3 Tips for Improving Your Career Plan

Help!  I don’t know what to do with my life.

Why would you? People in their 40s and 50s still don’t know exactly what they want to do in life. You know why? Because they are still living and learning more about themselves every day. Pressures are placed on students by their families, friends, and themselves to be successful. Oftentimes you need to choose a major during the college application process, so you may feel locked in to a specific career path from day one. Did you know that 80 percent of students change their majors at least once during their college careers? Or that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds 10 different jobs before age 40? Or that Forrester Research predicts that today’s youngest workers will hold 12 to 15 jobs in their lifetime? You are not alone.

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It’s a long road ahead and not knowing what you want to do can be very stressful and can make you feel lost. Here’s what you can do to increase your chances of figuring it out:

  1. Your major does not necessarily dictate your career. Not all literature majors become writers or professors, and not all computer science students become programmers. You are more than your major and the skills you develop in pursuit of your major make you marketable in many fields and industries. The key to success is to major in what you love and find a variety of opportunities to use the skills you develop in this major. Computer science students often develop strong investigative and problem-solving skills. These skills are desired in many fields. The trick is to learn how these skills are transferrable and how to articulate this to others.
  2. Visit Career Services and take a career assessment. Career assessments can help you identify your personal values, interests, skills, and personality style. Follow up the assessment with a career advising session. Career advisors are skilled at helping you find jobs and careers that best fit your professional profile. They can even recommend on- and off-campus opportunities for you to test drive career options.Opportunity-Career
  3. Say yes to opportunities that appeal to you. Maybe you are an engineering student and you’ve been asked to join the marketing club. Marketing is an interesting subject, but it has nothing to do with engineering, or does it? Of course it does! If you engineer a solution to a problem, how will others know if you aren’t skilled in the art of selling or persuasion? If you aspire to a leadership role, you will need to effectively communicate and present your ideas to others. Getting involved in a variety of fields helps strengthen your skills and educates you about the many jobs you are capable of holding in your lifetime.

Understanding who you are right now can lead you to who you will become. Don’t limit yourself, and enjoy the process.

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How to Negotiate a Salary Offer

A lot of the guidance and counseling that we provide our students at NYIT’s Career Services comes from our own experiences and professional development.

Starting a career is like any project: a process where you will learn and grow.  In a previous post, “What to Expect at Your First Job,” we shared some of our experiences and one of those included salary negotiation.

One study showed that most recent graduates are not negotiating salary at their first job.

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If you’re in the middle of your first job search, know that there are websites like Payscale and Salary.com for job seekers to research salary profile databases based on location, company, and industry.

Once you have that information, you’ll be better prepared to negotiate a salary offer.  Here are a few more tips to help you through the process.

 

Let the employer say a number first

Always let the employer provide a number first.  If you say a number before they do, you run the risk of losing out what your employer is willing to offer.  Remember to do your research and know your value before the interview.

You will also want to know how you will handle the situation when asked about your salary requirements.  If asked, here are some responses you can provide:

(If it’s early in the interview process)

My main focus is finding a position that is a good fit for my skills and interests.  I’m confident that we can come to an agreement on salary if this is a match. 

I would like to learn more about this position before we discuss salary.  Perhaps you can tell me what is budgeted for this position.

(If it’s the late in the interview process)

What is the hiring range for someone with my education and background for this position in your company?

 

Aim high

(If you absolutely must provide a number first)

Based on my research, I’m looking for a salary in the $70-80,000 range.  Is that in line with what you have budgeted? 

The number that you have in your head will be based on the research you have done prior to the interview.  Most hiring managers will be expecting you to go higher on salary requirements.  Pick the top of the salary range for the position based on your research, and start from there.

 

Thank them for the offer

One often-overlooked aspect of negotiating is getting things off on the right foot.  You don’t want to seem ungrateful or uninterested in the job.  Thank them for the offer and ask for some time to think it over. Then set up a time or date to discuss after you have given their offer some consideration.  Remember, an initial offer will very likely be lower than what you want so don’t take it personally, this is all just part of the process.

 

Prepare the counteroffer

When preparing the counteroffer, it’s important to resell yourself to the employer on why you deserve a higher salary than their initial offer.  Highlight your skills, education, and experience.

If your range is $70-80,000 and you were offered $60,000, you’ll have to think of a number in between their offer and your top range that you are comfortable with in order to form a counteroffer.  There are also other factors to consider with a counteroffer.

Do you have other offers on the table?  This can determine how aggressive you are in negotiating if you have another offer lined up and this one doesn’t work out.

Are they considering other candidates?  If you don’t accept, do they have another candidate lined up?

What are some of the benefits that are being offered?  The entire offer goes beyond salary and could include flexibility in your schedule, growth, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits that could make up for a salary lower than one you originally planned.

For example, the VCU Career Services team surveyed employers regarding their views on negotiation and found that many were open to negotiating other perks.

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This is a great reminder to consider the big picture and to be open-minded during negotiation.

Remember, the goal is not to end with getting the highest salary possible, but to get an offer that you will feel good about at the end of the day.

 

Accept or decline

When you have the final offer in hand, it basically comes down to what you want.  You should be prepared to walk away if you are not comfortable with the salary that you have been offered.  At the same time, your feelings about the job should take priority.

Will you be comfortable making the salary that is offered for the next 2 years?

Will you enjoy this role at this company with the people that you have met during the interview process?

Does this job have good prospects? Is it a stepping-stone to your dream job?

If you can answer those questions, then the only thing left to do is accept or decline the offer.

Be honest and clear about what you want from your potential employer and most of all, yourself.

 

 

 

5 Things To Research Before a Job Interview

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin

Interviewing for jobs can be stressful and difficult.  You’ll be asked a great deal of questions about your background, education, experience, and goals.  You’ll be asked about what you know regarding the position and company.  It’s always good to do your homework ahead of time so you can provide thoughtful answers during your interviews.

In order to have a successful interview, these are a few areas in which you should prepare to discuss and research before the big day.

Services

It’s not just enough to know the company you’re interviewing with is a construction company or a marketing agency, you must also know the services they provide.   Do they help clients grow their businesses?  Do they offer copywriting or video production services?

Understanding the company’s services, what they offer or don’t offer, will allow you to present the skills that you can bring to a company in an effective manner.

Current Events

Has the company been in the news as of late?  Are they rolling out any new products?   Was there a recent change in leadership?  Did they just go public?  Companies change all the time and by keeping up to date with news and current events, you can show your interest in the company and its success.  You can search this information on a company’s site, as most will have a news page or press center.

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Clients

Researching the company’s performance and work with clients can provide valuable insight on its operations and values.  By looking at past case studies, testimonials, success stories, and campaigns, you will be able to offer your own thoughts on approaches, tie in your own experiences, and find ways to improve.

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Once you’re hired, this insight will help you do your job as it will give you a sense of the types of  work you’ll be doing with clients.

Company Culture

What type of environment will you be working in?  Is there a formal corporate structure or is it a smaller and less formal office?  Will you be expected to show up at a specific time and dress a certain way or will the office be a little loose where people come and stay late while taking breaks at the ping pong table ?

This is important to know, as only you know the environment in which you perform best.  Some people need a structured organization while others work better in a looser environment.  There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as it’s right for you.

Some companies also stress the importance of a proper work/life balance by providing access and facilities that help their employees become more productive and live better lifestyles.  Last year, Fortune examined The 15 Best Workplaces in New York that featured companies like Google, Goldman Sachs and Whole Foods for their fitness centers, workshops on balancing work and family life, and free office meals.

Person Interviewing You

When you receive the phone call or email to set up your interview, make sure you find out who you’re interviewing with.  You’ll want to know the first and last name, as well as their title.  Once you have this information, you can do some research on LinkedIn or the company’s website to learn more about this person’s background, role, and responsibilities.  You don’t have to stalk this person on Facebook or Instagram but finding something that you both share like education, the city you’re from, or a conference or workshop that you both attended could be a good ice breaker.

 

Questions?  Can you think of anything else to research before an interview?

 

 

 

 

3 Tips to Maximizing the College Experience for your Career

Helpful tips

You survived your first year in college, now what? Universities often focus programs and services to first-year students that help them get ready for the transition from high school to college. Then you become a sophomore and you see fewer programs targeting the second-year experience. These tips will help you stay on track and make your college experience more meaningful:

  1. Get to know the professors in your major. Yeah, yeah, yeah – how am I supposed to do this? Easy. Identify who they are, their areas of research, the classes they teach, and their office hours. Most of this information can be found on the college website. Professors are people just like you and they, too, were students. Once you learn about who these faculty are and their accomplishments, make an appointment to meet with them. If you can get 15-30 minutes of their time, ask them about their areas of expertise, their passions, and their career paths. At the end of the meeting, ask them for the top three things you can do to be successful in life. Yes, life, not college. Their answers will get to the heart of their most valuable life lessons which you can apply to all facets of life. Follow up your meeting with a thank you note and check in every now and then to let them know what you are learning. Faculty appreciate the relationships they develop with students and they often seek students to share opportunities.
  2. Gain experience. Get an on-campus job, an internship, or a volunteer gig. Attend on- and off-campus events. Join a club, a team, or a committee. Don’t wait until you are a senior to get experience. Getting involved early can help you develop professional skills, résumé-worthy experience, a professional network, and a better idea of what you want to do in life. Nervous about doing this alone? Ask a classmate to attend an event with you or introduce yourself to a student leader and ask him or her to show you around.
  3. Get help. After completing your first year, you have a better idea of what you need to develop personally and professionally. Check out the services your school provides. Maybe you need a tutor, career services, personal counseling, or financial advice. Your tuition covers the cost of these services, so use them! Successful people know what they need help with and seek it out. Be a successful person.

 

5 Helpful Tips For Your Job Interview

So you’ve sent out a ton of resumes and applied for more jobs that you can count.  If you’re lucky enough to land an interview, you want to be prepared for it.  Here are some helpful tips to remember for your interview.

Dressing for the Interview

No matter what the attire is for the job you’re applying for, dressing professionally and conservatively for the interview is the safest way to go.

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For Men

  • Two-piece dark colored suit
    • Appropriate colors: black, blue, gray
    • Solid or very light conservative stripes
    • Suit jackets are offered in single- or double-breasted
  • Crisp white or blue tailored shirt
  • Conservative tie that reaches mid belt
  • Dark blue, black, gray or brown socks
    • Match your suit – never wear white socks
    • Polished shoes that match the color of your belt

For Women

  • Two-piece dark colored pants or knee-length skirt suit
    • Wear neutral colored panty hose or dark tights if wearing a skirt
  • Crisp white or blue blouse, tailored shirt, or shell with conservative neckline
  • Polished closed-toe shoes with a low to moderate heel
    • Try to avoid shoes with very high heels

Research

Make sure you’ve reviewed the job description along with researching the organization, product lines, and competitors.  Review the company website, LinkedIn, and industry publications.  Keep up to date with new products or services as well as current events and news on the company’s blog.  For example, HubSpot’s blog provides marketing information that many of their customers would find valuable and utilize within their industry.

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Practice

Practice with your friends, using common interview questions..  Think of examples and scenarios from previous jobs or internships that can illustrate your experience, skills, and strengths to the person interviewing you.

Ask Questions

You will be asked a lot of questions about your resume, experience, and goals during the interview.  You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.

The interview is an opportunity for you and the employer to find out more about each other, and if this will be a good fit.  Here are some examples of questions you should ask and some you should not ask:

Ask

  • Can you describe an average workday here?
  • What kind of opportunities do you have for growth?
  • What are the most important characteristics or qualities that you are looking for in the person who fills this position?
  • How would you describe the company culture?

Don’t Ask

  • What’s the salary for this position?
  • What does your company do?
  • How quickly can I be promoted?
  • Who did you vote for?

Follow Up

Always, always, always follow up on the interview and send a thank you note.  This is one of the most crucial elements to an interview and sometimes the most forgotten.  Hiring managers interview many applicants and you want to thank them for their time and the opportunity to interview.

The best way to send a thank you note is via email and within 24 hours of the interview while you’re still fresh in the interviewer’s mind.  Something brief that thanks them for their time, recapping a particular subject or topic during the interview, and reconfirming next steps or the interview timeline if it was discussed.

 

Questions?  Comments?  Do you have any tips for job interviews?

 

Gaining Job Experience Without a Job

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One common question that we get when meeting with students is, “How am I supposed to get a job without experience, when every company requires that I have experience in my field?”  It’s a frustrating dilemma that can discourage people from finding that perfect job.

The job search process can be intimidating, but finding the right job without experience is not impossible.  Here are a few tips to gaining job experience before you land a job.

Internships

Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door with any company.  50% of NYIT interns are offered full-time positions upon graduation.  Whether the internship is paid or unpaid, interns have the opportunity to show their skills and establish a foundation for their career.

For companies, offering internships is a great way to evaluate potential employees at little (or no) cost.  It allows them to familiarize young talent with their business, services, and organization while determining if they want to offer them full-time positions.

The Vault is a notable resource for finding some of the best internships out there.  They surveyed current and former interns about their internship experience and were able to produce the Vault’s 50 Best Internships for 2017 report last year.

Volunteering

As a volunteer, you would be working without being paid and…wait, so what’s the difference between an intern and a volunteer?

An internship can be something you choose to do to develop the skills and experience in a specific profession.  As a volunteer, you can also do that, but it’s more about contributing to a cause.  For example, you may volunteer your skills as a graphic designer with a non-profit organization but may also be asked to help with  an event or with conducting outreach.  Volunteers typically help out wherever they are needed even if it is outside of their specified role.

Volunteering is still valuable and relevant experience that can provide you with great networking opportunities, even if the organization is not directly related to your industry.   Idealist is a great resource for searching nonprofit and volunteering opportunities.

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Networking

Networking is one of the most important skills in finding career opportunities.  In 2016, Lou Adler, CEO of a consulting and training firm specializing in hiring, conducted a survey that revealed 85% of all jobs are filled via networking.

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That figure is significant and emphasizes how critical effective networking can be, especially when you consider how much time is spent on searching for jobs, applying, and interviewing.

Students often ask, “Where and how can I improve my network?”  Networking goes beyond asking for someone’s business card.  It’s about making connections and building relationships.

You can build your network by:

  • Participating in conferences and speaking with industry experts
  • Attending special events and industry functions
  • Joining professional organizations via LinkedIn
  • Sharing ideas with friends and peers

Networking is free, takes hard work and communication, and enables you to build a community that can lead to future opportunities.

Freelancing

Consider giving yourself experience by working on your own. Freelancing is great for a variety of reasons.  It allows you to earn money while you seek full-time employment, and you can always continue freelancing for extra money once you find full-time employment.

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So where do you start?

First, decide on what viable skills you have, whether it’s in your field of study or a talent outside of your major area of focus.

Second, compile a portfolio or basic website to market your skills.

Third, start looking for clients.

But isn’t that the same as finding an internship or volunteer work?

The answer is yes and no.  You may have to work for little or no money in order to gain this experience and build your client base.  But remember, experience is the most important thing. As your portfolio expands, you’ll be able to pitch your freelance services at your desired rate based on experience and client testimonials.

 

 

 

 

 

I Keep Getting Rejected!

Looking for a job can be a full-time job in and of itself.  You spend a great deal of time on the search process, applying, and interviewing.

Glassdoor produced a guide that looked at 50 HR and Recruiting Stats that detailed what drives job seekers and employers during the application and offer process, and how difficult it can be to find that perfect match.

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According to their research, there is about a 2% chance one will get a call to interview for a corporate job opening.

It’s hard enough to get an interview sometimes, let alone an offer.  What do you do if you keep coming up short and are unable to land interviews or get offers for your dream job?

Get Feedback

It’s important to learn from each interview and experience.  In some cases, you may already know what the problem was if you had a bad interview, if you were nervous, or if you stumbled on a few questions.

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If you don’t know what the issue is, you can follow-up and ask the interviewer for feedback.  The feedback (positive and negative) can be helpful in your preparation for the next opportunity.  The interviewer may be able to provide feedback on your answers to their questions, if you have the right experience for the positions you’re applying for, or if you lack some form of technical skills.  Whatever the reason is, if you know what the issue is, there is an opportunity to adjust and prepare for the next interview.

Keep Calm & Network

The job market is often a numbers game when it comes to applying and getting interviews.  You may have years of experience along with a great education, but the phone isn’t ringing.  Most employers and recruiters are reviewing dozens of resumes on a daily basis.

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In order to separate yourself from the pack, take advantage of opportunities to put yourself face–to-face with people in the industry.   Attend industry networking functions where you can meet prospective employers or professionals who can put you in contact with hiring managers.

Uncubed holds career events that emphasize building a community for people to learn, interact, and exchange ideas.

Networking doesn’t end once you leave an event.  It continues with the sharing of ideas and information with other job seekers, fellow classmates, and other professionals you may meet.  By expanding your network, you can increase your job opportunities.

Improve Your Skills

Technical skills can be a deciding factor when it comes to the job search process.  Some employers may not have the time or resources to train new hires on different programming languages or software that is necessary for them to do their job.

Whether you have experience with different applications and software or just want to improve your proficiency, it would be beneficial to take a class as you’re waiting for that interview or job offer.

The Muse compiled an extensive list of free classes to help boost your skills ranging from SEO training to getting a quick review of Google Docs.  This list of free online classes can be found here.

Take a Break!

You’ve applied to jobs every day.  You’ve gone on several interviews.  You’ve earned the right to take a break and recharge.  It can get pretty stagnant as you go through your daily routine of searching jobs on LinkedIn and other job boards, applying, and hearing nothing back in return.

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Relax a bit and go see that movie that just came out or catch up with a friend over lunch.  Check out the free activities in your city and go to a museum or get out and exercise.

Whatever it is, once you take a few days off and recharge, you will feel better about continuing with the job search process.

Stay positive, move on, and keep trying.  The right opportunity is not far away.