Author Archives: Jessica

Recession Proof Jobs

In today’s waning job market, it is important to identify career fields with ample opportunities for employment. I stumbled across the video, “How to find recession proof jobs,” by career consultant Maggie Mistal. In the video Maggie explains which industries are “recession proof” and what skills are transferable to qualify for these positions.


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‘Hello’ Phone Interviews

Phone interviews are becoming more prevalent. Especially in today’s economic recession, employers are cutting costphone1 by relying on phone interviews to do two things: 1. Identify and recruit candidates for employment, and 2. Screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants to invite for in-person interviews.

I recently engaged in a phone interview with a potential employer. The below tips and tricks helped me conduct a successful phone interview.

  • Be prepared. Prepare for a phone interview the same way you would an in-person interview. Practice answering potential questions with behavioral, or experienced-based answers.
  • Interview location. Although you can conduct a phone interview in almost any location, make sure to clear the room. Turn off the TV, close your door, and tell friends and family not to enter till you give the OK. Have your resume in view, compile a list of skills and accomplishments to reference, and keep paper handy for note-taking.
  • During the interview. Do not chew gum, smoke, or engage in any activity that you would not do during an in-person interview. Smile, speak slowly and clearly, and take your time. Do not interrupt the interviewer and remember the goal is to make it to a face-to-face interview.

Follow these steps and you will be one step closer to an in-person interview!

Preparing for Tough Interview Questions

As an undergrad, I have been told over and over again to prepare for tough interview questions by practicing my responses. For example, I have experienced the dreaded: Tell me about a time when you have failed? Tell me about a time when you  didn’t get along with a teammate? and my personal favorite, What are your weaknesses?

These are not easy questions to answer of the top of your head. Before an interview think about how you would answer these questions and verbally practice doing so. Insert behavioral, or “real world,” experiences  into your answers. Simply saying you work well in teams is not as effective as describing a time when you worked on a team and how your performance made you a good team member.

I came across the below video on YouTube from Brian Krueger, President of CollegeGrad.com. Titled “Preparing for the Toughest Interview Questions,” Brain does a good job of concisely and effectively addressing how to answer tough interview questions.


Common Mistakes New Grads Make

I stumbled across an article written in 2007 by Anne Fisher about the 5 Mistakes New Grads Make. Although the optimism meninsuitsof the 2007 job market is the thing of a past, the advice for new grads is still relevant.

1. Keep parents’ involvement to a minimal- Your parents can help expand your network and make professional contacts for you, but make sure you are the one actively searching for and applying for jobs. You will come off as mature and professional if you keep your parents’ help behind the scenes.

2. Manage your social media profiles- Keep in mind posting information to the net makes your profile one Google search away from public knowledge. Make sure your profiles on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are appropriate and a good representation of your personal and professional lives. Potential employers do not want to see pictures of your scandalous Halloween costumes or your first keg stand.

3. Network, Network, Network- Let friends and family in your network know you are job hunting. Keep in mind everyone in your network has their own network of professionals they can talk you up to. College alumni associations are another networking resource.

4. Say “Thank you”- When someone goes out of their way to help you with your job search or refers you a potential employer, email or send them a hand-written note expressing your gratitude. New grads are underestimating the impact of a simple ‘thanks.’

5. Appropriate voice-mail greetings- Although a poem or rap directing your caller to leave a message brings a smile to your face, it is not an appropriate greeting for potential employers. Record a mature, respectable message detailing who they have reach and to leave a message.

Edelman Digital 101

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Edelman Worldwide, the world’s largest independent public relations firm and PRWeek’s “2009 Public Relations Agency of the Year,” is coming to James Madison University on March 26th and 27th with their Digital 101 training sessions. Digital 101 is a “boot-camp” style training course aimed to educate students about the benefits of the ever-changing world of social media. Over the two days, students will engage in discussions and listen to Edelman speakers about social media, with a focus on public relations campaigns.

Events such as Digital 101 are a perfect way to network and meet professionals in the field. In addition, a prestigious workshop such as Digital 101 can boost your resume and serve as a conversation piece with potential employers.

For more information about Digital 101 at James Madison University visit their official site.

A Cover Letter Makes it Better

Recently, I was approached with the question “Are cover letters necessary?” Having talked about their need with 1163736_important_letter2professors and career advisors from James Madison University’s Career and Academic Planning, I’ve come to the conclusion that they are necessary.

If well written, cover letters can give you a leg up on the competition. They are a personable way to introduce yourself and to impress potential employers with your personality and writing skills. Cover letters can be tailored to a specific company in ways that are not always possible with a resume.

When writing cover letters, remember:

  • Cover letters should be written to a specific person. If a contact is not provided, begin with “Dear Sir or Madam.”
  • Cover letters should be short- generally three to four paragraphs.
  • The first paragraph explains why you are writing.
  • The middle paragraphs explain why you are a great candidate and a good fit for the organization. This is the perfect time to mention skills or experience not found on your resume.
  • The closing paragraph should detail that you will follow up in the near future. Make sure to end the letter with “Salutation,” “Thank you for your consideration,” or a similar closing

For more cover letter advice visit the Career Couch section of the New York Times and start drafting those cover letters to make an impact!

Nonprofit Work in Your Future? I Know Just the Site

idealist_logo2After talking to a friend about my interet in nonprofit organizations, she exposed me to idealist.org. Idealist is an interactive Web site created by Action Without Borders, a nonprofit organization that connects people, organizations, and resources in order “to help build a world where all people can live free and dignified lives.”

The site is very useful for locating volunteer opportunities and job postings. I was able locate several positions in my area.

The site also features a blog to inform readers about important updates, news, and other relevant information.

If you are interested in nonprofit organizations, I highly suggest visiting Idealist.org.