Tips & Trends from Career Services Advisers
Tips from our Career Services advisers.
Have a question? A topic to suggest? Use subject line Tips & Trends and email email@example.com
Be the interviewer: use informational interviews to find out about career options
From Kathleen O'Brien. Posted May 14, 2013.
What can I do with my major? The sooner you start to find out, the better for you. Start to find out as much as you can about different career possibilities after your college years. Use some of your time this summer to investigate the possibilities you have for your career. Try on some different settings and types of jobs by:
Volunteering, working part-time Jobs related to your career goal, researching job sites, or conducting informational interviews.
As you plan for your career, you hear a lot about building a network of professionals in your chosen field. A network helps you learn and promotes you as a future professional. Informational interviews are a good way to meet professionals and learn from them. You can ask questions like: What type of careers can I do with my degree at this company? What does the job entail? What skills should I try to build as I continue in college? You can learn about about the job function, the field, and the particular organization. Find professional guidelines for making an appointment, how to conduct the interview and follow-up.
Make your summer count in your career path by learning all that you can now.
5 reasons to regularly revise your résumé
From Debra Wilburn. Posted May 6, 2013.
Creating a résumé is always a work in progress.
There's one constant in résumé advising: revise it.
- Market needs vary.
Employment trends change as industries rise and fall. For example, there used to be a bigger demand in manufacturing. Now there’s growth in service industries. Different skill sets are showcased differently on your résumé. Some skill sets transfer between sectors, some don’t.
- Job needs vary.
Skills needed in particular jobs change over time. For example, once upon a time in web design markets, HTML was what you needed, FrontPage was hot. Then they went out of vogue. XHTML, XML, Dreamweaver came into fashion. Then they passed on. CSS was desired for a while. Now use of databased content management systems like Drupal are important skills. Whatever your field, stay on top of the skills needed for your particular job; acquire them and update your résumé.
- Recruiter preferences for résumé format can change.
You want to present yourself with the packaging the market expects. A few years ago, recruiters were advocating for efficient, one-page résumés for new grads. Now they encourage more than one page if the work the candidate has need of the extra space to show how they are a good fit for the job – a page and a half, two pages? No problem if the information is substantive and relevant! Some recruiters want summaries, some don't. They used to want an Objective category, now they don't. Have a format ready to fit the need.
- Certain companies like to see certain qualities.
For example, a recruiter from one demanding, scientific R&D company told me their company wants to see work/life balance on candidate résumés – they want to know that their potential workers know how to depressurize from work, relate socially with others, recharge their batteries, and care for their community; they want their potential workers to show they can bring community resources and richness of experience to the workplace. But not every employer values outside activities in this way. Develop versions of your résumé to fit both scenarios.
- You need to keep a current perspective on your own strengths and weaknesses.
I advocate keeping one, master copy of your résumé that lists all the things you’ve ever done, the dates you did them, and a highly detailed description of what you did and what you achieved. Highly detailed. Collect and record specifics as you go. You won’t circulate this master résumé to employers, but you will pick and choose from it to create targeted résumés with content relevant to each job for which you apply. Additionally, review the master résumé for patterns – Do you repeatedly complete community service that supports young people? Are you repeatedly engaged in entrepreneurial activities? Do you lack leadership roles? Do you redesign the office systems everywhere you work? Are your jobs related or unrelated? A careful reading of your own résumé can reveal to you the kinds of things you are good at – your strengths – and the places where you need more experience in order to be competitive (acknowledge and address your weaknesses!).
Your career is like a Slinky!
From Charlene Walker. Posted April 29, 2013.
Change, transition, and adaptation are the constants in today’s work world.
On Friday (April 26), Rich Feller compared the tasks of today’s worker to both a slinky and a sail boat. The world of work requires workers to be agile, dependent on technology, innovative, and risk takers. The individuals who succeed in the workplace are adaptable and are looking at things through new lenses. Individuals need to shape their careers like a sailboat that is agile in the water, using new plastics and technology, and getting wet in the process.
Feller spoke to members at the Ohio Career Development Association conference; he is president of the national association.
In today’s rapidly changing workplace, it is critical that workers focus more on what they “can do” than what “they did.” Problems to be solved are the work that needs to be done in today’s economy.
People are our best brokers of information and connections. People can help identify networks and contacts who can serve as resources, who can ask the questions, who can help us gain new insights, and who can help identify solutions and connect us with those who can assist.
Feller suggested that we list our current best five friends. These are the individuals who are shaping what we are learning, eating, the information we are absorbing, and the values and the beliefs that are guiding us. Are our best friends helping us to navigate and make the best of our career? Do we need others who can assist us in shaping our career and in finding answers to the problems?
Quoted in the Wall Street Journal on August 29, 2012, Feller says "The size of your support network and mentoring group can often be as important as your degree." That’s because in today’s world of work, creating and developing a career is not a linear process. Careers will transition over and over again. The constant in our career is change. Like a slinky, sometimes it will be firm and straight, it will have its highs and lows and it will bounce back when we focus on what we can do each and every day and ask ourselves, “Was I better today than yesterday?”
How to Dress Like a Professional on a Limited Budget
From Carleen Beckermann. Posted April 22, 2013.
As you begin to make the transition from college student to professional, it is important to have the proper wardrobe to match. You will likely interview multiple times during your job search and the most appropriate attire for this is a suit. However, dressing like a professional on a student’s budget is not easy. Suits, shoes and the accompanying accessories are expensive!
Here are some tips to help you dress like a professional on a limited budget.
Check out local non-profit agencies such as Clothes That Work whose mission is to provide interview appropriate clothing to their clients.
Investigate thrift stores such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Local consignment shops are another good source and generally are more selective about the type of clothing they will accept so it is not uncommon to find designer clothing here. Be sure to check the clothing carefully for stains and flaws as exchanges are not permitted. You may need to check these stores regularly if you are searching for a particular item, as their selection may be limited.
Don’t forget about discount retailers such as Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. The area outlet malls usually have many clothing retailers that sell clothing at reduced prices. Head straight for the clearance rack, where your savings can really add up. Buying clothing at the end of the season can greatly reduce your cost as well. Great bargain can be found at yard, estate and garage sales as well. However, you may be unable to try on the items before purchasing, so check the size carefully!
Shopping online is another option. Be aware that you may be required to pay for shipping and you are unable to try the items on before purchasing. So if you have to exchange or return items, you will need to rely on the mail schedule.
If you are fortunate enough to have a family member or friend who is similar size and owns a suit, you may be able to borrow it for an interview. If you do, it is always a nice gesture to clean the suit before returning it. This may ensure you will be allowed to use it again in the future, if needed!
To begin building your wardrobe, take stock of what is already in your closet. What items do you have that are appropriate to wear in a professional, business environment? Some items in your closet may be acceptable, but others are better left for after work or week-end wear.
When purchasing a suit, select a neutral color. This makes it easier to pair each item with a different separate item, creating a new outfit. Don’t think you need to go out and buy 5 suits immediately.
For women, it is suggested you begin with one suit, a skirt, a pair of pants and a couple of shirts. By selecting items that can be interchanged, you will have created a number of different outfits and looks with a minimal number of items.
For men, begin with a suit, a pair of pants, two shirts and ties that can be worn with each shirt and pants combination. By mixing and matching, you can create a number of different looks.
As you begin to expand your wardrobe, select items that are classic rather than trendy which tend to go out of style quickly. Choose items that will fit in with clothes you already own. By changing the shirt and/or adding an accessory you can rather inexpensively create an entirely new outfit!
Check out our website for more information on dressing professionally.
Do you have some tips you would like to share? If so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post your tips and suggestions.
This blog post is a call to action… ANY action!
From Stephanie Spencer. Posted April 15, 2013.
Too often I meet with students who are in the mindset of “I need to know what I want to do before I actually do something.” While having career goals and an objective are great for helping you be intentional in how you use your free time, getting experience is a great way to help you discover what you are passionate about and what you top skills are!
There are many reasons why someone may hesitate to get experience, including but not limited to:
- Fear of rejection
- Fear of the unknown
- Uncertainty in how to get started
- Expectation that others will provide them opportunities
About a week ago I had the opportunity to have dinner with a small group of students to talk about getting experience through internships to be marketable in the workforce. I was immediately impressed by the enthusiasm of these students to learn more about getting involved and getting a career when they graduate. However, when I asked each of the students how they have been involved this past year, each one of them said that they had not participated in anything outside of class. When I asked why, I received answers like, “I don’t know what to get involved in,” or “I don’t know where to find information on getting involved,” and even “my RA said she would get me information but she never did so I couldn’t get involved.”
Get involved in anything that interests you, be it student government, a sorority/fraternity, a local non-profit, or a group at church. This will give you the opportunity to explore your interests, discover your passions, and develop professional skills that you can highlight when applying for internships and career employment.
If you feel clueless about how to get involved, the Student Activities office is a great place to start (http://www.wright.edu/student-activities) If you are ready to gain career related experience, check out The Wright Search for internship opportunities.
And be sure that you are taking ownership of your own future. There may be times when others offer to help, however if they forget to follow through, it’s your responsibility to remind them! By sitting around blaming others you are only hurting yourself.
And these are not just issues facing underclassmen seeking to get involved for the first time. All of this is true for job searching as well. I work with students on developing résumés for their job search, and frequently we will work together on several drafts to ensure the final document is attractive to employers. However on occasion I find that the student is sending me the 12th or 13th draft of a résumé for a particular job. To me this could be a sign that something is causing the job seeker to hesitate in applying, most likely fear of rejection. While I am happy to have clients that want to ensure they have a great résumé, at some point they will need to apply if they want to be considered for the job! It is crucial to ensure that you are sending in an error free document that highlights your top skills and accomplishments, but at some point you must also remember to act! In order to get the job it is also important that you actually apply! There comes a time when every job seeker needs to move forward in the process and put themselves out there.
As we wrap up this academic year and move into the next, challenge yourself to get up and act more frequently. Trying new experiences is a great way to determine if a career is a good fit for you as well as develop new skills that will be marketable to employers. And remember to be proactive. If you wait for others to reach out to you, you may be waiting for a long time.
Résumé Quick Tips
From Lisa Duke. Posted April 8, 2013.
Now that graduation is near, I’ve had the opportunity to review a lot of résumés and that has motivated me to want to share a few quick tips:
Major GPA – the GPA you report when your cumulative is not over 3.0. One student told me a professor said this was an unacceptable GPA to share; that it was misleading. That is simply not true. If your GPA in your major is solid (perhaps that Intro to Stats class doomed your cumulative GPA) then market your best asset. Your résumé is going to sell your knowledge in your major anyway; your major GPA just backs that up. If it isn’t over 3.0 – don’t add it and don’t worry about it.
Objective Statement – don’t need it. I reviewed a webinar recently and the objective statement was described as a waste of résumé real estate. It doesn’t add anything to the résumé and you’ve already stated your objective, the position you are applying for, in the cover letter. Replace the objective with a high-impact summary statement.
Summary Statement – That same webinar made a great point about the amount of time a recruiter spends on a résumé, about 8 to 10 seconds. A well-worded, high-impact summary consisting of about 50 words will take about 5 seconds to read. It is at the top (it needs to be at the top!), it will be read. Use that time to grab their attention & pique their interest so they’ll read the rest of your résumé.
List your degree 1st – Sell yourself & your educational accomplishments by listing the proper title of your degree on the 1st line underneath the Education section title. I recommend this to students and alumni all the time; I think it is great that you attended Wright State, but don’t give us the top billing on your Marquis!
Templates – don’t use them! They are easily recognized and may allude to lack of creativity or computer skills. More importantly, they are not flexible. They may force you to have your education at the bottom or list the dates of employment on the left margin (another no-no). Instead create a résumé starting with a blank Word document. You can add formatting in later and best of all, when you have gained experience, you’ll be able to easily move your education section towards the end of the résumé with ease.
One last quick tip:
A résumé is a key piece in your marketing package. You are selling your skills, knowledge and talents so make sure you are showing your impact and potential through a professionally worded and visually attractive résumé. Write it for the direction you want to head and remember to sell it, don’t tell it!
For more details on my quick tips and assistance with developing your résumé, call 775-2556 to schedule an appointment with your Career Services Advisor.
Marketing your leadership skills
From Cheryl Stuart. Posted March 25, 2013.
Why do you join clubs, student organizations, and professional organizations? Why do you get involved and volunteer on-campus and in the community? In addition to classes and work, you may choose to participate in these other types of activities because you want to get involved, explore an interest, meet people or make a difference. As a result of involvement students often expand their networks and develop leadership skills -- whether you intended to or not.
Leadership activities can be a vital part of the college experience, and adding them to your résumé may prove to be a deciding factor when employers are reviewing your credentials. It is important, then, to articulate the skills and experiences you gain through your co-curricular involvements.
When you begin to develop these ideas focus on the abilities employers consider relevant: experience with organizational development & change, how you handle unexpected situations and work with diverse groups of people. Employers value student leadership skills that include: communication, event planning, project management, as well as research and critical thinking skills.
Think about how you will market leadership skills on your résumé, in a cover letter and throughout your interviews. Evaluate all of your experiences and list the major tasks and accomplishments of each. Examine the skills you have utilized and enjoyed the most. And select those skills that are the most relevant to a potential job in your field.
As you begin to develop written statements for inclusion on your résumé, talk numbers. How many members were on your committee? How many individuals did you serve? How much money did you raise? How large was the budget you oversaw? If you find yourself editorializing, stop. Avoid phrases like “quickly performed…” Let your advisor or supervisor comment on how well you performed. Taking the time to interpreting your leadership skills & developing quality communication statements to share with an employer or graduate school admissions official is a very important part of marketing your leadership skills.
After the career fair: follow up to stand out
From Kathleen O’Brien. Posted March 18, 2013.
The job fair was great; you made some good contacts and found out about some interesting organizations. How can you maximize it?
Send thank you notes within 48 hours. If you are late, do it now! Notes can be by email (not an attachment), or a business letter. Consider the communication you discussed when you met the employer. If the recruiter said to email to follow-up, use email to thank him/her. If the company seems more formal, write a business style letter. Job Choices has good examples of types of letters to use for different job search situations.
Visit the organizations’ websites, and apply for positions as they indicated. Check the career portion of the website weekly. Do more investigation of the company and see if you can find them on LinkedIn. Search for Wright State Alumni who work there and “connect” with them.
If offered a job, make sure you understand the salary and benefits offered. You can ask for time to consider the offer, from one day to a few weeks. You can negotiate the offer, but it is wise to do your research first and follow some guidelines.
Once you have verbally accepted an offer, or signed a contract, it is ethical to stop interviewing for other positions. This article discusses the ethical aspects of job search:
By following these guidelines you continue to build your professional image as you begin your new career.
It's not what you know . . .
From Lisa Duke. Posted March 4, 2013.
“It’s not what you know, but who you know” is an age-old saying alive and well and a key component in the modern job search. I find myself repeating this to advisees often, especially when they ask about job search resources beyond company websites and search engines.
A recent New York Times article, partially reprinted in The Dayton Daily News (February 3, 2013), addresses how your friends can give you a foot in the door by giving a personal referral to their company. Some companies, such as Ernst & Young (as addressed in the article), admit referrals are put on the fast-track. Résumés received through traditional routes (company website, Monster, etc.) are usually put towards the bottom of the pile.
Many people don’t think their friends and close acquaintances are part of their professional network. Most of us feel pretty strongly about stepping on toes; that asking a friend for a referral or lead will hurt the relationship. But ask yourself this question “if I could help this person out, would I?” If the answer is “yes” then chances are it is a relationship built on mutual respect and most likely they would feel the same way. You may not even need to specifically ask for a referral. Let your friends know you are looking and what you are looking for; keep in touch. Someday you may be able to reciprocate or pay it forward.
For more resources on building your network, check out this link to articles Monster Jobs
And don’t forget about the great advice on our website
End the Wage Gap!
From Stephanie Spencer. Posted February 27, 2013.
Perhaps you’ve noticed posters around campus that mention that women make $35,296 on average one year out of college while men earn $42,918 on average one year out of college.
Or perhaps you read that while more women graduate from college than men (and with higher GPAs) they earn half a million dollars less than their male counterparts.
This information comes from a report published by AAUW called Graduating to a Pay Gap: The Earnings of Women and Men One Year after College Graduation
This spring, Career Services and the Women’s Center are partnering to provide a series of events to educate the Wright State University community about the wage gap. These events and activities are supported through a Campus Action Program grant received through AAUW. Through this grant our team is aiming to expand our existing educational efforts about salary negotiation and ending the wage gap.
For the past 3 years Career Services and the Women’s Center, along with several other campus offices, have cosponsored the program $tart $mart: Salary Negotiation Training for Women. We have had great success in educating students and alumni through this workshop, and this spring we are planning to take things up a notch with several complimentary programs, including a speaker series and an employer panel. To wrap things up we will host a $tart $mart workshop on April 9th, 2013, which is also Equal Pay Day.
What is Equal Pay Day, you ask? This is the day each year that symbolically represents the gender wage gap, as it is the date women would need to work till to equal the earnings of men in the prior year. On Equal Pay Day 2013, we will host a $tart $mart workshop to educate women about the wage gap and to train them how to negotiate for fair and equal pay. In addition to learning about the impact the wage gap can have on their personal lives, participants will learn the step-by-step process to salary negotiation and have the chance to practice their new skill set with professionals from the community volunteer. And if learning how to increase your chances for higher pay isn’t enough to get you excited, perhaps the refreshments and door prizes will do it! Individuals interested in this program should contact me at email@example.com to register.
We will also be hosting a series of speakers each Wednesday during Women’s History Month in March. Come join us at 12:30 P. M. in the Millett Hall Atrium to hear the stories of women who have been successful at negotiating in their professional and personal lives. At the final event in this series, to be held on March 27, we will host a panel of employers who will discuss job offers and salary negotiation. Check out the events calendar to learn more!
I’d encourage ALL women to come to these events this spring. We also encourage our male allies to attend as well! Understanding the wage gap and learning how to negotiate does take time, but as we say in the $tart $mart workshop, “It pays to do the work!”
Learn more about End the Wage Gap events:
Stay Active in The Wright Search
From Carleen Beckermann. Posted February 18, 2013.
The Wright Search is a Career Services database. This database serves two primary functions, one is a résumé posting site for students and alumni; the other is a job posting site for employers.
When users complete their profiles, they decide whether or not to allow employer viewing. Registered employers in The Wright Search are permitted to search this database for candidates that meet their position requirements and are able contact those students/ alumni directly. Only the résumés of those students/alumni with active profiles and who selected “yes” to allow employer viewing will be viewable. If you selected “no” to allow employer viewing, employers will be unable to view your résumé and these opportunities will be missed by you.
Employers also contact Career Services asking us to send them résumés of students/alumni who meet specific job criteria. Again, if you selected “no” to allow employer viewing and your profile is not active, your résumé will not be included in the packet sent to the employer. Another hidden, missed opportunity.
To remain active in The Wright Search, you are required to upload your résumé every 30 days. Why, you ask, must I do this so often? Career Services has made a commitment to the employers that every person in our database is someone who is actively seeking employment. So unlike other job posting sites, this requires action on your part to remain active.
What happens if you fail to upload your résumé every 30 days? Your status will automatically revert to inactive and your “yes” will be changed to “no” for the allow employer viewing setting. Therefore, employers searching The Wright Search or requesting résumé packets during a period when your profile is inactive will not have access to your résumé.
So use whatever system (phone app, calendar system, to do list, etc.) is convenient to remind you to upload your résumé into The Wright Search every 30 days. It’s fast and easy to do, just a few clicks. There is no need to change your résumé each time you upload it, unless of course, you have some additional skills or experience to add.
In addition, The Wright Search can be used to register for campus events such as Recruiting Fairs, on-campus interviews and other workshops sponsored by Career Services. Check out the events page on our website to keep abreast of all these available opportunities.
Don’t miss these hidden opportunities! Keep your profile active in The Wright Search.
How to fill your résumé with good stuff
From Debra Wilburn. Posted February 11, 2013.
Details on your résumé are the seeds in your pomegranate, the air in your tires, the string in your baseball, the cream in your cream puff.
With apologies to lactose-intolerants: think about eating a cream puff. You see it on the dessert buffet, floating above a footed plate like a puffy cloud, glowing with a golden crust that resists slightly as you take your first bite. You break through that vaguely salty shell of pastry, your mouth watering in anticipation of the sweet, custard cream that fills the center.
How would you feel if you bit into it and there was no cream in that puff?
Would you be disappointed? How would you feel about the baker?
Your résumé without details is like that puff without cream.
Submit a résumé without details and hiring managers will be disappointed. They might not finish it. They won’t feel good about you.
On your résumé, include quantities, dollars, time frames, and other measures of your accomplishments.
Here are some examples:
Work Role: Junior Prom Committee
Not so good:
- Raised money
- Led voting on theme
- Event was attended by most of the class
- Organized and motivated committee of 16 classmates to raise $4000 for the Junior Prom through t-shirt sales, car washes and business sponsorships
- Initiated class-wide voting on prom theme to create enthusiasm
- Planned and executed successful event with over 400 in attendance
Work Role: Undergraduate Research
Not so good:
- Surveyed students about obesity
- Surveyed 1031 subjects and applied variables to determine self-perception
- Using data from a survey of 1031, applied gender, race, age, socio-economic status, obesity based on body-mass-index, reasons for obesity, attitudes toward obesity, and behaviors associated with obesity variables to analysis of responses about perceived health, efforts at weight loss, self-image, and personal perception of body type as obese or overweight
Work Role: Challenge Course Facilitator
Not so good:
- Create challenge course programs
- Responsible for safety inspections
- Work with a group
- Create challenge course programs for groups of 10-12, facilitating teamwork and communication
- Set up, operate, conduct safety inspections for low ropes, outdoor climbing and rappelling tower
- Communicate with other facilitators and work efficiently in team environment
(I made up the not so good examples here. The effective ones come from real client sample résumés)
I also post tidbits on Twitter: @dwwrightstate
From Kathleen O'Brien. Posted February 4, 2013.
Face-to-face time with employers is a great opportunity to show your professionalism. Many events give you the chance to speak to a variety of employers. These changes can open doors for you. Look for networking events in your career area to attend both on and off campus.
Think about the impression you will make. What are employers seeing when you approach them? Are you acting like a student or a professional?
You should dress conservatively for any of these events, whether a career fair or networking event. A suit is a requirement for showing professionalism at a recruiting event or career fair. Other events may be “business casual”. Your internship or co-op experiences often involve meetings with executives or professional development workshops. At these business casual events, you still need to keep your wardrobe in the conservative mode, with no tight or revealing clothes, shoes shined and hair neat.
If possible, research the employers who will attend the event. Learn about their mission statement, business goals, and current initiatives. Think about how your skills would fit in.
Prepare and practice a 30-60 second marketing presentation about yourself. Tell the employer briefly about your present, your past and your future related to your career goal: Who are you and where are you now? Focus on your college education. Where have you been? Focus on your career-related experiences. Where are you going? Focus on your career goal and what you can bring to their organization or ask how you might fit.
Let the employer lead the rest of the interaction. Smile, listen, thank them and shake hands. Ask for a business card, and how you can follow up later. Can you call or email in a few weeks to see if there is an opportunity?
At informal events, start with a general conversation opener; “What brings you to this event today?” See what you can learn about the organization by asking questions like “What does your business look for in an employee?” or “What type entry-level positions are in your organization”? The conversation may lead to you sharing your education and skills. Listen and learn.
The impression you make on any employer can get you on the “inside track”. Networking happens all the time. Your name and skills might be passed on to a colleague or friend as a potential hire at the next business meeting.
What do employers want?
From Charlene Walker. Posted January 28, 2013.
What do employers want? Who is being hired and why are they being hired? How do I become one of the hired?
Employers want it all! They can be, and are being selective.
What can you do to improve your marketability and chance for employer consideration? It is critical to market and enhance your total skills and knowledge package.
Employers want new hires to be able to immediately begin contributing to the organization and to the bottom line. New college graduates need to bring a well-balanced set of workplace skills in addition to a knowledge base. What are these desired skills?
Employers want candidates who have
- meaningful work experience,
- the maturity to deal with workplace situations, and
- the skills to
- converse with diverse colleagues,
- handle multiple assignments and
- manage themselves.
Prior to graduation and throughout the job search, successful job seekers are able to demonstrate that they have developed skills in ALL of the following areas through their prior pre-professional work experiences.
To be competitive, job candidates cannot mix and match skills. They are expected to bring to employers the complete set of skills, in addition to being academically prepared in their discipline.
Specific skill sets required:
Communication skills – Candidates must demonstrate solid verbal, written, and listening abilities. The capstone of this skill set is to present orally, respond to questions, and accept serious critique of the material presented.
Computer/technical aptitudes - Candidates are expected to be able to work in word processing, spreadsheet, and database software. In employment fields that use specialized software, a knowledge of and the ability to use specific software is a standard expectation.
Leadership – Employers are seeking new college graduates with the ability to take charge or relinquish control (followership) according to the needs of the organization. These skills are closely aligned with the management abilities of candidates.
Teamwork – New college graduates are expected to enter the workplace with the ability to work cooperatively and collaboratively with different people while maintaining autonomous control over some assignments.
Interpersonal abilities – Demonstrating the skills to relate to others, inspiring others to participate, and mitigating conflict between co-workers in prior work settings are a must for today’s college graduates who are seeking their first professional employment .
Personal traits In addition to the preceding list of skills, employers are seeking candidates who have competencies molded by a combination of personal traits, focused on the three Is: Integrity, Initiative and Innovation. Employers specifically identified the ability to demonstrate: flexibility/adaptability to handle change and ambiguity; hard-working (work ethic), and reliability; honesty and motivation; and ability to plan and organize multiple tasks. Emerging as a key personal trait is an individual’s ability to provide “customer service” – anticipating customer needs and the demeanor to respond positively to customer concerns.
Several additional abilities bind these skills together and without this combination, a candidate may not be able to deliver the complete package employers are demanding. Candidates must be able to demonstrate:
- Critical thinking/problem solving abilities – Candidates must be able to identify problems and their solutions by integrating information from a variety of sources and effectively weigh alternatives.
- Intelligence and common sense.
- Willingness to learn quickly and continuously.
- Work related experiences that provided an understanding of the workplace and served to apply classroom learning.
Use your time at Wright State University to your advantage. Make certain that you seek the opportunities available to you to develop your skill and knowledge sets, participate in co-op or internship opportunities linking classroom and real world experiences, get involved in professional/student organizations enhancing your communication, leadership, and interpersonal skills, and develop relationships with supervisors, mentors and advisors who can attest to your abilities and personal traits when contacted.
Is your package complete? How can you enhance it? Are you marketing it to its fullest potential?
Source: Gardner, Phil, Recruiting Trends, 2013, 2004, & 2003, Michigan State University, Collegiate Employment Research Institute.
Employers perspectives: job outlook 2013
From Charlene Walker. Posted January 21, 2013.
What‘s ahead? How’s the job market for new college grads?
Recently released were two different reports on the job outlook for new college majors. The Collegiate Employment Research Institute (CERI) at Michigan State University and the National Association for Colleges and Employers (NACE) shared statistics regarding employment outlooks for 2013 graduates.
Employers were surveyed in late summer and early fall of 2012, prior to the November elections.
As a result of the employer base, results of the survey varied. CERI received responses from nearly 4300 employer representatives while NACE received a total of 244 completed surveys. The Great Lakes regional employers which include Ohio employers were 20% of the CERI sample. The following highlights are from the CERI national outlook.
- The overall job market continues to improve slowly. The new college labor market anticipates a 3% gain over last year. (CERI)
- There is strong demand for marketing, finance and supply chain management majors. Sales opportunities are driving demand for human resources, communication, advertising and public relations majors.
- The market is softer for accountants, computer science and engineers.
- Employers are seeking candidates with the right combination of skills and experience from all majors. One-third of employers indicated they were willing to consider all majors.
- The major employers driving the demand for college graduates are economic sectors of oil, financial services, wholesale, construction, retail and transportation.
- The strongest job growth areas appear to be the Midwest and South.
- Starting salaries are not expected to increase. Financial resources are being used to support benefits. There will be limited signing bonuses; 20% of employers indicated that performance bonuses after the first year are being included in some contracts.
- Demand for bachelor’s degrees is expanding modestly; the demand for MBAs is down from last year; MS/MA demand is holding steady; and PhD demand has a positive change for opportunities outside higher education particularly in healthcare, engineering and computer science. Associate degrees are expected to be in strong demand.
- International students will find only a small cluster of employers willing to hire them.
- Small and midsize organizations are where the positions will be found; large organizations are reporting perhaps, a 1% increase.
- “The most important, strategic hiring method that employers are using is pre-professional experience (internship, co-ops, and summer employees).” Over 82% will seek co-op students and internships to identify candidates early.
- “New grads are having difficulty articulating the relevance of their study to the job for which they have applied.”
Midwest and Upper Plain states specifics
Sectors Hiring (percentage increase from last year):
- Other sectors showing gains are construction, transportation, retail, wholesale and agriculture.
Sectors that have decreased hiring (percentage decrease from last year):
|Professional & Scientific Companies||-31%|
Find the full report at http://www.ceri.msu.edu/recruiting-trends/
Recruiting Trends, 2012-13, 42nd Edition, Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute.
National Recruiting Trends Webinar, December 2012, Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute.
Midwest Regional Hiring Outlook Webinar, January 2013, Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute.
Job Outlook 2013, National Association of Colleges and Employers.
Importance of grammar in your job search
From Lisa Duke. Posted January 9, 2013.
I am often asked to critique cover letters. Cover letters are hard to write, I know. But it is quite possibly the first interaction you’ll have with a potential employer. Because of this, you must present yourself in that letter with the highest level of professionalism possible. Often this is not achieved because of poor grammar. Poor grammar lets that employer know that you have difficulty communicating. Submitting a poorly written cover letter guarantees you will not pass the initial screening process; you will make it very easy for a recruiter to put your packet in the “no” pile.
One of the most important traits employers look for in new college grads is communication skills. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) annual Job Outlook survey for the class of 2013 ranks “Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization” as the most important skill/ability they seek. Grammar plays a huge role in establishing credibility as a professional. Not being able to communicate professionally in writing lets the employer assume you cannot communicate professionally in person.
When you are composing, think about the following:
- The obvious: spelling & punctuation; also verb tense and homonyms (i.e., their, they’re, there)
- Your “voice;” remember professional writing is not the same as the spoken word
- Overall sentence structure; is it convoluted or is it clear and understandable?
- Organization of the letter – does it progress as a cover letter should (see our template!); are you making proper transitions between paragraphs
Professional communication extends beyond the cover letter to the resume and all verbal communication you may have. Be aware and make the effort to ensure you are presenting yourself at the highest professional level possible…it will pay off.
New Year Resolution: professional development
From Stephanie Spencer. Posted December 17, 2012.
Every January 1st people start to discuss their New Year Resolutions and what they are going to accomplish in the upcoming 365 days. In the past I have never been interested in creating a resolution for myself. Why should I join the ranks of people pledging to lose weight (I’m okay with where my weight is, even if I could benefit from doing a few sit-ups or push-ups), quit smoking (non-smoker), or get out of debt (so frugal Ebenezer Scrooge looks like a Kardashian)?
Well, this past year I read a blog where a person was pledging to donate / sell / recycle / up-cycle 2012 items in 2012 to simplify her life. Wow! How cool is that? Now you may not be as intrigued as I was, but my life could use some simplifying. This got me thinking – maybe the reason why I’ve never jumped on the resolution band wagon is that I had not found the right resolution!
Now, as a career advisor, I have interest in encouraging professional development for my clients as well as for myself. So this year I’ve decided to create a list of professional development related New Year Resolutions and I hope to do some, if not all, before December 31, 2013. I’d encourage you to do the same!
Attend a conference – Conferences are a great way to stay up-to-date on your field, learn new and exciting information, network, and rekindle your passion for your field. I encourage ALL individuals to find a conference that is right for them. Whether it is a one-day drive-in conference nearby or a week-long national conference that requires a plane ticket, it is important to be actively seeking professional development opportunities!
Learn a new skill – One way to keep yourself employed and marketable is to have a wide range of skills you can offer your current or future employer. Plus learning something new can be fun! Keep yourself from getting stuck in a rut on the job. Sign-up for a class, attend a training program, pick-up a ‘how-to’ book… the options are endless!
Meet new people (network) – Networking is one of the most important professional development activities one can engage in. It is through others that we often learn of / receive referrals for opportunities to advance in our career. However, meeting new people is about more than getting connected for your next job. It can be a way to grow your business / clientele, pick-up new projects that can enhance your skills set and add to your resume, and learn about helpful resources.
Update your resume – The best way to market yourself on a resume is to highlight skills and accomplishments rather than job duties or tasks. All too frequently I work with clients who are updating their resume for the first time in years, and when I ask them to talk about what they accomplished on the job they have difficulty recalling details. I encourage individuals to adopt a schedule for updating their resume. Whether it is once a month, once every semester, or every time they complete a project, it is important to remember to get these accomplishments and skills down onto paper! Perhaps you are not job search. That’s okay! Go ahead and update it anyway. Trust me, you will thank yourself for doing so when the time comes to apply for a promotion or a new job!
Happy New Year!
Make sure you meet deadlines for competitive summer internships!
From Debra Wilburn. Posted December 10, 2012.
It's never too early to look into deadlines for competitive summer internships.
Particularly if you have an eye on nationally competitive internships - these are internships that have applicants from across the U.S., that have national reputations, and are great résumé builders. You might get to work on high-profile projects, in high-profile agencies, or with high-profile supervisors. This explains the high-profile competition!
Some internships, such as high security clearance government internships, have deadlines as early as October in the preceding Fall Semester. It can take as much as 9 months for interested agencies to complete a background check on you and secure the necessary clearance. That means you might need to apply in October 2012 for Summer 2013 - oops, those deadlines have passed. See what I mean? It's never too early to plan ahead.
Other programs, most notably some scientific research opportunities, may have November 1 deadlines.
Some summer programs have January and February deadlines.
Every year I seem to have students approach me in March and April about finding and applying to special internships that would be good experience and résumé builders for their applications to graduate school. Prospecting for these kinds of internships in March or April is simply too late!
Don't delay - research your options right now and start getting those application materials and references together. In Career Services, we can help you polish those application packets - but all that polish won't do any good if you miss the deadline!
Top 25 items for your career-related gifts wish list
From Stephanie Spencer. Posted December 3, 2012.
There are many items I wish all students would have in their possession before beginning a job search. Some of these items are cheap and easy to pick up on any trip to the grocery store. Some of these items are costly, and often are not a priority purchase when bills such as tuition, rent, car insurance, etc are breathing down your neck. So I’ve decided to create a Wish List of items I would like all of my students to have. This list can be sent to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc to give ideas of what they can buy for you as you approach moments in your life when gift-receiving is typical (Christmas, Chanukah, birthdays, weddings, graduations…you get the idea).
So here is a brief overview of all the items I would wish for you in your job search.
For starters, I would want each of you to be blessed with opportunities to network with professionals in your given field. So item #1 on the list is Registration to a Professional Conference. This would be a great opportunity to meet with professionals in your field and learn about current hot topics. To go along with this, item #2 on the list is Membership in a Professional Association. While you can attend many conferences without being a member of the organization, there are benefits to being a member – access to member database (great networking too), job posting center, the latest research and trade journals, just to name a few. Now to help you out at this conference, I would also wish to you professionally printed business cards and a snazzy business card hold (items #3 and #4 on the list).
Once you’ve had the opportunity to network with professionals at the conference, my hope would be that you now have connections to whom you can send your materials, making items #5-#8 good quality resume paper, personalized stationary and thank you card set, personalized address labels (not the kind with funny icons or your favorite football team mascot on them!) and stamps.
Now that you’ve been keeping in contact with those you met at the conference and you’ve followed up by sending out your resume, it is only a matter of time before you are getting calls for interviews! This means it’s time to ensure you are looking your best. So let’s add a few personal care items to the wish list. Item #9 is a gift certificate for a nice hair cut and / or touch up to your highlights / dye your hair back to its normal color after a few months in a fun shade of pink that was supposed to be just for Halloween but did not wash out as easily as the box said. And while you are out and about getting your hair cut, why not stop off for a manicure, teething whitening and a massage to get you relaxed before the big interview (items #10 - #12). And let’s not forget money for removing that tattoo you got on spring break freshman year that seemed like a good idea at the time but now you are wondering how you are going to cover that up... (item #13).
So now you are feeling prepped and looking good. But how are you going to get to the interview? Is it nearby so you’ll be driving? Then items #14, 15 & 16 are for you! I wish to you a gift certificate for a professional car wash & detailing, gas money, and a GPS (if you do not already have one on your smart phone) so you can find your way to the interview! Is the interview a bit further away? Then how about items #17 & 18 - new luggage (including a garment bag for your suit) and airfare!
Now that you’ve arrived in style, it’s time for YOU to shine like your squeaky clean car headlights! Items #19 - 21 are a must! A new, well fitting suit, a professional tie and belt for men, new dress shoes and socks / stockings / panty hose. And while we are at it, let’s throw in a professional coat as well as matching gloves (item #22)… it’s in the 30’s as I write this and it’s only going to get colder! Another must have for any job seeker is a nice leather portfolio / Pad-folio to take with you to interviews (item #23).
Only 2 remaining items on the wish list…
So you have already been to a conference to network, sent thank you notes and built relationships with those you met, been called for interview opportunities based on those networking experiences, had a personal grooming day so you could look your best at the interview, received a brand new interviewing wardrobe and accessories, arrived in style… what could possibly be left?
Item #24 is a ‘just-in-case’ emergency items kit. This should include breath mints, Shout wipes / spot remover pen, a travel pack of tissues, and a lint roller to ensure no dog/cat hairs find their way to your interview (do you like how I just found a clever way to fit four items into one wish list item?)
Are you just dying to know what #25 is? Drum roll please…
For wish list item #25 I wish to all you job seekers that your family and friends will provide you with something they cannot purchase at a store or online. For this gift I hope that they will share with you their knowledge and network. While items #1-#24 are certainly beneficial to have in a job search, having a mentor who can provide you guidance and support and having someone introduce you to other professionals in your career field is priceless.
Regardless of what you receive this holiday season, whether it be on my list or not, I wish you all a very happy holiday season and a successful job search!
- Registration to a professional conference
- Membership for a professional association
- Business cards
- Business card holder
- Resume paper
- Personalized stationary / thank you card set
- Professional address return labels
- Hair care
- Teeth Whitening
- Tattoo removal surgery
- Car wash & detailing
- Gas money
- Luggage & garment bag
- Tie & belt
- New shoes & stockings / socks / panty hose with no holes!
- Professional coat and matching gloves
- Portfolio / Pad-folio
- Just-in-case Emergency Kit
- Sharing: knowledge and network
Job search timeline checklist for Spring 2013 grads
From Kathleen O'Brien.
This checklist is designed to help you make good use of your time as you conduct your job search. We encourage you to use this checklist in conjunction with the services and resources available to you in Career Services.
Teacher Candidates: review Follow 12 Month Plan for Educator’s Job Search ›
( ) Use job websites like indeed.com to find job titles that fit your education and skills.
( ) Define career goals by determining the types, and geographic locations of employers in which you have an interest.
( ) Work on building your résumé, using guidelines/samples from the Career Services website.
( ) Make an appointment in Career Services to review your résumé. Call (937) 775-2556.
( ) Identify references and ask them permission to use their name.
( ) Review The Wright Search orientation in iTunes
( ) Complete your Profile and upload a résumé to The Wright Search.
( ) Finalize your résumé and make copies.
( ) Begin developing a basic cover letter.
( ) Schedule a mock interview.
( ) Begin networking by contacting friends, faculty members, etc., to inform them of your career plans. Give them a copy of your résumé.
( ) Begin online networking by developing a LinkedIn profile and joining professional groups.
( ) Purchase appropriate interview attire (suit, shirt, shoes)
( ) Conduct research on employers/companies that are of interest to you.
( ) Schedule interviews via The Wright Search for Recruiting Days.
( ) Attend Career Services Pre-Recruitng Days Events.
( ) Complete online applications and follow up with a letter to the employers where you want to be considered. Let them know you have completed the application online. Include a copy of your résumé with your letter.
( ) Review the list of employers that will be attending the Recruiting Days
( ) Research companies/employers with which you hope to be interviewing.
( ) Interview at Recruiting Days and follow up with thank you letters.
( ) Monitor The Wright Search, Schedules tab, for On Campus Interviews for which you qualify and schedule interviews.
( ) Attend other recruitment fairs and follow up with thank you letters. See the Career Services web page for a list of fairs.
( ) Continue to follow up by phone or email with employers of interest.
( ) Monitor the job vacancy listings available in The Wright Search and on the Web. Visit http://career.wright.edu.
( ) Update your rrésumé and cover letter if necessary.
( ) Maintain communication with your network of contacts and your references.
( ) Stay up-to-date with job openings through The Wright Search and the Web.
( ) Interview off campus and follow up with thank you letters.
( ) Continue to monitor job vacancy listings and apply when qualified and interested.
( ) Begin considering job offers. Ask for more time to consider offers, if necessary.
( ) Accept the offer that is best for you. Inform those associated with your search, including other employers with whom you have active applications, that you have taken a position. Celebrate!
***Upload your résumé to The Wright Search each time you revise it.
At a minimum, you must upload every 30 days to remain active in The Wright Search.
This allows employers to view your résumé.
Adapted from the AAEE 2004 Job Search Handbook for Educators.
How to research a company
From Carleen Beckermann.
You’ve heard this advice before – research the company before you apply for a position, go on an interview or attend a job fair. One comment we consistently hear from recruiters is that candidates haven’t taken the time to research the company in advance.
Why is this so important to do?
- Allows you to learn more about the company’s history, mission statement, products, services and much more.
- Identifies companies of interest to you, possibly some you had not considered previously.
- Helps you tailor your résumé and interview responses to the company’s needs and the specific position.
- Uncovers connections you may have within the company.
- Provides a source for questions to ask during the interview to determine your fit for the organization.
- Indicates to the recruiter your interest in the company and position.
- Not doing so may communicate a lack of interest to the recruiter.
Now that you know the value of researching a company, here are some tips to help you conduct effective research on a company:
- A good place to start is the company’s website. These sites contain a wealth of information about the organization. Look for information about the company’s sales, financial outlook, whether it is public, private or foreign owned, who are the executive officers, and get a sense of the company culture. As always, when conducting effective research, don’t rely on just this one source though!
- Career Services has a number of general business directories containing information about companies in various fields.
- Check local newspapers, directories and trade journals for recent articles about the company to learn recent news about the company, analyze trends and identify their competitors. Business Source Complete and Factiva are good sources for articles. The Business Journals provides local, regional and national perspective on business news.
- Read the company’s annual report. This will provide you with helpful information about the company’s financial health. One service for free online company reports is Annual Reports.com.
- Peruse Forbes magazine list of the largest private companies.
- Don’t forget about LinkedIn! Search the company and you may find individuals you share a connection with that are employed at the company. Ask your connection to introduce you to the person in the company and inquire if that person would be willing to conduct an informational interview with you.
- Explore other social media such as FaceBook, Twitter, and blogs as another source of information about the company.
- Use search engines such as Google, or Yahoo to find news and articles about the company. You may find some very interesting links to investigate.
- Visit your campus or local library and inquire about additional resource such as Million Dollar Database, Reference USA, the Harris Ohio Industrial Directory, Investor Relations Information Network, Dun & Bradstreet Reports, or Hoover’s Inc.
- A good source for information about non-profit organizations is National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCSS)/Urban Institute.
Want to know more?
- Check on this article from the Library of Congress for additional information on researching public companies.
- This article discusses researching private companies.
- Watch our Career Spot video on this topic.
- Read this Job Choices article for additional ideas.
By spending time researching the company, you will be able to approach your next interview or career fair confident with the knowledge about the company and how your skill set is a great match for their position!
Tips for making the most of subsistence jobs
From Kathleen O'Brien. Posted November 5, 2012.
Many students and recent graduates have jobs that “just pay the bills”. While you are not working in your dream job or even in targeted career path, you still can benefit from your current job. Employers want to hire people with a variety of skills, including “soft skills” that indicate you will be a good employee:
- Ability to work in a team
- Verbal communication skills
- Decision/problem solving skills
- Leadership abilities
- Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
Work on building these skills at your current job. Make sure you show these skills in statements on your résumé to describe what you do.
You also can build your skills by taking advantage of any training that is offered. You might be able to gain a license or certification. Can you advance to the next level? Find out how to become a supervisor, manager, or trainer. Be willing to do more than is required.
Try to be the best employee you can be. Have a good attitude and be a positive contributor to the business. Can you use skills from your education to benefit the business? Your computer skills, writing, problem solving abilities could help your manager and co-workers. If you can be positive and excel for your employer, you will be one step closer to your goal.
What to do while you're waiting for a job
From Lisa Duke. Posted November 5, 2012.
Recent news reports state the average job search can take 7 months or longer and if that isn’t discouraging enough, it is not uncommon for new grads to spend up to a year looking for that first opportunity. It is hard to be motivated with bad news like that but the most important thing to remember is DO NOT GIVE UP! Try to stop analyzing and worrying….focus on the thing you have control over – your job search.
I’ve come up with a list of random points I think may be helpful during the “down time” in your job search.
- Don’t wait for one job/company; keep expectations realistic; don’t look for your dream job, look for your first job.
You never know what opportunity will be the right one so don’t limit yourself by company, position, etc. Your dream job may be elusive at this point so look for something that will help you grow professionally, develop contacts and keep you busy.
- Join a professional affiliation/networking group.
Nothing better to help you develop your network
- Be organized – make a schedule for following up and follow up.
Make this your official work calendar – fill your time with identifying and following up on opportunities, networking, exercising, reading (both professional and pleasure) – be productive!
- Work something part-time or volunteer.
Again, can help you develop your network and is a great way to fill your schedule in addition to a possible résumé builder or, at the very least, a part-time position will put cash in your pocket. Don’t discount part-time work, you may learn something new and it could lead to something full-time.
- Hone your interviewing skills; update your marketing materials.
When it comes to interviewing the key to success is practice, practice, practice! Take this time to get to know yourself; the more you know yourself and what you can bring to an organization, the better you will be able to sell yourself when that interview opportunity arrives.Make sure your resume and cover letter are at their very best.
- Keep in touch with Career Services!
Our advisers are here to help with your job search skills and Alumni are always welcome. We are good listeners & cheerleaders too!
When should I begin to look for a summer internship?
From Carleen Beckermann. Posted November 1, 2012.
Many students ask when they should begin to search for a summer internship. While students’ time horizons may be focused primarily on the current semester, companies’ time horizons are different and may be much longer.
Since Wright State has transitioned to the semester system, the spring term now ends in April. This means students are available to begin their summer internships at the beginning of May.
Depending on the company, how competitive the industry and how extensive the company’s recruitment efforts, determine when their recruitment process begins. For some organizations, they begin their summer internship recruitment the previous fall. Other companies may wait until after the New Year to begin looking to fill summer positions.
Students who begin their internship search early may find more opportunities than students who delay. Therefore, why not start looking for your summer internship now?
Some steps to get you started. Have your résumé reviewed by your career advisor. Visit our tips on writing effective résumés.
Register in The Wright Search by completing your profile and uploading your résumé.
For more information, here’s some an additional advice on when to begin your search for a summer internship.
How to market student employment experience to the next step in employment
From Lisa Duke. Posted November 1, 2012.
Students are often pleasantly surprised to learn the jobs they’ve worked to help pay their bills can be “sold” to potential internship employers as valuable experience. It is all about what you choose to share.
Take a typical food service position – a server. What are the day-to-day duties? Take food/beverage orders, deliver those ordered items, remove empty dishes, make sure no ones’ drink is empty, etc. It sounds very basic but how do you sell it? What would an internship employer want to know?
- Provided each guest a genuine, personalized dining experience while delivering fast, efficient service
- Worked with managers and team members to ensure smooth operation of the restaurant
There is no reference to the actual duties – but skills that are important to a potential employer are inferred – professionalism, teamwork and customer service. If you were given the opportunity to train, open/close, work with inventory, then share that information too.
For more ideas on how to share the information employers want to know, go to http://www.ehow.com/how_8335553_make-skills-look-good-resume.html
Fun fact: I pulled the sample statements from brief position descriptions off of a major national restaurant chain’s website! Look at your own position description for inspiration to develop bullet statements to “sell” your experience.
For more assistance in developing bullet statements for your résumé, schedule an appointment with your Career Services Adviser by calling 775-2556.
What to do when applying to graduate school
From Stephanie Spencer. Posted 10/15/2012.
For those of you contemplating graduate school, this post will walk you through the steps to ensure you are ready to apply. Remember, it is best to begin this process early to ensure you have adequate time to successfully complete each step.
Step 1: Research & Explore programs
Once you determine that graduate school is in your future, begin exploring programs so that you may compile a list of your top schools. Choosing the right school requires that you research programs to find a good fit. Look for schools where the faculty members are studying and publishing in your particular area of interest. Just because a school has a program in Religion or Anthropology or English Literature does not mean that they focus on the specific specialized area that interests you the most. Also, be sure to visit the school and meet with faculty members or current students to learn more about the program and get all your questions answered. If it is not possible for you to physically visit campus, work with their program office to schedule a phone appointment with a faculty member.
Step 2: Get organized when it comes to Deadlines
It is very important to adhere to application deadlines for graduate school. Many programs have an application deadline between December - February for the following academic year, but some are as early as November. Missing the deadline is the quickest way to get a rejection letter from a school.
Most resources recommend applying early as some programs begin admitting immediately and may fill many of their spots before the deadline approaches (this is referred to as rolling admissions). It is also important to apply early as these individuals may be more likely to receive consideration for scholarships and other funding.
Create a calendar or Excel spreadsheet where you can keep all deadlines (graduate admission tests, application, scholarship / financial aid) in one location, and check this resource regularly.
Step 3: Study / Take Grad Exams
Most schools require scores to one of the graduate admission tests (GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT). Be sure you check with each of the school's to which you are applying to learn what admissions test is required and what their minimum score requirements are. Also, be sure to plan far enough in advance that you can study for the exam. Most feel that 1-3 months is enough time to study for graduate admission tests, however if you plan to take the LSAT, many recommend at least 3-6 months to study.
For more information about each test, or to sign-up for an exam time, visit their respective sites:
Step 4: Additional Materials (Letters of Recommendation, Personal Statement, Resume)
Generally you will need 3-4 letters of recommendation written by faculty members that discuss your work in school. This means you need at least 3-4 faculty who know your work well enough to write a letter about you, so if you are the person who sits quietly in the back of the room or skips class on a regular basis, you might have a difficult time filling this request. But it's never too late to change. Start meeting with your faculty members on a regular basis during office hours or before/after class so that you can build rapport with them. And keep in mind these individuals are busy - so asking for a letter of recommendation 1 week before it is due is not a good idea. Give your references approximately one month to complete the task.
Personal statements are often required for graduate school admission as well. Be sure to read the prompt closely (if one is given) and adhere to any guidelines provided, such as page limit and format. While prompts from various schools may seem to be the same, be sure that you tailor each personal statement to that particular schools program to demonstrate why you are an excellent candidate for their specific program.
In addition to letters of recommendation and personal statements, many schools also ask for candidates to submit a résumé.
Step 5: Submit the Application!
After spending hours crafting the perfect personal statement, studying for the graduate admission exams, and seeking out letters of recommendation, it is finally time to submit your application! When submitting your application, be sure you are following all directions closely (for example, check to see if they require all letters of recommendation to be sent directly from the endorsing faculty member or if they want all materials to arrive together in one envelope.) Also, be sure you submit your application by the posted deadline! If items must be postmarked by a specific date, be sure you plan a trip to the post office well in advance – do not wait until an hour before they close! It would be a shame to spend all that time preparing for this process just to miss the deadline because you get caught in a traffic jam.
Additional Information: Graduate Assistantships
If you are planning to go to graduate school, you absolutely must look into getting a Graduate Assistantship! This is a great way to get experience (conduct research, teach a class, provide administrative assistance, etc.), plus it often covers some of the expense for your education! Check with the department to which you are applying to see if they offer assistantships, when the deadline is, and what the application process will entail.
For more information regarding graduate studies at Wright State University, visit the Graduate School's website ›