Communicating the Right Skills to Employers

As a student you are learning a lot in the classroom. From technical knowledge related to your major, to transferable skills like problem solving and collaboration, your degree program is preparing you to enter the workforce. As you engage in internships, volunteering, and student leadership roles, you put these skills and knowledge to use in ways that are of interest to potential future employers. Being able to effectively communicate what you are able to offer will be key to your successful job search.

In a recent article series published in Eye on Psi Chi, an online magazine for members of the national honor society for psychology students, I wrote about the importance of being able to identify and put language around your skills. The Career Center offers a card sort activity, called SkillScan, in both one-on-one advising and workshop formats that focuses on transferable skills.

SkillScan, described at length in the first article, helps you prioritize the skills you would like to use in the future, separating them from those of less interest and those that you are certain you would not like to use. An activity like this is valuable as you work to identify the industry and career path you wish to target for yourself. From there, your career counselor or workshop facilitator will guide you in identifying strong examples of times when you have successfully employed the skills you wish to use in the future. He or she will also help you to think critically about those skills you need to develop further and/or exemplify through future coursework, volunteer activities, internships, and part-time work. To complete a SkillScan assessment, attend the “Identify Your Skills and Accomplishments” workshop on May 2, 2016 or contact the Career Center to schedule an appointment with your advisor.

Once you have identified the skills you wish to perform in the workplace, you must hone your ability to convey these to potential employers. The second article in the Eye on Psi Chi series addresses the art of communicating your skills through strategic resume writing. Crafting bulleted accomplishment statements that strike the right balance between offering sufficient detail and being concise enough to allow your reader to quickly grasp the skills you offer, can be a challenge. The Career Center’s Peer Career Advisor program offers walk-in resume development and critique sessions to help you ensure your resume will grab employers’ attention, and land you the interview you are after.

My advice to you when it comes to communicating your skills:

Emphasize the skills you wish to use and further develop in your next position when crafting your resume. Also, be concrete by offering examples of times when you’ve used those skills and be sure to note the positive outcomes that resulted from your efforts.

 


 

A future article in Eye on Psi Chi will feature tips for continuing your efforts to communicate skills to employers by providing tips and best practices for helping you to succeed in the interview process. Stay tuned for more details!

How to End Your College Years With a BAM

By: Alejandra Ruiz, DePaul University honors marketing major ‘16 

Stop what you’re doing! Take a step back, and enjoy the moment.

These past few months have been flying right past us, and we haven’t had a chance to enjoy our last year as undergrads. Two months from today we will be walking across the stage, saying goodbye to friends, professors, and for some, to Chicago. We’ve been so focused on getting good grades, finding a job, and trying to be ‘official’ adults that we’ve forgotten the most important thing – to enjoy the ride.

Whether or not you have plans after graduation, there are a few steps that you need to take before you walk across that stage:

  1. Build your Network. I know, I know, you’ve been hearing this from everyone. But it is truly essential. I’m not asking you to go talk to people you don’t know. I’m just saying that you could have a great network of people if you stay in touch with classmates, professors, office staff, coaches, and pretty much anyone here at DePaul. It is simple; connect with your classmates via LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media outlets. With professors, you can do the same, but it will be more beneficial if you get to talk to them one-on-one before you leave. Remember, finding a job after college isn’t just about “what” you know, but “who” you know. From experience, connecting with a professor will help you reach mountains you never thought were possible in such an early start of your career.
  1. Visit the Career Center. I know we’ve all been avoiding meeting with our career advisors, it’s a nerve-wracking situation. But to be honest, going through that experience of meeting with them is very much needed. I can assure you, there is no one more dedicated and knowledgeable. They will help you through each step – from revising your resume, to showing you where and how to apply, to connecting you with people and events, and, they even help with mock interviews. Trust me, as a senior going through the scary process of searching for a job, my career advisor has been of great help!

I encourage you to not only follow these tips, but to also enjoy the last few months you have here at DePaul. Make sure to take some time to walk around campus, eat that disgusting Student Center food, watch a game, visit your dorm hall, and reflect on the past four years of your life. DePaul has been the best four years of my life so far, and I’m excited to see what’s coming my way. Congratulations to all graduating seniors, and I hope my short checklist will help you finish your undergrad with a BAM!

 

 

College Hiring For Class of 2016

By: Tara Golenberke, marketing professional in the education industry, and former digital media & marketing manager at the DePaul Career Center

Preparing for life after DePaul, can you imagine it? Let us paint you a picture.

You’re decked out in your new work gear, clutching a portfolio that houses years of experience – The daily grind, the kindled dreams, the future goals and the pool of new connections. You’re ready for the job interview, and you’re confident knowing that the college-hiring outlook is, well, killer.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2016 report, employers plan to hire 11 percent more new college graduates from the Class of 2016 for their U.S. operations than they did from the Class of 2015.

Not only is U.S. hiring going to increase for 2016 graduates, but respondents recruiting for positions outside of the U.S. also expect to increase hiring, based on report findings.

The final quarter is in full swing, and the reality of preparing for life after college is sinking in for this year’s graduating seniors. Fortunately, graduates, the job market is looking bright.

Degrees in Demand

Regardless of degree level, graduates of the business, engineering, computer and information sciences categories are most in demand, based on the report. Top degrees in demand by broad category include business, engineering, computer and information sciences, math and sciences, communications, and social sciences.

“Within the humanities disciplines, liberal arts/general studies majors are most in demand, with 94 percent of respondents indicating they will hire these graduates,” noted the report.

If your degree category or major is not listed among the “in demand,” don’t fret, as recruiters do not evaluate candidates based on this criterion alone.

What Employers Are Looking For

Work Experience

There is no question that employers consider work experience when hiring college graduates. According to the report, a very small pool of respondents – only 6.3 percent to be exact – said that work experience does not factor into their hiring decisions. Rather, a whopping 91% of respondents preferred to hire candidates with some type of work experience under their belt.

GPA Screening

According to the report, 69.3 percent of recruiters will screen candidates from the 2016 class, and a little over 70 percent of employers who plan to screen candidates by GPA will use a cutoff of 3.0. Although GPA has a strong influence, so do other factors including leadership skills, participation in extracurricular activities and written and verbal communications skills.

Power of Social Media

The trend of utilizing technology in the recruiting process ceases to waver. The report stated, “more than half of the respondents to this year’s survey plan to use more social networks and/or more technology in general in their recruiting methods.” Maintaining a professional online presence is more important than ever.

Career Exploration at DePaul

No matter where you are in your career search, whether it’s finding the right career path, arranging a portfolio, landing an internship or preparing for your first job interview, the DePaul Career Center is here to support you. Allow our advisors and professionals to share their wealth of knowledge about today’s employers and the strategies and tools you need to impress and ultimately achieve your career goals. Learn more about the Career Center and start connecting with alumni and employers today.


UPDATE: NACE just released new projections based on the Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update survey, which was conducted from February 10 – March 22, 2016. Employers now expect to hire 5.2% more graduates this year compared to the 11% they projected earlier. They also found the average number of job postings for the 2015-16 recruiting year is down compared to the 2014-15 year. You can find more projections based on the spring survey, here.

So far, the DePaul University Career Center has seen a 22% increase in the number of job postings this recruiting year over last. Visit Handshake to apply for jobs posted. The Career Center plans to monitor these projections as well as employer activity to continue to best serve DePaul students and their career search.

Finding Your Career Path: UIP 240

By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

UIP 240 is a 2-credit course offered by the University Internship Program (UIP) through DePaul. The class is structured to guide students on possible career options and help them explore their interests and major. The class is based on the individual and what he/she is looking to gain from the experience. Amal Saleh, former job fair & events manager at the Career Center, says the UIP 240 class really shaped her experience at DePaul.

Amal took the class as a freshman after a Career Advisor recommended the course to her. She mentioned that one of the benefits of taking the class was that it fit directly into her tuition package of 18 credit hours. Amal also said, “the class assisted me tremendously with identifying my major, career, and how to translate that at networking events.” The course evaluates your personality through assessments like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and then helps you translate that into possible career choices and majors. The class is designed to give you the skills and knowledge needed to identify your academic and career path.

The class [UIP 240] assisted me tremendously with identifying my major, career…

Some of these skills may even follow you long after the class. Amal says that she still refers to the “skills card deck” that was presented to her in class in order to prioritize her interests and stay on her career path. She also enjoyed how the class always presented her with assignments that exposed new skills, such as public speaking and networking, which she did not know she possessed. Every day she was surprised by her own interests, and learned how to translate them to help her in her academic work.

Another thing that surprised Amal was that UIP 240 made her realize that her original major was not for her. Amal entered the class as a marketing major, but soon realized that “the major did not reflect [her] interests or passions.” Without this guidance, Amal would never have been given the knowledge to find the major that was right for her. Amal says, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the assistance and guidance from this class and the professor.”

UIP 240 gives great advice to any student at DePaul who is not 100% sure of what they are interested in. Amal recommends this class to anyone who would like a bit of guidance and advice in translate their interests into a fulfilling major/career. There are so many different takeaways from the class that anyone who takes it is sure to find something they enjoy and will use later on.


Want to learn more about DePaul’s University Internship Program? Check it out, here, or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into DePaul’s Career Center to meet with an advisor.

Experiencing the Life of a Professional…in One Day

By: Rachel Chessky, DePaul University marketing and economics major ’16

Thank you to all who have applied for the 2015-2016 Professional Exploration Program (PEP). It was a great success! Not familiar with PEP? PEP is a one-day learning opportunity that offers students the chance to experience firsthand the life of a professional. The University Internship Program and the Employer and Internship Development Team were very proud to see how DePaul students took advantage and made the most of this opportunity.


DePaul students, Cassandra Baron and Jessica Brana, took part in PEP this year and shadowed at two very different organizations. Cassandra was given the opportunity to shadow at the Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute with the Population Management Team, while Jessica spent the day at the Office of Congressman Mike Quigley.

They both had an excellent experience and would recommend PEP to any DePaul student. Here is what they had to say about their one-day learning opportunity:

Sneak Peek: Shadowing Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute

Cassandra spent the day going to different nature preserves collecting hair samples, re-bating traps, collecting images taken from tree cameras and going to the lab to test the hair samples for a stress hormone as well as participated in an animal trading simulation. She was fully immersed in the Lincoln Park Zoo experience and was able to solidify that this is the career path for her.

When asked what she took away from the program, she responded, “the need and benefit of networking; I made so many great connections through this program, which will hopefully lead to an internship.” Cassandra went on to add how great PEP looks on a resume and how the experiences can help students get a feel for the career they hope to pursue.

Immersing yourself with professionals in your field of interest and witnessing firsthand their daily responsibilities will help you better understanding whether this career is truly right for you.

Sneak Peek: A Day with Congressman Mike Quigley

Jessica, on the other hand, spent her day learning about the different roles everyone plays in supporting the congressman. She also spent a lot of her time with Congressman Mike Quigley himself downtown and at different events throughout the community. While the day was busy from the very beginning, Jessica noted it was a great experience to see what a typical day looks like.

Similar to Cassandra, when asked what she took away, Jessica replied, “Networking is key!” Networking is an essential part in meeting professionals in your field who may one day offer you a job. As a result of her PEP experience, Congressman Mike Quigley offered Jessica an internship during winter and spring quarter!

If you want to spend a day shadowing someone in your field of interest, gaining new experiences, and building your network, don’t miss out on PEP! If you would like more information about PEP or scoring an internship, please reach out to us at UIP@depaul.edu.

Career Fair Anxiety

By: Skai Stundziaite, DePaul University graphic design major ’17

The dreaded question so many employers asked me at a recent career fair? Read on, my friends.

I recently attended a career fair where I was asked to speak to a handful of employers about what they’re looking for in candidates, and how students could be more prepared for job and internship fairs. The advice I received was very useful, such as bringing an updated resume, being approachable and having a firm handshake. But I found myself lacking the ability to answer the question I was asked the most, “Tell me a little about yourself.” When questioned, I would often freeze up and shrug my shoulders. “I don’t know, I’m a graphic design student,” would be all that I’d manage to mumble out.

After the fair, I didn’t feel very confident in myself. I knew I had good experiences and skills that I could share with potential employers, but I just wasn’t prepared to think on the spot and didn’t know the right things to say.

After discussing my experience at the fair with my supervisor, I was recommended to meet with – the now former – Computing and Digital Media Career Specialist Sarah Highstone. At first, I didn’t think that a career specialist would be able to help me craft a pitch, but I was wrong. During my meeting with Sarah, I told her about my situation and asked for her advice on how I could potentially prevent this from happening again, and she was more than happy to help.

The first thing Sarah told me was that employers aren’t really looking for the perfect worker at these events, instead they’re looking for a good student. Sarah informed me that the majority of the positions offered at fairs are entry-level positions, so the companies are mostly looking for someone who they’d enjoy working with and teaching, and someone who ‘fits’ the personality of the rest of the team. They’re looking to see if you’re organized and easy to talk to. In a situation like a fair, I was told that making a really personal interaction with the company will leave a bigger, more resonating impression than a well-developed and formatted pitch and resume, even though those are pretty important.

Sarah was quick to tell me that there is no formula for a perfect pitch. Instead, she told me that it’s important to cover the essentials when talking about yourself; who, what, when, where, why and how. Sarah recommended that at the next fair I have three main points on my mind about what I find most important to share with companies. For example, my major, my interests, internships and what off-campus activities I’m a part of. Sarah informed me that it’s important to understand what I’m looking for when entering a fair; it’s all about having a game plan ready, as that will prevent any unwanted questions from being asked.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.59.37 PMWhen meeting with Sarah, I talked to her about a specific situation I came across while at the fair. I found myself speaking to an HR representative who asked me if I liked to animate. Regrettably, I didn’t think much about my answer and jumped straight to my gut reaction and said, “No, animation is hard.” When I saw the woman’s facial reaction, my stomach dropped and I immediately wanted to take back my response. She didn’t seem pleased with the way I approached the question and our conversation ended there. When Sarah heard about this encounter, she told me not to worry about what happened and to take this as a learning experience. Sarah said that next time someone asks me about a topic that doesn’t interest me, let them know that it’s something I’m not interested in doing, and instead I should let them know what I would like to do. Since I have experience animating, instead of just saying flat out no, I should have said, “I do have experience working with animation, but I would prefer to do work centered more around (insert whatever).”

After my meeting with Sarah, I felt more aware of useful ways to present myself to potential employers. This meeting with her helped me gather my thoughts and build confidence for the next fair.


UPDATE: Luckily, I had the ability to practice all the new tools I’ve learned at another fair! When entering the fair, I already felt a huge difference because I felt prepared to conquer any questions that might get asked of me; I was prepared to guide conversations and not get caught up in them. Meeting with my career advisor really helped me in my development as a student and will eventually help me acquire my dream job. I finally received a chance to ask all the questions that have been lingering on my mind about my career and I’m looking forward to meeting with her again soon!