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Get In The Game!

25 Feb

There are two types of back-up quarterbacks in football. The first type is scared and apathetic. He is a back-up for a reason; always shying away from the action. During a game, he can be seen sitting on the bench occasionally glancing at a clipboard or talking with his friends who share his lackluster approach. The second type of back-up is just the opposite. He is the coach’s shadow; just waiting for his opportunity to prove himself. He stays late after practice working on his skills and studying the playbook. He might not have the social life his friends have due to the fact that he is always in the gym, at practice, or watching film. This type of back-up quarterback is rare and won’t be a back-up for long. He will jump at his first opportunity and excel. This is the type of quarterback every coach longs for.Tebow
Just like a back-up quarterback, most students don’t understand how close they are to getting into the “game” of life. They love the college atmosphere and wish that time would stop so they could live in adolescence forever. However, sadly this is not the way life works. This mindset causes most students to get so caught up in what is going on around campus that they forget the reason why they came to college in the first place. To prepare themselves to succeed in the outside world! Just like the first type of back-up quarterback, they are unprepared to enter the game.

So how do you prepare yourself? Just like a good quarterback will study film on opposing teams to learn how they play the game, it is pivotal that you as a college student prepare yourself for the job market. One way to prepare yourself is through making yourself known. Above, I spoke about how a good back-up quarterback is the coach’s shadow. How close are you to your dream employer? With modern technology, your dream employer is just a few clicks away! Why not send them an email, add them on Facebook, join their LinkedIn network, or actually give them a call!? Obviously, this must be done with wisdom and discernment. A question such as “How would you advise I prepare now so I can work for you when I graduate?” will likely make a great impression on the employer and could lead to practical advice that could help in landing a job down the road.

Working in the Career Center, I see hundreds of former students walk into our office and say, “Hey… Umm… Can you help me get a job?” I always cringe when I hear this. I think about the back-up quarterback who wants to play but won’t put in the effort necessary. If only this student would have been their dream employer’s shadow; focusing on what the employer looks for and jumping on a good opportunity, they would be in the game by now.

So take initiative, locate your dream employer and become their shadow. What are you waiting for? Get in the game!

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The Hunger Games and Your Career

8 May

College can be compared to the training period before The Hunger Games, as referenced in the novel. The contestants were well aware of what they were facing. They were given a brief, specific amount of time to select their strategy and to be intentional about gaining as many relevant skills as possible. At the end of the day, no single strategy could guarantee victory. They could only be diligent in seeking out as many skills and experiences as possible, to best position themselves for victory. Sounds a lot like life, right?

If life is like The Hunger Games, then college is the training ground where the choices you make, or don’t make, weigh heavily on your performance on the field. It is important to note that you have entered into a very open-ended training field, where you can find out what you need to learn, and then train to develop the necessary skills to increase the likelihood of your future success. Or, you can choose to view college as an extended vacation and a postponement of responsibility, only to experience a rude awakening upon graduation.

Working in a University setting, I’ve noticed that a staggering amount of students are expecting a collegiate diploma to be a cheat sheet to life. The reality of the situation is that 2.5 million people will graduate with Bachelors’ Degrees this year alone. Anyone living in our current economy would probably, and accurately assume that there will not be 2.5 million entry-level jobs opening alongside this year’s graduates.

Additionally, study after study lends evidence to the idea that, in the long run, a college degree typically ends up being worth the financial sacrifice incurred. Not to mention that the majority of jobs and careers that pay decently, provide a moderate level of security and satisfaction, and allow for responsibility and growth require at least an Associate’s degree. So, if degrees are beneficial, why are so many employers echoing the complaint of having job openings but being unable to fill them in the midst of a struggling economy? They are citing a lack of skilled applicants. In other words, employers do not have the time, resources, or personnel to train completely new, unskilled applicants. Hence, they are looking for individuals with the academic training and the practical experience to back it up.

Here are 6 things that you can do throughout your time in college to ensure that you are taking advantage of your education:

1. Visit the Career Center. In the Career Center, you’ll find free Career Counseling, resume and cover letter assistance, and mock interviewing, in addition to other career related resources and events. Come early, and come often.

2. Volunteer. Not many employers, agencies, and organizations are going to turn down free labor. Volunteering connects you to professionals in your field, gives you practical experience that you can include in your resume, and allows you to develop the skills that employers are looking for.

3. Intern. Internships give you practical experience in your field, allow you to learn and develop new skills, build your resume, and expand your connections. It doesn’t hurt that nearly 40% of employers hire directly from their internship programs.

4. Start stuff. Are you surprised or frustrated to see that there’s no student club for (insert your interests here)? Who’s stopping you from starting one? You’ll gain skills in leadership, organization, teamwork, branding, promotions and more.

5. Lead. If you’re involved in a club or organization, step it up and become a leader. In addition to leadership skills, you’ll gain additional skills as they pertain to your position.

6. Social media and blogging. Are you familiar with the term “SEO?” Have you ever developed a systematic social media strategy? What do you use to schedule tweets and track analytics for hits on your organization’s Facebook page? If any of that sounded like another language to you, it would be to your benefit to gain some skills in this area if you’re interested in working with Social Media or in a Communications related field. Additionally, blogging hones your writing skills and establishes you as a voice in your field.

Consider this your heads up. Imagine if the participants in the Hunger Games squandered their time of training, only to find themselves unprepared for the harsh realities which they would eventually face. College is not a vacation from responsibility. How you spend your time here will greatly influence what your life looks like when you enter “the real world.” The world is open ended. It becomes a lot less intimidating when you equip yourself with the necessary tools. We in the Career Center would love to help you along your journey.

Resume 101

1 May

Every college graduate no matter what major will need one universal thing to succeed, a resume. Many graduates however have horrible resumes. They’re stale, cluttered, and do little to reflect the skills of the individual described. This is an increasing problem because employers will only look at a resume for an average of six seconds. That means that you have six seconds to vouch for why you are the better candidate out of the dozens of others who have also applied. A cramped resume filled with stock words such as dependable, awesome, and reliable are over used and do not grab the attention of an employer who has already sifted through hundreds other just like yours. Now that your eyes are opened and an arrow of fear for unemployment has pierced your mind, let’s look at some tips and tricks to help you beat the masses.

Do not use Microsoft Word. Yes, I am currently using Word to write this but it’s a blog not a resume. Your resume is the key to obtaining a professional job. Kelly Donovan, a resume specialist, describes Word’s templates as “ugly and ubiquitous.”  Having a template puts creative restrictions on your document.  Think of your resume as a canvas and you are the painter. A painter has full creative control and does need margins or restrictions. That is how you create your masterpiece. Your resume should reflect these qualities as well.

Say no to paragraphs. Large blocks of text will never get read. Remember, six seconds. Break everything up into sections based on skills, education, and experience. Avoid packing the page with every desirable attribute you possess. A resume’s purpose is to make the employer want to contact you and learn more about the person behind the resume. You want the employer to pursue you. Look at it like a relationship. Leave just enough information to interest them. Never crowd them with all of your positive points and wonderful characteristics. They won’t read it all. I promise.

Implement visuals. That doesn’t mean that you should take good rhetoric out of your resume. Additional graphics would better help your resume stand out to an organization. There are many professional websites and programs that can help you out create one. Visualize.me.com and InfoResume.com are easy beginner tools when you are looking for great visuals. Still include word devices within your resume though. When typing up your resume try to stay clear of Times New Roman, Cambria and Arial font. Use Calibri or Garamond, they read well on screen. Avoid putting everything in bold. I know every little thing may seem important to you, but placing caps and bold points throughout diminishes those that are actually of importance. Insert bolded items only when it is necessary.

A resume is the first hurdle you have to jump to get to that initial interview. Don’t fear or panic. The Liberty University Career Center is available to help you with your resume and cover letter. We provide many resources that can guide you through this process. Go to www.liberty.edu/careers for links to resume assistance and for direct help from our well-equipped staff. Making one may seem like a daunting task, but our staff will help you organize your resume so that you can get the job, pursue your passion, and maybe even change the world.

Small Business vs Corporate America

5 Apr

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re a basketball player and it’s the fourth quarter with three minutes left on the clock. Suddenly, you realize you’re the only player on the court and every shot you take keeps bouncing off the rim. Out of nowhere, the Miami Heat comes charging onto the court. You take the position of power forward, and your shots plunge seamlessly through the basket before the final sound of the buzzer. Now, note how your success was achieved. Did you win the game as a hot shot rookie by yourself, or did you win by joining an already established franchise?

The moral of that story? Team up with someone who’s already proven they know how to play the game. Let’s be a little honest about our economy right now. This isn’t its finest hour.  To those of you who will graduate with proud faces and a degree in hand, the world is about to transform into a scary place. Many people think that by creating a small business they will be more inclined to their own financial achievement and security. Well, not in today’s economy. To even start your own business you’re going to need money. A majority of future CEOs and managers borrow the funds they need to upstart. In comes the small business loan. A small business loan, given by the federal government, includes interest rates at seven percent and a repayment period that may last up to twenty years. Also, if your business fails, you still have to repay what you borrowed, plus interest. Recently, The JOBS Act passed through Congress, which could alter the relationship between small businesses and the federal government. This legislation is meant to give some breathing room for small businesses and provide easier ways of financing. Don’t expect immediate relief though. The JOBS Act has many distinct holes. Some come from resting on the foundation of crowdfunding, which isn’t even entirely legal. A Forbes magazine article by J.J Coloa called the Act, “. . . a regrettable amalgam of loosely related ideas and reforms . . . that dubiously ride the coattails of a worthy intention.” Loosening the regulations on how companies raise capital leaves too many liabilities.

Lloyd Chapman, a small business advocate, contributes to various publications regarding the dilemma small business’ face. In his most recent blog, he stated that billions of dollars per month in federal contracts, which legally should be awarded to small businesses, have been diverted to Fortune 500 firms in the U.S. and some of the biggest companies worldwide. This process is a part of capitalism. Capitalism is when production and distribution are privately or corporately owned. Small businesses have  been built up as a poster child for an American’s individuality and creative freedom to prosper. Corporations are depicted as brutal factories that inflict upon their workers long hours and small wages. However, some of the top corporations in America are necessary for us to live. Corporate America has become our backbone. Top companies such as Wal-Mart, Exxon and Ford are used by Americans every day making them necessary to our standard of living. Companies like these give their employees better health benefits than a small business, because they can actually afford to. They have little to no risk when it comes to the possibility of going under. Isn’t that a better future investment?

Corporations are the biggest donors to charities and environmental causes. They pump immense amount of income into our economy and keep our capitalistic society flowing. When it comes to your future, you need to take into consideration the most reliable options. At the end of the day do you want to be standing alone on the court or do you want Lebron James and Dwyane Wade scoring your goals?

Quote: Simon Sinek

14 Mar

“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” — Simon Sinek