Monday, May 25, 2015

Lights, Camera, ACTION!

So you've decided on your career path. You know the field you want to work in, and you perhaps have an idea of where exactly you would like to start your journey into the field that interests you. So now what? Now, it's time to take action! There are many ways to take action at this phase of the career planning process; but ultimately, you want to begin with finding the position or job which speaks to your passions and your skills. As exciting as it is when you find the position of your dreams, paying careful attention to the job posting itself is critical. This is where tailoring comes in! And no, I don't mean taking your pants to get hemmed!

Tailoring both your resume/cv and your cover letter to the position you are applying for is extremely important and will immensely increase your chances of landing an interview. When employers see that you have critically reviewed the job posting and incorporated this with your own experiences, you automatically make a good first impression! And in the job market, first impressions could be the difference between landing an interview or being rejected altogether. For example, if you are reviewing the posting and the word "organized" is listed, perhaps this is an important skill in relation to the job which you should be highlighting throughout your resume and cover letter. 

Additionally, pay attention to the instructions! If the job asks that you physically hand in your career documents, it's probably not the greatest idea to e-mail them! Keep in mind the following:
  • How do they want me to apply for this position? (e.g., In person, E-mail, On-line application)
  • What format are they asking for? (e.g., PDF, Word Document)
  • Are they asking for a cv or resume? (e.g., Make sure your document is exactly what they are asking for)
  • Am I required to submit any other supporting documents? (e.g., Licenses, Certifications, Portfolios, Work Samples)
After you've done the following, your phone rings and it's a recruiter looking to arrange an interview for the position you applied for! HOORAY! This is where the action continues! When preparing for the interview, be sure to come up with some practice questions which you think they might ask you, and utilize tools like Interview Stream, a program which allows you to see how you look and sound when answering interview style questions, to identify areas in need of improvement, like mumbling or fidgeting. Doing a bit of research about the company in question may also allow you to come up with some questions of your own to ask during the interview. Additionally, make sure you are dressed professionally; if you'd wear it to the gym, it's probably not appropriate for an interview!

The action phase is probably the most exciting in the career planning process, but can also be devastating if you do not receive an interview or an offer of employment. To finish, keep your head up and understand that this process usually doesn't happen over night! Rather than letting rejection get you down, utilize it to do better and ask for feedback from jobs you didn't get so you can continue to improve. And don't forget to come on down to the Career Resource Centre if you'd like us to help you with the action phase! We are always happy to assist with tailoring and interview preparation, and love hearing success stories!

Scarlet Stark
Career Assistant
Psychology Major 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

If only deciding your final career path were as simple as flipping a coin! Making a final decision about your career path is probably one of the most difficult and challenging decisions you will ever make. If your anything like me, you have many careers in mind that interest you or that you are passionate about. The self assessment and research aspects of career planning from the last two blogs should help narrow down your options to 1-3 broad areas or fields that you are passionate about. But now it's time to get more specific! Here are three steps to making this ever so difficult decision less daunting:

1. Discussing

  • Seek out people in the broad areas you defined through assessments and researching to speak with about their position; a great way to do this is through looking up organizations you are interested in and finding individuals who 'speak' to what you think you might like to do. And of course, don't forget to utilize Linkedin for this!
  • Once you find someone you'd like to reach out to, send them an e-mail requesting an opportunity to ask them questions about their field and explain your interests in the occupation to the individual briefly. 
  • The discussion doesn't have to be face to face; if the person you are interested in speaking with is not local, utilize Skype, e-mail, or the phone. 
  • Find out what they like and dislike about what they do, as well as what qualifications lead them to the career path they are currently on, or any other questions you feel are important to know.
  • Prepare your questions ahead of time! Not only will you be presenting yourself professionally, but you will also get all the questions answered that you are curious about without forgetting to ask something important!
2. Observing
  • After speaking with the professionals already in the fields you are interested in, the next step is to arrange a chance to observe them in action; if this is not possible, making a visit to the site which you would like to work at will give you a good idea of how things operate there and what you would be required to do.
  • When at the site, keep the atmosphere, morale, and of course yourself, in mind.
  • It's important to ask yourself questions like: Does this seem like a place you would want to come to everyday? Does everyone seem like they have too much/too little to do? Are the tasks they are completing of interest you? Do you picture yourself working here? 
3. Doing
  • Now comes the fun part! Once you have discussed and observed the occupations you are interested in, it's finally time to get out there and actually experience it for yourself!
  • Look up volunteer, internship, or co-op opportunities in the fields that interest you and dedicate some spare time to getting directly involved; this is the only way you will truly know whether or not the work involved is something you are passionate about and want to pursue seriously.
  • Think of it like a "try-out"; you don't know if you made the team yet, but you are learning about the team and the game itself by just being apart of the try out! 
  • This step will be crucial in making that final career decision! You truly don't know if something is for you until you try it out for yourself, so seek out the best opportunity for you to do so and get the most out of it as you can in order to make an educated and informed decision about your career path!
I hope these steps help you navigate your way to making a final career decision that works for you! And remember: As long as you have clearly defined goals and are utilizing steps to reach them, no difficult decision is ever too much to handle! Check out our past blog on goal setting here if you'd like more information on how to define and meet your goals successfully!

Scarlet Stark
Career Assistant
Psychology Major

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

It's Time to Get Researching!

Whether you've figured out your career goals through self assessments or all on your own, the next step in the career planning process is research. Researching the career you hope to obtain one day is one of the most important steps in career planning. Not only do you gain more information about the direction you are heading in, but you also gain valuable knowledge about different aspects of the career you are pursuing and how to break into the industry.

You may be asking yourself, "Where do I look for this type of information?" or "How do I know where to begin my research?". It's a lot simpler than many think! Once you have established the career you want to pursue, the first step is to check the qualifications related to the specific position you desire and determine whether you meet them. A great way to find out what you need to work in certain industries is browsing through job boards. By doing this, you will learn valuable information such as:

  • Average Pay/Wage
  • Typical Duties/Responsibilities 
  • Education/Training Requirements
  • Experience Requirements 
  • Availability (Is the career in demand right now? Are opportunities scarce?) 
Many general job search sites will have this information for you. Here are a few examples to start your research:
Once you have figured out what is required of you to obtain the career of your choice, you may have to research post-secondary institutions for additional certification or training. Depending on where you live, all of this information will vary. However, a simple Google search of the training you will require should provide you with the information you need!

The second step is to network with other professionals in the field you wish to work in. Social media and information interviews are a great way to do this. Utilizing Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter for career research and networking is amazingly beneficial. You can look up professionals in the field and find out how they met their career goals as well as discover organizations or associations you wish to work at, or are curious about, to find out more information about them.

Information interviews involve setting up a meeting with someone already in the industry you wish to work in. This gives you one-on-one time with an industry professional, so be sure to plan your questions ahead of time! Brock students are fortunate to have programs like Cafe Connect to help with this, a mentoring platform that connects students with industry professionals. I highly encourage any Brock students to try it out! It helped me immensely with my own career planning! Check it out here:

Finally, don't be afraid to seek help with your research from your local career centre or employment centre. They are there to help you with this and can provide you with the resources and tools you need if you can't find the information you are looking for! Here at Career Services at Brock, we help many students and alumni with this process and encourage students and alumni to reach out to us! Also, be sure to check out how to organize your research by reading another great blog post here.

Now get researching everybody! And feel free to comment below on anything interesting you find out along the way about the career you wish to pursue! Have a great day!

Scarlet Stark
Career Assistant
Psychology Major 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Assess Yourself!

Career assessments allow you to get a better understanding of who you are, especially in relation to your personality, skills, and values, and can help immensely in the career planning process. If you are able to gain self-insight and match aspects of your personality, skills, and values to a career path, you will surely be on the way to a working environment which will best suit your competencies and who you are as an individual! Choosing a career path that suits you on an individual level can also lead to greater successes at work and can create opportunities for advancement simply because you are doing what you like and what you are passionate about. Additionally, career assessments help you to identify your strengths and areas in need of improvement. In this blog, I will focus specifically on three different assessments so you can decide which one, if not all, are the right fit for you to complete!

1. Career Cruising
Career Cruising is a great way to narrow down career options, learn about job duties and requirements in occupations of interest to you, gain knowledge of the typical level of education needed for particular occupations, as well as provides videos of interviews with industry professionals. A ranking of careers suited to your personality and interests is given after answering the required questions about yourself. With this assessment, the more questions you answer, the better the results! 

2. Type Focus
Type Focus will provide you with detailed information about your personality, interests, and values. Using this information, career clusters are offered that would fit your strengths specifically. For example, maybe helping others is valuable to you; if it is, a career involving aiding customers or clients will coincide with what you hold to be important. It even evaluates success factors which can help you to become better prepared to do well in your occupation of choice!

3. Talent Today
Talent Today focuses on talents and motivations in relation to career options. This assessment will provide you with a motivations radar (what motivates you), a talent id (your best skills), and a personality radar based on five dimensions (communicate, manage, dare, adapt, excel). A great aspect of this assessment is that it provides you with graphs and charts utilizing your own personal data which looks great in a Career Portfolio or LinkedIn profile!

So try one today! For Brock University students and alumni, these assessments are free and can be accessed through using your login and password. Once logged in, click the Online Resource Centre Tab on the right hand side and than click Career Assessments on the main page.

Thanks for reading and I hope your assessment results provide you with the information needed to choose the right career path for you and get a better understanding of yourself!

Scarlet Stark
Career Assistant
Psychology Major

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Spring & Summer Updates

Spring has officially sprung here at Brock University and Summer is just around the corner! With the change in weather comes a few changes here at the Career Resource Centre.

Firstly, for the Spring and Summer,
the Career Resource Centre will be open for all your career related needs from 9am-4pm Monday to Friday from May 4th to August 28th excluding holidays. The Centre will be closed for training week August 31st to September 4th and will re-open for Fall term the following week. 

Secondly, the team of Career Assistants will return (along with three new hires!) in September 2015. In the mean time, I will be taking over the operations of the Career Resource Centre for the duration of the Spring and Summer and will be happy to assist you with review services and career related guidance!

Thirdly, I have a ton of exciting blog posts coming up for you all! The month of May will focus on Career Planning and how to effectively go about this so be sure to stay tuned!

That is all for updates! Have a fabulous day everybody!

Scarlet Stark
Career Assistant
Psychology Major 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

End of the Year Farewells... and Exam Hours

End of the Year: So Long and Farewell!

Exam Hours April 9th – April 22nd
·         Monday – Friday 9:00am – 4:30pm

Just a friendly reminder that printed copies are required for all document reviews. Thank you! :)

 The time has come once again where we say farewell to some of our CA’s who have made this year so unforgettable. We have had an amazing time working together.
Read on to learn a little bit about the experiences our CA’s had working for Career Services!

Becky White
Lead Career Assistant
Tourism and Environment

I do not know where I would be without this job. I say that almost daily! I have worked here for three years and every year I am lucky enough to work with the most wonderful people in the most unique environment. I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of my Career Services experience over the past three years, especially all of the CA’s who have moved on before me and have helped to show me the way! Thank you for teaching me, accepting me, and telling me that my love obsession with cats is totally normal. A special thank you to Kara for teaching me so much about life in the professional world… and life in general. In the ice show we didn’t say goodbye, we said see you down the road… so… see you down the road!

Wajeeh Alvi
Career Assistant
Computer Science

Being a part of the Career Services team has been a great experience for me. It has always been a passion of mine to help others and this role has helped me do so with respect to career development. Being at the forefront of providing help to students and alumni is very rewarding and even more so when they come back with their success stories. I can say that this job has, by far, been the most impactful job that I've done. I also had the amazing opportunity to work with such wonderful people who've helped me grow as a person and our time together is the thing I'll miss the most. I want to thank Kara Renaud for bringing me on board her team and equipping me with the skills which I'll be able to apply in more than just the workplace.
I wish everyone at Career Services good luck in their endeavors and to meet challenges head on. All the best!

Simon Drum
Graduate Career Assistant

Simon is MA Candidate for Applied Health Sciences at Brock University, specializing in sport psychology. As a Graduate Career Assistant at the Brock Career Resource Centre, Simon assisted Brock students and alumni with career information and resources to support students and alumni with their career planning and job search goals. As an international graduate student from Australia, Simon particularly worked with assisting graduate and  international students prepare for the next stage of their career, whether that be in Canada  or internationally.
Simon not only enjoyed the experience he gained from the position to assist in his career plans as a sport psychology consultant, he also enjoyed working with such a great team who all just simply enjoy helping people.

Monika Parsons
Graduate Career Assistant
MA Child and Youth

 It has been a wonderful year at Career Services.  I have had an opportunity to work with some incredibly talented and inspirational people.  Thank you to the wonderful CS team who work tirelessly at providing the best service to students which they deliver with enthusiasm and genuine care.  I have grown tremendously in my ability to understand undergraduate and graduate student needs and how to best support our Brock community with achieving their career oriented goals.
I am very proud to have had a chance to meet some fantastic students who, I am certain will make significant impact in the world.  Although it may be seem like it's the end, it's actually only the beginning. Good luck in all your future endeavors.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Networking for Success!

Here is a common scenario which virtually everyone has encountered at some point in their lives: you need a new job or some career advice, and you're unsure who to turn to or where to go for help. One commonly overlooked and often underutilized tool to help with this is networking!

Networking involves sharing knowledge and contacts, helping others, and building relationships. Networking is NOT bluntly asking those you know to give you a job! This is an important distinction because many people make the mistake of thinking that networking is a way for others to do the work for you when really networking is simply a tool to help make your life easier through reciprocation - helping others and getting help in return. 

In order to utilize the people in your network for job search help or career preparation information, you firstly need to identify who your network is. Is it composed of coworkers, managers, teachers, or maybe even your neighbors? Your network can come from anywhere and can encompass a wide variety of people with different areas of expertise. Most people only begin to reach out to this network when they are in need of career help, but it is crucial to maintain these relationships even when you have found the job of your dreams, as you never know when you will be in need of help, especially in today's unpredictable job market.

Secondly, perspective matters! A good way to view your network is like writing a resume; it is a continuous process which requires updating, attention, and individual effort in order to thrive. By viewing it as an ongoing process, you will always be in the loop with those in your network, and because of this, they will be happy to help you when you are in need. If you ignore those in your network until you need something, they may not be as eager to give you a hand. 

Finally, be sure to effectively utilize online platforms for networking. This is especially useful for contacts from past jobs or those people in your network who have moved away or whom you don't see often. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can all be used to stay connected with your network and are extremely effective in regards to expanding the network you currently have. One important note is not to randomly network; always have a strategy or a reason for why you are reaching out to someone, in order to utilize these online platforms appropriately and effectively during career development and job hunting.

As the old saying goes, it's not always what you know, but who you know! Using these simple tips, you will be on your way to developing and utilizing your network as effectively as possible to enhance the caliber of job opportunities that come your way and to help with career development. Happy Networking everybody!

Scarlet Stark, 3rd Year Psychology Major, Career Assistant 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Go Brand Yourself!

In today’s competitive job market, the ability to stand out in a crowd can help set you apart from your competitors and put you “ahead of the game”. Whether you’re looking to develop or advance your career, personal branding plays a critical role in either process. The beauty of a personal brand is that every single person has one whether you consciously acknowledge it as your “brand” or not.

Your personal brand is an authentic compilation of your reputation, legacy (how others remember you), your expertise, and the relationships you make. In other words, it is embedded primarily in who you are and what you aspire to be. Through the process of creating a personal brand you find out how to bring more value to the work that you do and the target market you intend to serve, thus creating a consistent professional image you can market to your audience. The key to your personal brand is identifying and communicating your unique promise of value that sets you apart from your competitors.

There are three key steps to knowing your personal brand:
  1. KNOW YOURSELF: As ridiculous as it may sound, defining who you are is an essential component of creating your personal brand. Know your values, passions, skills, strengths and limitations, and identify what your mission in life is. Once you clearly define these aspects of who you are, you can start owning the business of YOU by communicating your unique brand.
  2. FIND YOUR PEOPLE: Who are you going to communicate your brand to? Consider what makes your brand unique, and what services your skill-set provides to others. Be sure to strategically target an audience that your brand will captivate.
  3. DEVELOP AND CULTIVATE YOUR NICHE: It’s important that the personal brand you develop is an authentic representation of your goals and who you are as a person. Live your brand in everything that you do, from the way you dress to the way that you communicate yourself in online spaces.
Investing the time in this process is a long-term investment in your future success. If you don’t create a brand yourself, you risk being branded by other people. Take control of your unique career path and how your target audience sees the promise of your individual value.

Happy branding!

Kaitlyn Daw, 4th Year English Language and Literature Major
Career Assistant

Thursday, March 19, 2015

LinkedIn 101

Just created your LinkedIn profile and wondering what to do next?  To get the most out of it, it is important your LinkedIn profile is as complete as possible.  Here are some tips to get you started…
  • Your Profile Picture: Although you may like the picture of yourself at that party on Friday night it is not an appropriate picture for your LinkedIn profile. Your photo should be professional and not with friends or of anything without YOU in it. According to LinkedIn professional profile photos are 7 times more likely to be found in searches.
  • Your Summary: Keep it professional. Speak to your goals, qualifications, and your experiences and use key words/skills relevant to your industry to help others find you.
  • Your Experiences: Avoid copying and pasting your resume or job descriptions but try to summarize each position using key words and relevant skills. If possible upload examples of your work/projects you’ve been working on to further showcase your experiences and achievements.

Stay relevant by updating your profile on a regular basis with your professional activities. Doing so will keep you on people’s radars and update potential employers on your most recent career advancements and achievements. Those with complete profiles are 40x more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn, so it is well worth spending 5 minutes to update your profile!

Connecting with People on LinkedIn

You’ve created a profile and have finished updating it, now it’s time to network and connect with people. When sending other users invitations to join their network never send the standard LinkedIn request.  If you’ve met before mention a few details about where and when you met. Additionally, be sure to mention why you want to connect whether it be for career advice or they work in an industry/company that you are interested in. 

Stop by the Career Resource Centre for all your LinkedIn questions and for more resources on how you can make the best LinkedIn profile possible!

Mike Pratas, 3rd Year Political Science Major
Senior Career Assistant

Friday, March 13, 2015

Business Cards - Benefits of Using Them

Business cards are great - they allow you to connect with people and give you the opportunity to leave a lasting impression, through your personal brand summarized on your card along with your contact information. Meeting new people and making new connections is a vital component of both career search and career growth; quite often, acquirement of a job and advancement in a career comes down to who you know not what you know. Basic human error, as always, complicates this! People make mistakes, get caught up in the moment, and forget names, people, and conversations. A business card serves as a reminder of who you are, what your brand is, and your contact information.

"A person's name is to him or her the sweetest and 
most important sound in any language." - Dale Carnegie

What I mean by personal brand is the style, design, and purpose of your business card. Sure, you could have a plain-as-day business card with just your name and contact information on a white background, but often it is the style and design of the business card that outlines the purpose of it. It reflects your own, or your company's values, and differentiates yourself or your company from others. Is it visually appealing? Is it simple, yet elegant? Or is it cluttered with information? Do you include a picture of yourself on it, or a quote that summarizes your personal brand? Or is it a standard business card that all employees at your company use? Is it too professional, or not professional enough?

This is a great example of a very-unique card... it looks like Google!
Here are some benefits of using business cards:

- Helps new connections remember you
- Grows your network/business
- Reflects your personal brand
- Reflects your company values
- Differentiates you from the competition
- Conveys contact info
- Opportunity to demonstrate your creativity!
- Shows professionalism and legitimacy
- Enter business-card raffles at restaurants
- ... And so much more

There are plenty of benefits to having a business card, even if you do not have a job yet. As a student or someone looking for work a business card is a way to make connections, to help new connections remember you, and to demonstrate professionalism and legitimacy for yourself. As someone with a job, a business card is a way to help you advance in your career much in the same way that someone without a job would use them. Business cards are not just for business either - a teacher could find use of a business card as well. They are very applicable to nearly every profession.

They are also very cheap to make! It is economical, even on a student budget, to use websites such as to order a few hundred business cards with plenty of options for design. Many universities offer these services to students, including Brock! With so many benefits, it is worth considering getting some business cards to help promote yourself, and protect yourself from human error!

Anthony Mancuso
Honours Bachelor of Sport Management - Year 3
Senior Career Assistant