Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Job Fair Top 10’s

After today’s visit to a sizeable job fair, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are some things people just must not know—otherwise they would not do them. So to help clear up any ambiguity, here’s today’s list of …..
Top Ten Things People Should Know Before Going To a Job Fair:
• That overly died, permed hair is no longer flattering
• That a royal blue sweater, tan pants (too short), and RED socks don’t match
• That even if the clothes aren’t totally appropriate, everything can benefit from being pressed
• That well fitting pants look better than ones that are too tight across the derriere
• That lip rings are better off left at home
• That posture counts—straight up is better than slumped and shuffling
• That bright and energetic works better than dull-eyed and dour
• That not all recruiters know how to carry on a conversation, so you’d better be ready with some openers and questions
• That going from booth to booth with a friend in tow is not a good idea
• That cell phones should be turned off at the door

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/24 at 05:38 PM

Friday, February 20, 2009

Successful networking example

Despite the urge to babysit Craigslist or other posting boards, the most productive job searches are still those involving personal contact. People who know you can either suggest other contacts or might know of openings where they work.
That approach worked well for a grad who moved to a new city where she didn’t know anyone. What to do? Well, she started by finding a local church, more for worship purposes than any thoughts of networking in mind. But she went beyond that, joined a small group and got to know others who cared about her. A few months later, someone from that group told her about a current opening at a local business. Our alum’s advice for other grads?
“As for finding a job in this economy, I think it’s helpful to inform others of your situation. In my small group, I would share my frustrations and my problems with looking for a job. If there is an open position with any company and you know an insider, it’s really helpful. Or…they could know people who know people, which is what happened to me. I figured out it’s like a connection game.”

Small group not for you? Well, what about joining an organization or volunteering? What about past or present professors? Guest speakers in your classes? Other college alumni? Friends of your family or acquaintances from your internships?  Basically, start by brainstorming a list of any and all possible contacts to kick off your own networking process.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/20 at 01:46 PM

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Persistence Pays Off

Upon walking into my office yesterday, I noticed a yellow sticky note with the following message. “I found a job. Although it’s not much, it’s a step in the right direction…Thanks for walking me through some of these [job search] processes.”

The thank you note says a lot about this particular student—but more on thank you notes in a later posting.

This person’s story illustrates the age old adage: when at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That’s exactly what he did. And here’s his story:


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/18 at 11:48 AM

Tweaking Your Resume Content

Students often ask me if they need to rewrite their resume for every job. The answer is no, not a total rewrite unless you’re applying for an entirely different job target. But a good solid tweak is not a bad idea. You can find guidelines for the tweak from the job description itself. How does the employer describe the work, responsibilities and qualifications? That’s the type of wording you want to echo in your own resume. Resumes which suggest that you’re only looking for a job, any job and not their job, will quickly end up on the reject pile.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/18 at 11:45 AM

10 Second Rule

Let’s start with something easy. I call it the 10 second rule. It’s one thing to have your resume content accurate and up to date. But does it really convey what you want it to? To find out, give your resume to someone, preferably someone who doesn’t know you well, and ask them to scan it for 10 seconds. Then ask them to summarize your experience and skills. From what they’ve read about you, what are your outstanding abilities? Highlights of your experience? Compare their response with your intended purpose to see if your resume gets your point across.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/18 at 11:06 AM

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Series: Job Search Tip of the Day

Despite the poor economy, despite dour news from every direction, people are still getting hired. Yes, it’s hard work, often discouraging and replete with emotional ups and downs. But finding a job is not impossible.
And from a Biblical perspective, we serve a God of hope who is both willing and able to open and close doors, create a way when there is none. He is indeed the Way Maker as Scripture illustrates over and over again.
So to assist this year’s seniors—and maybe some alumni—with their search, I’m adding a new series to the “What’s it like to be a….?” career profiles which have been running since last summer. Job Search Tip of the Day—baby steps designed to maintain job search momentum. I’ll include tips and suggestions large and small with many examples taken from real life. Both the tried and true as well as current practices designed to increase the effectiveness of your search today.

Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/17 at 11:53 AM

What’s it like to be a…Librarian?

My job title is:  Instruction Librarian
My actual position is:  Reference librarian and coordinator of instruction

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
We have pretty standard work hours (8-5) year-round, although all ten librarians take turns working evening and Saturday shifts.  We are busiest during the academic year; it is very quiet in the library during the summer, but I am usually involved with larger, more time-consuming projects.  In addition to regular shifts at the reference desk (about 6-8 hours a week), my primary responsibilities are teaching English 101 research sessions and the administrative tasks involved with coordinating all the instruction the library provides on campus (workshops, lunch sessions, etc).  Another area of responsibility is collection development; the faculty members choose most of the books and individual journal titles for the library, but the librarians select the research databases and reference materials. And we also “fill in the gaps” for the book collection in our assigned subject areas.  I spend quite a bit of time in meetings as well: we average about two internal staff and/or librarian meetings a week, which take about 5 hours total, and I also have periodic meetings with other campus committees. 


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/17 at 09:45 AM

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What’s it like to be a…Dean of Students?

My job title is:  Dean of Student Development

What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
My daily schedule has some consistencies with regular one-on-one meetings with my staff or weekly committee meetings but also varies from week to week depending upon the time of year and the responsibilities I have for that time of the semester.  I tend to have one-on-one meetings with my staff in the mornings. I often attend chapel and eat lunch on-campus.  And typically, my afternoons are filled with committee meetings, appointments with students and attending to other details of my work (reading, e-mail, etc.).

What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now? 
I got my start as a Resident Assistant (RA) in college.  A couple years after I graduated, in large part due to my enjoyment of being an RA, I began graduate school in higher education administration while also serving as a Resident Director (RD).  I have continued working in higher education ever since.  I am in my 11th year here at Calvin (not including the 2 years after completing my masters degree, when I worked here as an RD).  Prior to this I was Dean of Student Development at Malone College for 9 years.


Posted by Bonnie Speyers on 02/11 at 11:54 AM
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