10 Must-Read Books for Career Professionals

Lakeisha Mathews

Lakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/
Blogs from Lakeisha Matthews.

One aspect of the career development field that keeps me excited is the constant need to develop professionally and keep up with changes in the labor market, higher education and career coaching. Over the course of my career I have obtained several certifications, attended conferences and webinars, enrolled in a counseling program, joined and gotten involved with several associations, and read tons of books.

One thing I’ve learned is, there is no single resource that can teach you everything you need to know about being a good career development professional. However, when I am working with professionals new to the industry there are several books that I share with them as essential reads. This includes books that gave me a solid framework of career coaching, career development, and career centers. Below I share my top 10 list of must reads in no particular order for every career professional:

1. The Career Counselor’s Handbook (Richard Bolles)
2. No One is Unemployable (Debra Angel and Elisabeth Harney)
3. What Color is Your Parachute: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers (Richard Bolles)
4. The Three Boxes of Life (Richard Bolles)
5. Discover Your Career in Business (Timothy Butler and James Waldroop)
6. The Extraordinary Coach (John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett)
7. Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads: Finding a Path to Your Perfect Career (Sheila Curran and Suzanne Greenwald)
8. Counseling Adults in Transition: Linking Schlossberg’s Theory with Practice in a Diverse World (Mary Anderson, Jane Goodman, and Nancy Schlossberg)
9. Ten Steps to a Federal Job (Kathryn Troutman)
10. Resume Magic (Susan Whitcomb)

Honorable Mentions:
11. Bring Your “A” Game: The 10 Career Secrets of The High Achiever (Robert McGovern)
12. How to Plan and Develop a Career Center (Donald Schutt Jr.)

Of course the list could go on. There are plenty of additional books that have impacted how I coach students, the types of programs I design, and how I manage the career center at the University of Baltimore. My list is also impacted by the student populations I have spent most of my career working with which includes adult learners, graduate students, and career changers in addition to traditional college students.

I am interested in knowing which books have impacted you as a career development professional and helped you to sharpen your skills. Comment on this blog and share your favorites.

Helping Students Grow: Quality Assurance for Career Coaches

Lakeisha Mathews

Lakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/
Blogs from Lakeisha Matthews.

Every career center has a different approach when it comes to helping students in scheduled appointment sessions. The three most frequently used approaches are career counseling, career advising, and career coaching. Each approach has its unique advantages and a distinct set of outcomes. Many career centers have a strong rationale for the helping approach used during scheduled appointments but have not identified the outcomes associated with their methodology. In the data driven culture that higher education has become due to consumer demands and increased focused on graduation surveys we not only need a clear rationale for the method of helping we offer in our centers, but should also have a clear understating of the outcomes associated with our methods.

Consider the following questions:

(1) Do career appointments in your office focus more on transactional information and resource sharing or transformational goal setting and action planning?
(2) What are students supposed to learn from meeting with a “helping” professional in the career center?
(3) Once students leave, is there a follow-up process that assesses their experience and next steps?

At the University of Baltimore we have opted for a coaching approach to student appointments that focuses on goal identification and action planning. We have also developed a feedback system that helps us evaluate each student’s experience and encourages accountability throughout the execution of their action plan. In addition, we have opted to use the GROW coaching model popularized by John Whitmore in the book Coaching for Performance to ensure quality assurance amongst our coaching staff while still providing room for freedom in individual helping styles. To aid in our coaching model development we asked ourselves a few key questions:

(1) Are students satisfied with their coaching experience?
(2) Is there a consistent method of engaging students in office appointments amongst the counseling team?
(3) What are the learning outcomes for student coaching appointments?
(4) What does our coaching after appointment survey tell us about student satisfaction and learning?

Regardless of the helping method used in a career center, the goal is that students are satisfied with the interaction and feel that they are a step closer to achieving their career goals. Coaching, counseling, and advising methodologies all have advantages to us as helpers, but it is the learning and career outcomes that mean the most to our students.

For more information on helping students comprehend the world of work, see this article on Student Learning Outcomes on NACEWeb.

Top Companies Hire ‘Blindly Applying’ Interns

Smedstad-HeadshotShannon Smedstad, CEB Employment Brand Director, Global Communications & Engagement Team
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shannonsmedstad

Eighteen cities. Eighteen companies. Eighteen interns about to embark on the internship adventure of a lifetime. And, when students initially applied, they had no idea of where in the world they would end up. That’s just one aspect of BlindApplying.com that makes it exciting!blind applying

In its inaugural year, the Blind Applying project received a whopping 10,000 applications primarily from students across Europe and Asia. Each student submitted just one application that was then considered by participating companies.

Think of it as the NFL draft of the internship world. College students who apply anticipate a call from any one of 18 top European companies, including Accenture, Bayer, Daimler, BASF, EY, Merck, and Bertelsmann.

Stats on Blind Applying

  • Nearly 50 percent of students had business-related degrees, followed by approximately 23 percent from engineering programs.
  • The most represented applicant countries included Germany, France, Portugal, Italy, India, and the UK.
  • 56 percent of students heard about the program from Facebook.
  • There was an approximate 50/50 split between male and female applicants.

Changing the Lives of Students

As if interning in Paris, Tokyo, Munich, or Sydney wasn’t enough! The lucky 18 interns—who began their paid internships this summer—each receive sponsorship for travel and housing costs. Students are also encouraged to share their internship adventures via their individual Blind Applying blogs.

It’s Happening Again in 2015

When surveyed, the top two reasons so many students participated were the convenience of applying to 18 opportunities using just one CV submission, and a chance to go global. And with more than 80 percent of applicants indicating that they would apply again if offered the chance … it’s on again for next summer! 

Who is Behind Blind Apply?

Driving this project is the Entrypark team of the global research firm Potentialpark, based in Stockholm, Sweden, and the HR community has already taken notice of the team’s innovative work. Blind Applying has received the HR Excellence Award and the Trendence Employer Branding Award.

The team plans to ramp up the program next year. The goal is to offer 30 unique internship opportunities with 30 top companies.

Are U.S. Companies Ready to Hire?

From a workflow process, students apply online and their CVs are reviewed. If their background is a suitable fit, CVs are presented to participating companies. Once a company has selected their top candidates, interviews are conducted. It’s not until the interview phase that students know who’s considering them.

What do you think? Would your company consider participating in something like this? If you’re interested in learning more, please contact Bjorn Wigeman.

 

Using Facebook to Easily Connect Students and Employers

Smedstad-Headshot

Shannon Smedstad, Employer Branding & HR Social Media, Geico
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shannonsmedstad

Before we jump into the meat of this post, I’ve got a few initial questions for you …

EMPLOYERS: Does your company have a career-related Facebook page?

CAREER CENTERS: Do you have a Facebook page?

BOTH: Could you be doing more with your page?

If you answered “yes” to two out of three of these questions, please keep reading.

Most people know that Facebook is good for sharing photos and status updates. But, what if we could use Facebook as a virtual career fair platform? How exactly would that work?

facebook_logoThe Magic of Facebook for College Recruiting

You can access Facebook from anywhere: desktop, phone, dorm room, or in-between classes. You can chat with an individual or group. You can share information and link to jobs. Some recruiters already use Facebook to connect with job-seeking students.

As the manager of a corporate career page on Facebook, I have now successfully led three virtual career fairs … right on Facebook!

  • June 2013: More than 230 people engaged with recruiters over a two-day virtual career fair. Hires were made!
  • November 2013: We took a more targeted approach and attracted 75 students to our page during a one-day fair. It cost us less than $50.
  • April 2014: Co-hosted a virtual career fair with a collegiate honor society and grew our followers by 3 percent in one day and organic reach was the highest it’s been year-to-date. It’s still too early to know if we’ve made any hires—my fingers are crossed!

Advice and Lessons Learned

When it comes to social media, you have to be willing to take some calculated risks and try new things. Social platforms are designed for real time communication; we just have to be creative in our thinking to create opportunities to do just that.

To me, these Facebook career fairs fall into the low risk/low cost/potential high reward category. It’s all about the planning, promotion, human resources, and execution of the plan, not how much it costs. Here are some of my top tips for anyone interested in hosting your own virtual event:

  • Determine your audience and whether you have any existing partners that will work through this idea with you.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to create a targeted, multi-channel promotional plan.
  • Visual imagery is important in attracting talent and sharing details of the event.
  • Schedule a pre-fair call with the recruiters to talk through what to expect and how you might want to handle certain requests or situations.
  • Make sure that your page (booth) is properly manned during the allotted career fair time, and for a day or two after (questions continue to trickle in).
  • Measure results using Facebook Insights, ATS data, and feedback from the entire team to determine whether the event was successful and worth doing again.

Since our most recent event, we’ve had two student organizations reach out with interest to our team. When you can bring people, technology, and opportunities together for the greater good … it’s a beautiful thing. Thanks, Facebook.

Shine Bright: How to Stand Out at Job Fairs, Networking Events, and More

Lakeisha MathewsLakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/

Pop singer Rihanna’s 2012 song titled “Diamonds” topped the charts in more than 20 countries and became her 12th number-one single going quadruple platinum and selling more than 7.5 million copies worldwide. The song is about a couple’s love that is so strong it shines bright as a diamond. The chorus is my favorite part, where the singer chants: “Shine bright like a diamond…You’re a shooting star I see…So shine bright…We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky.”

It’s not the song’s love story that strikes me the most, but the vivid imagery of two people being able to stand out amongst a crowd. To me, there is a correlation between standing out in a crowd and successful participation in networking events such as job fairs. Knowing how you stand out and shine in a crowd is relevant for students looking for work, launching careers, and seeking to build professional brands in today’s chaotic and competitive workplace. Professional brands are built on the ability to determine what separates you from another job seeker. Instead of teaching our students to look, act and sound like every other job seeker, we must teach them to shine and stand out from others.

We have all heard the 55/38/7 rule which asserts that success is based 55 percent on what you look like, 38  percent on what you sound like, and 7 percent on what you say. Oftentimes, students attend job fairs and networking events but leave without having established new connections or serious job prospects, not because they weren’t prepared, but because they didn’t stand out. When asked why they failed to broaden their network, students usually place the blame on the employer—saying the employer was not really looking to hire anyone. I turn the table, placing the responsibility with the student, because it’s no longer the early bird that gets the worm, but the bird that shows up and shines bright!

Building a professional brand that shines and stands out at networking events starts with developing a strong self-concept. That is, understanding your strengths, interests, skills, and talents, which all combine to shape your professional brand. This is a challenge for most young adults and even some career changers. To help students of all ages and backgrounds develop a strong awareness of their brand and identify their value factors—areas they shine in—I use the 55/38/7 rule:

What I Look Like (Physical – 55 percent):
– Wearing appropriate and professional attire
– Ensuring a stylish polished look
– Understanding your best features and how to enhance them

What I Sound Like (Verbal & Nonverbal – 38 percent):
– Strong public speaking skills – confidence, clarity, conviction
– Positive nonverbals – handshake, eye contact, good posture, and a smile

What I Say (Content – 7 percent):
– Captivating professional pitch
– Ability to articulate what you have to offer
– Thorough knowledge of the company and/or industry

It’s important to note that as career professionals, we probably spend more time working with a student on what they say and less on what they look like and how they speak, both of which carry weight in the employment process. Successful professionals and those who rise to the top of their company or industry are noticed first for how they look and sound before anyone cares to hear what they have to say. Challenging students to work on all three areas of their professional brand will help them develop an authentic professional brand that shines bright in the labor market.

Read more from Lakeisha Mathews.

The Devil Does Wear Prada

Lakeisha MathewsLakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/

One of my favorite movies is the Devil Wears Prada, where Meryl Streep (one of my favorite actresses) plays the role of Miranda Priestly, the editor of a popular fashion magazine. Costarring with Meryl is Anne Hathaway as Andrea Sachs, a frumpy assistant who has no interest in fashion. I like the movie for many reasons, for instance, there is great fashion, a peek at Paris Fashion Week and cameos of fashions’ top designers. However, my love of the movie runs deeper with an appreciation of the career development themes that are evident in the professional image evolution of Anne Hathaway’s character throughout the film.

Initially, Anne Hathaway’s character was resistant to the style culture she found herself in, denying that anything was wrong with her frumpy image as long as she produced good work. However, once she allowed her image to be upgraded by a colleague she realized having a professional image is a part of putting your best foot forward and impacts how others view you in the workplace.

Many of our students are in a need of what I like to call The Devil Does Wear Prada talk. No, I am not implying that they need to purchase designer clothes and become obsessed with their wardrobe. But, I do encourage students to consider their professional image as a part of the career development process. This can be a sensitive issue to bring up with students, nevertheless, it is essential and sets them up for a competitive advantage in a tough labor market. In my career coaching experience with both traditional and non-traditional students, I have had many The Devil Does Wear Prada talks with students including discussions around how to style hair, skirt length, appropriate make-up, faith-based ornaments, tattoos, etc. Each discussion is different and every student must develop an authentic image that makes them feel self-assured and comfortable. Awareness is the first step and includes:

1. Investing in a professional wardrobe that is appropriate to your industry and company;
2. Developing an awareness of what looks good on you and makes you feel confident;
3. Paying attention to the little things: clean nails, shaven beards, polished shoes, etc;
4. Finding a go-to store for purchasing an affordable professional wardrobe whether it’s Target, Banana Republic, or Macys;
5. Wearing a hairstyle that brings out your facial features and frames your face in a complimentary manner.

Continuing Professional Development: The Key to Success

Lakeisha MathewsLakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/

In today’s microwave culture students have been misguided to believe that great careers are built overnight. It’s true, a decade ago a student could find success by merely completing their academic work and showing up in the career center spring of their last semester and still land a great job. However, in today’s competitive, fast-paced world, the labor force evolves rapidly and students need more than their degree and a few job-search tips to obtain lasting career success. Today’s graduates must embrace life-long learning beyond the classroom in order to reap the benefits of their academic work. Knowing how to develop one’s self professionally and identify the best professional development opportunities is the “new” employability skill for graduating seniors.

In some industries, like information technology (IT), employers have made it clear that education alone will not land you a job with their company. Instead, employers are seeking IT candidates with three attributes: experience, education, and professional certifications. Like IT students, all new graduates who want to thrive in their careers will have to identify the attributes employers in their industry are seeking beyond their degree.

Professional development opportunities are plentiful and include: attending conferences, joining professional associations, registering for MOOCs, reading books, receiving mentoring, volunteering, taking assessments, accepting a leadership opportunity, conducting research, etc. Employability skills are not always learned in the classroom. For instance, attending a conference can teach a student how to network and deliver a professional pitch; becoming involved in a professional association can provide an opportunity to build leadership skills; and reading a book about employability skills or biographies of successful individuals can provide examples and testimonies of successful business behaviors.

Students experiencing barriers to employment can also benefit by working with a career adviser or mentor to create an Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP is a great goal setting and professional development tool that can supplement academic learning and increase employability skills. By being proactive, students can gain a competitive edge and remain employable throughout their career.

The Assessment Diaries: Beyond Satisfaction

Desalina Allen

A post by NACE Guest Blogger, Desalina Allen, Senior Assistant Director at NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @DesalinaAllen
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/desalina

I almost waited to write this post until my assessment of our recent Dining for Success (DFS) etiquette dinner was complete.  Almost. I wanted to write about the learning demonstrated via our pre- and post-assessment after I was sure they actually demonstrated students learned something. Then I realized that I promised to provide a realistic overview of what it’s like to work with assessment day-to-day.

You know how sometimes when you start something new, more experienced people say things like “it’s not so scary” or “you’ll get the hang of it in no time”?  I may be guilty of saying these exact things when introducing assessment to others.  But I have a confession: The assessment of this event is scaring me.

Our DFS program has always been a hit with employers and students.  How do we know they like it?  We give out a post event survey that basically measures satisfaction with the event (and allows students to rate their overall learning):

The truth is, how could you not like an event like this? They get a great (oftentimes free) meal at a popular local restaurant, a chance to network, and tons of dining and interview tips. This is why moving away from a satisfaction survey is so scary – students are generally satisfied with our events and it’s rewarding (and easy) to share a summary of these surveys (95% of students reported that they would recommend this event to friends!).   

The problem is that, as educators, satisfaction isn’t all that we care about.  We want students to walk away having learned something from our events and learning can be challenging to measure. So, in an effort to make sure students were actually walking away with new information we prioritized topics of importance, introduced more structured activities to teach these topics, and provided enhanced training for our employers and staff.  

In assessment lingo: we set learning goals!  Here they are:

Students will be able to….

  • Identify the proper table arrangements at a formal dinner (including placement of silverware, bread plate, water and wine glass)

  • List two guidelines regarding what to order during a mealtime interview

  • List three appropriate discussion topics for a networking event

  • List three topics to avoid discussing during a networking event

  • List appropriate ways to follow up with professionals after events

To evaluate these goals, we measured students’ current level of knowledge with a pre event survey sent out with registration confirmations: you can view it here. Then at the end of the event, we had students fill out a nearly identical paper survey and encouraged input from employers and career services staff.  We also asked them ONE satisfaction question (because, hey, satisfaction is also important).

We are still tabulating the students’ responses and it’s nerve wracking.  I’m hoping I can share some really great improvements in their knowledge but there is always a risk that this doesn’t show up clearly in the survey results.  

Being that this is the first time we’ve approached the assessment of this event with pre and post surveys I’m sure there will be changes we need to make to the process.  I’ll be sharing the results and what we learned from this process in a follow up post but would love readers to share their experience setting and evaluating learning goals.  Has it worked for you? Have you evaluated programs this way? Any tips for pre and post surveys? What were the results? Any feedback on the learning goals or survey?

The Assessment Diaries: 5 Questions to Ask Before Creating a Survey

Desalina Allen

A post by NACE Guest Blogger, Desalina Allen, Senior Assistant Director at NYU Wasserman Center for Career Development
Twitter: @DesalinaAllen
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/desalina

In addition to some of the methods I’ve already mentioned surveys can be a great way to collect both quantitative and qualitative information from students, employers and other key career services stakeholders. There are definitely questions you should ask yourself before deciding that a survey is the right collection method, but I’ll save those for another post.

For now, let’s assume you are dead set on surveying and you just don’t want to end up like this guy:

Image courtesy of GifBin.com

Here are five questions to ask yourself before you start designing and distributing your survey:

What information do I absolutely need to collect? Consider whether you already have access to accurate information on students like major, department and graduation date before asking these questions in your survey.  If you do, you can ask for a student ID and match up the two sets of information.  Many of the online survey software platforms also allow you to upload a list of survey recipients and send each one a customized hyperlink so you don’t need to collect name and contact information. When we survey, we rarely ask for school, major or grad date because we often have this information updated via our Career Services Management System and/or registrar records.  Two or three fewer questions, now that’s exciting.

What is your population? When you review your results or write your report, what is the group that you are trying to describe?  Will it be students who attended a resume seminar (more specifically: a resume seminar on December 13 or any resume seminar throughout the year)? Is it all juniors, or only juniors who have completed summer internships?  Having a clear understanding of  your population, will help you answer the next question which is:

How many responses do I need? Depending on your survey method, budget and population size you may not get responses from everyone.  This is OK – statistics allows you to describe your population without having data from everyone. This chart is really helpful – find the approximate size of your population on the far left column and then find the corresponding number of responses necessary to describe that population.  For example if you are trying to describe a population of 25,000 undergraduate students, you may only need between 700 and 10,000 responses – depending on how certain you want assumptions to be.  You should also be sure that there is not a difference in the group that did and did not respond to your survey.  For example, if all of your responses came from people who attended a particular event, your results may be skewed as these people may differ from the total population.  Finally, do some benchmarking and check past reports to get an idea about the response rate that is considered reasonable.  In the example above, a 40 percent response rate (10,000/25,000) may be acceptable for a student satisfaction survey but not for your annual first destination survey.

How will I collect this information?  Websites like SurveyMonkey offer free accounts and many institutions have licenses for software such as Qualtrics (my platform of choice). Of course there is always the old fashioned paper and pencil method, which is still a very effective way to collect information. Career Service professionals may also check to see if their existing Career Services Manager system offers surveying features (Symplicity’s NACElink system offers this as an add-on).

Will multiple methods be required to achieve the desired number of responses? Using one method of surveying may not be enough to achieve your target response rate or get the information you need.  Consider using a combination of paper forms, online surveying, phone surveying, in-person interviews, and even online research. My fellow NACE guest blogger, Kevin Grubb, mentioned that the new NACE position statement on first destination surveys will now use the term “knowledge rate” instead of response rate as we often collect information from faculty, employers, and even LinkedIn research to gather information about our students career outcomes.

What do you think? Add your thoughts in the comments section!

Coaching Students With Barriers to Employment: Getting to the Truth

Lakeisha MathewsLakeisha M. Mathews, Director, Career and Professional Development Center, University of Baltimore
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/lakeishamathews/
Twitter: @RightResumes_CC

I enjoy coaching students with barriers to employment. Not because they have challenges to accessing the world of work. Rather, I see it as an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life that might otherwise give up on finding their ideal place in the world. Needless to say, I find it interesting and sometimes frustrating that students with barriers often do not share their barrier at the outset of a coaching appointment. I have spent 30 – 45 minutes coaching a student before they disclosed the “real” reason they came to the career center. Examples include the traditional student who wants to be a physician, but does not mention they are failing biology, to the non-traditional student who wants to land a managerial position, but fails to mention that they have held five jobs in the last two years.

With experience I have developed a few strategies to assist students with employment barriers to make the most of the final 10 – 15 minutes of a coaching session when the “real” truth has been revealed:

  1. Asking powerful and direct questions: Asking students clarifying and direct questions helps uncover key information and also allows the student to decipher their real feelings as they explain their own barriers.
  2. Asking why: Disclosure of an employment barrier is not enough to help devise an action plan for moving forward.  Identifying and understanding the root cause of a barrier helps the student take ownership of their employment barriers.  In a safe environment, discussing “why” can also alleviate negative emotions associated with employment barriers such as fear, pride and shame.
  3. Investigating past patterns: Learning what led a student to choose an academic degree program or what career paths their parents chose can uncover unconscious decision-making that negatively impacts future outcomes.
  4. Switching hats: Turning the table and asking the student to become the career coach can force the student to challenge their own beliefs, career decision, and actions.  Instead of providing direction, ask the student what their next steps should be.
  5. Share your own career struggles: Sharing your own academic or career struggles as appropriate, can remind the student that your role is to help and not judge.  Students are more likely to share their barriers with you if they feel the coaching environment is safe.

Unless I can hire a bailiff to swear students in before coaching appointments, I can’t stop them from revealing their “real” career concerns in the last 15 minutes. I can however, make the most of the last 15 minutes by asking the right questions and challenging students to be honest.