How is this year different?

Another start of another school year. What is different this time? Aside from the fact that we are starting a week earlier, the obvious answer is that you (in fact all of us) are a year older. We should be wiser, we should be more mature. Second, you are that much closer to graduation, and your future. If you will be finishing up in 2014, you should be thinking about career matters. You may be focused on finding a job, getting into a good graduate or professional school program, getting a prestigious fellowship, or if you are a doctoral student, perhaps finding a post-doc. Even those who will be graduating at a later time may be starting to think about internships for next summer.

This is all well and good. Things here get off to a quick start. Our employer presentations begin tonight. Our workshops have already started. You can’t say, as you may have in years past, that Career Services is for another time. Now is the time for many of you. Take advantage of all we have to offer, now and throughout the year.

So get going, but at the same time, relax. If you are like your Penn predecessors, you will do well, regardless of your path. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, you are not competing with your classmates. You are competing with young people throughout our country, and others well beyond our borders. You may also be competing with new technologies that are changing the nature of many jobs. Cheaper labor abroad can do many jobs more cheaply, even professional level jobs requiring graduate training. Sophisticated computer programs, using enormous data sets, have reduced the need for people in some positions or fields. Think about where you can make a contribution in this global economy. Don’t be afraid to dream. And don’t worry too much about where you start: a first job is a first job, the first of many you will hold.

Second, don’t go about your career preparation with sharp elbows. I am reminded of last spring’s commencement address at Syracuse University, where the author George Saunders urged the graduates to be kind. It’s worth saying even before graduation: be nice to each other. (The text of the speech is available on the New York Times site, but it’s been hacked. Take a minute to find it if you can; it’s a great speech.) As Einstein is reported to have said, “everything that counts cannot be counted.” Being kind really counts. It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s important.

On behalf of everyone in Career Services, all the best for a great semester.

Organizations Use Social Media To Recruit? Yes.

social-media-resume-36077% of organizations today use social media to recruit. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), reported this growing trend in a recent survey. So, who are some organizations that partake in “social recruiting”? More publicly-owned organizations are leveraging these tools, like ExxonMobil, Apple, J.P. Morgan Chase. You may have heard of them, and if you’d like to work for them one day, you should consider how their social media presence can be used to your advantage.

At Career Services, we’re here to help take your social media presence beyond liking pictures of friends on Facebook, tweeting sarcastic comments on Twitter and being intimidated, perhaps, by LinkedIn.  If you want to take your social media use to a professional level, see what we have in store for you this year to make that happen:

1) LinkedIn Profile Reviews.  A LinkedIn profile is the new resume.  Just like resume/CV critiques, we’re offering LinkedIn profile critiques on a one-on-one basis. Connect with your school’s team of counselors to set up an appointment.

2) Social Media Workshops. We’re offering special programming to students this year on how to use social media, as well programs through Weigle Information Commons on setting up LinkedIn. Stay tuned for these programs through our various event calendars for grads/postdocs and undergrads.

3) Follow Us on Twitter.  Our main account is @PennCareerServ, but one gem in particular is our @PennCareerJobs account.  Employers who post on PennLink schedule tweets to promote their new listings – don’t miss out!

4) #Hashtags.  If you’re already active on social media, and given Facebook has rolled out use of hashtags, it’s time to put them to professional use.  Look for our hashtags: #penncsevent, #pennOCR. Beyond that, consider #career and #jobtips, as well as following an organization you’re interested in to see what tags they are using. Wondering what is a hashtag? Read this article from Twitter.

There are a LOT of opportunities out there to connect with organizations, learn about their internships and full-time jobs, as well as see if there is a Penn connection – all via social media.  Take advantage of the resources we have available to help you take your social media presence to the next level.

To see more resources, check out our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Vimeo and Online Networking pages.

by Shannon C. Kelly

Know *Your* Strategy

I’m glad for lots of activity on campus after the lull of quiet weeks during the warmth of summer.   I hope this time of year finds you happy too, and with so many things to look forward to!  Aside from coming-back-to-school happiness, one thing that may be on your mind is how you can best be prepared to engage in a job or internship search in the coming year.  Along with the standard advice – update your resume, get your interviewing suit cleaned and pressed, perfect your handshake –- I wholeheartedly encourage you to take a moment to determine your personal and unique strategy for your search, based on your interests.

Let me explain the italics – every industry and organization can be different when it comes to recruiting strategy, efforts and timeline for hiring, and your search will likely not be exactly the same as anyone else’s.

From a recruiting standpoint, there are no “rules” or specific dates when jobs are posted and when companies hire.  Some recruiters are very savvy – and lucky! – and know 9-12 months in advance how many positions they’ll have to fill, which allows them to schedule interview dates, career fair attendance, and other programs on campus with great speed and foresight.  For the majority, though, the process is not so easy or early – hiring projections may not be set, or in the case of many organizations, they may not even know their needs for next year more than a couple months in advance.   Depending on the economy, there may also be challenges to hiring early, as uncertainty tends to drive hesitancy in interviewing and extending offers.

From a personal standpoint, while you may share some interests and goals with other students, virtually everyone I have ever met has a fairly unique collection of interests, goals, parameters, values and other variables when it comes to how they plan their job searches.  This is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “one size fits all” type of process.  Not sure of your own variables?  Try self-assessment or using another career exploration tool; many great ones are available on our Career Exploration website –

If you’re looking for a full-time position in consulting, update your Pennlink account and get ready today, for that industry tends to start very quickly and many firms participate in early On-Campus Recruiting and Career Fairs at Penn (i.e. in September and early October).  The same is generally true for larger organizations in financial services, some technology firms, and a few other sizable companies that hire many college graduates each year.   It’s a little easier to plan your organization’s recruiting strategy – and to start early – when you know you need to bring a specific number of entry-level people on board 9-12 months from now.

However, for most other industries, and some organizations within those industries mentioned above, the recruiting calendar and approach can be very different.  You may have heard people refer to “just in time” hiring – otherwise known as posting jobs, interviewing candidates, and making hires when positions are actually available and for which work will start within a couple of months or even weeks.   Some industries and individual organizations rely heavily on finding applicants and candidates through word-of-mouth and networking and so hardly ever actually post jobs – there are many different recruiting strategies out there, and you’ll want to be as aware of the possibilities as you can be.

What does this mean for you?

If you have even a rough idea of what you may want to pursue for your first job after Penn or your summer internship for next year, be kind to yourself, reduce your stress and worry, and find out what the “hiring timeline” and advertising strategies are for positions within your field(s) of interest.  The easiest way to do this is to consult with a career advisor in Career Services.   Our teams have years of experience in analyzing and understanding job markets and industries, and our advisors are happy to help guide you in finding your best job or internship opportunity.

Wrap it up!

Recently I met with a group of interns at Penn’s Facilities and Real Estate Services (FRES).  This is a department at Penn that hires both undergraduate and graduate students into internships that range from Human Resources to Sustainability to Safety and Security.  Each intern I spoke to had such varied duties, and varied goals for their time after their internships; what they had in common was a need to wrap things up well at FRES.   I coached them at our meeting, and now want to share a tip for all students who are in the last stages of summer internships.  My advice?  Read this great blog by my coworker Anne Marie. The ideas in it will help you get motivated to transition from your work or internship experiences, and capitalize on what you have already accomplished over the summer.
Summer: It’s a Wrap!

Summer: It’s a Wrap!

Thanks Anne Marie, I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Spotting Job Post Scams – Revisited

With the recent surge in more sophisticated fraudulent job announcements, it seemed appropriate to update this post.

By this point, everyone is familiar with the scam emails featuring a prince in Nigeria who doesn’t have access to his bank account but if you just send a $500 he will reward you with a much higher sum out of gratitude. Sadly, there are increasingly similar scams in the form of fake job posts which can sometimes be harder to spot, particularly since they often appear on reputable job boards (we even occasionally find them on PennLink!). A new scarier trend involves  the use of real company names and seemingly legitimate recruiter email addresses. Here are some tips to help you identify and avoid these doozies:

1. First and foremost, trust your gut. Chances are good that if something appears “sketchy” or too good to be true, it probably is.

2. Be wary of individual emails you receive that are not from a recognized source. While you may be on a number of list servs from which you receive regular emails, it’s unlikely that a real job announcement would come to you in an unsolicited email from an unknown source. Especially in an economy like this, where competition for jobs is great, there is no reason for employers to target potential hires via mass individual emails.

3. Does it pass the “Google” test? While there are some instances where a company may be so new as to not yet have much of a presence online, you should be able to find out something about the organization or the person who posted the position using a Google (or whichever search tool you prefer) search. If you’re not able to find out much information, that should give you pause to reconsider.



There is bizarre language or phrasing in the job posting. If there are a lot of grammatical errors or phrasing that does not seem like something a native English speaker would use, beware.

The contact email for the employer is a personal account like gmail or Hotmail.        

The job requirements seem overly easy or there aren’t any. Ask yourself, why would an employer want to hire someone without skills related to the position?

You get offered a job without interviewing first. An employer would never hire someone based solely on their resume.

Anything that requires you to transfer money. You should never be asked for your bank account or checking information as part of a job application.

The company has a generic name like “Insurance Company” or “Finance Corporation International.” More recently, sophisticated scammers will use the name of a real company and just make up the job announcement or use a slightly altered version of a legitimate company name. Clearly, these are much harder to spot but ultimately, if any part of the process involves them wanting to send you a check or exchange banking information, you know it’s fraudulent.

Phone calls from Google Voice. While some companies may use this service to do work between employees, it’s unlikely they will use it to contact you for an interview.

“One doth protest too much.” Are there statements (such as  “We do not need access to your bank accounts” or “Actions depicted below, are authorized by Our Company, and therefore sustain legitimacy status”), which seem to go out of the way to try to assure you that they are above board? Ask yourself, why are they trying so hard?

The contact name is a little too familiar. A newer trend in fraudulent postings is using celebrity names (we saw one recently where Samuel Jackson was listed) as the recruiter contact.

If you see you a posting that you think is questionable, particularly if you find it on PennLink, please let us know immediately.

Here are some other resources to educate yourself on job scams, including information on a number of international programs that can be questionable:

▪   PA’s Attorney General’s warning about job scams (includes information on how to report these to the government)

▪   How to Avoid Job Post Scams

▪   The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – How to avoid a terrible work experience as an English teacher abroad

▪   Things to Watch Out for Before Taking a TEFL Job Overseas

▪   The TEFL Blacklist