The ONE Thing That Will Set You Apart

24 11 2015


What happens when you have a really bad customer service experience? You talk about it, right? You might even blog, tweet, or review the company/individual on Yelp or TripAdvisor. That experience sticks with you for a lifetime. But what about when you have a really good experience? Do you share that with the world? Some do (most don’t.)

Where the heck am I going with this and how does it relate to your job or job search?? I’ll tell you.

It all comes down to Customer Service.

Wait a minute! I bet you’re thinking something like, “I’m not in Retail or Sales. I don’t have customers.” WRONG. We all have customers! Think about it: our customers are those we serve and interact with. Outside of what you’d consider an actual “customer,” I’ll argue that customers include family, friends, coworkers and yes, even hiring managers and recruiters!

One of my unofficial mentors, Doug Conant, shared a powerful phrase in his book, TouchPoints. Are you ready for this life-changing phrase? Here goes…

“How can I help?”

That’s it. It’s simple, yet so very effective. I’ll break it down a little further. On the job or in your job search, here are three ways to excel in customer service:

Know the customer. While some people know EXACTLY what is wrong and what they’re looking for, most don’t really know. They want YOU to figure it out. How do you do this? LISTEN. Understand the customer’s challenges and needs so that you can recommend the best solution available to them. Do you know who you’re working with well enough to recommend the ideal solution? It all comes down to listening!

Be a solution seeker. When someone comes to you with an issue (which is most of customer service), how will you respond? Will you say “I don’t know” or will you do whatever you can to help the customer? Take the phrase from “I don’t know” to “I don’t know, but I’ll find an answer for you.” Their problem is your problem. Own it and help find a solution. In your career, are you seeking solutions together or pushing the problems off on someone else?

Make it easy. That’s pretty vague, but here’s what I’m getting at: figure out how you can help make their lives easier. Whether it’s eliminating a step in the process or just being the sunshine in their day when they bring a valid complaint to your desk (i.e.: don’t be the grouch in Customer Service – it doesn’t help anyone), find a way to help the customer. As a job seeker, how can you help make it easier for the recruiter or hiring manager? What challenges can your skills help solve for the company?

While it may not be easy to find the good stuff on the internet, stellar customer service is remembered. It makes a positive impression and that can help earn you a customer for life. And, it could set you apart from the competition, helping you land that job or promotion you’re shooting for!

Finding a Military-Friendly Employer

12 11 2015



Photo credit: Tyler Barnes via Unsplash

Military experience can provide very notable value to prospective employees. Many companies look positively upon the commitment, discipline, adaptability and leadership skills of veterans and military members. Some even offer internal veterans’ programs, often in an initiative to recruit individuals that would promote a positive company culture and a hard-work ethic.

Military-friendly employers are certainly out there, but they aren’t always the easiest to find. When seeking out a military-friendly employer, it’s worth honing in on specific industries and search methods:

Hone in on Military-Friendly Industries

A convenient way of finding many employers who embrace former military personnel is by focusing on industries that traditionally benefit from military-related skills. Some of these industries include:

  • Federal Government – The government is particularly fond of hiring those with military experience, who have already shown a special commitment to representing their country. The federal government shows veterans reverence by offering preference points to military members who were awarded a campaign badge or expeditionary medal, or were injured. Federal employment is often one of the smoothest transitions from military due to some very similar job functions in many federal-level roles, particularly regarding general security and sensitive maintenance.
  • Law Enforcement and Security – Since military service members are very familiar with training methods pertinent to anti-terrorism, force protection and/or security, these skills are often sought out by law enforcement and security businesses, from private security to police departments. Some veteran Web resources provide a great listing of law enforcement and security-related businesses by state, making the search easy and match ideal.
  • Intelligence Training – As intelligence training companies often recruit military, a military member’s experience in conversing regularly with other veterans in addition to being familiar with military-related skills can make them an ideal fit in any intelligence training-related role.

These three industries often provide smooth transitions for military members seeking employment while not serving.

Use Military-Minded Job Sites

There are many websites that provide job listings, but not all of them are tailored toward military members and veterans. There are a handful of trusted and frequently updated sites that do just this, including Robert Half Veteran Jobs, Military Friendly and Forbes’ list of the top 100 military-friendly employers. It’s recommended to browse every one of these on a daily basis if you’re a military member serious about finding a job. Responding promptly to a recently posted job listing is a great way to boost your chances.

Consider Some Large Corporations

Some prominent name brands are well-known for their commitment to employees with military experience, such as Verizon, USAA, Lockheed Martin, Charles Schwab, AT&T, Capital One and JPMorgan Chase. Many of these companies offer medical and life insurance, pay raises, retirement contributions and more benefits for military members. Banking and finances, defense/aerospace and insurance are the top industries for veterans to work for.

Use Google Strategically

While many military members share skillsets, every member has their own unique skillset as well. Job-seekers should ask themselves what makes them unique and include that skill into their Google-based job search.

For a military member, combine your ability with your preferred industry to work in when searching Google. For example, if you’re interested in working in security and can tout experience handling data security for a military branch, use a search query like “security job listing + military data security experience.” Typing that query brings up several useful entries, like relevant Monster listings, a link to U.S. Security Associates’ job page and tips on how to land a cybersecurity job.

Military members have a boatload of skills to offer many employers. Using the tips above can help you wade through probably the most difficult part: finding a military-friendly employer. It just takes a little sleuthing to find the right one.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum is a graduate from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum

Translating Military Skills into a Career

10 11 2015


Photo credit: Jacob Valerio via Unsplash

When you join the armed forces, your whole life shifts. Instead of school, it’s bases and battlefields. Instead of home life, it’s life with your fellow soldiers. Instead of going with the flow, you have to follow a rigorous schedule.

The military may have prepared you for the worst things that can face this country, but has it prepared you for life after your service? Transitioning back to civilian life can be tough — the military wasn’t just your job, it was your life. What happens when you come back?

You might think that the skills you learned during your service won’t transfer easily to employment. Military jargon can easily crowd your head, which creates confusion, as well as a culture gap. Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure your transition back to civilian employment is a smooth one.

Hmm… What Skills?

Trying to find a job after serving can be truly frustrating. Realizing the skills you gained from the military, however, can help you narrow down your career options and boost your confidence. Here are some common skills that translate easy to the workforce:

  • Leadership: Think about when you had to follow orders. This involved a high degree of honor and responsibility. These are great traits that exemplify leadership. In the military, you probably exhibited excellent planning strategies and intelligence. You could be the next CEO of a major company, like these guys.
  • Flexibility: The military may have rigid regulations, but situations can change at any moment. Regardless of what happens, there must always be a plan of action. Planning ahead and on the spot is a value that is greatly needed in the workforce.
  • Expertise: Were you an airplane mechanic? Did you study weather patterns? Did you work on radar, or operate tanks? No matter what you did in the military, your expertise in that position can easily become a job — especially jobs that require technical prowess.
  • Communication: While this is essential for everyone who enters the workforce, it is extremely important to veterans. Keep in contact with your fellow soldiers. Drop a line to the higher-ups. Attend job fairs and career centers. Sign up for job-hunting websites like LinkedIn. All the contacts you could ever need, both new and old, are a button click away.

De-Jargonize That Resume

Your resume is souped up for the military, but all those military terms might confuse the HR people who will be looking at it. Do a little bit of housekeeping.

Putting “sniper” on a resume won’t necessarily impress your potential employer. It’s best to dissect the little things that made up your duties. No matter what your position was, there has to be some sort of value or expertise you can draw from it.

For instance, if you were a sniper, that involves using a high amount of focus in a high-pressure situation. There’s little room for error, and you must execute your orders with precision.

Sometimes talking to another person about your transition can help. It’s too dangerous to go alone, so why not try the free counseling services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs? There are also transition centers for every branch of the military.

Now Show the World Who’s Boss!

Once you find a career that’s right for you, it’s not the time to slack. The military is based on ranking, but in a civilian career, you must succeed in areas that further the success of the organization.

You won’t encounter shocking differences right away, but subtle changes will become noticeable to you. The way your coworkers communicate, the company’s organizational processes, a looser structure — all of it will take some getting used to. Be patient and positive, and you’ll become adjusted in no time.

When you take the steps to make the transition back into civilian life, you’ll find some bumps along the way. Don’t lose hope — your service is greatly appreciated, and your amazing contributions to society will be as well!

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum is a graduate from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum

How Traveling Can Help Your Career

27 10 2015


‘Travel’ is often cited as a top interest everywhere from dating sites to professional resumes, but how often have you heard others say “I’d love to travel, but I just can’t”? While there are many legitimate reasons to postpone travel, too many of us put it off for being less important, less productive than work and traditional routines for furthering your career.

This couldn’t be further from the truth: planned correctly, travel can be everything from the break you need to see the big picture clearly to the spark that lights a life-changing fire — and it all revolves around what you allow yourself learn and do.

It helps you learn and grow as a person

Learning a language is one of the most valuable growth experiences that can come from travel, even if not particularly extended. Immersion in a language is the most effective way to learn it given your constant need to resort to and develop those skills. How much knowing a language shapes your thoughts may be arguable, but the benefits are not.

Multilingual people move around more easily in a globalized world, both personally and professionally. They have the potential to be better communicators, not only in the direct use of the language, but also because of increased ability to navigate language barriers — you learn how to parse out the gist from foreign speech the more you practice.

The logistics involved in planning and executing any kind of trip also involve great practical life skills that showcase your capabilities —

Organization to prepare everything beforehand, multiplied in value by the amount of people considered, the destinations visited, modes of travel employed… Knowing how to make things happen is applicable to any career, while budgeting everything correctly and making it back successfully helps you hone your financial planning while showing you have it.

Not often mentioned is the value of patience, and how much about it you learn during travel. Waiting for your transportation to depart, travel, arrive. Time spent understanding how to maneuver your surroundings. Patience when communication barriers frustrate and undermine your plans. Patience when other lifestyles don’t meet your preferred pace, be it faster or slower. Whether you’re working in an office or for yourself, your interactions with people will always require, and benefit from, patience.

Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of your learning as a traveler is that you are a stranger in a strange land. Exposure to different cultures puts yours into perspective — from small things, like realizing how daily habits you may take for granted are completely different elsewhere, to deeper truths, like the common traits that bind us across backgrounds.

The contribution this cross-cultural experience can have is difficult to both overstate and quantify. The more you understand people, the better you can relate, communicate and do business with them. You learn a humility that comes from knowing others believe and live completely differently from you. In a completely connected global economy, the ability to place yourself in others’ shoes becomes the backbone of your interactions, whether you’re marketing a product or yourself.


And you’ll do a lot of useful things…

Beyond your general learning and wanderlust satisfaction, there are plenty of experiences to focus your travel time into a great tool for personal and professional growth.

Seasonal jobs abound if you know where to look. Some migrate in order to pursue the most rewarding opportunities that only require part of their time, while others get more adventurous and immersed in local jobs and activities. Temporary jobs can help uncertain travelers find their calling, while finding jobs with relatable experience to your field is a great way to both finance your trip and continue investing in your chosen career path.

Volunteering is also a legitimate way for many to travel for free, satisfying the urge to see the world, give back, and try something new at the same time. Joining organizations that pay for your travel in exchange for your services is a sure way to get a rich, yet affordable experience out of it — and volunteer work could be the standout difference in comparing your resume to someone else’s.

There is also, of course, the unpredictable nature of the connections you’ll make, different people with new opportunities you could have never foreseen. You never know when there will be an opportunity for a new job, business venture, collaborative project… Maybe it’ll that conversation you strike up with a future business partner while waiting on a train platform, or a friend of a mutual friend showing you around town. The sheer amount of people you meet during travel stacks the odds in your favor, so be social.

So… how do you do it?

There are as many answers to that as there are career paths. If you’re a student, consider taking advantage of that status to gain work experience on a budget while getting to travel. Maybe it’s just a short vacation away from the office — combine business and pleasure with a scenic road trip to meet and network with old and new connections.

Or maybe the urge is stronger than that  — if you can tailor your lifestyle to be nomadic through remote work or otherwise, why not move with the seasons and escape the winter?

And if all this conversation has you thinking of making a more permanent change to your lifestyle, one that allows for all this travel, there are plenty of ways to do so, limited only by your flexibility and willingness to take that leap.

Happy travels!

****For this unique post that has us experiencing wanderlust, Campus to Career thanks Kacey Mya!!****

Kacey Mya HeadshotAbout: Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style throughout the influence of culture and the world around us.  Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts. Find her on Twitter (@kaceymya) and Pinterest.

5 Ways to Boost Your Appeal to Employers

21 10 2015


There’s an incredible amount of information out there about how to improve prospects in job interviews, and by now you’ve probably heard all the tips: dress sharp, make eye contact, be ready to ask questions about the company or specific opportunity, etc. But as any young person seeking employment knows, there’s a lot more than an interview and a resume that goes into the hiring process. Job candidates are researched and scrutinized more today than ever before, and that makes it necessary for you to boost your appeal however possible.

Here are a few strategies to consider, not just when heading into an interview but when approaching a job search process in general.

1. Do A Background Check On Yourself

Most of us are at least in the habit of understanding how we’re portrayed online and things of that nature, but a lot of companies will do full background checks on any potential hires. That means it can’t hurt to dig a little deeper. Writing for Discover Corrections, Jennifer L addressed this process in detail, opining that those looking to become more desirable to possible employers should look into any past criminal or driving records, do whatever possible to improve credit scores, and of course, make sure any social media presence is clean. And don’t forget to Google yourself to see what comes up! This is sometimes the first step for an employer.

2. Maintain A Blog Or Website

It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, and frankly it doesn’t matter too much what it’s about. But having a website or blog to your name—so long as it’s clean, attractive, and in interesting in some manner—can give you a new dimension beyond your resume. The site doesn’t have to be relevant to the career opportunity; if it’s well done, it will give employers a sense of your professionalism.

3. Have A Sense Of Humility

It may sound counterintuitive, but being able to understand and speak about your failures or shortcomings can go a long way. In a different context, this is a point that’s emphasized thoroughly by Alice van Harten of Menlo Coaching, who assists prospective MBA students with their applications. The program stresses the importance of honest assessment of (as opposed to the glossing over of) failures in application essay responses, and the same point is relevant to any job application down the road. Employers are used to seeing people with impressive resumes talking up their good qualities. But you’ll also need to be prepared to humbly and constructively address any shortcomings that might come up.

4. Don’t Stop Learning

You can find a class on anything these days, whether it’s a strictly online program or a college course available remotely. Enrolling in such a course or program shows serious initiative. If at any point during the hiring process you can demonstrate that you’re still advancing your education even after earning a degree, you’re sure to come across as a driven, goal-oriented individual. And it’s a bonus if the additional education you seek is relevant to the career opportunity!

5. Pick Up Some New Hobbies

Lisa Chatroop of made an interesting point when she wrote a blog post about hobbies for boosting employability. She argued that many companies today are using hobbies and extracurricular interests as indications of personality and culture fit. You shouldn’t go picking up any old activity that you don’t even enjoy, of course, but this is an interesting idea to keep in mind as you conduct your job searches.

****For this unique guest post, Campus to Career thanks Sara Upton!!****

6 Ways to Promote Yourself Without Bumbling, Bragging, or Being a Jerk

8 10 2015


Google “self-promotion” and up come the haters.

In a flash, you’ll see countless negative articles. From “Why Self-Promotion Is a Terrible Idea” to “The Braggart’s Dilemma” to “Please Shut Up,” there’s no shortage of spewing.

Here’s the problem: In today’s intensely competitive, hyper-social work world, self-promotion is no longer just a professional responsibility. It’s a career survival skill.

Employers must know your real value. Otherwise you’ll find yourself on the losing end professionally. You won’t get the job, the raise, the promotion, the respect and recognition you deserve.

Your career success depends on your ability to promote yourself correctly. Yet many people have a blatant inability to properly express their value to higher-ups and hiring managers.

Here are six ways to do self-promotion right.

  1. Don’t assume that your boss knows exactly what you do.

Whether you work six feet or 6,000 miles away from your boss, it’s unlikely he has more than a general idea about what you do beyond the minimum he expects. He probably has countless other responsibilities than his direct reports, and is increasingly stretched too thin.

And you think he knows exactly what you do? Not a chance. It’s up to you to actively promote yourself.

  1. Embrace the difference between articulating your value and bragging. 

As a kid, you were likely taught that modesty is the best policy. Better to let others discover your greatness on their own.

The problem is, in all probability, they won’t. Besides, when done properly, self-promotion is not bragging. It is informing.

    3. Adopt an accomplishment mindset and narrative.

In any workplace, you’re seen first as a commodity, not a person. Accordingly, you need an inventory of your on-the-job accomplishments—the things that express your commercial value to the business. Be able to roll those things off your tongue anytime, anywhere, to anyone.

  1. Quantify your worth.

You were hired because someone believed that you’d produce more value for the company than you’d cost.

Consider, for instance, a payroll clerk I once worked with. In the first run he ever did at XYZ Company, he cut 6,000 paychecks alone, on time, with zero returns. Think of the cost savings created by an error-free check run of that size.

  1. Source and shape your success stories.

Unless you are just starting out or have a superhuman memory, you’ll need to do some heavy lifting to track down your past accomplishments—end results, problems solved, projects completed on time and on budget, and so forth.

To begin, look at old resumes, business planners, performance reviews, and journals. Then reach out to family, friends, managers, co-workers, customers, etc. To bypass generic responses, you must do this by phone. No email. No exceptions.

  1. Master the three-part accomplishment statement.

Your accomplishments must be crafted into a single three-part statement with a distinct beginning, middle, and end.

You’ll convey what you did, what that resulted in, and the value or net result. For example: “Created a digital filing system that resulted in 300 man hours saved per week, enabling the company to save $6 million annually.”

****For this great post, Campus to Career thanks Rick Gillis!!****

About the author: Rick Gillis is a nationally recognized careers expert and employment coach specializing in trends and technologies in the modern job search. A onetime workplace radio and TV host, he is a sought-after keynote speaker and the author of five books. His new book is Promote! It’s Who Knows What You Know That Makes a Career (CreateSpace). Visit

6 Tips for Getting More from LinkedIn

22 09 2015


You already know that each social network has its own purpose. However, most of them revolve around sharing updates about your life or business while connecting with those that might be difficult to connect with in the real world.

LinkedIn is a little different. Designed almost as an online résumé, the network is intended to create and strengthen connections on a professional level. Great for networking, job searching and self-promotion, LinkedIn provides an excellent way to put yourself out there while accomplishing some personal branding.

But, how do you make it happen? How do you get the most from LinkedIn? Check out a few of the tips below to get started.

Craft Your Profile Carefully and Completely

Remember, unlike Facebook, where profiles are fixed and forgotten, LinkedIn profiles are designed to promote what you have to offer to potential professional connections and even employers. To build the perfect LinkedIn profile, fill in all fields. 100% completion is important, including:

  • A summary that sheds light on your abilities and personality
  • Education
  • Work experience with what you did and how you improved each previous position
  • An actionable headline
  • Recommendations — Ask those you’ve worked with before to support you: the more positive recommendations, the better.
  • Contact information
  • Links to any websites you manage or keep personal portfolios on

Be sure to update your profile on a regular basis and to keep the notifications turned on so your contacts are able to see your accomplishments and promotions.

Think About Your Purpose

Why are you on LinkedIn? What are you hoping to accomplish? Is networking your top priority? Would you like to recruit others for a position? Are you on the market for a new position within a specific company?

If so, you should tailor your profile and your connections to that end. It might be tempting to share poignant articles relating to subjects that matter to you, or to post a photo or two from an office event, but if it doesn’t serve your purpose it’s not worth it. Save it for another network.

Start Conversations

Being a wallflower doesn’t work in real life. It also doesn’t work on LinkedIn. Instead, reaching out and starting conversations puts you on others’ radars. Be intentional. Ways to start conversations include:

  • Simple private messages — Reach out, introduce yourself and ask questions. Better yet, ask if your new connection would like to connect in real life for a five-minute conversation just to get to know one another.
  • Joining communities — LinkedIn communities allow you to connect with like-minded professionals who share specific interests. Join the groups, respond to existing conversations and start new ones. Make yourself known.
  • Starting groups — Looking to connect with others on your own terms? Start a group that focuses on your professional interest. Be sure to check in frequently to moderate and start new conversations.

Focus on Results

Résumés are limited in their effectiveness due to space constraints. With only a page or two to work with, you can’t share all that you have to offer. Instead of the standard “these were my duties in my last position” format that does nothing but bore readers, focus on your accomplishments.

How did you improve the bottom line in a previous position? What were the results of specific projects? What numbers speak to what you’ve done? Rob Mericle, President of his own Real Estate company, does an excellent job of this as by focusing on numbers in his summary.

Monitor Your Effectiveness

Even if you’re posting content that is applicable to those in your network, well-written and engaging, it could be falling short. You’ll never know if you never track it. Use LinkedIn Analytics to track who’s viewed your profile, who’s viewed your content and how what you share ranks against what others share. Modify your posts to increase your rankings on a regular basis.

Don’t Just Say It, Show It

LinkedIn made it easier than ever for users to “show” rather than “tell” their stories, which allows for deeper connections. With the ability to upload multimedia formats, LinkedIn users can share photos, videos and presentations with others. There’s no better way to showcase work than to bring it to life visually.

By using the tips above, you can take your LinkedIn efforts from stagnant to dynamic in no time. Make the most of what you have to offer and showcase your talents in a way that makes others want to connect with you. What are you waiting for?

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also the newest addition to the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum


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