Take My Word For It

by Julie Vick


Readers of this blog know that Career Services staff blog that unlikely and different experiences can actually inform your job search, and I really mean DIFFERENT.   Some of the topics on which we have posts are TV watching, dirty diapers, Dr. Who, your cat, and lunch; if you take a moment to read those posts you WILL find that those experience can be meaningful for some aspect of your search.

One of MY passions is playing Scrabble, both in person and online.  I love words and really enjoy figuring out the best word I can make with as many of my seven letters as possible.  I compare doing that to writing a strong resume or CV and a cover letter.  But I can’t put my word on the board just anywhere; it has to connect to a word already played.  Just so, my resume and cover letter must show a connection to the job to which I’m applying.  As I may have to tweak the word to find it a place on the board, so I need to tailor my job hunting materials to each specific job.  And the third strategy I employ is to try to place high-scoring letters on triple- or double-letter spaces and/or make sure the word falls on a triple- or double-word space.  That is somewhat similar to getting some useful information about the job or employer before you finish the written materials which might let you say in the letter, “Your colleague suggested I apply for the job because my experience and abilities are a good match for it.”  SO, to review: the excitement of making a good word AND playing it well is akin to writing strong and targeted application materials that get you a phone interview.  It’s not enough to put together a good word from the seven letters in your tile tray; you also need to make a connection.

There are many low moments with Scrabble too.  When I have a tray with three “I’s”, two “U’s” and two “N’s” on it, I have to decide whether or not to turn in some of those “I’s” and other letters.  I’ll get new letters but lose a turn to play.   (If I have a lot of “I’s” plus other low-scoring letters, I usually trade some of them in.  Unfortunately, over the next few turns they seem to find me again.)  It’s the same with job hunting.  If you find that your strategy isn’t resulting in some interviews perhaps you need to rethink it; maybe you need to talk with some Penn alumni/ae in the field that interests you so that your letters sound more knowledgeable.  Perhaps your resume doesn’t provide enough detail — or provides too much detail – and needs significant REVISION.

About every 10-15 games I play what’s called a “bingo,” that is, I manage to use all seven letters that are on my tray in a play.  A bingo earns you 50 extra points in addition to the points for the word.  The ultimate job search bingo would be an offer but it could also be an interview or even discovery of an opportunity that’s great for you.  I’m always on the lookout for a bingo even though for me with Scrabble I know they happen only occasionally.  You need to do the same…Take my WORD for it.


Strategic Self-Assessment

By Sharon Fleshman

Whether you are exploring careers, conducting a job search, or contemplating a career change, self-assessment can energize the process.  Begin by reflecting on your previous jobs, projects and activities. Don’t limit yourself to the experiences which seem most related to your immediate career goals.  Try to move beyond occupations and job titles. Take a look at your resume or CV and go line by line. Identify where you made the most impact and what gave you the greatest sense of fulfillment.

Next, you’ll want to pinpoint skills that emerge from these experiences. Chances are that these skills can transfer to a variety of career options.  For example, research skills could be applied to meaningful work in any number of areas such as academia, program evaluation for a non-profit, or marketing research for a corporation.

In addition to skills, think about what you valued in past experiences in which you found meaning and success. Identifying your work values will help you to consider the work environment which is the best fit for you.  In other words, you could perform the same job in two different settings but find that you thrive much more in one setting than the other.  What about your interests? Perhaps they would provide clues as to what’s next on your career path.  It may be that you decide to try out some career options by way of internships, volunteer work, or short-term projects to tease out all of this information. There’s nothing quite like hands-on experience to provide a fresh perspective.

Finally, you will need to consider the current priorities in your life and how they relate to your job search.  Are you willing to relocate or do personal commitments limit your geographical options? How do your immediate financial needs affect your choices?

You will find that self-assessment not only helps you identify potential career paths, but prepares you for next steps in the job search.  Your networking meetings will be more focused and fruitful because you have done your homework.  Your resumes, cover letters, and interviews will be more compelling because you have taken a thorough inventory of what energizes you, what matters to you, and what you have to offer.

In addition to our Career Discovery webpages, there are a number of tools and inventories that can help you facilitate the self-assessment process.  As always, Career Services advisors are available to provide guidance as well. Enjoy your summer!

Think Before You Post!

by Shannon Kelly

During my regular Twitter check for headlines this morning, I came across a post through @DanSchawbel : “35% of Americans Post Something Online They Later Regret”.  As an avid social media user and advisor on how to manage your online presence, I naturally selected this headline for more information.  It was linked to a blog on how Anthony Weiner, the now infamous Congressman and most visible example of what NOT to do on Twitter, is not alone. I encourage you to read the short blog, aptly titled Don’t Be a Weiner (or a Loser): Think Before You Post.  It has some interesting numbers on why/how people post things they regret and age differences, such as a post from their smartphone to their Facebook page.

I hear more frequently about employees who vent about their job or share too much information on a social media platform (especially Twitter and Facebook) and hurt their reputation and even lose their job.  So, as you make plans for another summer weekend and have an urge to share a picture or a thought, I encourage you to THINK BEFORE YOU POST!



Welcome to Career Services: we’ve missed you!

By Dr. Joseph Barber

Congratulations! You are reading this blog, and so you are probably aware of Career Services and some of the many resources we have to help you with the job search and application process. All the posts within this blog compliment the links, tools, and archived workshops and videos available on the Career Services website. You’ve probably been there already, and hopefully you’ll be back soon. And when you come back, stay for a while – and poke around to see what information you can find to answer your questions.

In return for all this information, I would like to ask for a small favour! Really, it is just a small one. All I would like you to do is to ask your friends, colleagues, and peers if they have visited the Career Services website, or popped in to see us in the McNeil building recently. That’s it – simple. Now, some of the people you ask may look at you kind of funny – especially if you bring this topic up during dinner, in the middle of an episode of Glee, or whilst pipetting something mutagenic…, but they will eventually thank you for doing so, particularly if they have never heard about the resources we offer. In the hustle and bustle of daily academic life, things like thinking strategically about preparing yourself for future careers can sometimes fall by the wayside. However, your time at Penn provides you with a wealth of opportunities to gain knowledge, meet people, and gain practical, applied experiences that together will maximize your chances of successfully obtaining a job in the your career field of choice – whatever that may be. The sooner you start to do this, the better!

We certainly don’t want your friends, colleagues, and peers to wait until the last minute to think about this, or never to visit us at all – and you probably don’t want that either. We are here all summer, all semester, and our role is to serve you – to help you think about your career options, and to understand all the steps involved in making career decisions. Here are just some of the key services we offer:

  1. Resume, CV, cover letter, and other miscellaneous job application material reviews.
  2. Workshops on topics such as networking and interviewing; discussion panels with speakers from academic and non-academic careers; career fairs full of interesting employers seeking good candidates.
  3. Mock interviews, where we record you answering questions, and then discuss your answer whilst watching your video (many people don’t like the sound of their voice – but once you get over that, you’ll see how beneficial this experience can be).
  4. Career exploration, which can be very handy if you don’t quite know what you want to do or be, or can’t decide between different options.
  5. Advice from you peers. Just as you can advise your friends, colleagues, and peers to check out this blog and visit our website, so can you gain from the advice from those who have gone before you. Whether looking at the results of the Career Plans Survey, or reaching out to Penn Alumni who are doing what you might like to do one day as well, you’ll find plenty of helpful information through our website.

Share this list with your friends, colleagues, and peers, and encourage them to make an appointment to see an advisor. You could be helping them to get started on their pathway to success. It is very satisfying to be helpful, which is why we are also looking forward to seeing you again! So remember, spread the word that Career Services is open for business, and hopefully we will get to see many more of you soon.