Preparing for Your First Big Meeting 

28 04 2015


Photo credit: Breather

Meetings make most of us want to crawl under a rock and hide. It was easy for you to get away with skipping or zoning out in meetings while you were in college, but now it’s time for the real thing! Like any 20-something entering the workplace, you’re probably freaking out and wondering how you can possibly prepare for the important professional meeting.

The good news is you can never be too prepared going into a meeting. But how do you prepare for success? Here’s six ways to ace your first meeting.

Research the People

Don’t be afraid to do a little bit of stalking (come on, everyone does it). You should know at least a little bit about the people attending the meeting. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter make it easier than ever to look up professionals you may be interacting with.

There’s one universally important tool, though: a quick Google search. It will reveal information about these people from other sources. Using the power of research, you’ll find information about the players of the meeting that reinforces company culture. This includes tidbits such as their hometown and interests.

Know Your Role

Meetings usually have an agenda that is sent out to the participants a few days beforehand. By studying this agenda, you’ll get a sense of your role in the meeting. Here’s a few questions to consider if you get stuck:

  • Why were you invited to the meeting?
  • What is the purpose of the meeting?
  • What is expected of you?
  • How should you participate?

Once you figure out your role, get ready to deliver your knowledge with extra finesse. This means bringing up relevant facts and data, a unique perspective, or an in-depth analysis. You were invited for a reason, so show everyone why you belong!

Hone Your Listening Skills

While it’s important to step up and make your feelings known in a meeting, it’s even more important to listen. Make use of active listening skills, so you can engage yourself in what a speaker is saying. Active listening skills include:

  • Turning off your phone
  • Making eye contact with the speaker
  • Nodding when the speaker makes a point you agree with
  • Raising your hand when a speaker asks a question
  • Asking questions to the speaker

By practicing active listening, you’ll benefit from paying attention. More importantly, however, you build a relationship with the presenter.

Dress to Impress

Appropriate dress isn’t just reserved for job interviews. You may think you should pull out your finest suit right away, but hold up. There’s a golden rule when it comes to meeting attire: wear something that will be fitting to your audience. Here’s some examples:

  • Will the meeting be filled with customers of your company? In this case, think about the customer’s perception of your company when they see you. What kind of vibe do you give off? Hopefully not one that will make a customer feel like they’re taking a risk when talking to you.
  • Is the meeting with important business investors or clients? In this case, switch out bold jewelry for classic pieces and the collared tee for a professional suit. You can always ditch the jacket if your clients are looking for a more casual atmosphere.

Marvelous Mingling

Chances are, you don’t know everyone in your company. Meetings are a great time to break away from your small department and mingle with some new people.

Take advantage of meetings by arriving a few minutes early. This will give you time to make small talk with some new faces. Some light socializing sets a more positive tone and hopefully makes everyone feel more comfortable. Who knows? You might make a new friend or important connection.

So crawl out from under that rock – you need to sometime, or else you’ll lose your job! Meetings aren’t that bad if you spend some time preparing. Follow these steps and you’ll stand out positively, which will lead to further benefits in your career.

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


The Benefits of Job Shadowing

24 04 2015



Photo credit: – Chris Sardegna

For young job seekers and college students, trying to land a summer internship can be a tough process as the landscape tends to be quite competitive. Job shadowing can be a worthy alternative to an internship or even enhance an internship and the job search process for most applicants. Accurately understanding what your desired industry or job entails is one of the most important parts of growing a successful career. Job seekers today want to be put on the right path with a company that understands their long-term career desires. But first, you must understand your own long-term needs in order to find companies that can help you get to where you want to go.

Here’s what you can gain from actively pursuing and engaging in job shadow opportunities:

  1. Information on company culture. Although job shadow programs vary by company, often, a job shadow opportunity will not only explore a specific employee’s day-to-day schedule and duties, but also offer an inside look into the organization’s culture, telling a narrative around the history and mission of the company and how other employees got their start in the industry. Job shadowing allows you to be part of the company’s culture for a short while and absorb what the atmosphere is really like. More importantly, you can accurately assess if you would fit in with it.
  2. Face time with potential employers. Job shadow opportunities can incorporate interactions with a company’s CEO or other C-level executives. Other types of job shadows will often include a panel or Q&A with top executives to offer advice and discuss the opportunities their company has to offer.
  3. Professional development. There’s so much that can come from something as simple as watching a person interact with their coworkers. Having the ability to actually follow someone around in the office and gain insight into how they solve problems and conduct themselves in a workplace environment will aid you in the future –not only in your job search but further along in your career. There are a lot of interpersonal skills that as a new employee, you may not have, when entering the workforce. A job shadow experience can help you realize the importance of those skills and improve upon them.
  4. Expert insights. One of the best things about job shadowing and internships in general is that college students and job seekers are able to learn what they like and what they don’t like. Unlike some choice internships, job shadowing is 100% about learning (not fetching coffee). If an employee is playing host or hostess, you are going to witness actual work happening. Even if you leave a job shadow experience realizing you no longer desire a job in that chosen field, the experience is still a worthwhile one.

If given the opportunity to shadow an employee, you should grab hold of it. Building a successful career can be easy if you know what you’re looking for. Job shadowing can give you that understanding through experience.

****For this insightful post, Campus to Career thanks Rich Thompson,

Chief Human Resources Officer at Adecco Group North America!!****

How To Keep Your Job Search On Track In The Frightening Post-Grad World

23 04 2015
“You can be whatever you want to be,” and “The world is filled with endless possibilities.” With graduation on the horizon, you can’t hear enough of this.

While these inspiring word hold truth, they’re also vague. They hold no tangible advice about what to really do next.

You won’t be entering the same job market as ten or twenty years ago. Not everyone with a degree gets a dream job right away. In fact, 50 percent of workers surveyed by Workopolis in 2014 said it took about 16 weeks to get a job.

As you enter the workforce, you need a tactical plan to follow, otherwise you may lose direction.

Here are a few things you need to stay on track after graduation:

1. A mentor.

One of the smartest things you can do for yourself after graduation is find a mentor. A mentor can help you navigate the complex job market with plenty of insights from an older, wiser perspective. Ideally, this person should have a career similar to the one you want.

With the Internet and social media as resources, you don’t need to go far to find your mentor. Pick your favorite “you in five years,” and ask him or her to meet you for coffee. Ask questions like, “Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently at my age?”

2. A routine.

The freedom you have after graduating might seem awesome, but after a few weeks it can steer you into a productivity slump. Without the structure of school, you might be prone to spending your days playing Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate or staying out late with friends, for weeks in a row.

This is not the time to neglect your health or binge #yolo moments. Instead, get into a routine. Go to bed at a reasonable time on week nights. Wake up early and go to a group exercise class. Eat healthy meals around the same time each day. Spend a few hours crafting or, if you haven’t already, refining your job search tools (resume, LinkedIn, portfolio).

3. A concrete job search plan.

Without a tactical plan, your job search might not execute well. Create a job search plan with goals you can hold yourself accountable for. Create a schedule and daily task list with deadlines.

For example, on Mondays you could spend two hours selecting five to ten positions to apply for. Tuesday, dedicate two hours to tailoring your resume and cover letter for these positions. On Wednesday, connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn, and send emails asking for more information about the positions.

4. A networking group.

Even before you graduate, you can join a networking group either at your school or an industry organization. Speak with as many professionals in your industry as you can about what they do, advice for breaking into the industry and available opportunities where they work.

New data released in March from LinkedIn reveals between 20 and 30 percent of new hires in industries, such as computer, software and management consulting are found through existing employees’ personal connections. The more people you connect with in your industry, the better your chances are of being recommended for positions in your field.

The transitional time between graduation and finding your first job can be confusing and filled with questions. That’s OK. Everyone goes through it. As long as you adhere to a plan and fill your life with supportive people, you’ll get your first job in no time.

What has been or was your greatest challenge seeking employment after graduation?

****Campus to Career thanks Val Matta for this great post!!****

Photo credit: Joshua Earle via UnSplash

Val MattaAbout the author: Val Matta is the vice president of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. Connect with Val and CareerShift on LinkedIn.


Top Tips for Before, During and After an Interview

14 04 2015

photo-1416339276121-ba1dfa199912Suit? Check. Resume? Check. Questions? Check. You’ve covered the basics, but there are plenty of other steps in between that can prepare you to rock that interview beyond fundamentals.

Here are some tips before, during and after the interview that’ll fine tune your performance and eliminate some anxiety.

Before the Interview:

  1. Write Down Your Strengths. Knowing your strengths gives you confidence and reminds you why you’re suited for the position. Create a list and memorize your best traits so you’ll be ready to talk about them during an interview.
  1. Learn Everything About the Company. The best way to show interest in the position and be prepared for questions is to research the company thoroughly. Check out its website and social media. Know its philosophy and mission. Most importantly, be familiar with the job description that was provided.
  1. Practice Your Speaking Skills. It’s easy to talk fast when we’re nervous. Work on answering questions to yourself in a slow, steady tone. Stand in front of a mirror to read your facial expressions. It never hurts to speak with a smile.
  1. Take Care of Yourself. Feeling good physically can be just as important as feeling good mentally. Get plenty of sleep the day before. Eat breakfast so you’re not distracted by a gurgling stomach, and sip water before the interview to relieve a dry mouth.
  1. Come With Questions. When an interviewer asks if you have questions, there shouldn’t be crickets chirping. Employers like to see interest, so think of investigative questions you can ask that’ll help you determine if this job is the right fit.
  1. Update Your Social Media. No, I don’t mean posting a status about your nervousness and asking for advice on the perfect outfit. Check your social media accounts to make sure everything is professional and your accounts reflect your professional goals. Pay special attention to LinkedIn, since this is the first place employers will go to check you out. They may even base their hiring decisions upon what they see; 89 percent of recruiters have hired from LinkedIn.

During the Interview:

  1. Use Your Best Etiquette. Without being too stiff, remember to mind your manners and act professionally. Correct your posture, maintain eye contact and refrain from fidgeting or nervous habits. Avoid slang and short phrases.
  1. Think Before You Speak. It’s OK to gather your thoughts for a few seconds before answering a question. That way you have time to provide the best possible answer rather than just rushing into it.
  1. Keep Your Hands Busy With Note-Taking. If you’re still nervous and your fingers are itching to do something, carry a notepad with you and take notes when the interviewer provides interesting points or descriptions. This shows attentiveness and may help you listen better.
  1. Be Open and Prepared for Direct Questions. You may be asked to talk about difficult subjects like your weaknesses. It’s OK to have them, but spin them in a positive light. Don’t let your shortcomings bring down your mood. Don’t forget to prepare for off-the-wall questions, either.
  1. Show Positive Energy. Let the interviewer know that you’re passionate about the position and excited to be there. Flash a smile and relax into the conversation. Remember that the interviewer wants you to succeed. He or she isn’t betting on you to fail.

After the Interview:

  1. Thank the Interviewer. Let this person know that you appreciated their time. A thank you note makes a nice touch and helps you stand out among other applicants.
  1. Recap Your Interview and Make Notes for Improvement. Once you get home, replay the interview in your mind. What did you say that was good? What could you have improved on? Type up your notes so that you’ll be even more prepared for next time.
  1. Tailor Your Follow-Ups. The follow-up is a classic part of the process, but each one should be different. Just like you might tailor your resume or cover letter, compose a follow-up email or letter specific to the person that interviewed you.
  1. Make Connections if Possible. Maybe you spoke to a few other employees or even interviewees while waiting for your turn. Don’t let the conversation stop at small talk. See if they have a professional profile you can follow. You never know where those connections may lead.
  1. Keep Searching for New Jobs. Even if this was your best interview, even if you’ve never been more confident about this job, continue searching for a new one. Nothing is final until you get the call, so pursue as many opportunities as possible so you have something to fall back on.

****Campus to Career thanks to Sarah Landrum for these great tips!!****

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

How to Approach Recruiters & Get Hired!

9 04 2015

The Career Fair: Tons of companies, eager recruiters and thousands of students competing for the very same job opportunities you’re interested in. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd?

turtle career fair memeKnow Before You Go: Research the companies that are exhibiting at the career fair, their common entry-level positions, their brands, and what exactly it is that they do.


Bring Your Résumé As Backup: Yes, some companies today require candidates to apply online so that their applicant tracking system (ATS) has all your information in compliance with government regulations. However, even after you apply online, it’s still a good idea to take your résumé. Use it as a follow up tool. Don’t forget to let them know that you’ve already applied online!

Dress for Success:  In other words, suit up! Treat the career fair like an interview (several companies will be interviewing onsite) and wear appropriate clothing. Recruiters will know that you’re serious and could see you working for their company. If you’re going to a career fair on your college campus, I’d still recommend business professional dress. It’s likely that you’ll stand out (in a good way) among all the other students wearing shorts, flip-flops, sweatpants, etc.

The Handshake: Do you have a friend or family member that has a crushing handshake? How about that friend that just dangles their hand out there so you can shake it? A firm, commanding (yet kind) handshake is very important. Look them in their eyes, smile and introduce yourself as “hi, I’m (insert name)” and shake their hand with a firm grip that doesn’t crush, nor feel like a limp noodle. Two seconds is more than enough time to hold on.

Communicate Your Career Aspirations: Know what you want? Tell the recruiter! Let them know that you’ve done the research on their company’s culture, history and career opportunities AND where you feel you’d be the best fit within. Take this chance to speak briefly what you feel you can bring to the company and how you’re going to be part of their success. NOTE: There’s a balance when doing this. You want to appear humble, not entitled or arrogant.

Don’t really know what you want yet? That’s okay. Use this opportunity to learn more about the company and interact with the recruiters to build future relationships.

Psst!! Want to know the three most irritating questions/comments heard by recruiters? Click here to find out!