Develop Your Career Toolkit
Whether you're just getting started with your first job after graduation, or you have 20 years of experience in the field, we can help support your career goals. Before you come for your appointment, we recommend doing a brief assessment of your current experience, goals, values, and interests so that we can make targeted recommendations.
- Take an inventory. What are your interests? Where do you have experience? What is important to you in finding a job? What are some industries that you're curious about? What would you pursue if money were no object?
- Complete a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of yourself and your experience. This is a quick way to begin working through areas where you excel and areas where we can help you develop. Bring this with you to your appointment!
- Research industries and job descriptions. Information about job functions and industries abounds. We love to use O*Net (www.onetonline.org) as a starting point, but remember that job descriptions will tell you exactly what types of skills, talents, and knowledge are required to excel in a new field. Here are some tools to get you started!
- Refresh your resume. Having an updated resume—we all know we should do it, but between life, a job, and everything else that takes up time in our day, it's hard to find space to do it! If you're getting ready to change jobs or industries, however, it's one element that can't be overlooked. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- What is the resume story you're telling? Every time you write a resume, you're providing a window into your professional achievements, values, strengths, and talents. Remember that your resume has a point of view, and think about what you want it to say. You might be telling a really different story, and highlighting different types of experience, than when you were in school.
- Move sections around on your resume to tell your story. Many times, graduates keep their education section at the top of the resume. This is sometimes a good strategy (like if you're changing industries and you have your degree in that field), but more often than not, it's appropriate to move your education section lower on the resume and prioritize professional experience.
- Focus on transferrable skills. No matter where you've been working, you have a set of valuable skills and experiences that you can communicate to a new employer or even an entirely new field. First, it's a good idea to research your target audience (industry, company, etc) so that you know what skills and experiences are important to them. Next, find some ways that you can describe your experience in a way that is meaningful to your target audience. It can be as simple as making a table:
|Skills Valued in New Field||Meet/Exceed (Self Evaluation)||Examples from Professional Experience|
- Make numbers, metrics, and outcomes the focus of the document. Now that you've graduated, employers are more concerned with what you've achieved than what you've studied. Many resumes focus on skill areas, but fail to describe the outcomes of these initiatives. Never assume that an employer will understand a basic description of duties. It's your job to help them see the importance of what you completed and accomplished at your job.
- Your cover letter can be key! Cover letters may seem a little outdated, but they are still very relevant in many industries, and they can be especially critical when you are changing fields. The cover letter is not just a longform version of your resume—it has a distinct purpose and can really help you tell the story of why you're making a career change, and illustrate why you're qualified to do so. Instead of simply turning your resume bullet points into paragraphs, identify some factors that will help the company view you as an ideal candidate. Find their "pain point" and address it. Tell them how your unique, maybe even out-of-the-box skill set uniquely equips you to handle their business challenges. Remember, this requires more than just knowledge of yourself, you have to know the company, the business environment, and much more.
- Interviewing Tips
Even experienced professionals can suffer from nerves when headed into an interview for the first time in several years, or in a new field. Increase your confidence level by keeping a few things in mind:
- Research the company and the position. It can be tempting to rely on years of experience to carry you through an interview, but that won't help you impress a recruiter or hiring panel. Remember, it's your job to understand what they are looking for so you can tailor your experience to match that. Helpful hint: this is much easier and less stressful to do beforehand!
- Map your skills and experience to the position. Just like you did for your resume to find those great transferrable skills, you will do the same thing for the interview! You can create a table to match your experience to the job description, and then use the examples you come up with to build a "library" of examples. This transitions right into our next piece of advice which is...
- Make a "library" of examples and stories to share. Make sure you come prepared with examples and stories from all of your past experiences. Be very inclusive—your volunteer work, extracurricular activities, work on professional committees, etc, may demonstrate some very marketable skills. Recruiters want you to back up your assertions, and the best way to do that is by providing specific examples. Go back and review the STAR format of answering behavioral based questions if it's been awhile; you can find that information in our Student section. Be specific, focus on outcomes, and focus on the fact that you are very familiar (from your research you did in advance) with the position and its requirements, and how you fit the bill.
- Ask great questions. Recruiters don't want to answer basic questions at the end of the interview. Put some thought into the questions that you ask, and you'll not only learn a lot about the company, but you'll impress the panel or the interviewer with your preparation and thoughtfulness. An interview is always a two-way street—in the same way that the company is assessing you for a great fit, you should also be focused on whether it's a great fit for you. Asking questions about company culture, the direction of the organization, and the aspects of the job that didn't make it to the description will help you make an informed decision. Some questions to think about asking include:
- Is this a new position or will I be filling a vacancy?
- What have past employees done to succeed in this organization?
- How do you evaluate success here? How is performance measured and communicated?
- What are the key positions and groups I would interface with?
- How and when is feedback provided to employees?
- What is the attrition rate for the organization?
- Follow up immediately! As simple as it sounds, a quick thank you note can make all the difference in the hiring process. Drop a card in the mail or even send an email when you arrive back to your desk—it's amazing how much of impact a simple thank you can make!
- Leverage your network as an alum. You are connected to 10,000+ fellow graduates from Anderson—that's a huge network to leverage! You can use LinkedIn to find folks working in your desired field, identify potential mentors, and get connected with professional organizations that can take your job search to the next level. Reach out to your fellow Anderson Lobos, and you'll be amazed at what you can achieve!