Thursday, July 31, 2008

TXT ME. Just not after an interview...

"Thnx for ur time! GR8 to meet u!"

For savvy texters, deciphering a message like the one above is easy, and sending message with abbreviated words or phrases can be a a huge time saver when texting or emailing friends.
its also tempting to drop the capitalization and correct punctuation out of your messages when you're sending a casual email or making plans for the weekend.

The downside of this relaxed on-line "grammar" is becoming apparent, especially in the workplace, and especially with regard to interns and first-time job seekers. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal examines this phenomenon, and what recruiters have to say isn't pretty. Examples abound of college graduates and job candidates who nailed the interview, but then ruined their chances of being hired by sending a quickly written thank you text from their cell phone, or an email peppered with exclamation points and smiley face emoticons.

What's wrong with that???? :( I'm just showing my ENTHUSIASM for the job!!!!

The issue is a big one, as the article points out that "...such faux pas can be instant candidacy killers because they hint at immaturity and questionable judgment."

While it's true that the era of a hand-written thank you note that is mailed after an interview is being replaced by faster, more efficient electronic communications, recruiters quoted in the article point out that sending a thank you email just moments after walking out of an interview (and from a cell phone, no less) indicates that the candidate didn't take the time to process the meeting or really think about what was discussed in the interview.

So what's a Millennial job candidate to do? The rules of the post-interview thank you note haven't changed dramatically, despite the increased use of email, and basic guidelines still include:
-Send a thank you email within 48 hours (but not 48 minutes) of your interview.
-The thank you letter is your opportunity to impress the potential employer with your thoughtfulness and sincere desire to contribute to the organization.
-This is a good opportunity to mention a new idea that you feel is relevant or to refer to a particular topic that you discussed during the interview.
- If you're wondering if you need to send a thank you note at all, the answer is always yes. You should also be sure to send an email to each person that you spoke with during your interview, not just the person that you met with first, or the person who arranged the interview for you.
-Even if you are no longer interested in the position you discussed, you should still send a thank you note - you never know if you'll cross paths with your interviewers again, and you want to leave them with a good impression.

For more tips about interviewing and interview follow-up, you can download CAPS' Interviewing Handout here, or you can call CAPS at (773) 702 - 7040 to schedule an appointment, or a practice interview.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Pros and Cons for Your E-Persona


These are just a few of the many social and professional networking sites that exist right now, and the connections are widespread. I don't know a single University of Chicago student who isn't on Facebook right now, and that includes CAPS (search for the CAPS Facebook page and you can join our group or become our friend, whichever you prefer).

So many individuals are using networking sites like these now, that the lines between you and your e-persona can begin to blend together. Your persona is "a person's perceived or evident personality, as that of a well-known official, actor, or celebrity; personal image; public role" - your e-persona is all of those things, on the internet. And thanks to the widespread use of networking websites, it's not just well-known officials or celebrities who have e-personas anymore - it's everyone.

So what's the problem? All of my friends are on Facebook. Some CAPS staff members even have their own pages. I'll even introduce my e-persona to your e-persona, what do you think?

The potential pitfalls of all of this on-line networking are examined in a recent article from the journal Science. In the article, the author, Peter Fiske, warns of the dangers of putting too much information out onto the internet - and what the consequences can be. Fiske states, "Even if you refuse to sign up for any social-networking sites, there is information about you on the Internet. Are you familiar with the term 'vanity Google'? If not, search online for it, then search for your name. It’s interesting what comes up, isn’t it? This is your e-persona: the record of yourself as preserved and presented on the Web. Every employer considering hiring you will likely search online for your name. I do it with everyone who makes my shortlists."

Yikes. A quick Google search of my name revealed some photos of me from a friend's birthday several years ago, beer bottles proudly displayed in each one. Is this a huge problem? Maybe not, but the last thing I want a potential future employer to do is look at those photos and think "Candidate A looks like a party animal. Let's go with Candidate B."

It's not all bad - as Fiske points out, "the use of networking sites can help you find contacts in companies or organizations that interest you through your network of friends and colleagues (and the people they know)," and you can also use these networks to find out when opportunities open up in an organization that you are interested in working at.

Bottom line: In order to take advantage of the doors that a networking website can open for you, be sure that the photos or comments on your profile won't result in those doors being slammed shut.

Do you have tips or questions about keeping your on-line profiles professional looking? Post them here. And don't forget to visit CAPS on Facebook, to link keep up to date about upcoming events and resources.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Support for Disabled Job Seekers

There are 22 million working-age Americans with disabilities who have come of age under the Americans With Disabilities Act, but despite this number only 38% of the nation's working-age disabled have a job, compared with 78% of able-bodied people. These stats are from a recent Wall Street Journal article that highlights the work of LimeConnect, an organization that matches disabled college-level and professional candidates through private recruiting efforts.

According to their website, LimeConnect "is a New York-based not-for-profit organization that represents a new direction in the business/disability space. By focusing on results and measurable return, we unlock economic potential both in the workforce and markets - through innovation and proven business practice."

To learn more about how CAPS can serve disabled students on campus, and how we can partner with the work that LimeConnect already does, we'll be attending the Lime Corporate Recruitment Event for Students with Disabilities.
Date: Thursday, October 23, 2008
Location: PepsiCo Building, 555 West Monroe Street, Cafeteria, 1st Floor
Time: 6 – 8 pm
Partners: Merrill Lynch, PepsiCo, Goldman Sachs and Google

This is really a recruiting event for students, so while we'll be there to gather information, students with disabilities should plan to attend the event and learn more about opportunities that are available.

Questions? Post them here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Psychological "Sway" in the Workplace

Do first impressions really count?

According to Ori and Rom Brafman, brothers and authors of the book Sway, those first crucial interactions with new colleagues or classmates really do.

A recent article in the New York Times, describes their book as taking a look at "the psychological forces that lead us to disregard facts or logic and behave in surprisingly irrational ways" - and how these psychological forces affect our careers.

Ori Brafman shares this anecdote with the author of the article, Marci Alboher:
"I have this friend who is a lawyer and in the first two to three weeks of his job, he made sure to create the impression that he was a hard worker. He was the first in and the last to leave. He would not get up from his desk and didn’t take personal calls. He barely got up to use the bathroom. By the end of the first month, he started to relax, took longer lunches and what’s interesting is that no one noticed. They always attributed that initial value — hard worker — to him. He’s going on seven years and still has that reputation."

If this is the case for all offices, then the idea of first impressions takes on even greater weight. More than affecting whether you get a second date or are considered "cool" by peers, the first impressions that you make in the workplace (and in a summer internship) could influence your entire career path from then on. Those tips for success in an internship or first job become even more important - show up early, leave late, join in office organized social outings, take on even the most menial of tasks, and you could be set for the entirety of your time at an organization.

So is success in the workplace all about psychological mind games? I'm not sure - but I'd rather be safe than sorry - which is why I'll be working late tonight.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Summer Internship Tips

It may sound like commonsense, but a recent article in the Wall Street Journal offers summer interns some tips for making the most of their internships, including such tidbits as "Drink Coffee" and "Play Softball."

Adverse to caffeine? The article goes on to say that it's not about actually drinking your coffee - it's about who you might meet in the company break room. "...internships are as much about building interpersonal relationships as they are job training. And experts agree you often learn more about the business from casual conversations in the break room than formal meetings."

Along those same lines, even interns who aren't sports fans should consider any invitations to join the company softball, kickball or ultimate frisbee team. Employers are looking for team players, both in and out of the office, and joining the team indicates that you can take on whatever is thrown at you - both literally and figuratively.

Read the rest of the Wall Street Journal's advice here.

Post your internship survival tips to our blog.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Recent Grads Want to Work for the Greater Good

An article in Business Week highlights the top companies that recent college graduates want to work at - and some interesting changes in where organizations are falling on that list.

According to the magazine, and to research firm Universum USA, the top three companies that recent grads want to work at are still Google, Walt Disney and Apple, but more grads are looking for careers that allow them make an impact or "serve the greater good." The article states that 16% of students listed government/public service as the ideal industry in which to work, making it the No. 1 pick.

Want to work in government or public service too? Contrary to popular belief, CAPS offers a wide range of resources and programs to students interested in non-profit, public service and government careers. Case in point:
The U.S. State Department will be on campus for an information session this coming Thursday, July 17 from 12:00 - 1:00pm.
This session is open to all students and graduates from UChicago and will take place in Ida Noyes Hall, Second Floor, West Lounge.

More resources on careers in non-profits and government can be found in the Careers in Non-Profits section of our website, and students and alumni are also encouraged to come into CAPS and meet with one of our many staff members who have a background in non-profit work.

Make an appointment by calling (773) 702 - 7040.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Chicago Careers in Health Professions, Law and Journalism

"Not-so-recent college graduates are demanding more career assistance from their former schools as they face tougher employment markets."

This is according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about alumni taking advantage of their alma maters' career services offices.

While the article quotes one job search expert as saying that many schools offer weak services to alumni in the fields of medicine, law and journalism, we beg to differ - at CAPS three innovative programs - Chicago Careers in Health Professions, Chicago Careers in Law and Chicago Careers in Journalism - all offer specialized career advising services to students AND alumni interested in these fields, including one-on-one advising, workshops addressing the ins and out of these career paths, and the chance to connect with doctors, lawyers and journalists who know what working in each of these industries is really like.

Individuals interested in learning more about these programs should contact CAPS at (773) 702 - 7040, and make an appointment with one of our pre-prefessional counselors.

Alumni, whether recent graduates, or more experienced alums who are looking for a career change, are encouraged to contact CAPS and take advantage of our services.

Happy 4th of July Weekend from CAPS! We'll see you on Monday.