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