At one point, we were all college students, employed and involved in clubs and Greek Life. Some of us visited our career center, and even fewer may have had an internship. I was the student that career professionals dread. I visited the Career office three times: first, as a sophomore to build a resume; second, as a junior to actually finish that resume and use it to apply for internships so my parents would stop bothering me; lastly, as a senior two weeks before graduation because I had no job. I clearly remember the career counselor telling me how to use the online databases to search for jobs and alumni. He also gave me a lengthy list of alumni in my area who were Communication Arts majors.
I ignored the advice about networking with alumni, kept blindly applying to jobs online. I stuck the list in the back of my drawer. I found it years later as I was preparing for my first professional job, working as a Career Counselor in my alma mater’s career office with that helpful Career Counselor as my boss. It reminded me to remain observant while I am working with students, to teach them to do what I say and not what I did.
1. Be gentle, but clear when reviewing resumes.
Nobody likes being told they did something wrong, and that’s what many students hear during resume reviews. Explain why certain things have to be a certain way, suggest options for the student to choose, and remember to smile, even if it’s your 10th review of the day.
2. Offer to set-up a second review.
Sometimes, a resume needs more work than can be completed during a presentation or session. Offer to schedule an appointment on the spot with the student. Send an email reminder too. Make sure they know it’s not because the resume is bad, but because you want to make it the best it can be.
3. Tell them about your experiences!
Say “I am so embarrassed by my old cover letters before I got help”. This not only makes them feel better, but humanizes you. Nobody wants to be a resume reviewing robot.
4. Show them real life examples.
Once during a presentation, a student asked how many students actually get opportunities by reaching out to alumni on LinkedIn. While I didn’t have that statistic, I could tell him that there were X number of jobs posted by alumni in our database and X number of alumni recruited on campus. I also use myself as an example; I received my interview because my now boss remembered me as a student.
5. Be patient when it takes a while.
It took me a few years to appreciate the services our career office offered. So when an alum calls or visits and needs help, don’t think of them as someone who missed out as a student, but as someone who simply took longer to appreciate our work.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Cristina Lawson at email@example.com.