Monday, March 23, 2015

Get the Job you Want! Four Steps to Using LinkedIn in your Job Search

If you are currently or soon-to-be in the market for a new job, then you have probably heard the saying – it’s all about networking. Employers today receive stacks and stacks of resumes for open positions, making it harder and harder to stand out as an applicant.  Sure, you may have impressive work experience and a killer cover letter, but odds are that there is at least one applicant in that stack that already has name recognition within the company – and that person is much more likely to get an interview. When searching for a job – it’s all about who you know. If you don’t know the right people, and the right people don’t know you – then you need to change that. The way to do that is through networking.

Ten years ago, networking had a completely different meaning than it does today. Sure, joining and being active in professional groups is great, but today we have a much more powerful professional networking tool right at our fingertips… LinkedIn. To a beginner, LinkedIn can be a bit overwhelming. You may have already created an account, even added “connections”, but are still unclear about how this platform can actually help you get a job. The key is – you have to be strategic in your approach. Here is my four step process to effectively using LinkedIn in a job search.

Step 1: Start with a complete, professional profile.
This is NOT the first impression you want to
give employers on LinkedIn.
First things first – you have to have a complete profile to be taken seriously on LinkedIn. Think of your profile as your digital resume – it is the first impression you are giving to potential employers, and it should reflect your PROFESSIONAL brand. Just like your real resume, you don’t want to leave the crucial parts empty. The main components of the LinkedIn Profile are:
  •  Profile Photo: Starting at the top, you need a professional – looking photo of just you. Again, this is not the appropriate place to use your St. Patrick’s Day photo, or a photo of you and your kids. Remember – you are branding yourself professionally. The photo should be of a high resolution, and in a professional setting.
  • Contact Information: Some people are hesitant to post contact information on social networks. But, if you are trying to appeal to potential employers, you want them to be able to contact you if they see something they like. Even if you only share an email address, you should have something here. Another great tip – you can customize your profile’s url so that it is easier to share in job applications. Once you get your profile completed – you are going to want to share it as much as possible!
  • Employment History and Education – You can use the same information from your resume here. Several Companies and Universities have LinkedIn Pages, so link to those in your profile so that the logos will show up, and other employees/alumni will then be included in your “network.”
  • Recommendations – This a way to enhance your “resume” by asking coworkers and supervisors in previous positions to write a recommendation specifically related to your work at that company.
  • Optional Areas: You can also add areas for volunteering, projects you’ve worked on, certifications, specific interests you have, and many other things.
Step 2: Build your Network through Groups
Once you have your profile completed, it’s time to start building your network. You’ve already done some by connecting with others at companies you’ve worked at and schools you’ve attended. Another great way to extend your network is by joining groups. You want to join groups that are relevant to you both by your background and your professional interests – so if you are seeking a job in Human Resources, look for HR industry related groups to join. This will help you to stay “in the know” in that industry, and will also extend your network to include people already working in the field. Also, if there is a specific company you want to work for, look for groups related to them that you can join.

Step 3: Join the Conversation
You have an awesome profile, have joined very relevant groups, and have 300+ connects. You’re done, right? Wrong! Just like a physical networking group, if you sit in the corner and don’t speak to anyone – you will not be noticed or taken seriously. You have to be active and participate in conversations. A good way to do this is to subscribe to different “channels” through LinkedIn Pulse which will funnel articles and blog posts to your news feed. You can then comment and share as appropriate. You can also subscribe to companies of interest, who often post news and updates to LinkedIn, that you can then interact with.

To subscribe to channels: Interests – then Pulse. Discover, will show you recommended people and channels to follow. Stories will show in your news feed, making it easy to comment, like, and share. This will position you to your connections as knowledgeable within the industry. Plus, it will actually help you to become more knowledgeable about current events and topics within your fields of interest.

Step 4: Find and Utilize Meaningful Connections within your Network
When you go to any networking event, you should go with a goal in mind – “I want to meet someone that works at XYZ company,” or “I want to introduce myself to someone working in XYZ industry.” The same is true on LinkedIn. Think about – where you want to work, what type of profession you are seeking, then we’re going to see who in your network has an “in” and can help you get there. To do this, we’re going to use the University Pages, and Advanced Search.

  •     University Pages: The great thing about established colleges and universities is that you are automatically adopted into a vast network of students and alumni, who are quite often willing to help fellow alum get a “foot in the door”. LinkedIn does a great job of helping these networks to connect digitally through their “Youniversity” section. To find yours, go to Interests – Education. Here you can search people connected with your school and look at them by industry, location, company, and several different ways. If you have a connection to a company you’re interested in – reach out to that person!
  •       Advanced Search: This feature searches for people within and connected to your network, so it is important that you have made those connections through groups and companies already. The advanced search option give you the ability to search your network by current and previous company, among many other things. Results will either be 1st connections, 2nd, or 3rd connections, or by a group you have in common.  If a prominent 2nd or 3rd connection shows up – Click “shared connections” to see who you know that can introduce you to that person. REMEMBER – If you click on someone’s name and actually view their profile, they will see that you looked at them. So just be aware of that before you click onto a profile.

So now you have it, 4 steps to finding your “in” through LinkedIn. You can view our previously recorded webinar at the link below for a walk through of LinkedIn and how to specifically access some of the functions mentioned above.

I hope you found this helpful, and I encourage you to log on, buff up your profile, and start networking! 

Access a walk-through of these 4 easy steps here. 

Jessica Blakemore
Associate Director of Marketing for Collaborative Programs 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Career 101: Is that REALLY the job you want?

Have you wondered what it might be like to be an Emergency Nurse? How about a Computer Programmer?  If you are gleaning all of your knowledge of what a Crime Scene Investigator actually does from watching reruns of CSI, you may encounter a rude awakening when you go for your education and actually land yourself in that job.

Informational interviewing is a foundational step within career exploration. While you are in your own investigative place as a student you would be wise to conduct informational interviews of people within the potential careers/jobs that you think you might enjoy. The informational interview communicates the first hand experiences and impressions of someone in the occupation, and is directed by your questions. 

Steps to conducting an interview of this type consist of:

1. Identifying a person that is currently employed within the field
2. Calling to request a visit with them while they are on the job  

The amount of time together is negotiable.  You could spend an hour or you could plan to spend a day.  Please be respectful of the professional’s time when making your request.  Determine on your initial phone call if you might like your visit to include a departmental tour or perhaps a day long “job shadow” appointment.  These may be items that your contact person can arrange.  Also, regard the time together as a business appointment.  Dress should be business casualand be sure to have a planned set of questions to ask.

Questions can vary based on what you wish to glean.  Sample questions include: 
  • What are the best and worst things about this career? 
  • Why might somebody leave this career? 
  • What are the things that it really takes to be great in this career? 
  • What is the smartest way to obtain training in this field?
An extensive list of possible informational interview questions is available here, but this is your chance to ask anything you'd like about your desired career. Plan to take notes while with your interviewer, being careful not to detract from the conversation. After your appointment, create an outline of themes from your questions asked. This can then carry you forward into next steps with your career exploration.

Now that you know about informational interviewing, get out there, do some networking, and make an appointment to speak with someone doing your dream job! 

Karen M. Lingrell, M Ed
Assistant Director of Collaborative Programs
USG eCore and eMajor

Thursday, February 5, 2015

60 Seconds with eMajor student Nate Wright

What is your home institution and major?
Currently, I attend Valdosta State University, and I am pursuing a degree in Organizational Leadership.

How many eMajor courses have you taken?
To date, I've taken 7 courses with eMajor.

Why is completing your college degree important to you?
 I think a college degree is a necessity in today's society. The job market is extremely competitive, and so many of my peers are seeking top notch positions. When I look back on my life, I want to know I finished everything I started; I want to check the box on paperwork that asks if I graduated. If I do not finish, that box will haunt me with any application I submit. Mortgage, jobs, insurance, etc.

When is your expected graduation date?
My expected graduation date is June of 2015; however, I am completing a concentration in Public Administration. This will be complete in December of 2015. Go big or go home.

What are your career goals?
Currently, I work in Human Resources. My goals include finishing this degree and moving to a Master’s program. I hope to obtain the Senior Professional in Human Resources certification as well.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I first wanted to be Batman. When I found out that was not a possibility, I dabbled in multiple majors or career paths. No matter what major I would choose, I realized everything came back to people. Every path came back to assisting others. So... This is why I work in Human Resources and seek a degree in Leadership.

What eMajor class has been your favorite and what class are looking forward to the most?
So far, I really appreciated ACE2050 (Communications for Business). This course touched tremendously on the tasks that I complete on a day to day basis. The information accurately depicted the things everyone will need in the workforce. Also, it reviewed certain grammatical skills that one may forget over time. The refresher definitely increased my confidence with professional writing. I most look forward to ENGL 3030 (Professional Writing). Two reasons: First, this is my last English course. Second, I feel this will make my writing even better.

How would you describe the instructors you’ve had in your eMajor classes?
 I have so many friends who seek a degree but opt out because of nerves. I had friends explain horror stories of professors who were unjust. I've yet to experience this in eMajor. Every professor has executed all courses with understanding and offered assistance in any way possible. I've had the most pleasurable experience.

Besides being a college student, what do you spend your time doing?
 When I am not working or working on homework, I really love restoring trash objects into treasure. For instance, turning an old dresser into a Pottery Barn inspired television stand. I also love to spend time with friends and family. Also, I really love sport and especially college football and Nascar.

How and when do you make time to spend on your school work?
I worked full time while completed 19 semester hours. I earned a GPA of 3.9. People look at me as if I'm an alien or not human. The fact is, I am human. When I'm on lunch break at work, I read the chapters. I take several road trips with friends, and I write my papers in the back seat between destinations. Also, I push myself to do school Monday through Friday, so I still have a social life on weekends. I think the key in maintaining homework is to stay ahead. I sit every Monday and map out any assignments due and create a schedule. I think about what I can do even if I am not on the computer. I use technology to my advantage. I can access the site from my mobile phone or IPAD. This saves so much time while posting discussion posts, etc.

Who or what inspires you and why?

Abraham Lincoln stated, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." I believe if I want a comfortable life and career, short term sacrifices equal long term happiness. The thought of vacationing in the Caribbean, buying a dream home, and my family make me strive to be the best I can be. I can't change the past, but I can change my future. I push myself and try to set an example for younger siblings.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Career 101: Planning Your Next Move

Are you stuck in the crossroads of switching your major?   

Are you finding yourself enrolled in classes but having no clear direction of where you might be heading after graduation?  

Has a significant other inquired with the dreaded question: “What are you going to do with your life?”

If you had a head nod to any of these questions then I hope to offer some quick advice on career planning to get you stepping in the right direction.   For 6 years I worked as an Assistant Director of Career Services at another Georgia institution.  I have many memories of students who would come to my office the Monday after graduation and remark “Hey, Mrs. Karen, I need a job!”   Some of those students had never taken advantage of the fine services we offered previously.  At the conclusion of many an appointment I can recall that most, if not all, of the visitors emphatically declared, “Man – why did I not come here SOONER??!”

As an online student, I know that you are super busy.  You’re juggling coursework, maybe a part time or full time job, family obligations…. just LIFE!  However, are you putting “2 and 2 together” that the whole purpose for your education is to find out what you might want to do with that LIFE?   It is crucial that you spend some energy and time exploring your options.  

Taking the time to investigate and decipher your strengths/skills along with possible career fields and actual jobs is foundational to your post-graduation plans.  Many students think this can be done pell-mell.  In reality it deserves significant time and focus. 

I wish I could say that there is ONE pathway to take but the truth is there are many fabulous ways to glean knowledge.  I would be remiss if I did not direct you first and foremost to a most logical spot. Valdosta State University’s Office of Career Services  is where I found this direct link to virtual career related concepts.  Here, you’ll find practical resources including putting together a resume and preparing for a job interview. It is also wise to take a look at the steps outlined for career planning, which includes a handy outline of what to pursue during different intervals of your post-secondary experience.

If you are the one who has no earthly idea what you might like to do “when you grow up,” I will suggest that you begin with some fundamental questions as put forth by Debra Davenport (Executive Professional Mentor, Licensed Career Counselor & Employment Agent).    What do I really feel passionate about?   What do I love to do so much that I would do it for free?"   Answering those questions will help drive your search.  She goes on to state that “Your career should be a natural extension of who you are as a human being.”

Another career expert, Marty Nemko, Ph.D. (Contributing Editor, Careers, U.S. News & World Report) asks different yet just as compelling questions.   “What do you think you would prefer in your ideal job?  Working with data?  Working with people?  Working with words?  Or working with concrete objects?”

This article was designed to get you thinking about how to begin career exploration steps. Do your research, and let us hear your plans in the comments below!

Karen M. Lingrell, M Ed
Assistant Director of Collaborative Programs
USG eCore and eMajor

Monday, December 8, 2014

60 Seconds with Kimberly Hobbs - Organizational Leader and eMajor Student

She defines success very simply as "Putting forth your very best effort in everything you do." She exudes positivity. She is an inspirational, confident woman and an all-around great role model to her daughter and nephews. Meet eMajor student,  Kimberly Hobbs...

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? When I was a child there were quite a few careers that I thought I wanted to do when I grew up. My career choices were an astronaut, a veterinarian, and even a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader! Although none of these ideas came to fruition, I am pleased with the career that I am in now because it allows me to help people as a Grant Writer & Administrator.

What is your college major? Organizational Leadership

Why did you choose eMajor? I chose eMajor because of the convenience of online courses. The fact that I could finish my degree without having to attend classes on campus, but could instead participate in classes according to my schedule was the reason I decided to enroll. I graduated high school in 1987 and have attended college off and on since then trying to earn a four-year degree. However, attending classes on campus while working and raising a family was difficult and my pursuit of an education always fell by the wayside. However, because eMajor affords me the ability to attend school around my everyday schedule, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. I will complete my degree this time. 

What are your career plans beyond eMajor? I have been very blessed in my career and I have a very rewarding job as a grant writer/administrator. My plans beyond eMajor are to continue to help people through grant writing. 

What is something cool you've learned this semester in your eMajor class? In my Introduction to Public Administration (POLS 3600) class, we had a case study about the debate over chocolate milk in Florida lunchrooms. There was a debate between the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture about whether or not chocolate milk should be served to school children. It was interesting to me that politics plays a role in so many things, even school lunches.

Where is your favorite place to visit in the USA? Washington DC. It is a beautiful city full of history and politics, two of my favorite things.

Who in history would you like to spend an hour with and what would you talk about? Dr. Martin Luther King. He was an amazingly brave man who had a vision of equality and worked tirelessly to spread his message. I would want to talk to him about his experiences and about how he changed America.

What song makes you sing when driving in your car? Why? Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves.  It is definitely old school, but every time it comes on the radio, I want to roll the windows down and sing because it is a happy song.

The most used appliance in your house is...........? The stove/oven. I enjoy cooking and consider myself somewhat of a foodie.

Who is the biggest inspiration for your education? My daughter. She is just completing her freshman year at VSU. Her desire to pursue her education inspired me to enroll in eMajor and to finish my degree.

Is there anything else interesting you would like to share about yourself? I am thankful that eMajor is available to non-traditional students such as me. Because of its availability, I will finally be able to complete a degree that I have been pursuing for 25+ years. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rhiannon Bond - Student, Mother, Wife...Oh My!

What is your occupation?I am currently a stay at home mom. My husband is deployed to Afghanistan so I decided being home with my son, Liam, and taking online classes would be best for him. 

What is your college major?
I am an Organizational Leadership major with an emphasis in Public Administration.

Who is the biggest inspiration for your education?
I would have to say that my mom always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be and that was a huge inspiration. She always talked about how much fun school was and encouraged me to always do my best and I would succeed.

What are your career plans beyond eMajor?
Hopefully my family will be stationed in another country and I will have the opportunity to work on a base in public administration. I can't wait to get back into a professional environment.

What are two things most people don't know about you?
I am named after a Fleetwood Mac song, my daddy really loved Stevie Nix and all her music. Being named after one of her songs was as close as my mom would let him get. I am the first of my immediate family to graduate from high school.

Your definition of success is..............?
Happiness. I feel like no matter what you are doing in your life professionally, as long as you are happy I consider that success.

What are you planning on doing when it gets warm? 
I plan on playing outside a lot with my son, Liam and my dog, Hukaah. Once my husband returns we will be outside enjoying ourselves as a family.

What would you tell the 10 year old you?
"Stop tattling on your brothers so much. It's not fair that you should share all their secrets just because your mom bribed you with cheese." Psst...Cheese was my favorite.

What is your least/most favorite word?
"Slice" UGHHHHH!!! That word just sounds like it causes so much pain.

My favorite place to visit in the United States is.........? Why?
I wouldn't say that I have a favorite place to visit, but my favorite place to drive through is Chattanooga, TN. There is a part as you drive through where there is a beautiful lake on the right side of you, and a mountain on the left side. Its right around a curve and I think its absolutely beautiful.

What is something interesting about you that those in your class would not know, that you would like to share?

Even though you can't tell from your computer screens, I am a very outgoing person. I love to have fun. My favorite jobs are being a mommy and a military wife.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 Ways to Sit in the Front Row of Your Online Class

Some students feel invisible in their online courses, and don't do as well as they could. But there are clearly ways to get noticed, making sure the professor knows exactly who you are. Here's our top five:
  1. Get personal. Many courses have an introductory week when students share information about themselves. Reveal a bit more than your major and why you're taking the course. Tell about your job, your kids, your hobbies, and a couple of really interesting things about you. Reveal a bit more throughout the course.
  2. Post first or very early each week. The first responses to a discussion posting will typically get noticed more than the ones that approach the deadline. It will usually impress the instructor that you're early and on top of your game.
  3. Raise your hand. Pose questions to the instructor. Don't be obnoxious, but ask the instructor a question every week or so related to the content. It's even okay (and intelligent) to question or disagree with the content that's presented.
  4. Address people by name. When you're responding to a classmate or an instructor, something very magical happens when you use their name. For example, say, "Dr. Smith, I found your analysis of the Clinton years very interesting," or "Sally, that must have been a difficult experience for you."
  5. Provide your instructor with useful feedback some time during the course. If there is something negative to be said, sandwich it with something positive. For example, you might say, "Dr. Smith, I so much appreciate the depth of feedback you have given me on my written work. It has really improved my writing. I would like to express my concerns about the amount of group work that we have in this class. While I appreciate the engagement with other students, I believe that I would be more successful if one of the three group projects were independent. This is a great class, and I have enjoyed your anecdotes." You might be surprised, but most instructors will really welcome this.