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10 Tips from a Career Services Director

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If you are a college-level student taking classes at a campus or online; or if you are attending a career training school, you likely have access to a career services department and their helpful staff. Career services departments exist to help you prepare for your job search, find and apply for jobs, prepare for the interview process, and can even help you position yourself for a successful transition from student to employee. Career services departments can also help you well after you graduate, in case you want to change jobs or careers or need any career or professional development advice.

We spoke with Alyssa Giannotti, the Senior Director of Career Services at the Institute of Medical and Business Careers, a school that offers career training online and through its two campuses in Pennsylvania. We asked Alyssa to provide us with her top ten tips for starting your career search. Keep reading to learn her secrets and gain insight into how to launch your career with help from your school’s career services team.

  1. Have your resume evaluated

Career services departments are experts at all things career-related. You’ve likely never written a resume. Even if you have, would you consider yourself an expert? Probably not. That’s where the career services team comes in. They have probably reviewed and helped write hundreds (if not thousands) of resumes over the years. They know the best tips for formatting, describing your skills, and highlighting your strengths. They also know what employers look for in resumes, and can help ensure your resume gives you the best shot possible at getting noticed and selected for an interview. Sharing your resume (even if starting from scratch), with a career services team member and they will help you gain valuable feedback. They may even catch any errors that you missed during your own proof-reading.

  1. Complete a mock interview

A mock interview is where the career services team member acts as if they are the actual employer. They will interview you by asking the same types of questions an actual employer will ask. By doing a mock (or practice) interview, you’ll gain experience talking about your strengths, addressing your weaknesses, and understanding how to interact with an employer during an interview. This valuable experience will help you gain polish and professionalism, while also helping you avoid some common pitfalls. Practice makes perfect, so completing more than one mock interview might be a good idea if you haven’t interviewed for a job before, or you are the type that gets a little too nervous in these situations. Depending on your school and the career services department’s technology, you may be able to conduct your mock interview in-person, over the phone, or even via video on Skype, FaceTime, or other video platforms. We definitely recommend video mock interviews so that the career services team member can see your body language and wardrobe.

  1. Share upcoming job interviews ahead of time

Alyssa strongly recommends letting the career services team know well ahead of time (as best you can) of any upcoming interviews with potential employers. Doing so will give the team time to research the employer on your behalf and provide with you any personalized recommendations of what to say or highlight during your interview. Also, the career services team may have previously worked with that employer and therefore can reach out to them to advocate on your behalf, before or after your interview.

  1. Discuss wardrobe options

Your personal appearance is an important part of your job interview and making a good first impression. It is imperative that you dress appropriately for the position you are interviewing, as well as for the specific employer and industry. The career services team can help you identify what to wear (and not to wear) for your interview. Wardrobe requirements vary greatly depending upon the job type, level, and industry. That’s why it is so important to let the career services team know which company you are interviewing with ahead of time.

Wardrobe also includes accessories such as piercings, jewelry, and footwear. In fact, your personal hygiene is important too. Ensuring that your hair is appropriate, and other elements of your appearance are perfected (fragrance, tattoos, etc.,) are all extremely important aspects of your first impression during the interview.

  1. Ask for help with your job search 

You are not in the job search alone. The career services team will help you with identifying the tools (such as websites) to use for your job search. They’ll show you what sites to visit, how to sign up and build profiles to be discovered, and how to subscribe to alerts so that you do not miss any new jobs that are posted. The career services staff are experts at job searching, so leverage their skills to help you find your next job and build your career.


  1. Create profiles on LinkedIn and Indeed

LinkedIn and Indeed are two extremely important career social networking sites, dedicated to building your professional network as well as great places to find your next job. Alyssa suggests asking the career services team for help building your profiles as they have a great deal of experience in this area, especially with helping you highlight your strengths, skills, and certifications on these sites. The team knows what to say, how to say it, and what not to say, on your profiles. They can also help you find (or take) a new headshot that presents you professionally.

  1. Keep in touch with the team

Good communication will go a long way with building a successful career, and that starts with keeping in touch with your career services team. Check-in regularly for updates with regards to new job opportunities and tips. Keep the team updated with your interviews and the outcome of your applications. If you do not get selected for a position, follow up with the career services team as they might be able to provide you some tips from the employer (if they have an existing relationship), or general advice based upon how you feel the interview went. Building a good relationship with the career services team will also help the team keep you on their mind so that they alert you to new opportunities, or simply go the extra effort to help you along the way.

  1. Be open-minded about career options

You may begin your job search thinking that a particular employer or role is the best one for you. However, Alyssa suggests keeping an open mind so that you do not rule out employers and opportunities right away. Rather, you should keep a broad array of options open and consider each one carefully. As your search progresses you may learn about yourself, and your interests, such as the type of employer you’d like, or the type of company culture that suits your personality. These interests may evolve over time, so if you rule them out too soon, you may miss out on some really great job opportunities. Listen to what the career services team has to say and consider their advice with enthusiasm and flexibility.

  1. Conduct your own research

Do not let the career services team do all the work for you. Only you know yourself and your interests the best. Career services departments have to serve many students and alumni, so you should count on doing some of the hard work yourself. The more work you do, the better your payoff will be when you find that great job. Take personality tests, research lists of companies in your field, read about their employee culture on the web, and learn about the various roles available and what skills they require. The more knowledge you have about the industry, roles, and individual employers you have, the more success you will have finding the right combination for yourself – and impressing employers with your knowledge during the interview process.

  1. Stay positive

A job search can be grueling, exhausting, and demoralizing, to say the least. But the payoff at the end when you find that great job that leads you along your career path is tremendous. Stick with your search and the career services team through the thick and thin, the good times and the bad times. They will help pick you up when you suffer defeat and will be there celebrating with you when you get the win. Above all else, remain positive. A positive attitude radiates good energy during an interview, whether in-person or via phone/video. Never speak negatively about a former employer or situation. Instead, focus on the positive experiences you have and the skills you can bring to the prospective employer. They will appreciate your positive attitude, which is more than likely the type of employee they want to hire.

Bringing it all together

Alyssa Giannotti is a career services expert who has been helping students and alumni at career training schools for a decade find, apply for, and obtain rewarding jobs along their career path. Follow her ten tips above and you’ll position yourself for optimal success during your first (or next) job search. Your school’s career services team is here to serve you, so make sure you leverage their expertise at every step along the way.

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