Thursday, July 31, 2014

The MYTHS about clicking SUBMIT

By Samantha Haimes, Assistant Director of Experiential Initiatives

True or False: If someone advised you that the best way to begin your internship search was to refer to the Classifieds section of Sunday's newspaper, you might laugh in their face, assuming they must be joking.

If I know you, and I think I do, your answer is…TRUE. Ok, even though I don't know you, we are on the same page…

Now answer me this: If someone advised you that the best way to begin your internship search was to start by visiting specific websites, perhaps the company’s website or a site more all-encompassing such as HireACane or, you'd probably take their word for it.

Once again, also probably [and hopefully] your answer is TRUE.
Utilizing online portals such as HireACane is an excellent strategy; on these sites you typically learn about available positions, read about various companies, and can even submit your resume electronically.

Last question (I promise): After exploring these amazing sites with tons of opportunities listed, you submit your resume electronically and then wait for the company to contact you. Maybe you'll submit a cover letter too (if they ask for it). Ultimately however, the company will reach out to you if they like you.

Last but not least, I am willing to guess that the vast majority of students would say, TRUE. This seems like a great plan, right? Submit your resume to a couple of postings and then wait for companies to contact you?


One of the biggest misconceptions for students applying for jobs and internships online is that that's all there is to it—applying online. In reality, the truly successful way to obtain jobs and internships is to utilize the online application process as just a part of the process. Not the process.

I know, I know. Your mind is boggled right now. "What are you talking about, Samantha? Applying for positions online isn't enough? But that's the only way I know how to find out what companies are hiring for?" Do not fear- I promise there are easy [and dare I say fun] ways to take your application from the mediocre click-of-a-button-resume-submission to a strong, outstanding, and competitive application for consideration. Here are some of the ways to get you started:

Research, Research, Research!
Doing your research before you actually click submit is critical. For starters, it will give you a glimpse into the organization and will help you decide if this is a good position for you. Don’t be fooled by job posting titles- really read the descriptions and spend some time researching the company so you are confident that it is a good fit. The better fit you believe you are for the job, the more this will shine through in your resume and cover letter (which should be tailored to each position you apply for).

In addition, don’t be limited to the company website. Check out the organization on various social media outlets, see if they have YouTube videos, and scope out what headlines they are making in the news and media. The more informed you are, the better all around.

Use your personal network
Everybody knows somebody. And while you may not realize it right away, there’s a good chance that:

A) You know someone at the company you are applying to
B) You know someone who knows someone at the company you are applying to
C) You have something in common with someone who works at the organization (i.e. graduating from UM, being a runner in south Florida, originally from the northeast, etc.) - even if you don’t know them personally.

Tapping into each of these connections for help or advice is called utilizing your network. Before and/or after you submit your resume online, try to find out about specific people that hit all three of these targets. If you are delving into your network before you apply, try to talk about the company or position with someone you know- this will make you even more knowledgeable during your application process and will give you someone to reference in your cover letter (with their approval, of course). If you choose to wait until after you apply, be sure to let the individual know when you applied for the job and for what specific position, so that they can reach out to the right individuals are their company and put in a good word for you.

You might be asking yourself, HOW do I get in touch with people that I have something in common with but that I don’t know personally? The secret is….LinkedIn!! LinkedIn is an amazing resource for connecting with individuals in this exact situation. You can cross reference the college someone attended with their current geographic location, current employer, and industry they work in—it is a gold mine! Then you can connect with these individuals to learn more about an organization. This handy-dandy tool is at the tip of your fingers, just click here.  You will need to login to your LinkedIn account, however, so if you don’t have one, make one ASAP. Here at Toppel, we critique LinkedIn Profiles and can show you how to effectively use this helpful LinkedIn widget, so come on in!

Become the company's #1 Fan (if you aren't already) & Follow Up
When you are submitting job or internship applications, it is easy to get complacent and a little bit tired. You might be asking yourself, “Do I really need to write a whole new cover letter just for this one position?” or “Should I actually follow up if I haven’t heard back from them in a while- I don’t want to be pushy.”

The answer is Yes. Always YES.

One of the biggest pet peeves for companies is to receive a general resume or cover letter that is clearly also used for 1,000 other positions, in addition to their own. Companies want to get the feeling that you want to work for THEM not just that you want a job. 

  • Follow the company on social media – find their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Company Page, and Instagram account. Start liking their content 
  • Set up a Google Alert to keep up-to-date on what’s happening with them
  • Connect with employees at the organization utilizing LinkedIn and/or your personal network 
  • Meet people who work at the company (personal networks or structured networking events)- be friendly and knowledgeable…oh yes, and smile

Additionally, companies only want to interview candidates that are passionate and excited about the job because that means they will be committed to the position and are more likely to be a strong fit. One of the best ways to convey this to an employer, outside of your initial application, is to follow up. No, this is not pushy; this is committed and organized. I would encourage you to wait about two weeks after you submit your resume to follow up directly with the hiring manager, via email or phone. You could write something along the lines of:

Good morning _______, “I am writing to confirm that you received by application for the _____position with _____ company. I am really looking forward to hearing from you as I feel I am an excellent fit for this role. If you need any additional information from me, please don’t hesitate to contact me.”  Thank you! Sincerely, ________

This is not the end-all, be-all template, just a beginner’s suggestion.
I hope these tips have been helpful for you. I challenge you to keep all of these important points in mind during your fall internship search or if you are actively seeking full-time opportunities. If you forget anything, don't hesitate to reach out to me; I am happy to remind you!

HAPPY SUBMITTING (and so much more)!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

5 Tips to Jump Start Your Job or Internship Search

By Jordan Adams, Assistant Director of On-Campus Recruiting

“I’ve applied over and over to internships and jobs but can’t get a solid interview, how do I get my foot in the door!!!”  Below is the advice I give to UM students, alumni, my own friends, and family.  
1. Fix your resume:   
Your resume is a living document that can always be improved and adapted so it should continually be on your mind during a job search.  Most importantly, it has to be concise and to the point.  Recruiters see hundreds of resumes at a time and only keep reading until they get bored.  This means that your resume should only be one page (2 max for people with significant experience), no paragraphs! (only bullets and phrases), and it should be tailored to the position/organization you are applying to. They took time to write a job description so you should take time to reorient your resume to compliment the position and highlight the skills they are looking for.  

And just as importantly, don’t sell yourself short.  Any job experience is valuable and can relate to your job search.  Worked in the student store as a cashier?  Well, you have excellent customer service skills, assisting over 150 clients daily, and facilitated the implementation of a new digital textbook rental program that has saved the university over $200k annually.  Just remember that bullet points for your experiences should highlight what you did, the skills and tools you used, and positive outcomes.  It is important to orient the bullets to your particular job search and to use specific examples/quantify your experiences as much as possible.  

2. Research
The more you know about your job and internship search, the better off you will be.  Research can take many forms.  You may be interested in a specific field, but are not sure about actual career paths or how to leverage your major, or you may know exactly what you want to do, but are not sure how to make it happen.  Either way you have to get prepared and Toppel has compiled great resources to help you such as Career Links that has important industry-specific information, Glassdoor that compiles thousands of company reviews and salary information, ONet Online that provides important industry/occupational descriptions and data, and many more guides and handouts.  Also, once you login to your account, you can;  utilize Vault Career Intelligence to get insider access to industry information and job search advice, discover information about jobs and internships abroad with GoingGlobal, and view the hundreds of jobs and internships available in the system.  Simple online searches can also be useful as you try and find the major organizations in your industry or look at the prominent players in your region.  

3. Network
Networking may seem daunting or confusing, but it can be done in many different ways and is completely necessary to find a job or internship these days.  We all know that most people get a job or internship through a personal relationship (“because they knew somebody”) so now is the time to put yourself out there and get to know somebody. Start with friends, family, and your professors.  They should all know your career plans and are the most likely to help you with tips, advice, and job connections.  Your next step is to get involved with student groups and organizations that give you much needed exposure to the professional world.  Many student organizations bring in guest speakers, Greek organizations have professional development events, and Toppel hosts Career Expo’s, Meet-Up’s, and many other career fairs and events that are specifically designed for students and alumni to meet with employers.  And if you are not ready to get out of the house, start connecting on LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network and you just need a professional picture and information from your resume to get started.  Once on, you can connect with friends and family to start your network and can explore the group of over 60,000 ‘Canes who work at thousands of organizations worldwide and instantly have something in common with you. 

4. Apply and follow-up: Now that you have an updated resume, did a little research, and started networking, it’s time to start applying! should be your first stop because you will be competing against a much smaller applicant pool and employers are specifically seeking UM interns and full-time employees.  Pay particular attention to on-campus recruiting because employers making the effort to come to campus want to maximize their time by seeing as many qualified applicants as possible.  Applying directly on company websites and via LinkedIn may be your next step, along with the many online employment websites.  

Don’t forget that the most critical part of the application process is following-up and setting yourself apart from the crowd.  Employers are inundated with hundreds of resumes, many of which come from across the U.S. and even globally, and you need them to take a second look at yours.  There are a variety of ways to get their attention.  If you can find out who the recruiter or hiring manager is, reach out via email or LinkedIn and say who you are, why you would be a good fit for their organization, and provide a copy of your resume (all in 3 to 4 sentences).  Don’t forget about your network, including the career center, and ask anybody you know that has a connection to the organization to put in a good word for you.  You can also reach out to ‘Canes via LinkedIn who work for the organization and ask to chat with them; depending how it goes they may give you some good advice or even pass your resume along.  You never know what will get your foot in the door so try as many angles as possible when you are pursuing your dream internship or full-time position.  

5. Meet employers on campus: Take every opportunity you can to meet employers when they are on campus.  They are making a special trip to UM just to meet you so it is absolutely worth it to see what they have to say.  Many student organizations and Departments across campus host professional speakers and Toppel has multiple events each semester introducing employers to ‘Canes.  Major events include; Career Expo each Fall and Spring, Practice interviews with real employers, specialized career fairs, and Meet-Ups for industries such as Communications, STEM, and Healthcare.  Toppel also hosts a number of company sessions and on-campus interviews that can be found on a continually updated online calendar.  Make sure to RSVP for company sessions and apply to on-campus interview positions before each deadline so that you guarantee yourself the best chance at securing a job or internship.  

You never know when you will get your break so every one of these items may be the key to your success.  Additionally, feel free to stop by Toppel during walk-in advising Monday through Thursday from 10:00am to 4:30pm or give us a call at 305-284-5451 to discuss any of these points.  Our job is to empower and connect so don’t hesitate to reach out! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gap is Synonymous with Breach, but the Results can be Quite the Contrary

By Lili Jimenez, Career Concierge 

A well planned Gap Year either during your college years, after High School graduation, before graduate school, or before you jump into that brand new career or full time job can be a very exciting and enriching opportunity.

While on an international flight on American Airlines I read an article in the airline’s magazine AMERICAN WAY written by Sarah Zobel called CREATING A GAP that I found really insightful. In the article, Ms. Zobel describes how students returning from a Gap Year are eager, ready to learn, and well equipped to go back to school. In the case of persons taking part in the program before they embark in a career, she describes how fulfilled they come back, because the year is not focused on earnings at all, but on goals, experiences, and on the pleasure of learning.

Ms. Zobel cites studies which show that college students returning from Gap Year do better in school and obtain higher GPAs. In addition, post graduate students that have completed Gap Year are more satisfied with their careers. It is believed that the reason for this is because of the exploratory nature of Gap.  Colleges and Universities are very supportive of this program, and enjoy welcoming back their “gappers”. According to Harvard College 80 to 110 freshmen defer enrollment each year to do a Gap Year. Princeton’s Bridge Year Program sends incoming freshmen for 9 months to India, China, Senegal, Peru or Brazil tuition free, funded by alumni donations and university resources. Elon University in North Carolina offers a service-learning Gap semester for credit.

Before you take a year off and enroll in Gap Year think of the reasons why you are doing it. Is it that you what to explore your choices? Want to consider your options? Enrich your life? Help other humans? Volunteer your time for a cause? Some examples cited in the article are, working in a hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, caring for children at an orphanage in Ghana, or helping Buddhist monks create a middle school curriculum. You can stay in The United States and may join Habitat for Humanity, help migrant workers, teach English to non-English speaking children or adults. 

Besides exploration, additional awesome benefits can emerge from Gap Year. You can travel, learn a new language, experience a different culture , help the needy, find yourself, set goals for your future, focus and discover  what you really like, and do service-learning.

At the Toppel Career Center, Samantha Haimes is the advisor that assists with Gap Year. Ms. Haimes helps students that have questions on identifying what options best suit them. Students can go on our website to make an appointment with her, as well as checking out resources such as GoinGlobal, and our guide

Others companies to reach out to:
American Gap association
The Center for Interim Programs
EnRoute Consulting
National Outdoor Leadership School
Pacific Discovery
Princeton University Bridge Year Program (for incoming Princeton students only)
Thinking Beyond Borders
Where There Be Dragons

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Perfect Job does not Exist

By Esther Lamarre, Assistant Director, Alumni Career Programs

I remember being a bright eyed fresh out of graduate school job seeker with a list of expectations for what I wanted in a position.  Confident in my list, I could rattle off my requirements in thirty seconds or less.  I was looking for the perfect job.  I wanted a position that would meet most of the requirements on my checklist and give me a reason to brag to family, friends, and maybe even the occasional stranger.  

After rejecting numerous job descriptions (for what now seemed like trivial reasons), the thought crossed my mind that maybe the perfect job did not exist. Although things like location, salary, and people were important, it did not put me in the right frame of mind when it came to critically reviewing potential job leads.  In fact, it moved me further away from my goal of finding a position that would be a stepping stone for future opportunities.  Once I accepted this unpleasant thought, I began to examine positions for the professional story it would allow me to tell and the opportunities I would be afforded.  

So if you are still searching for that ‘perfect’ first, second, or third job, I encourage you to pick up those job descriptions you’ve been analyzing and explore the following three questions to make sure you are choosing a position for the right reasons:  

1. What new skills will I add to my professional toolkit? What narrative will be added to my current portfolio that is different from past experience?
Consider the measurable skills you will gain if you accept an offer from company X.  This can include things like supervisory skills, budget management, or opportunities to engage different populations or clientele. Focus on items that might make you stand out in future positions or give you something different to talk about on your resume.  Using the job description, identify tangible skills you will walk away with if you choose company X. Then, even if things do not work out exactly as you imagined, your time at company X will still result in invaluable experiences.  

2. How will I leave my mark? OR Will I be able to leave my mark?
Think about whether you are being hired to maintain the status quo or if you will have the autonomy to influence systems, decisions, and processes.  While maintaining the status quo is not always a negative thing, you want to be sure the position will allow you to earn some notable achievements.  Future employers will want to know how you advanced the mission of your former organization.  Having significant accomplishments to talk about will always be important in the job search process.  Make sure your potential position will afford you the opportunity to contribute to the overall success of the organization.

3. What is the work versus the job?
Although used interchangeably, there is a difference between your work and your job.  Work is the warm and fuzzy.  Assuming you are passionate about your field, work is the difference you are able to make – no matter how small.  In sum, the work is the greater purpose.  On the other hand, the job is the day to day.  The job is the tedious and sometimes daunting tasks you have to complete in order to be successful in the work.  The job is the endless emails requiring a response or the stack of paperwork that has to get filed. If the work is the reason you get up in the morning, than the job is the reason you count down the minutes until you can escape.  Make sure the work is meaningful enough to get you through the job.

Although the perfect job may not exist, the perfect opportunity for where you are in your career does exist.  A position may not offer every single thing you want but there are key things you can take away from every experience.  The reality is your future employer won’t care if your last job was in a really cool location or if you had a super cool boss.  Your future employer will care about the impact you made and how well you made it. As you continue your search, make sure you are focusing on the right things: a position that will give you a great professional story to tell – that is what will stand out to your next employer!