Friday, February 24, 2006

Keep an open mind about hiring sectors

This may be a topic I’ve addressed before but it’s worth repeating.

If you’re a college senior, chances are you’re being plagued by post graduation questions about the next step. In your search for that next step, by all means, keep an open mind. Allow yourself to be curious and investigate any and all possibilities.

For instance, I was talking with a recruiter for the border patrol at a job fair last week. The job opportunities seemed obvious—border patrol agents to walk the borders. Well, I not only learned that prospective agents can select their area of interest-as in canine, equestrian or even helicopter- but the resulting training will then include a focus where there’s some interest.

So, what else was she looking for? Accountants. Yes, you heard right. Accountants. It makes sense when you think about it. Of course, I thought, the border patrol has to balance the budget and pay the bills, just like any normal business. But at first glance, I would not think of suggesting this government agency to senior accounting majors.

So, keeping an open mind and asking a lot of questions—just two ways to tap into those hidden job opportunities.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/24 at 10:56 AM
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Do I know that person any more? Keeping references fresh….

I received a call last month, an HR person looking for a reference on someone I’d managed back in my computer lab days. Only trouble was, I hadn’t seen or heard from
Louis in at least 10 years. I mean, was he still the same likeable guy I’d managed as a student? Or had he morphed into someone I wouldn’t even recognize any more?

If that were one isolated incident, I might dismiss it as a fluke. But no-siree-bob. I got a similar call last week wanting to know all about Kenneth, another student I’d known
few years ago.

I mean, I seriously like—or liked—both of these former students but was, in essence, stuck in a conundrum. Between a rock and a hard place, as it were. Should I make something
up or admit that I had no idea any more how they would perform on the job?

I’ll leave you guessing as to how I resolved that dilemma. But the moral of the story is: if you want a convincing reference, stay in touch.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/22 at 10:53 AM
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Friday, February 17, 2006

The Importance of Being Early…

Today’s title take off on Oscar Wilde’s Importance of Being Earnest might be a little thin but it kept running through my head after meeting with my employer friends this morning. Somehow the subject of “new hire’s” came up and it hit a hot button with one manager on the brink of firing a newbie for being late just one too many times.
If you’re a current student, you might be asking….“So what’s the big deal about being late? 10, 15 minutes isn’t going to make that big of a difference over the course of a day.”
That might be true in the long run. Over the course of a day, that’s not much time. Arriving late may even have been your signature in college, sauntering into the classroom using “close to” rather than exact time.
From an employer’s point of view, however, 10-15 minutes is money wasted, money they’re paying you to be at work producing. And as the new person on the block with no well established track record to buffer your mistakes, that’s a expense you can’t afford to rack up.
So, the next time you’re tempted to hit the snooze button and cut yourself a little slack, remember who’s waiting for you on the other side of the office door. “Time is money” might be more than a trite truism.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/17 at 11:53 AM
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Grad school glories, an alternative point of view

Since I manage our office’s career resource collection, I’m always on the look out for which books actually get pulled off the shelves and left on the tables, a sure sign that they’re being used. Most referenced type of resource? The grad school prep books, specifcially volumes having to do with entrance testing….the MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE. That’s probably true because a great number of Calvin College graduates eventually, if not immediately, end up in grad school. A great plan for a lot of people. But not a good plan if the purpose is to delay real life or the drudgery and anxiety of looking for a job.

I’ve written about this in the past but today’s angle is a bit different. Advanced education? I’m all for it. But the process of attaining your final degree may be rigorous in more ways than simply the academics. For one person’s experience, check out Dorthea’s story .  We probably share more differences than similarities in religous orientation and grad school directions, but she does a great job of recording her first hand experiences in upper academia. Note especially her tips section entitled “Straight Talk About Grad School”, a gritty account bound to remove the stars from anyone’s eyes.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/15 at 11:42 AM
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Monday, February 13, 2006

Hiring for attitude….

I visited a place yesterday where precision counts. Well, okay, I was just getting a haircut but the opening line still applies, right? I mean, who wants a bad haircut. The point is that during our extended one-way conversation (stylist as speaker and me as listener), she went on to talk about who gets hired now days and why. To quote, “We hire for attitude. Technique and skills we can teach but not attitude.”

Attitude in that setting means bending over backwards, doing more than what’s expected. And smiling graciously in the process.

So those summer and part time job experiences? Great forays into the Land of the Great Attitude, where you can perfect your approach and collect stories along the way to demonstrate your successes.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/13 at 02:10 PM
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Friday, February 10, 2006

MySpace…not just for kids

Looks there are plenty of people finding fascinating material on MySpace this week. That would include local high school administrators who found pics of their students drinking at a weekend party. And there’s no closure yet as some students and parents alike refuse to accept the two week extra-curricular suspension penalty. We’ll see whether or not the issue ends up in court but the issue leaves a divided student body and another illustration of unanticipated MySpace consequences.

A recent issue of Money magazine (February 2006) advises parents to “counsel teens and even post college kids to be aware of the potential long-term consequences…” (Talkin’ ‘bout MySpace Generation, p. 27). But 2 minutes and a very cursory glance at MySpace contributors makes it plain that post college kids aren’t the only ones who need advice. How about 27 year olds who admit that they are the type of person who will wait in the car to drive you away after you, the perpetrator, commit a nasty prank?  Hmmmm. And the employment sector for this person would be…..?

Evidently, removing injurious information may not be enough, as Money mag goes on to talk about search engines, such as, designed to cull information assumed to be deleted from the the web.

Best course of action, my 27 year old “friend”, is to change your profile, edit your entry and alter your on-line persona. You’ve got a larger audience than happy stud muffins reading about your meant-to-be-humorous, but nonetheless deviant, predilections.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/10 at 02:29 PM
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Xanga and Facebook aficionados: Beware of what you post…

I googled myself the other day. Not the real me. Just the Aunt-Bonnie me, which turned out to be scary enough. I came up second only to an Aunt Bonnie cookie maker. This blog has evidently increased my web presence, more than I would have wished when I first began the project. Hopefully, I’ll feel comfortable with my writings ten years from now when they’ll still be floating around the Internet.

Which leads me to today’s topic.

Blogging, Facebooking and Xanga-ing. Or Vlogging if you’re on the cutting edge. All open ended venues where self expression rules. But, a word to the wise, as they say. Let’s face it. The Xanga page which looks great to other college students might not have the same appeal to potential/future employers. I mean, who wants to see your room mate posing in a slip? Or pics of last weekend’s party? Or read your innermost thoughts on your latest relationship? It’s all out there, folks, for any and everyone to read and quite possibly to judge you by.

In fact, it’s happening already. Employers as close to home as those hiring for on-campus jobs are researching the above named sites before hiring. Want a job in maintenance sweeping floors and emptying professors’ waste baskets? Well, think twice about trumping your latest dorm prank on your Facebook page.

Fortunately, what’s done can still be undone.  As spring winds blow through campus and graduation looms, consider moving web presence refurbishment to the top of your priority list. 

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/07 at 02:16 PM
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Readers Question: What should I do about my tattoo?

Our question for today comes from Reuben, a college senior ramping up his final semester job search.
Dear Aunt Bonnie—
I am a business major and would like to work in banking, eventually commercial loans. I can pull off the neat and tidy look with one possible problem. A few years ago I got a tattoo of an eagle on my upper back. At the time I thought it was really cool. Sort of a ‘born to fly’ type of persona I wanted to express. But now I’m totally sick of it and find it comes up higher than a lot of my shirts, or at least the eagle’s head makes it past the t-shirt line. So, here’s my question, how will my potential employer react and will my tattoo nix my chances of being hired?

Dear Reuben-
You raise an excellent question. How do most employers respond to tattoos?


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/01 at 02:23 PM
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