Announcing: a LinkedIn Group for Western Technical College students and graduates!

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Interested in networking with professionals who are Western Technical College graduates? We have created a group on LinkedIn called, “Western Technical College Alumni Career Mentor Network.” The group is made up of Western students AND Western graduates. The graduates have volunteered to be available to our students who have questions about their chosen career path.

Westerns Graduates (Alumni) are professionals who have experience in their industry. They would love to share information about their job and how they obtained their job.

In LinkedIN on the black tool bar, click on “Interests,” then click on “Groups,” then type “Western Technical College Alumni Career Mentor Network” into the search window OR just hit this hyper-link which will take you right to the group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=3898735&trk=my_groups-tile-grp

Once in the group page, you can request to be a member by clicking on the button for that purpose. Check back in a day or two and you will see that this group is in your “membership” area and you are an approved member of the group (you need to be a Western Student or a Western graduate to join). As a member of the group you can search the other members and see if there is someone that you could learn from.

We hope to grow our members substantially this academic year.

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Personal Branding

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What is Personal Branding? In defining the meaning for you, I am going to use a couple of quotes:

“What makes you unique, makes you successful”
William Arruda
and
“Building your personal brand online gets you noticed in the real world”
Kirsten Dixson.

The two authors that created those wonderful words wrote the book, “Career Distinction; Stand out by Building your Brand.” To get your arms around this, I want you to think about how unique each and every individual is on this planet. Everytime I spend some time thinking about this, I am amazed and awed spiritually.

Let’s say we have five students who have recently graduated with an associate of applied science degree in Medical Administrative Professional (one of our newer programs here at Western Technical College). Those five students all come into career services to get assistance with their resumes. Not one resume looked alike, not one. And why should they? Yes, each student graduated from the same program, but each student has different backgrounds and experience. Each student excelled in a different area while they were in the program learning.

Do you have a clear picture of your strengths? Of your weaknesses? Have you taken the time to get to know yourself? REALLY know who YOU are? Are you able to market your strengths on a resume? Have you noticed that you are better at doing certain tasks than others? You probably have noticed that some people out there seem to have skills and strengths that you don’t have…but have you taken the time to discover what special strengths you do have? Believe me, we all have them. THAT is what personal branding is all about.

Personal Branding is not a new idea. You have probably at least heard of the term. In finding a media clip to add to this post, I googled personal branding. I found the media clip that I attached to the top of this post which I hope you will study as it might answer questions that have popped into your head. Anyway, in finding that media clip I ran across a post by a Dorie Clark and Andy Molinsky who stress that personal branding is self-promotion and self-promotion is not always considered a positive value in all cultures. Some people are turned off by what they see as bragging. There is no need to brag, your work should speak for itself. They state that authenticity matters. Giving some thoughtful, honest thought to self-assessment is well accepted. Career Services staff can guide you through a self assessment that is pretty powerful. Let us know if we can help you discover your strengths.

As you can imagine there is a lot of information out on the internet about personal branding. Check it out for a few minutes. I also ran across a comment posted by RD who states that “anyone interested in personal branding should get: Personal Brand Planning for Life.” Available on Amazon. There are probably a few dozen choices of books on the topic as well. Happy exploring!

Using LinkedIn to Search for Career Information

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GREAT news! Western Technical College Alumni office has created a LinkedIn Group that alumni join if they want to provide a job shadowing or informational interviewing opportunity to students AND students join this same group if they want to job shadow or ask questions of a professional already in the field that they want to be in. The LinkedIn Group is called Western Technical College Alumni Career Mentor Network Group.

To Join: In the black title bar put your cursor over “interests” to see drop down. Click on “Groups.” In the search bar type, “Western Technical College Alumni Career Mentor Network Group.” Click on “Request to Join.” This may take a day or so.

Once you are accepted into the group you can click on members. In members you can search for companies you are interested in, or enter in a college program title to find alumni who have a degree similar to yours. You can even enter in a key industry word like Finance, or Nursing. For an example, I typed in Gundersen (large local employer) and found 4 professionals in different professions who work at Gundersen. The real PLUS in joining this group is that you already know that these alumni have volunteered to mentor a student. They specifically joined the group because they are willing to help. For this reason I encourage any student who wants to learn more about a company or profession to go ahead and request to connect with one of the professionals that you would like to talk to.

Because I wanted to experiment, I next went back to my LinkedIn page and I clicked on “Advanced Search,” and entered “Organic Valley” (this is a large company in our area), into the keywords window. This time there were 138 results. When I put “Organic Valley” into the company keyword search box, then I saw 74 results. Out of those 74 I knew one person, so this is where I would begin if I was interested in becoming employed there. I would ask her if she has 20-30 minutes some time in the next couple of weeks to meet with me and tell me what it is like to work in her profession.

See links at the beginning of this post for information on how to do a professional informational interview.

Google is your new resume

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Did the title of this post catch your eye? Richard N. Bolles the author of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” (The Best Selling Job-Hunting Book in the World) (2014 Edition), gave me an eye opener today. He points out that for many years we have had complete control over what employers could find out about us. In the past, all they had was what we put on our resume. No longer.

Since 2008 there has been a new resume in town, it is called Google. All any employer has to do is type your name into a search engine such as Google and well, bye bye to the control that you had over what employers can find out about you. Mr. Bolles reports that somewhere between 35% and 70% of employers have rejected applicants based on their Google search. Things that get you rejected? Bad grammar, misspellings on the social media you use, anything indicating that you lied on your resume, any badmouthing of previous employers, any signs of racism, prejudice, or screwy opinions about stuff, anything indicating alcohol or drug abuse, and honestly any inappropriate content.

So, how can you manage or remove anything that is out there that would cause a prospective employer to reject you? Bolles says there are four things you can do: You can edit, fill in, expand, and add. The rest of Chapter 2 lays it all out in detail (pages 23 through 40). If you need this kind of help, I am certain the library has several copies. Have you Googled yourself yet?

LinkedIn-You need a 100% profile

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imagesCABRNPI2“On LinkedIn, a complete profile means that it’s 100% finished.”
“Nothing much happens on LinkedIn until your profile is at 100%.”

These quotes prompt us to ask, “How do you get your profile to 100%? According to my research, one needs to have their photo on LinkedIn and one needs at least 3 recommendations. To ask someone to write a recommendation for your LinkedIn profile use the form that LinkedIn provides when you click on, “Ask for a recommendation.”

I have heard several times, and it is verified in these sources, that a photo is mandatory. I can see from being out on LinkedIn that many of you are avoiding this. We can all have a photo taken that we can live with. Keep trying until you manage to obtain one that you are pleased with. Good friends can help. I scanned, cut, and pasted mine out of a professionally taken family photo. My smile is genuine. So it’s a bit more close up then I would like….oh well, at least I’m smiling.

Remember to keep everything on LinkedIn purely professional – that means do not post anything that isn’t related to your professional career. In describing your past jobs or work experience, don’t just list tasks. Summarize some major achievements of yours. Use statements that are “prove it” statements. By that I mean, use words that describe what you have achieved. For example: “Frequently served as store supervisor in the manager’s absence,” demonstrates a strong work ethic and proves that you can be trusted with that kind of responsibility. You can even tell a story about your achievements, after all LinkedIn does provide plenty of space for this.

In the SUMMARY area be sure to state what makes you a better hire than the 19 other people who might compete for the kind of job you want. Under SPECIALTIES list every keyword you can think of that would lead a search engine to find you for the job that you want. It is suggested that you add links to any website you feel would help you stand out: your blog? your Twitter account? Facebook? (Remember: only websites that will help you get hired). Join one or more LinkedIn groups related to your expertise. “Groups” are in the bar across the top of your home page. Once you have filled out your profile completely, you can click on “Groups” and then on the subheading, “Groups You May Like.” LinkedIn will make suggestions, based on your profile, with information about each group. Finally, there is a place on LinkedIn to describe any projects that you are proud of.

When you have covered all of the above, you should be close to 100%. Let us know here in Career Services if you need help. Sources: 2014 Edition of What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles and How to Find a Job On LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google + by Brad Schepp and Debra Schepp.