Peer Connect Blog - 2014/2015
How to Impress on Your First Day
Tuesday March 31st - Deanne
It’s your first day of work. You are excited to go to get started and gain some new experience. You are also really, really, nervous. *BREAKING NEWS* Being nervous for your first day of work is completely normal. It’s a new environment, and you’re surrounded by new people and new tasks. No wonder you are nervous. So how can you get rid of those pesky nerves and impress on your first day of work?
Don’t be late. Before your first day of work, clarify with your employer what time you start on your first day. If you have never been to your new workplace before, make sure that you know how to get there and give yourself some extra time.
Be prepared. Make sure that you bring everything necessary for your job. That could include your laptop, notebook, pens, etc. You want to show up and be ready to get started.
Dress the part. Understand the dress code before you start working. If you are working in a professional environment, you might need to get your clothes ready the day before. Dressing appropriately will show your employer that you are eager to start working and take your job seriously.
Show initiative. Take notes when your employer is showing you around your new workplace. It is important to be alert and pay attention to what he/she is saying. Volunteer for things on your first day to show that you have initiative and are ready to take on extra work.
Be friendly. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the other people in your office. This will prepare you for teamwork and easy communication later on.
Be yourself. You got the job; you were hired for a reason. The employer chose you because you were the best fit for the position. So be yourself and be confident with the skills that you have.
The Phone Interview Survival Guide
Tuesday March 24th - Deanne
Phone interviews can be pretty nerve-wracking. You don’t have the same visual cues that you do during an in-person interview. You cannot easily gauge how the interviewer is reacting to your responses. However, with these tips, you can tackle your next phone interview like a pro.
As with any kind of interview, preparation beforehand is key. Before your interview, you should do research about the company. Check out their website, past projects, any other details you can find about the job you are applying for. If your interview has a technical component, make sure you study for that as well. Prepare at least one question to ask the employer during the interview to show that you are interested in the position and their company/organization. Take notes on what you find so that you can refer to them.
One major benefit of the phone interview is that you can bring your notes and related documents with you. You can bring your resume and cover letter to refer to previous related experiences. Bring the job application so you can remember specific details about the job. Bring your preparation notes and your questions. Lay things out neatly in front of you so that you are aware of where everything is and so can access things easily when necessary.
It is important when you are on the phone that you speak clearly and annunciate your words. Try not to talk too fast or mumble, even if you are nervous. You can practice before your interview by talking on the phone with someone to make sure your voice is clear and loud enough.
The interviewers are probably taking notes while you are responding to questions. So don’t feel the need to fill in silent time with a drawn out answer. Be confident when you finish your response, and wait for them to finish writing their notes.
During your interview you can take notes of your own. You may come up with a question you want to ask them or something you need clarified. Jot it down so that you don’t forget. Also note important information about the job.
Even though you might not have to wear professional clothes during a phone interview, you still need to remember that you are talking to a potential employer. Don’t fall into the trap of using slang words that you might use with your friends on the phone. Try wearing a professional shirt to get into the “interview mindset”.
Why Intern Abroad?
Tuesday March 24th - Sandeep
International internships can be educational, fun and lucrative. However, there are some cons associated with living in a different country - such as high living costs and culture shock. So why intern abroad? Let’s discuss the benefits.
Benefits of an Internship:
- Gain experience in your field. Completing an internship allows you to gain practical experience in your field. Employers prefer (and tend to hire) candidates with relevant experience. An internship can be especially useful if you are not in a co-op program.
- Gain new transferable and technical skills. Working in your field of study will allow you to develop applicable technical skills. Even if your internship isn’t exactly related to your degree, you will gain transferable skills that will be useful to your job search. These include written and oral communication skills, critical thinking and analytical skills.
Benefits of Interning Abroad:
- Gain a new sense of independence. While living in a different country, whether it is for work or study, you will find a new sense of independence. You will have to learn to be your own provider. You will no longer be able to lean on your parents or friends due to distance. It will be entirely up to you to encourage your own personal and professional development.
- Build a professional network. Your internship will help you expand your international network. The people you meet during your internship may help you secure future jobs and industry contacts. Furthermore, interning abroad makes you more employable; you are no longer limited to nation-wide job searches.
- Increased language proficiency and cross-cultural skills. While interning abroad, you will have the chance to pick up new language skills, especially if you are employed in a non-English speaking country. These skills are transferable to the Canadian work force, as there is a high rate of people emigrating from various countries. You will also have the opportunity to learn about new cultures, and working in a different country will allow you to gain new work environment experiences. This will ultimately make you a more flexible person.
An internship will set you apart from other candidates, and your international experience will make you unique. Most employers have acknowledged their preference for people who have interned abroad. Furthermore, over 90% of employers recognize the benefits of working in a different country as it implies that you have transferable skills. Not only will an international internship look good on your resume, it will help with the interview process. Interviews can be scary, but having something interesting to talk about can definitely help. Highlight your transferable skills, your cross-cultural insights, and your ability to be flexible and independent.
Good luck and happy interning!
Why Volunteering is Good for Your Career
Monday March 16th - Deanne
Volunteering can be fun and rewarding. What you may not know is that volunteering can have some major career development advantages.
Learn new skills
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and further develop existing skills. Volunteering with other people allows you to practice your teamwork, interpersonal, and communication skills. Continuous volunteerism shows dedication, time management skills, and commitment. It also gives you the chance to develop skills that you may not be getting from a job or school, such as public speaking and leadership skills.
Volunteering = Experience
Volunteering allows you to gain experience outside of the classroom. It shows an employer that you are able to work in varying environments, get along with others, and complete tasks. There are so many opportunities to volunteer. Find one that is related to your field of study to gain related experience. Volunteering shows potential employers that you have workplace experience, and can give you an edge above other candidates.
Try something new
Are you unsure about what field you want to go into? Don’t want to get a job, find out you don’t like it, and be stuck? Try volunteering! Volunteering is a great way to test out new and different things. Find volunteer opportunities in your field to see if it’s what you expected. For example, if you want to be a vet you could volunteer at the Guelph Humane Society to gain experience working with animals. You could also pursue something unrelated to your studies. You may end up liking something new and unexpected!
Volunteering allows you to meet new people and make new connections. This could lead to a potential reference for your next job application, someone to ask about summer jobs, or post-graduation opportunities. So keep track of the people you meet when volunteering, as they could be useful contacts in the future.
There are tons of volunteer opportunities on campus. The Peer Helper Program is a great way to connect with your fellow students. Signing up to be an Orientation Volunteer means welcoming first years to our campus with games and tours. You can also check out Student Volunteer Connections - they’ll help you explore opportunities around Guelph. Volunteering is a great way to get involved, help others, and further your career.
Check out some great opportunities on campus and around Guelph!
Student Affairs: http://www.uoguelph.ca/studentaffairs/volunteer/profile.shtml
Student Volunteer Connections: https://www.facebook.com/studentvolunteerconnections
Peer Helper Program: https://www.facebook.com/UofG.Peers
Thinking about Grad School?
Monday March 16th - Kirsten
If you’re like me, you may be starting to think about what to do after graduation. You may be looking at job postings for which a Master’s degree is required or “preferred”. But there are lots of people who are doing just fine in the ‘real world’ without having completed a graduate program. So how do you decide? Is graduate school the best path to take to your dream job? Here are some things to consider and tips to help you decide if this is the right path for you.
First, some things to consider:
1. Why grad school?
- Ask yourself if this is something you really want.
- Don’t use grad school as a way to avoid entering the ‘real world’ after graduation.
- It’s no surprise that grad school costs money. You’ll need to consider that you’ll be giving up an income by not entering the workforce sooner.
- Is working part time an option?
- Can you see yourself living and breathing one subject for the duration of the program? Are you willing to immerse yourself in it to gain that expertise?
4. Entrance exams
- Do you need to complete an entrance exam to get into the program you’re interested in? Start thinking about this now.
- When will you study for and write the exam?
- Grad school is a great platform to build your network within your field.
6. Professional Development
- You’ll be working hard and gaining skills that are highly specific to your industry.
- Not only will you be able to call yourself a ‘master’ of something, but these discipline-specific skills can be transferred into the workplace.
Next, how do you decide how useful a graduate degree will be for future employment in your specific field or industry?
1. Use LinkedIn to your advantage
- Try searching the name of the graduate program you’re interested in on LinkedIn. People will likely include their graduate studies as part of their education section on LinkedIn.
- From here you can see what kinds of jobs people with that graduate experience are currently doing. If you see job titles and that line up with your dream job, then that graduate program may very well be a good first step!
- Ask others in your field for their thoughts. If you want to expand your search beyond your network, reach out to those you find on LinkedIn to have a conversation about their experiences and career path.
- It’s important to talk to lots of different people, don’t just get opinions from people in the graduate admissions office!
Best of luck with making your decision!
How to Deal with a Stressful Environment
Monday March 9th - Jade
Working can get hectic as your supervisor and co-workers start to realize just how useful you are and how much work you are able to get done. School has primed us for the work environment. We are used to working under a deadline and multi-tasking between different projects/assignments. This is directly translated into our work ethic in the work environment. In co-op placements especially, sometimes employers don’t fully understand just how efficient and useful a student can be, but once they do realize just how amazing you are, they start to give you lots of projects. As a new hire, it is sometimes hard to say no to the projects being given to you. This can lead to over-committing yourself and that can result in stress. Not to worry though, here are some tips to help you de-stress at work.
- Prioritizing your projects can help you get organized. Time-management is important and can aide in the completion of projects before their deadlines. Break the large projects into smaller steps and allot time to each one. This will help you estimate how long it will take to finish a project.
- Write down what it is you have to do for each project, and make a schedule for the next few days. This way, anytime you start getting stressed when thinking about all of the work you have to get done, you can look at the schedule and remember that you have everything planned out. Also, when you do complete a task, physically cross it off of your list of things to do. It’s a small reward for getting part of the puzzle done. Plus, at the end of the day or week, looking at your completed list helps reassure you that you are able to get all of your projects done.
- Be honest with your supervisor or colleague (whoever is asking you to complete another project). Estimate when you will be able to start/finish their project. At the very least, let them know the next available time you have to sit down and take a look at the project. If they need the project done sooner, they can either find someone else or do it themselves. This is a good tactic for people (like myself) who are bad at saying no to people.
- If your day is particularly stressful and you just need a break, use your 15-minute break to walk around the office or outside. Getting up and walking around helps clear your mind and can help you see that the situation will be okay in the long run. You just have to take it one step at a time (no pun intended!).
- Similar to getting up and walking around, at lunch take time to eat slowly. This is the only hour in the day during which you are able to slow down and do things at your own pace. Slowing down your movements and eating slowly helps you unwind from the mounting stress that may have occurred in the morning.
Keep these tips in mind whenever you feel yourself getting overwhelmed and stressed at work. Just remember, they hired you for a reason! They saw potential in you to do great things, now you just have to believe in yourself!
no an ‘I’ in Initiative, Which is ALL YOU!
Monday March 2nd - Bryan
Make the most of all your professional experiences by showing some initiative! I will hopefully convince you that this can elevate not only yourself in the eyes of your supervisor (perfect for a great future reference or promotion), but also elevate your job satisfaction and even improve your character.
Initiative goes hand in hand with enthusiasm. This is most easily achieved by obtaining a job or entering a field for which you are extremely passionate. But I also understand that times can be tough and you may have settled for a job to get the ball rolling while you search for something more desirable. That’s alright, let’s try to reverse the script.
You have settled into your routine at a job you weren’t absolutely stoked about in the first place. The nervousness of messing up a new job while you learn the ropes has faded and the one or two days you actually got to enjoy the challenge of a new experience sans nervousness have long past. You’re bored and ready to break your routine, to ignite some spark of enthusiasm associated with your job. As you repeat your routine every day, you start to notice small things that are just not as efficient as they could be. Or maybe you notice the introduction of a substantial new component to the routine could vastly improve your daily productivity. Tip one is write that observation down. Too many times have I been too caught up in my work to write it down, only momentarily set back by the minor inefficiency it presents, and then made the same observation time and time again without action. Tip two is bring it to the attention of your supervisor. Make sure this is done tactfully and enthusiastically. You want to maximize efficiency in the workplace rather than point out the failures of whoever decided how that particular duty/part of your routine should be performed. Tip three is all about breaking out of your routine. Make sure your desire to be involved in developing and implementing a solution is known by your supervisor, perhaps even draft some preliminary solutions yourself before you approach them. Don’t think of this as just adding more work to the workload you’re already not interested in, but as a way to escape that work and routine, even if just for a short while.
Hopefully the solution you catalyze will allow you to see a direct effect that the work you do has. It is my belief that this visualization will help boost your satisfaction with your job and may even ignite your enthusiasm for going to work in the morning. The strengthened rapport with your supervisor will hopefully make it easy to generate problem solving activities in the future to further improve your sense of job satisfaction.
Of course this same strategy can be used for a job about which you were passionate to begin with. These will often be jobs where you find yourself finishing work ahead of schedule. Initiative can be as easy as going to your supervisor and asking what else you can do to help. It is best to avoid doing this too often, especially for employers who are not fans of micromanaging. Another strategy you can use: identify several things that need attention, and present them all to your supervisor to make sure he deems them equitable or to obtain an opinion on which one to pursue first. Another strategy to avoid the involvement of your supervisor is to offer your time to your coworkers. This demonstrates initiative, can again expose you to routine-breaking activities and develops skills and practice around collaboration.
Professionalism can often shed light on character traits we ought to display in our everyday lives. Try to think of all of your professional experiences as a way to develop yourself, not only professionally, but in every facet of life.
4 Tips for Finding a Professional Mentor
Monday March 2nd - Kirsten
Mentorship relationships, whether formal or informal, are extremely valuable for both the mentor and the mentee. Finding someone to connect and build a mentoring relationship with can be challenging, especially if you want the relationship to last beyond your work term. Here are some tips and resources for finding a professional mentor and building that relationship.
- Choosing a mentor
- Ask yourself what you want to get out of a mentoring relationship. The role of a mentor and a supervisor don’t always overlap, so look beyond your supervisor when choosing a mentor. Someone you don’t report to directly may be able to provide you with that helpful, learning relationship, while also being more objective. Look beyond your department or organization if you want someone to bounce more general ideas off of. Or find someone who knows the inner workings of your organization to help you navigate your way through. Just because we often think of mentors as someone older and more experienced, it doesn’t mean it has to be that way. You can learn something from everyone, even your peers!
- Ask for a mentorship relationship
- Asking goes a long way! Have a discussion with your mentor about the expectations of your relationship. This can help you set some boundaries for the relationship. Do they prefer to connect by phone, email, or in person? Try to schedule some time to build your mentorship relationship. Is grabbing coffee together once a month feasible? Or is a scheduled phone call better for both of you?
- Be open to co-mentorship
- Keep mentorship a two-way street. You’ve got experiences that your mentor could learn from too. Ask your mentor what things they might be interested in knowing more about that you could teach them. Maybe there’s a particular software that you’re familiar with that your mentor would like to learn. This way both parties can have a mutual learning relationship.
- Look for mentoring programs
- Your organization’s HR department or professional organizations in your industry may already have mentoring programs in place that are designed to match you up with a prospective mentor/mentee. Seek these out and you might be able to find others already interested in mentorship!
Want to know more about professional mentorship? Here are some great resources:
LinkedIn: What is it good for? Absolutely Networking
Monday February 9th - Bryan
LinkedIn is a social media site through which individuals can market themselves professionally in hopes of supplementing other application materials or standing out to potential recruiters. Your profile can serve as an easily accessible summary of your experiences and qualifications which is viewable by recruiters hiring for positions that you might have missed during your job search.
LinkedIn is, primarily, a great networking tool. It allows you to “connect” with friends, past and present coworkers or supervisors, and academic staff including professors and TAs. Your contacts will be able to keep tabs on what you are doing professionally. This may increase the chance that they connect you with someone who is seeking a candidate with skills and experiences which you possess. Such a connection may present you with an opportunity for an informational interview in which you can ask questions and show off your knowledge or enthusiasm for a certain company or industry. In the end, you could gain a new contact that might just be able to guide you in the direction of a great job or recruiter.
Using LinkedIn, you can search and actually ‘follow’ different companies that you may like to work at in the future. Their pages will often contain some good background information and may be updated with current events occurring within the company. For this reason they can also serve as a great tool when preparing for interviews. On these pages you will also be able to view individuals employed by the company and their positions. While you will likely not be able to view their profiles to get an idea of their education and past experiences, you could extend a request for an informational interview to gain this knowledge and the same potential results as discussed above. Furthermore, company pages often post job opportunities which can be applied to directly through LinkedIn. When you are looking at jobs, LinkedIn will recommend related jobs from other companies as well. LinkedIn is even able to recommend jobs (on the dedicated ‘jobs’ page) based on the experiences and skills in your profile as well as settable preferences.
Should I include a photo?
LinkedIn, like other social media sites, gives the option of including a profile picture. This is a somewhat double-edged sword when taking into consideration traditional Canadian hiring practices. We often discourage students from putting information on their resumes that is a protected ground for discrimination under the Ontario Human’s Right Code (for more information, see link below), including sex, age and race. We explicitly request that students do not include photos on resumes as they provide information about several of these protected grounds for discrimination. By excluding this information, applicants can prevent employers from exercising, even if unknowingly, prohibited discrimination.
Profile pictures on LinkedIn are expected, with photo-inclusive profiles garnering more than 11 times the views than those without, according to LinkedIn. It has been argued that including a photo may make your profile more personal and that putting a face to an application may help to remember a strong applicant. On the plus side, LinkedIn allows an individual to upload a professional-looking photo which, in turn, allows for control over a visual first impression that might otherwise originate from less professional pictures on other social media, such as Facebook. Bottom line: it’s really up to each individual to decide whether to include a photo or not.
To summarize, LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to market yourself professionally in a way that is universally accessible. I have a friend who was offered a job on LinkedIn without being recommended by a connection or even contacting the recruiter herself. In addition, your LinkedIn profile provides space to list experiences that may not have made it onto a targeted resume, and more importantly, it allows you to connect with peers and other professionals who may be able to help guide you to great employment opportunities. Your only concern may be about whether to include a photo, which could result in unfair discrimination, or in being looked over for excluding one. If you are unsure of how to approach this issue, come in to talk to a career advisor. To create a profile right away, check out the “Getting Started with LinkedIn” (Wednesday October, 15th) blogpost by Kirsten for some tips.
For more information on the Ontario Human Rights Code and the protected grounds of discrimination by employees during all stages of the employment process, visit:
How to Achieve Success at Job/Career Fairs
Monday February 9th - Sandeep
At least twice a semester there are career and job fairs occurring on campus or in town. Attending one is a great opportunity to meet potential employers, network, and most importantly, make personal connections with recruiters. Thus, it is important that you make a good impression and be prepared. Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of attending these fairs.
Before you go to a fair, research all the employers that will be there and decide which ones you would like to talk to. Know what all of the companies do before arriving at the fair. It makes a very bad impression if you don’t know anything about the companies you are supposedly interested in working for. Arrange these employers in terms of priority, and make sure to leave some time for potential unexpected companies that could intrigue you once you are there. Make sure you bring at least enough resumes to give to the businesses you are targeting. I advise against bringing generalized cover letters as you don’t know what positions the company could be recruiting for, and cover letters are supposed to be specific to the position you are applying to. Remember to bring a pen and paper to take notes if needed.
This is your chance to make a good first impression. Therefore, it is vital that you dress like you would for an interview. This means no short skirts, wrinkled clothing, and/or running shoes. Also remember to look well-groomed; no messy hair or beards.
Get to the venue 10 minutes before the fair to allow yourself to become comfortable with the setting and to give your nerves time to settle. Figure out the locations of the employers you plan to talk to. Extra time will also give you an opportunity to decide if you need to switch up your schedule to accommodate for lines.
Introduce yourself and give your ‘elevator pitch’.
When introducing yourself to a recruiter, extend you hand and offer your name. Make sure your handshake is firm but not too overpowering. While talking to the employers, give an ‘elevator pitch’ highlighting your interests, academics, skills and potentially relevant work experience. Have a resume handy to give to them. Remember to ask questions about the company, in addition to talking about yourself.
Ask for business cards.
A career fair is one of the best opportunities for you to make contacts. Once you are done talking to an individual, ask for their business card. This is also where your pen and paper will come in handy, as they may give you information about the hiring process. Furthermore, once you have their contact information, you can email them after the fair to thank them.
When you are talking to potential employers, remember to be enthusiastic. You should look like you want to be there and appreciate them taking the time to talk to you. So remember to smile, be energetic, and look like you are having a good time!
Interview Body Language
Thursday January 5th - Kirsten
Congratulations – your cover letter and resume have landed you an interview! This is your chance to impress your potential employer in person.
Your ability to answer interview questions is extremely important, but your body language in an interview also helps contribute to your overall first impression. Being mindful of your body language and nonverbal cues can help you appear and feel more confident. So here are some body language tips and tricks to help you give the best first impression!
The handshake sets the tone for the interview. You want a firm handshake, a balance between the ‘crushing grip’ and the ‘limp noodle’.
2. Eye contact
Making eye contact when answering questions is one way to show you’re engaged in the conversation. If there is more than one interviewer, be sure to maintain positive eye contact with everyone in the room. But too much eye contact can also be a bad thing; you don’t want to stare too long. Keep it natural.
Smile! It’s easy, but it shows that you’re interested and excited about the possibility of getting this position. When answering questions like ‘Why did you decide to enter this field?’, smiling can show that this is a field of work you’re really passionate about.
4. Limit nervous fidgeting
You want to try to avoid nervous fidgeting. This includes tapping your fingers, twitching your leg, and continually touching your face or hair. This comes across as nervous and lacking confidence. If your hands want to fidget, try talking with your hands instead as a way to make it appear more natural and relaxed.
5. Lean in and nod
Leaning in and nodding are both parts of active listening. This shows you’re interested and engaged in what others are saying.
6. Open posture
Try to keep an open posture by having your arms and chest open. Slouching can come across as uninterested, and crossing your arms can be viewed as a defensive gesture. Aim to stand or sit up straight, and relax your arms to your side. Keeping an open posture and taking up space are nonverbal ways to show power and confidence.
Lastly, it’s important to relax! Before going into the interview – take a deep breath and lower your shoulders. When you’re relaxed you’ll feel more confident and you can focus making the best first impression.
It’s important to remember to keep your body language natural. If subtle shifts in your body language don’t come to you easily – try them out in the mirror first!
Some Helpful Tips for Job Interviews
Thursday February 5th - Jade
Once you’ve perfected your cover letter and resume, and gotten past the daunting application process, it’s time for the hard part. The interview. For some, talking face to face with an interviewer can be difficult. You have to think quickly on your feet when answering questions, while maintaining a level of professionalism. How can you make yourself stand out? Here are some things to keep in mind while you prepare:
- Clean up your social media pages.
There is an app called “Social Sweepster” that will go onto your Facebook/Twitter and flag any photos of you with red solo cups or any other party paraphernalia. This is a very handy app as around 91% of employers search social media sites prior to sending out interview dates (Forbes, 2014). This will ensure that you are putting your most professional self on the web for potential employers to see, before you get into the interview.
2. Go beyond the home page of the website.
There are so many websites and articles with information on most of the companies in the world these days, so make sure you do your research – and that you do it well. Go beyond the homepage of the website. Find the mission statement of the company you’re interested in and any new interesting projects they are working on. More often than not, a newspaper or magazine has written an article about them in the past 5 years, so look at some of those too. Get as much relevant knowledge as you can about the company to make you stand out from the crowd.
3. Set google alerts.
If you are looking for more information on the company you are applying to, set a google alert so you get a notification if anything new about them is posted on the internet. All you have to do is go to google.com/alerts and type in the company’s name, and voila! An easy way to stay up to date and sound very knowledgeable during your interview.
4. Answer analytical questions better.
When/if you are asked analytical questions in an interview, don’t be afraid to go through your thinking process out loud. This will help fill that awkward silence between the question being asked and your answer. It will also take the pressure off of you to answer as quickly as you can to fill that silence. Further, thinking out loud allows the interviewer to get a feel for your thought processes and this can be a huge asset for you. Lastly, this helps to improve and show off your own communication skills. Instead of blurting out an answer after thinking about the question in your head, talking the answer out allows the interviewer to reason with your conclusion and understand how you got there.
Enjoy and good luck!
Summer Job Search Workshop
Monday January 26th
Best Practices for Training New Employees
Tuesday December 2nd - Adelaide
You’re wrapping up a job, and a new employee will be taking over your position in the coming weeks. One of your final tasks before leaving the position will be training and mentoring the new employee. Training the new employee well not only prepares him/her for their new job but also leaves a positive impression of you with your employer!
Before the new employee even arrives, set up a meeting with your supervisor or manager to discuss how you plan to train him/her. Talk about the projects and tasks he/she will be taking over and take suggestions from your employer regarding other things you should be covering. Being prepared to train the new hire ahead of time shows initiative!
Once the New Hire Arrives
Do you remember how you felt before your first day on the new job? You were likely nervous and wanted to make a good impression. As the experienced employee, keep that in mind. Shake his/her hand and start a friendly conversation to break the ice. Questions like “Where are you from?” or “Where did you go to school?” are both a good start; this will help create a comfortable learning environment. You may be spending a day or even a week with this person, so it’s worth taking the time to get to know him/her!
Next, introduce the new hire to their work colleagues and show him/her where their workstation is. Once settled in, ease into the orientation with simple things like logging on to their computer for the first time or creating a voicemail password and message.
For other, more time-consuming tasks, you can follow these simple tips and tricks for training new staff:
- Teach it slowly
- Training the new hire on every task and project you’ve ever done all in a short period of time can be overwhelming. He/she likely won’t remember it all right away. Let’s say you are orienting the new hire on a program or database he/she has never used before. Walk through the steps of using it slowly. Keep a mental note of their learning pace and use that to gage your time for training on other tasks.
- Ask and encourage questions
- After explaining and showing a new task or project to the new hire, ask “Does that make sense?” and “Do you have any questions?”. Their answer will let you know if you can move on to something new or to slow down and explain the task again.
- Watch the new hire try it
- Ask the new hire to try the newly learned task or skill with you sitting nearby. If he/she makes any mistakes, offer constructive feedback or explain the steps to completing the task again.
- Do it independently
- Now that the new hire has learned how to do the task and has tried working on it with you, allow him/her to try these new skills independently using a novel example. Afterwards, check it over and offer any feedback for improvement if necessary.
- Recap on what was learned
- Briefly repeating what you’ve just done may help the new hire remember it. This is also a good time to answer any of their remaining questions.
Other initiatives you can take:
- Give a tour
- Offer to take the new employee on a tour of their new work environment. Show him/her where the washrooms are, the staff room or kitchen, photocopiers, and other important places.
- Create a resource
- Make a training manual that briefly describes the projects you’re working on and step-by-step instructions on accessing and completing the given tasks. Even outlining the pathways to folders on the computer is helpful! A manual will become a good reference point for the new hire after you’ve left, too.
Overall, you want to leave your role feeling like you’ve trained the new employee to the best of your ability. Knowing the new employee is confident and competent in their new role not only benefits the employer, but also leaves a lasting impression!
Time Management Skills: From School to On-the-Job
Monday November 24th - Adelaide
Time management is a transferable skill we’re all familiar with and you’ve likely been improving on it since you started university. We all know that school puts our time management skills to the test, whether it’s playing on varsity sports teams, working part-time jobs, volunteering, or finishing up that paper that's due before midnight.
This skill is also a common qualification seen on many, many job ads. Take note of this, as employers will likely look for you to mention it at some point during an interview. Questions like, “What skills would you bring to this job?” or “What are some of your greatest strengths?” are both perfect opportunities to talk about this skill and offer relevant examples. From my experience, if the job qualifications don’t mention it, you can likely tell from reading the job description carefully that you'll be utilizing time management.
Although time management is required for both school and work, there are a few differences between using it for school and using it on the job. Firstly, in most university courses, students receive a course syllabus on the very first day of class. It outlines all the readings and important dates for the entire semester, including assignments, midterms, and the final exam. This gives you the chance to prepare ahead of time. On-the-job experiences are a bit different, especially if you’re a new employee. You may have a vague idea of the various projects and initiatives your employer is currently undertaking, but you’re probably unsure as to how you will be contributing. Secondly, you may have more flexibility during the school semester to manage your time and finish your assignments whereas a work environment is more structured. Similarly, the time structure varies; in school, you might work on assignments throughout the day or week. At work you may only have a couple of hours in the afternoon to start and submit an urgent task.
Taking the above into consideration, imagine this: you’ve just started a new co-op job and you are getting comfortable in your work routine. One morning, your supervisor approaches you and assigns you a rather daunting priority project that’s due in a couple of days. You’re already busy working away on other projects with approaching deadlines. What do you do?
First, take a breath and don’t panic. It can be easy to overwhelm yourself when you look at everything you have to complete all at once. Second, reorganize yourself. Get creative with managing your time effectively! A few simple tricks that have worked for me include:
- Clarify any parts of your project you do not understand with the work colleague who assigned it to you. Confusing yourself or trying to figure the problem out on your own can be both stressful and a waste of your time.
- Keep a notebook handy with all assignments in order of priority and/or due dates.
- Write a note with today’s date and the list of tasks you need to complete OR the steps required for finishing a task that day. Crossing things off as you go also helps relieve stress!
- Utilize Microsoft Outlook calendar and set reminders for yourself.
- If the project competes with another project, set a certain amount of time every day for each project. Perhaps the morning will be dedicated to working on Project A and the afternoon for Project B.
- Take a break! Get up from your desk for 10-15 minutes; go for a walk and have a snack. Use that time to check in with yourself. It's important to monitor your progress, especially during those stressful crunch times.
Worst Case Scenario:
What do you do when you have too much on your plate and can't get all the work finished? Approach your supervisor or the work colleague who assigns your projects. Don't be afraid to be open about your workload concerns. However, it is important you do this professionally and calmly. Be specific about what exactly is concerning you and how much is actually on your plate. Perhaps you can negotiate a later deadline or discuss getting support from other work colleagues.
Time management is a skill that can always be fine-tuned in different situations – whether it's at school or work. If your current time management skills aren't effective, try different methods until you find ones that are right for you.
How to Negotiate Salary like a Pro
Monday November 17th - Brittney
There it is, that dreaded S-word on a job application. Salary.
Whether you’re applying for a co-op position, a summer job, or your first “real job” after graduating, discussing salary with a potential employer can be awkward. In today’s job market, students and recent grads may struggle when trying to obtain a salary they deserve. You might worry about appearing unreasonable and greedy; you don't want to lose the job to someone who is more "affordable."
But it doesn’t’t have to be that way! Once you’ve done your homework and learned the essential negotiating tips and tricks you should emerge from salary discussions with a contract that satisfies everyone involved and helps establish you as a strong and confident professional.
Looking into the current economic climate, the profitability of the company and the urgency to fill the position will better prepare you for negotiating. Researching the salary of the position you’re applying for and understanding what a realistic salary is will give you important information to use as leverage in your salary negotiations. Check out the following sources for this information:
- Salary surveys from professional associations
- Find out from networking contacts during informational interviews
- The Canadian Job Bank Occupation Search
As weird as it sounds, it’s also important to research yourself and figure out your range. This includes reflecting on the “top figure” (the salary the best candidate would be after); “the middle figure” (the ideal salary you would expect based on your experience in the role); and the “bottom figure” (the lowest amount you can afford to accept before walking away).
When should you negotiate? The power of negotiation starts at the interview but shouldn’t be done at the interview. The best time to negotiate is after a serious job offer has been made but before you have accepted it. This gives the potential employer time to get to know you and offers opportunities for you to impress them.
When it’s finally time to negotiate, avoid discussing concrete numbers and wait for the employer to make the first move. No matter how much a recruiter or human resources manager might press you to name an amount, keep your cards close to your chest. If it does come up during the interview, turn the question back around to the interviewer and ask what the range for the position is. You could ask something like this:
“Based on your description of what this position entails, I believe I have the experience and skills you are looking for. If you can tell me the current salary range for this position, I would be happy to quote you a figure in that range.”
From there you can reply with a narrow salary range you’d be comfortable with. Anticipate possible objections from the employer and be ready to counter with facts and figures justifying your cost effectiveness. Finally, do not bring personal reasons for a higher salary into the discussion. Keep the talks focused on why your employer needs you and what you can offer the company that no one else can.
Finally, stay friendly, cool and confident. Hopefully this will be obvious, but you need to be on your best behavior. Use common sense and make every effort to keep the negotiations friendly, conflict-free and professional. Listen attentively and don’t interrupt. In other words, be respectful. You want to be the perfect combination of flexibility, creativity, confidence and professionalism.
Remember, in offering you a job, an employer has already begun to recognize your value. By setting the stage for positive and productive salary negotiations, you are simply offering further proof of your professionalism.
Job Fair Etiquette
Tuesday Nov. 11th - Jade
Job Fairs are a great way to meet many different employers under one roof - especially when they are on campus. Employers attend job fairs in search of successful job candidates, so it’s important to make a positive impression. Here are some tips and tricks to help make you stand out.
Although there are many job fairs happening in casual settings around campus, remember to dress nicely. This does not necessarily mean business casual, as you may have classes to attend before or after, but make sure you look clean and put together. If you are attending a job fair outside of a university setting, I would strongly recommend wearing clothes you would normally wear to an interview.
Bring a stack of resumes to the job fair in case some of the recruiters ask for them. If you are able to look up the employers that will be attending the job fair, do a little background research on their companies. It never hurts to be prepared! When researching companies, don’t count out the smaller ones that will be attending the job fair. They are usually the booths with fewer applicants, and your odds of getting an interview or job offer increase.
At the same time that you are looking up what companies are at the job fair, find the floor plan and make a list of what booths you are most interested in and where they are located in the building. This will make your travel time more efficient and will allow you more time to talk with employers. As well, if you are running out of time, this allows you to talk to the employers you find most interesting.
Think of a few quality questions that you can ask each company representative. If you have researched and found your top three companies you want to talk to, create some job specific questions for those companies. It will set you apart from the rest of the candidates, and it will also give you a better insight on the job openings they have. With that being said, don’t ask questions to which the answers can be found on their website.
Be patient. There may be a line up at one of the booths you are really interested in. Being patient and waiting your turn helps with first impressions. But also remember to be patient and kind with others around you. You never know who you may bump into while at a job fair, it could be a recruiter from another booth taking a walk around the venue.
When talking with an employer, have a 30-60 second speech ready. Think of it as an elevator speech; you only have the time from which the person enters the elevator, to when they exit to explain who you are and what you’ve done. Preparing this ahead of time will ensure that you sound professional. Job Fairs are very loud and crowded, so making sure you have your speech memorized will be one less thing you have to worry about.
Get the employer’s business card and write a few points from your interaction on the back. At the end of the day you will have talked with many different employers, and if you don’t write down these points it can be hard to distinguish one booth from another. Also, these points help when sending a follow up email with an employer.
If you want to follow up with an employer you talked to, make sure to email them within a day or two of the job fair. They may be attending multiple job fairs, so you want to make sure you get to speak with them as quickly as possible. When sending the email, remind the employer when and where you met to give them a refresher on who you are before getting into the point of the email.
Finally, remember that this is a networking opportunity, so make sure your personality shines through! Enthusiasm and confidence are key.
Interview Skills: Back To Basics
Tuesday Nov. 11th - Brendan
Job interviews are a crucial part of the job search process because they provide the employer with an opportunity to meet with all of the top candidates and decide who is the best fit for the position. Therefore, it is very important that you are prepared for your interview in order to make a positive and lasting impression, one that will hopefully get you the job. Here are some basic tips and skills that will help you ace your next interview.
Study The Job Description:
While preparing for an interview, it is a great idea to study the job description, specifically, the role you have applied to and the desired qualifications. With a good understanding of these two components, you should be able to effectively connect all of your answers back to the job description. For example, if you are asked during the interview what your greatest strength is, make sure to answer with one of the desired qualifications from the job description.
Take Your Time:
After being asked an interview question, the natural tendency of most people will be to respond immediately. However, doing so forces you to piece your answer together bit by bit as you respond. Taking some time after the question is asked will allow you to formulate a clear and concise answer. But make sure your pause is appropriate; 5-10 seconds will do.
Provide Specific Examples:
When our group of peer helpers conducts mock interviews, the number one piece of feedback we give to students is to provide specific examples for all of their answers. This is critical for interview success. For example, when asked to provide a situation where you displayed a certain behaviour, make sure that you provide a clear and detailed example in order to paint a picture for the interviewer. When you are asked to speak to skills that you possess, rather than just saying, “I have great time management skills”, provide a specific example of a time when you successfully used your time management skills. Preparing examples you can use before your interview is also a great idea to ensure success.
STARR Questions – Result & Relevance:
Some students are familiar with STARR questions; Situation, Task, Action, Result, and Relevance. The first three components, STA, relate to my previous point about providing specific examples. Talk about where you were, what you had to do and what you did. The first R, Result, means explaining the result of your example (ie. the grade you achieved, how your manager responded). The second R, Relevance, ties back to knowing the role as described in the job description. Once you finish talking about a situation, make sure to explain how the situation is relevant to the position and the duties you would be performing. A general example of this would be explaining that the organization and time management skills you developed through balancing midterms, assignments, and a part-time job, would be perfect to apply in a fast-paced industry. Regardless of how you relate them back to the job, explaining the relevance of your examples helps the interviewer to picture how you fit in the role they are hiring for.
Do You Have Any Questions for Us?
Wednesday November 5th - Kirsten
We all know how important it is to prepare for an interview; printing off your resume, contacting references, thinking about how you are going to answer some of the common interview questions … but what about that final, all important question that the employer will ask you:
Do you have any questions for us?
This may seem like a courtesy question; the interviewer is giving you a chance to ask a few questions after being drilled for the last half hour. However, the questions that you prepare to ask the interviewer can be just as important as your ability to answer the questions they ask you.
Why are they important?
- The questions that you ask can confirm your qualifications for the position. Asking questions like “what skills would make a person an ideal candidate for this position?” or “what constitutes success in this position?” gives you a chance to highlight the skills you have which meet the qualifications the employer is looking for.
- Although the employer is interviewing you to determine if you are right for the position, you are also interviewing the employer to see if their organization is a place where you would want to work. Questions such as “what is your favorite thing about working here?” or “can you tell me about the team the successful candidate will be working with?” can give you a good idea of the environment that you might be working in. They can also help you determine whether or not you can see yourself enjoying working for the organization.
- Your questions can highlight your interest in the company and the position. Employers are usually looking for someone with a genuine interest in the organization, position and field of work. Questions like “can you tell be about any new projects or products you are working on?” or “do you offer continuing education or professional training?” can show that you are interested in more than just what was included in the job description and you are eager to learn more and grow professionally in order to meet the needs of the company.
What Questions Should I Ask?
Reading the job description and researching the company can help you to develop questions that demonstrate your interest in the company and help you decide if it is a place that you would like to work. Your own curiosity is a great resource as you likely came up with some questions while reading the job description and preparing your application without even noticing. Here is a list of questions that you could ask during an interview:
- What skills and experience would an ideal candidate for this position possess?
- What is the largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?
- What have you enjoyed most about working here?
- What constitutes success at this position and this company?
- Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
- Do you offer continuing education and professional training?
- Can you tell me about the team the successful candidate will be working with?
- What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?
- What is the next step in the application process?
What NOT to Ask?
Some questions you might think of asking could actually hurt your chances of getting the job. These types of questions include:
- Asking for information you could have easily found with a quick Google search.
- If you can change the job details, schedule or salary.
- Any gossip you have heard.
- Information about the interviewer’s background.
- Pay, time off, benefits, etc.
- Do you do background checks?
- What does your company do?
- How quickly can I be promoted?
- If I am hired, when can I start applying for other positions within the company?
- Whether or not the company monitors internet or e-mail usage.
Prepare 3-5 questions for each interview you attend, and plan to ask 3 of them. Some of your questions will likely be answered during the interview and you may even come up with additional questions during the interview. The question that you should always end the interview with is, “What are the next steps in your recruitment process?” This will show the employer that you are eager to have a response from them and it will also give you an idea of when you can expect to hear back from the employer.
First impressions are always important, but lasting impressions can be just as influential in a job interview, so make sure you end on a positive note with a strong set of questions for the interviewer.
Where to go Searching for Job Postings
Wednesday November 5th - Anna
So you’ve decided to look for a job. Good for you! Once you’ve polished up your resume, the next step is to begin your search for job postings. There are a variety of job search methods, and I’m here to help you get started.
Using your personal network is a great way to get the ball rolling. If you know anyone who works in your field of interest (perhaps from a previous position or through mutual friends), ask them if they know of any current openings. Getting help from someone in the industry can be a great time-saver, and a huge advantage if they can give you specific recommendations. They may even be willing to give you a few interview tips.
LinkedIn is another great way to use your connections to find job openings. Asking around within your network is a great way to let people know you are looking for a position – your connections may even recommend your profile to people they know are hiring. If you just want to see what kinds of jobs are out there, you can search for jobs by location, company size, and industry just by clicking the “Jobs” button.
Beyond using your personal networks, a simple Google search will often turn up a fair number of results. My simple search for “jobs in Guelph” turned up over 1 500 000 results! A Google search will often lead you to other job posting websites. Indeed.com, workopolis.com, and even Kijiji have hundreds if not thousands of new job postings daily, just waiting to be viewed by job-seekers like yourself!
Of course, because you go to the University of Guelph, you can also search jobs posted on Recruit Guelph. There are hundreds of positions advertised to Guelph students and alumni across a wide variety of disciplines. Positions are available in a number of fields, and you can even narrow down your search according to your program!
If a job with the federal or provincial government is something that interests you, try http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/ orhttp://www.gojobs.gov.on.ca/Jobs.aspx. If you’re returning to school in the fall, be sure to check out the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP). Offered by the federal government, the FSWEP lets you enter your name and qualifications into a bank of students seeking summer work. There are also federal programs for recent graduates. Be sure to click the links above and check out any opportunities you might be eligible for!
If there are any big-name companies in your field that you would like to work for, check their websites. Often large corporations will post jobs directly on their own sites and not elsewhere – they expect potential employees to come to them.
The bottom line for any job search is to be persistent and creative! You may end up finding job postings in unexpected places.
How to Decline a Job Offer
Monday October 27th - Brittney
You’ve written a fantastic resume, nailed your interviews, and now the job offers are starting to trickle in. Congratulations, superstar!
As excited as you are to accept a job offer, you still need to deal with the job offer(s) you’re turning down. The employers in the “no” pile are still waiting to hear back from you, and it would be highly unprofessional to leave them hanging. Furthermore, it’s in your best interest to maintain these contacts. You never know, they may become extremely valuable five years down the road.
While accepting a job offer will make you feel pretty great, declining an offer tends to be a bit less enjoyable. However, declining an offer is an excellent opportunity to build your personal brand and maintain relationships with people in your field. There are two main scenarios where you may have to decline an offer:
- When the job, organization, industry or culture is simply not a good fit for you.
- When you decide to take a competing offer.
In the first case, there is nothing the organization could have done. In the second case, the organization’s offer has simply been beaten by another employer that represents a better fit for you. In either case, you always want to maintain the relationship, so giving them the courtesy of formally declining the offer is extremely important.
You should decline the offer as soon as you have accepted another offer or made a definitive decision not to accept. While the conversation may be a bit uncomfortable, it's inconsiderate and poor business etiquette to delay after making the decision. When you're ready to formally decline, call or email your main point of contact and inform them of your decision. What do you say? Here’s an example:
“Hi, [name], this is [your name] calling in response to the job offer I was excited to receive from your organization. I am calling to let you know that I have decided not to accept the offer because [and then insert your reason for declining].”
You will know the reason better than anyone, so be sure to be honest but professional. That means you should notsay “I did not think the offer was any good.” OR “I’m not excited about your organization.” Your reason will be personal and unique, but here is an example:
“I have decided to accept a competing offer that I feel best fits my current professional and personal goals.”
“I do not believe that I am a good cultural fit for the organization.”
Now you’re fully prepared to decline job offers in a way that is professional, builds your brand, and maintains relationships. Your goal is to make the company or employer feel that their time was well spent in considering you for the position.
Tips and Tricks for Phone and Skype Interviews
Monday October 27th - Anna
Congratulations! You’ve landed an interview for a job. There’s only one catch: the interview will be conducted over phone or Skype, so you won’t have a chance to make a great first impression in person. Not to worry! There are lots of tips and tricks for making your interview run smoothly, even if it’s through a computer or over the phone.
For a Skype interview, it’s important to prepare your interview space. Make sure you do a test run before the actual interview – try calling a friend or have them call you to work out any glitches that might occur. Remove any distracting objects from your webcam’s view, and ensure that you have a quiet space to conduct your interview. Adjust the lighting so it illuminates your face in a flattering way, and make sure that the camera is pointing at your face and upper body. Body language is a huge part of a successful interview, so including your torso in the camera’s view is an excellent idea.
If you’re conducting the interview at home, make sure your housemates know not to bother you while the interview is going on. There’s nothing worse than your interview being interrupted by an oblivious roommate! If doing the interview at home isn’t a possibility (or not a chance you’re willing to take), consider going to a study room in the library or booking an interview room at the Co-op and Career Services office.
Of course, you and the interviewer can see each other, so it’s important to dress appropriately. Dress as you would for an in-person interview, making sure your appearance is neat, tidy and professional. Don’t forget to wear dress pants! If you stand up during the interview, you don’t want to be wearing pyjama bottoms! During the interview, make sure you look at the camera lens and not at the screen. Although it can be tempting to watch yourself while you respond to questions, looking at the lens is the only way to make “eye contact” with the person on the other end of the call.
A lot of the same advice applies to phone interviews. Make sure you have a quiet space to take the call, and be sure to answer the phone in a professional manner. A “What’s up?” may be the perfect way to answer your friends’ calls, but it’s a less than ideal way to start a job interview. Because you don’t have the benefit of body language in a phone interview, be sure to make your responses clear and enunciate your speech. Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat a question if you missed it due to static or a bad signal – it’s always better to ask and give a great response than stumble through an answer to a question you didn’t hear.
One advantage of the employer not being able to see you is that you can dress however you like! Having said that, dressing mildly professionally may help you get in the right mindset to ace the interview.
For more advice on phone and Skype interviews, check out the Career Spots series of videos. These topics and many more are covered on the Co-op and Career Services website!
Five Tips for Finding a Job
Monday October 20th - Jade
Whether you’re looking for a co-op work term placement or you’re about to graduate and venture into the corporate working world, it’s a tough market out there! Below are some job-finding tips and tricks for young qualified graduates. Remember, you have many highly useful skills to offer employers, you just have to show them.
Talk with everyone and anyone about the jobs you are looking for. I always notice when I am talking with adults (whether it be my parents’ friends, or my friends’ parents), that they want to know how school is going and what my plans are after school. This is a great time to talk about your co-op work terms or the fact that you are graduating and looking for a job! You never know what connections people have and how willing people are to help you.
Don’t be overly picky when applying for jobs.
Apply for jobs that are outside of your field of study or interest. If the employer doesn’t think you are qualified, then they won’t choose you for an interview – which is okay! Applying for a variety of jobs is important for two reasons: one, you get lots of practice writing cover letters and resumes, and two, it opens you up to many different opportunities! When I was looking for my third and final co-op work term placement, I applied for many different jobs in many different provinces and fields. I figured it was my last chance to be adventurous and do something out of the ordinary. I ended up getting a job that required me to work on creating and populating a database for a large company. I am not a computer savvy person at all, but I showed confidence in the interview, and I was hired for the position. During my four month work term, I learned more about computers than I had in my lifetime, and that would not have happened if I had only applied to job postings within my field.
If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, it’s alright!
Admitting to your interviewer that you don’t have a clear plan for your career is okay! It is certainly much better than faking it. You are young with minimal experience; you aren’t expected to have your entire life planned out. Our generation has an average of 3 or 4 careers, so it is okay if you change your mind or don’t quite have things figured out yet. That being said, you do need to be able to talk yourself up. Know your strengths, the kind of work environment you succeed in, and all of the great skills you have to offer your potential employer. This shows them that although you don’t know exactly what you want to do, you are willing to learn and adapt to any job.
If you’re a co-op student, you have likely gone through COOP*1100, and have been exposed to the interview questions employers tend to ask. Practicing and perfecting your answers is a great thing to do, but keep in mind you must make sure your personality shines through. Sometimes when you take the spontaneity out of answering a question you can seem a little robotic and dry. Make sure your enthusiasm for the job comes through in all of your answers.
Although it’s important to be yourself, you do have to keep in mind that you are in an interview. Being aware of the way you speak is very important. You are not talking with a friend or parent, you are talking with a potential employer, so be aware of the boundaries that this creates. It is a fine balance between being yourself, being professional, and letting your personality shine through. If you are able to master those three aspects, you are well on your way to finding a job.
Getting Started with LinkedIn
Wednesday October 15th - Kirsten
You’ve probably heard people talking about LinkedIn. Maybe you’ve even taken a look at the website to see what it’s really about, but you are still wondering, “How can this help me? I’m just a student.”
You’re not alone! Many students think that LinkedIn is just for professionals and top executives. The truth is, LinkedIn can be just as valuable to you as a student. Starting to network now is a great idea. It will help you to be more prepared when it comes to job searching, and it all starts with your profile. Here are ten steps to help you start building a great student profile!
Write an informative profile headline.
- Your headline is a short, memorable professional slogan. For example, “Honors student seeking marketing position.”
- Looking at profiles of students and recent alumni in your field can help give you great ideas!
Pick an appropriate photo.
- LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. Upload a high-quality photo of you alone, professionally dressed. Having a photo on your profile makes it 7x more likely to be viewed.
Show off your education.
- Include all your schools, major(s) and minor(s), courses and study abroad or summer programs.
- Don’t be shy – LinkedIn is an appropriate place to show off your GPA, test scores and honors or awards.
Develop a professional Summary.
- Your Summary statement is like the first few sentences of your best-ever cover letter. Be concise and confident about your qualifications and goals.
- Include relevant work and extracurriculars.
Fill “Skills and Expertise” with keywords.
- This section is the place to include keywords and phrases that recruiters search for.
- Find relevant keywords in job listings that appeal to you and in the profiles of people who have the kinds of roles you want.
Update your status regularly.
- Posting updates helps you stay on your network’s radar and build your professional image.
- Mention your projects, professional books or articles, or events that you’re attending.
- Many recruiters will read your feed!
Show your connectedness.
- Groups you join appear at the bottom of your profile. Joining groups shows that you want to engage in professional communities and learn the lingo.
- Start with your university and industry groups.
Collect diverse recommendations.
- The best profiles have at least one recommendation for each position a person has held.
- Recruiters are most impressed by recommendations from people who have directly managed you.
Claim your unique LinkedIn URL.
- To increase the professional results that appear when people search for you online, set your LinkedIn profile to public and create a unique URL (ex. www.linkedin.com/in/JohnSmith).
Share your work.
- You can add actual examples of your writing, design work, or other accomplishments on your profile, where you can share rich media or documents.
- There is no better way to sell your skills then to show employers exactly what you can produce.
These are just some of many things that can help you build an outstanding LinkedIn profile and network for success as a student. There are a ton of resources out there to help you maximize your networking potential on the site. The Co-operative Education and Career Services office holds workshops on learning and leveraging LinkedIn. Check out the Recruit Guelph website for a schedule of these workshops and register for one today! The LinkedIn website even has a special section dedicated to university students with a ton of great tip sheets and videos to help students succeed with LinkedIn.
Check it out here: http://university.linkedin.com/linkedin-for-students.html
Take your next career development step and join LinkedIn!
Dealing with Post-Interview Rejection
Wednesday October 15th - Brittney
To be completely honest, rejection sucks.
Whether you’re being picked last in gym class, being turned down for a date, or finally hearing a “no” back after a job interview that you thought you nailed, rejection hurts!
But fear not, friends – I am here to help you turn that frown upside down! Take a deep breath, put on some pump-up music (Spice Girls, anyone?), and read on – these fabulous tips will have you get back on that job hunting horse in no time!
Be positive. Give yourself a pat on the back! It’s important to keep your chin up and give yourself some love. The job market is crazy competitive and you made it to the interview stage, beating out a ton of other candidates. Give yourself a break and recognize that although this position wasn’t the right fit for you, you have valuable skills that WILL be a better fit with another position.
Be open to feedback. Take advantage of the situation and treat it as a learning experience! It’s completely acceptable to ask for constructive feedback from the person you interviewed with. Let them know that you’re looking to improve your interview skills and would really appreciate discussing what you could do differently to be successful in the future. This demonstrates ambition and eagerness to improve, important skills hiring managers will take note of.
Be professional. Even though you might feel angry or upset, replying to a rejection email with “Oh well, your loss!” isn’t the smartest move. It’s okay to let out your frustrations, but do so privately – keep it off of social media! Nothing will turn off a future hiring manager faster than seeing you bad-mouthing another company.
Be grateful. Politely and graciously thanking the interviewer for their time will leave a positive impression. You might have to interact with this hiring manager or company in the future, and being courteous will help any communication down the road be much more pleasant. Consider every potential employer you meet an important contact who may be able to help you out in the future.
Once upon a time, I received a rejection email for a part-time job that I really wanted. I thought the interview went extremely well, so I was very disappointed to learn that I didn’t get the job. Despite that, the hiring manager was impressed with my qualifications and professionalism and I got a call asking if I would be interested in a different position, seven months later. I’m happy to say that I’ve been working there ever since! The moral of my little story is the job you want may not be a great fit with your skills, but a positive and professional attitude can make a lasting impression that will help open doors for you in the future.
To put things in perspective, think about this: Harrison Ford was a struggling actor working as a carpenter to make ends meet until he was 30. Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s, sold paper cups until he was 52. J.K. Rowling (my favourite author) didn’t publish the first Harry Potter book until she was 32, after being rejected by twelve different publishers. Many highly successful people had to work very hard for a very long time to get where they are, and had to deal with a TON of rejection along the way.
Whether you want to be an actor, an entrepreneur, a scientist, or a best-selling author, rejection is unavoidable – but your attitude towards it can make all the difference.
Acing Your First Week On The Job
Monday October 6th - Brendan
When beginning a full-time job, co-op work term, or summer job, making a positive first impression is key to achieving both short-term and long-term success. During your first week on the job, you will likely be expected to soak up information and complete minor tasks, rather than diving into major projects. In order to ensure that you will be successful down the road, you must start with being successful during your first week.
Here are a few tips on how to ace your first week on the job! Although these tips are mainly targeted towards jobs in a professional setting, the basic principles can be applied to a part-time job or a regular summer job.
Show Enthusiasm and Initiative
You’re likely very excited to be starting a new job, so don’t be afraid to show it! Ask questions and take notes, introduce yourself to as many people as possible, and tell them that you are looking forward to working with them. If you really want to go above and beyond, show them that you have the ability to take initiative! Whether it be learning about the company or asking to job shadow, demonstrate that you are willing to put in the effort. You want to showcase your ability to be an effective employee who can make an impact on the organization, regardless of the term of your employment.
Communicate Goals to Your Supervisor
On your first day of work you will likely have a one-on-one meeting with your supervisor where they will welcome you to the organization and allow you to bring up any questions you might have. This is a great opportunity to identify the technical or soft skills you would like to develop, or the projects you would like to be a part of. Part of a manager’s job is to help their subordinates develop professionally, so communicating your goals early will help them to accommodate you.
If you are a co-op student, you are required to create 3-5 learning goals and share them with your supervisor a month into your term. Do not procrastinate, the earlier you start the better!
Understand Your Team, Understand The Organization
Learning how the company you work for operates within its numerous departments (ie. sales, marketing, finance) will allow you understand how the organization as a whole unites to meet its business objectives. This will also benefit you in situations where you are required to interact with people outside of your team.
Understanding the roles and responsibilities of your team members is also very beneficial. The projects you work on will likely involve a fair bit of collaboration with teammates, so it is important to understand their roles and also how they interact with each other to complete different tasks. Furthermore, you will have what will seem like an endless amount of questions once you begin a new project, and knowing who to ask never hurts! One way to accomplish this is through job shadowing.
As it is unlikely that you will have a heavy workload early on, asking some of your teammates if you can shadow them is a great use of your time. Shadowing will give you insight regarding your coworkers’ roles, organizational processes, and different projects that your team is currently working on. Try to spend some time with each of your team members during the course of the week. Even if some of them perform the same job functions, it is worthwhile to get to know them on a personal level.
Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back weekly for new blog posts regarding job searching and career development.
Dress to Impress
Monday September 29th - Jade
Congratulations! You just got offered an interview for a job you really want! Now the trouble is figuring out what to wear. The email says business causal - what does that mean and do you have clothes that fit within that category? Or perhaps it says business formal, or causal dressy. There are a few different types of interview wear, but don’t worry! I am here to help you to dress the part.
Your outfit can make or break you employer’s first impression of you before you even open your mouth. You want to make sure you start off on the right foot by effectively reflecting the qualified and confident candidate you are. It is always better to be a little over dressed than to be a little under dressed. However, dressing formally can be a little uncomfortable, so do some research! Find out how people in your field dress on the job. For example, information technology jobs tend to be on the informal side, whereas finance tends to be more business casual.
Business Casual is what most offices are leaning towards these days. The translation: business appropriate, but not too dressy. For women, this means dress pants and a modest blouse or collared shirt, or a skirt (whether it be pencil or A-line) and a jacket or blouse. Remember, if you decide to wear a skirt, it should not be too short or too tight. You are not going out to the club, so your skirt should be well past your fingertips when you rest your arms at your side. Also, make sure you are not showing off too much cleavage - your shirt should not be too small or too tight. High necklines are always a safe bet, or collared button-up shirts with the top one or two buttons undone. Shoes should be either heels or flats; they should be free of any scuffs and should not look too worn. High heels should be professional looking; either a peep toe or closed toe with a small to moderate heel. Lastly, keep your accessories simple: a nice watch, simple necklace, and/or a pair of earrings. This also applies to makeup - keep it simple. For men, business casual means belted dress pants or kakis and a tucked in collared shirt. Remember to iron your shirt! It should be wrinkle free as well as free of stains, holes and lint. Men might also choose to wear a casual sports jacket and/or tie. Shoes should be dress shoes or loafers, and they should be clean and free of scuffs. Simple accessories such as a watch and/or a ring will help round off your outfit.
This dress code is not as popular these days, however it is still applicable for some industries. For women, this means a power suit or pants suit. This entails a skirt or pants, a fitted, structured blazer and either a blouse or collared shirt underneath. You can mix and match colours and patterns of pants and jackets, but a safe bet is always a matching suit. Shoes should be low to medium height heels or pumps. Make sure your makeup is still work appropriate; too much makeup can be seen as unprofessional. It is always best to have a simple makeup routine for interviews. For men, business formal means a full suit and tie with dress shoes. Mixing and matching patterns can really enhance your look. A bright pop of colour or a simple pattern on the collared shirt can really pull your outfit together. Make sure your tie matches or compliments the colour/pattern of your outfit, and your hair should be clean and neat.
This might be the toughest style to dress for, as you don’t want to appear too casual. When it comes to casual dressy, I dress myself as though I’m going to a nice restaurant for dinner with my parents or grandparents. You want to look appropriate in the setting as well as modest. Women may choose to wear pants or a skirt and a modest blouse/shirt. Another option: a light shirt with a cardigan or casual jacket. Dark wash, professional looking jeans are also appropriate. Try a cute pair of flats or even booties to jazz up your ensemble. Keep the makeup and jewellery simple, as with the other styles of dress. Men may wear kaki or dark wash jeans and a collared shirt with loafers. Feel free to roll up your sleeves, but do it neatly. If you’re feeling uneasy about how casual you look, carry a sports jacket just in case. A jacket is a simple way to dress up an outfit if need be. This style of dress allows you to dress with your personality in mind, so feel free to use fun colours and patterns, but remember you want to look professional and put together.
Remember, overall appearance is important when it comes to job interviews. Keep your hair clean and in order. Make sure your hair is secure so you are not tempted to fiddle with it. This gives the impression of nervousness. It is best if your hair is pulled out of your face. Posture is also an important thing to keep in mind. Sitting up straight makes you look confident, and employers will look for that. Also, eye contact and a firm handshake go a long way when it comes to first impressions.
A Day in the Life of a Co-op Student: Working with Other Co-op Students
Monday September 22nd - Kirsten
So you’ve been at your co-op job for a couple of weeks and are starting to settle into your new role. You may be the only co-op student that your company hired this term, or there may be two, or three, or even ten of you all working together. Having other students at work can be a great thing, but it can also be challenging and you may find that you are constantly comparing yourself to them. I have had the experience of being the only co-op student in the office, and I have also had a co-op position where I was working closely with a second student from another university. If you find yourself feeling unsure about working with other students, here are a few tips that might help you out.
Be friendly and get to know each other.
This goes for all of your co-workers, not just the other co-op students you are working with. However, this tip is especially important when it comes to the other co-op students in your workplace, as they are likely the only other employees who are the same age as you and at a similar stage in life. You probably have a lot in common so be friendly and get to know them. Having a friend at work will make your work experience more enjoyable and help balance out some of the stresses that may come with the job. You will have someone to eat lunch with, meet up with at the coffee maker, and you may even develop a friendship that continues after your co-op term has ended.
Don’t try to compete.
You make think that because your supervisor is evaluating all of the co-op students at the end of the term, you have to be the best student in order to get the outstanding evaluation you are looking for, but that is not the case. Your boss will notice if you are trying to outshine your fellow co-op students and will remember this and likely consider it when completing your evaluation. It will also create tensions between you and the other students which could lead to an unpleasant work environment. Instead of thinking about how you can be better than everyone else and comparing your work to theirs, focus on your strengths, the contributions you can make to your team, and the areas in which you are looking to learn and grow. Offer to take on projects you know you can do a great job on, or that you recognize will help you to achieve your learning goals. Talk to the other students about their responsibilities at work and their previous co-op experiences. Everyone will have different experiences and different knowledge gained from their experiences that could be extremely valuable to you. Try to share some of this knowledge, work together to help each other complete tasks if someone is struggling and try to create a collaborative environment where you support and learn from each other.
It is okay to not get along with everyone perfectly.
You are not going to be best friends with everyone you work with and there will likely be that one person at work that you just can’t stand. That is alright. What is important is not whether or not you like everyone you work with, but that you don’t let those negative feelings affect your work. Continue to make an effort to be friendly (but don’t overdo it so it seems fake). Don’t intentionally do things that will make others look bad. You may not realize it, but people will notice if you are the person who makes an effort to get along with everyone and create a positive work environment. It will also make your work day more enjoyable and help you to be a more effective worker if you are not constantly focused on how much certain people annoy you or coming up with plans to make them look bad in front of others.
Whether you are working with one or many co-op students during your term, try your best to create a positive team environment. It will go a long way in making your co-op experience successful and enjoyable.
Good luck and have a great term!
The Importance of Transferable Skills
Monday September 22nd - Anna
It’s always discouraging to read the description for a job you’re interested in, only to see that none of the duties and responsibilities described are things you’ve done before. As a student, you might find yourself in this situation relatively often. You might have lots of experience writing papers and studying for midterms, but not a lot of employment experience. Or, you might have lots of experience in one type of job environment, like a lab, but not so much in another, such as an office.
Not to fear! A lack of specific experience doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t qualified for the job – you just need to stress your transferable skills. Transferable skills are abilities that can be applied to a wide range of positions or careers, and every student has them!
Nearly all students have written a paper at least once in their university career; which is excellent, because writing a paper is a great example of your ability to gather and synthesize information, communicate effectively in writing, and present intelligent arguments in an organized manner. Luckily, these skills are also useful in work environments where you are required to efficiently communicate with clients or co-workers (hint: this is almost every work environment).
If writing isn’t something you’ve done a lot of, or most of your work experience is from a lab environment, you might be surprised to know that you’ve probably acquired a lot of similar transferable skills – gathering and synthesizing information is crucial to any literature review (scientific or otherwise), and recording and presenting the results of your experiments is also a form of written communication!
Over the course of my University career, I worked almost exclusively in labs, but I wanted to branch out to see if more office-based work was for me. When putting together my application package for an office position, I made sure to stress how my previous experience has allowed me to showcase my organizational skills, handle multiple tasks at once, and work as part of a team. Because I used examples from the lab to highlight skills that were relevant to office work, I got the interview, and the job!
Obviously this is just an account of my experience, and not an exhaustive list of all the transferable skills you might have gained during your time as a student, but hopefully it’s enough to get you thinking about what you can offer to potential employers. If you’re interested in some additional reading on transferable skills, including some resources from Co-op and Career Services here at the University of Guelph, check out the links below!
10 Questions (With Answers!) About Co-op & Career Services
Monday September 15th - Brianna
Welcome back and/or welcome to The University of Guelph! The school year has started, and you may have already begun setting personal goals and looking for ways to make the most of your year. In my humble opinion, I believe there are many underrated resources available to students at the University of Guelph, Co-operative Education & Career Services (CECS) being just one of them. To clear up some common misconceptions and answer some questions you may have about what Co-op & Career Services has to offer, the following are “Top 10 Co-op & Career Questions & Answers.”
Do you only provide services to Co-op students?
No. Co-operative Education & Career Services works with ALL students, at both undergraduate and graduate levels of study. We also provide services to alumni when they graduate from Guelph.
What are some of the services provided by Co-op & Career Services?
Recruit Guelph - a job search solution that allows you to find jobs in your field anywhere, anytime.
Drop-In Sessions - Drop by Co-op & career and meet with a Career Advisor or Peer Helper for a 30 minute resume or cover letter critique, or career advice. A complete schedule of drop-in times is available at the provided link. Appointments can also be booked for mock interviews.
Recruit Guelph Job Fair - Looking for a job? Co-op & Career Services holds a Job Fair every year with tons of full-time, co-op, and summer jobs. We had over 40 employers at our last event and we expect that number to grow. Bring your resume and come network with all the great employers.
Co-op & Career offers many more services/resources. Check out the Co-operative Education & Career Services website or visit us on campus at Building #54, Trent Lane (located just north of Rozanski Hall).
How can I stay up to date with all of the events and workshops that Co-op & Career Services offers?
Receive weekly updates on events, workshops and employer job postings right to your inbox! Join our Listserv by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook for event information, articles, tips, and reminders about important dates!
What can I do with my degree?
This is one of the most popular questions we get asked at Co-op & Career Services. Your degree likely gives you numerous career options. Take a look at your major to find out how to put your degree to work! The degree specific career and employment information available on the Co-op & Career Services website provides some answers to questions such as:
- What can I do with an undergraduate degree in my program?
- What can I do with further education in my program?
- What industries hire graduates in my program?
To make the most of your degree, and find a job best suited to your interests, it is also important to start exploring careers during your undergrad. This includes researching potential jobs, gaining experience in your field of interest, and networking with professionals to gain insight into different professions.
How do I gain experience in my desired field?
Gaining experience can include:
Volunteering: gain valuable experience prior to leaving university, and “test out” a career to determine if your skills and work preferences are a good fit.
Internships: common in professional business, technology and advertising fields; can be paid or un-paid and typically last 6–12 weeks. Internships are another great way to “test out” a career.
Co-operative Education: an opportunity for you to apply your learning to relevant hands-on work experiences throughout your university degree. An excellent way to develop a meaningful view of the working world.
Work Related Experience on Campus at UofG: gain work related experience in many areas including Athletics, Hospitality Services, Student Life, Wellness and more. Getting involved on campus can be a valuable asset to your career.
What are some of the most common mistakes you see on students’ resumes?
Often students overlook the importance of, and thus do not include the following on their resumes:
Education, including University program of study and any related scholarships/awards.
Volunteer experience and other extracurricular involvement.
Transferable skills that were gained from past experiences, and which can be transferred to the job currently being applied for. Students often focus on their past job duties, rather than what they learned/skills they developed.
Tailoring your resume specifically to each job you apply for, making sure to highlight how you acquired the qualifications and experience required in the job description.
How do I apply to co-op?
Applying to co-op in 1st year (in-course admission) is dependent upon academic achievement, space in the program and agreeing to the academic/work term schedule as outlined in the Undergraduate Calendar. If you are not currently in co-op and would like to apply, please follow the application instructions and complete the application forms available on the form section of the Co-op & Career website.
How is co-op different from a regular degree program?
As a co-op student you gain relevant, paid work experience in your field of study, in addition to your academic studies. You will gain a huge advantage over non-co-op graduates and make some money along the way. Co-op students have 3 or 4 work terms, for a total of 12-16 months of job experience, spaced through their academic degree. More information on the co-op experience
What programs offer a co-op option?
A co-op option is offered for numerous specializations in Bachelors of Applied Science, Arts, Commerce, Computing, Engineering, Science, and Environmental Sciences. A complete list of Co-op Programs, as well as program descriptions and course scheduling, will help you determine if the co-op option is right for you.
Who are the Co-op & Career Peer Helpers and what do they do?
The CECS Peer Helpers are University of Guelph students in various academic programs and years of study. They are fully trained to assist you with resume critiques, cover letter critiques, and mock interviews. They also host workshops throughout the year, and contribute to Peer Connect - The Peer Helper Blog, which covers a variety of topics including the importance of volunteering, tips for interviews and cover letters, and on-the-job work term experiences. If you are interested in becoming a Co-op & Career Services Peer Helper, visit Become A CECS Peer Helper to learn more.