to you. What has been your previous work experience? Where have you volunteered? What are your hobbies? In which kind of environment do you function best? Once you have begun to define your career goals and objectives, writing a formal job objective may be very useful. Although you may not want to put a job objective on your resume, the practice of writing one will be extremely valuable in helping you to identify your career goals. For this purpose your objectives can be somewhat longer and more inclusive than they would be if you were to put them on your resume. This will allow you to cover more subject areas and make the objectives a greater asset to your planning. The most important thing to remember about writing a job objective is that you haven't created an engineering wonder. It can, and should, be revised as your goals and needs change. It is also legitimate to have several objectives reflecting different areas of interest. Researching the Market: Where can I do what I want to do? Who hires people to do what I want to do? Answering these questions can be the hardest and most time consuming work of your whole job search. Initially you are looking for industries which hire people in your field. Then you will need names, addresses, and phone numbers of
Reference Librarians can assist students to find information about employers in directories, or using online resources.
The Career Center maintains files of company literature and annual reports of companies which have been on campus. The Arthur Lakes Library has an even larger collection of annual reports. Most companies provide information about their products, services and business locations on their website. Networks of contacts can be developed through friends, relatives, previous employers, faculty members, or professional societies. Inform as many people as you can that you are seeking employment. The best way to learn about a particular area of work is to talk to people doing that work. For guidance on how to conduct an "informational interview," come to the Career Center. You may also be able to a visit or email a local alumnus in your field, by using the alumni directory.
When you have a fairly extensive list of contacts, begin to refine it. Choose two or three of your specific career objectives and pick those companies/contacts that are most likely to have that kind of work. These will be the focus of your initial work. RECORD KEEPING now becomes very important as you try to keep track of all your contacts. Set up a form which you can use throughout your search. Include the name of the company, URL, address, phone number, contact person and his/her title, email address and the date of contacts. In this way, each contact with a specific firm or individual can be recorded along with the result of the contact and a note about the next contact to be made. Keep a personal calendar marked with both specific appointments and reminders to follow through with returning calls, writing to inquire about your status, etc. Developing a Plan & Networking: How can I contact the people/companies which will hire me? With a good understanding of yourself, -your career objectives and lists of possible contacts, you are now ready to develop a plan for making these contacts. Your plan should take into account the amount of time and money you have to spend, as well as your own personality and operating style. There are several strategies which can be used for contacting employers: A. Referrals-A contact through your personal "network" (social, academic or professional) may lead to a "key" person within a company. You may be able to arrange for an interview just to discuss general topics without having a specific job opening in mind. Sometimes such meetings may lead to the perfect match of abilities and need or, at the very least, to a referral to another lead. B. Inquiry-Although a potential employer may not be advertising an opening, it may be a company which interests you. You may contact the employer to inquire about possible openings. The best method is through a cover letter and resume. Your letter should demonstrate your knowledge of the organization and suggest ways your background and skills could benefit them. You will also want to plan how you intend to follow up this initial inquiry. State in your letter
that you plan to telephone or email in five to seven days, and then remember to follow up. That gives the employer time to review your credentials, and also lets them know you are serious in your interest. If their response is negative at first, let them know you would be interested in being reconsidered in the future and plan to contact them again. Be polite, but be persistent. Make periodic follow- up calls. C. Answering Advertisements-Although this is the most commonly used technique for finding a job, it places you in competition with many other applicants. Your application must make you stand out. Communicate your knowledge of the company, and how your skills could fill their needs. Convince them politely that you are the person they are seeking (they may modify their criteria to include you). Be sure all your written materials are neat and well written, and that your response is prompt. An organization which has many advertised ppenings at the same time may be one undergoing expansion. Such a firm is a good candidate for your marketing approach, even if the positions they have advertised do not fit your background. In such cases, stating your employment objectives may be appropriate. Don't forget to follow up. Reapply if you have been turned down on the first attempt. Try to find a key contact person within the firm and apply through him. There may be an alumnus working there who could be of help to you. D. On-Campus Interview - Take advantage of the convenient opportunities to interview on campus with employers who have openings consistent with your career goals. See the boxed material in the "Interviewing" section for specific procedures.
Preparing Paperwork, Interviewing & Follow-Up: How can I get these people/companies to hire me? The following sections detail paperwork preparation and interviewing techniques. The two things which most frequently stall a job search are not spending enough time on it and not following up carefully enough on contacts. This follow-up may be done by letter or phone. The
more contacts you have with a company, the better. It is important for companies to recognize your name and associate you with the job you are seeking. Be positive and pleasant without being unduly aggressive and you'll find that you get results. The initial follow-up, of course, is to contact the company when you say you will. (See information on Cover Letters.) If you are successful in gaining an interview, the second follow-up contact will be a thank you note. This should be sent within 24 hours of your interview. (See "Letter Writing Suggestions"). Other interim letters and phone calls may be made as appropriate.
No Offers - What Do You Do? If you receive no offers or inquiries from your job search, first ask yourself the following questions: I. How much time am I spending in the search? (If you are in school or working, you should be spending one to two hours a day. When you graduate or are looking full-time, you should spend six to eight hours a day.) 2. What follow-up techniques am I using? (Are you calling or emailing when you say you will? Are you taking the initiative or are you waiting for companies to call you? Are you sending thank you letters for interviews?) 3. Are my materials (resume, letter, etc.) of high quality and professional? If you have to wait for employment in your field, consider an interim job. If possible, this job should be related to your field, even if it is at the technician level. It should at least add to your marketable skills (computer programming, data analysis, etc.) An alternate interim job would be one which simply helps support you while allowing you the free time to continue your search. Finally, consider making an appointment with the Career Center Staff to discuss alternate strategies and ideas.
Professional Ethics and The Job Search Your behavior in dealing with prospective employers shapes your professional reputation now and in the future. Your behavior also reflects upon the reputation of CSM. To maintain your good standing within the engineering industry, the Career Center encourages you to follow these guidelines. 1.
Do not falsify or inflate your credentials on your resume. in cover letters. or in interviews.
Notify the Career Center well in advance if you must reschedule or cancel interview appointments.
Return all phone messages from companies promptly. Make your roommates aware that you are interviewing and may be receiving calls from employers. Ask them to answer the phone professionally and take complete messages including the name of the caller, the company, the phone number, and the message. If you have an answering machine, be sure your recording is in good taste.
Don't put any phone numbers on your resume at which you would be unwilling to receive messages from employers (e.g., work numbers).
Respond to all correspondence in a timely manner. If the company gives you a deadline date, meet it or call the employer to request an extension.
Send immediately any application forms or other materials that an employer requests.
Do not sign up for interviews with companies in which you are not sincerely interested just to have interviewing practice. Instead, arrange to have a videotaped practice interview critiqued at the Career Center.
Do not mislead companies in which you are not really interested. This wastes your time and diverts the company from pursuing other, more interested students.
Acknowledge invitations for plant visits promptly whether you accept or reject them. Accept an invitation only when you are seriously considering a position with the employer.
10. Discuss plant trip costs with the employer and verify all arrangements in advance. Be prepared to present receipts for reasonable expenses. Prorate expenses if you visit more than one emplover at a ]OClltion 11. Notify an employer well in advance if there is any change in your plant trip plans. If applicable, return plane tickets and other advances/materials immediately. 12. Request extensions from employers if you need more time to consider offers. Let other employers know you have had an offer since it may encourage them to formulate one in time for you to consider it. 13. Acknowledge every offer by letter or phone call, whether you accept it, reject it, or request an extension. 14. Do not accept a job offer until you are confident of your decision. Never renege on an accepted job offer. Such behavior will give you a negative reputation throughout the industry. 15. As soon as you have accepted ajob and are no longer available. notify all other companies to whom you have applied. 16. Notify the Career Center when you accept a job offer so they can withdraw you from the placement
process and remove your resume from circulation. I7. Inform the Career Center if you believe you have received unfair or inappropriate treatment by a company. Do not take out a "beef' or criticize a company's policies or representatives directly, even if you believe you were treated unprofessionally by them. Other questions about ethical behavior may depend on your personal situation: . Should I reveal my long-range career goals (e.g., law school someday) to a company where I am interviewing for an engineering position? . Should I interview if I am also seriously considering graduate school? . Should I mention personal marriage/relationship considerations which might affect job location or acceptance? . Should I interview when I am also thinking about starting a family? If there is any situation for which you would like guidance, please don't hesitate to discuss your concerns with Career Center staff members. Sometimes an outside perspective can help you develop a comfortable strategy.