A Career For You

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Today is the first day of school for those attending Western Technical College in La Crosse. Welcome back Students!

So, speaking of fresh starts: This blog is all about Careers 4 U, right? It is about “Finding Your Path.”

Choosing a program at Western is easier for some than others. Speaking from years of experience, i.e., struggling through many years myself, I am here to say that choosing the right path is all about Career Development. The word development here means: to grow or progress gradually.

Choosing the right career path is about learning enough to make a decision. If you were to break down the steps to decision making, you would find that one of the steps is gathering information. When we gather information about the careers we are thinking about, we are learning enough about each one to help us make a decision.

Put all that together and realize that we all develop at our own pace, but we can speed things along by choosing to spend some time thinking and learning about our career choices. So I have two suggestions along that line for you to consider.

Here in Career Services we recommend that you do an “informational interview” for each of your top choices. After all, we learn from other people.

How to conduct an informational interview in four easy steps: 1). Sit down and make a list of all the people you know who are already doing the job; make a list of those who you know who would be willing to help you find someone who is already doing the job. 2). Pick up your phone and call these people. Your goal: To find someone who is already doing the job and talk to them for 20-30 minutes. 3). First ask them if they have the time. If they are in the middle of something, ask them if you can schedule an appointment to talk with them for 20-30 minutes (and remember to respect this time limit….if they extend this time frame that is fine….if not, do not overstay your welcome…you can always schedule another time that is better for them). 4). Have your questions prepared ahead of time: We have a handout here in Career Services that you can pop in and pick up, but you probably have a good idea of what it is that you want to ask.
You can ask questions such as:
Tell me what a day on the job is like.
Can you tell me what percentage of time you spend on various duties?
What are your favorite parts of the job?
What do you wish you could change?
What steps did you take to get where you are at today?
Do you have any advice for me?
Do you think there will be plenty of hiring taking place in the future for this kind of skill?

So, maybe you are wondering how to come up with “top choices?” Career Services is all about helping you narrow down career choices and we use a career assessment called, “Typefocus” to help you do this. Be a walk in at Career Services. Just look to your right when you enter the Welcome Center at 400 7th Street North, La Crosse, WI. You will see the big “Career Services” sign. We are open from 8-4 Monday through Thursday and 10 to 4 on Fridays. I can guide you through our career assessments so that you can narrow down your choices to 4 or 5 top picks. Typefocus measures your interests, personality type, and values – PLUS the tool gives you information about whether the career has a bright outlook or whether it is considered a “green job” (meaning a job that helps sustain our earth’s resources). Next you can sort occupations nine different ways. You create your own account and you are able to save occupations that you are interested in in your own “portfolio,” which allows you then to narrow down your choices. I have had numerous students tell me how helpful this assessment can be. If you prefer to schedule an appointment, you can reach me at: 608-785-9257.

I promised two suggestions. The other suggestion that I have: Take Western’s one credit “Career Development” course #20890202. Several sections are offered each trimester. Taking a course in career development will force you to take the time to collect information and reflect on your career choices, which leads to “Finding Your Path.”

The American Nurse: Healing America documentary film premiering in La Crosse, WI

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Received this in our Career Services email in box today and want to spread the word. Good career information for anyone interested in the nursing field.

“Gundersen Health System, in collaboration with Viterbo University, proudly announces that the critically-acclaimed motion picture documentary film, The American Nurse: Healing America will premiere in La Crosse on September 12th and September 13th at the Viterbo University Fine Arts Center- Main Theater. This emotionally charged documentary premiered on National Nurses’ Day 2014 at select theaters across America and has been featured in the national television and print media. The film follows 5 nurses along with their patients: Tonia Faust with maximum-security prison inmates; Jason Short with home health patients in Appalachia; Brian McMillion with soldiers returning from war; Naomi Cross with mothers giving birth; and Sister Stephen, Director of Nursing at Villa Loretto Nursing Home in Mount Calvary, WI , with nursing home patients at the end of life.”

When?
Friday, September 12th at 7 p.m.
Saturday, September 13th at 2 p.m.

Where?
Viterbo University Fine Arts Center – Main Theater
900 Viterbo Drive
La Crosse, WI 54601

http://americannurseproject.com/

Please tell those that you believe will be interested. Thank you.

Why you need LinkedIn

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This fall at Western Technical College we plan to do some training/presenting on the social media website called, “LinkedIn.” The information that we share will help students become comfortable with using LinkedIn plus help them create a dynamic profile for themselves. The following article which I came across this morning gives some good reasons why you need LinkedIn. The article discusses the importance of LinkedIn not only for job seeking but also to help you network in todays busy work world. Check it out.

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/linkedin2/fl/linkedin-101.htm

Is it time to beef up your resume?

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Here in Career Services at Western Technical College part of what we do is give resume advice. When someone comes in with a resume that looks great, the only tip I can give them is to beef up their bullet statements. We have developed a handout that helps students see what I mean by “beefing up” bullet statements.

Basically what I am suggesting is to “word smith” statements that describe what you accomplished while you were working for the employers that are listed in the work experience section of your resume. “Word smith” means to play with words until they make the impact you are looking for.

Let’s say you want to demonstrate on your resume that you have good communication skills. You might state on your resume, “Listened attentively to determine customer needs.” That is a skill…not everyone is good at listening to customers. When you state that on your resume, you are proving that you have that skill.

Another example: You know that you have a strong work ethic, but you have heard that “everyone says that on their resume.” You want to stand out and demonstrate that indeed you do have a strong work ethic. You can state, “Recognized by supervisors as being efficient and detail oriented.” OR “Frequently served as store supervisor in the manager’s absence.” OR “Volunteered to work late and pick up extra shifts whenever needed.”

One more example: Let’s say you want to demonstrate your problem solving skills. You can say, “Designed more efficient bookkeeping strategy using Microsoft Excel.” OR “Established “hotline” to handle customer inquiries, which decreased complaints by 33%.” OR “Implemented software to track and resolve customer complaints, resulting in a 45% decrease in product returns.”

Still need help figuring out how to create accomplishment statements for yourself? See the article I just googled to help me write this post! http://smgworld.bu.edu/fcc/resumes/content/powerful-accomplishment-statements/

Sources: Career Services handout AND the Boston University School of Management – Feld Career Center

A LinkedIn Update – From LinkedIn’s Blog

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Quoting directly from LinkedIn’s blog:

“Today’s professionals are thinking about their professional lives as continuously evolving careers, and the way they navigate to and through new opportunities in those careers, has changed dramatically. In today’s world, the best opportunities come to you, often times when you’re not even looking for them. We’ve designed the LinkedIn Profile to help you attract those opportunities – whether it be a position on a non-profit board, an invitation to speak at an industry conference or even the opportunity to mentor a future professional. Having the ability to highlight everything from what you’ve accomplished to what you aspire to do, beyond your 9-5 role – is critical to making sure the right people can find you.”

“Eighty-percent of opportunities are going to those who were discovered when they weren’t actively looking. So the number one thing I’d like members to know is that you’re limiting your prospects and doing yourself a disservice by only updating your profile when you’re hunting for a job. Instead, try treating it like an always-on advertisement for your professional self, and let it do the work for you.”

Source: The LinkedIn Blog – How we built the LinkedIn Profile so Opportunities Can Find You: Inside Story with LinkedIn’s product lead for identity products (Posted 30 Jul 2014 06:00 AM PDT)

Job Seeking: How to act; How to speak – It’s all about professionalism

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Are you “job seeking” right now? If so, you will want to put yourself into “job seeking mode.” Just as we dress differently for work than we do for “hanging out.” Just as we dress differently for a concert than to go out to eat. We must put on our “job seeking” attire and not only look different, but act different as needed in order to get what we want. We want a job, right? So we must look and act as though we are a good fit for the job. If you have done your research and learned all about your profession, then you have learned how to dress in your particular industry of choice. For the interview, you will dress one step up from appropriate dress in your industry.

So, how to act? You want to act as professional as possible. Professionalism is defined in the dictionary as: “pro·fes·sion·al·ism – noun: the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.”

I found a PDF document on professionalism when I googled the word. The PDF (developed by the U.S. Department of Labor) made it very clear that professionalism is all about our character. “Employers want new workers to be responsible, ethical, and team oriented, and to possess strong communication, interpersonal, and problem solving skills. Wrap these skills up all together and you’ve got professionalism.”

And next, how to speak? Well, professionally of course! Think back to how your English teacher expected you to speak in elementary and high school. We say, “Yes” instead of “Yeah.” And you will say, “Could you repeat the question please?” instead of “What?”

I found the following article when looking through the email I receive from LinkedIn, “10 Words to Avoid Using During Your Job Search.” These recommendations from Heather Huhman make good sense to me. Follow the link and read what she has to say. http://www.glassdoor.com/blog/10-words-avoid-job-search/.

You can practice professionalism in your home. When you say words out loud to yourself several times, they become ingrained within your speech. Do some practicing. Anyone can be a professional in their field.