Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Video: How To Be A Great Leader in the Workplace

Watch one of our Career Counseling Interns, Nicole Perretti, give advice on how to be a great leader in the workplace!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Dos and Don’ts of Accepting a Job Offer

Congratulations – you’ve received a job offer! Before you accept, take a breath. There are many things that need to be taken into consideration before accepting a job offer.

How do I respond?
The first step is to express enthusiasm for the offer, in order to show the company that you are still interested in the position.

What if I need time to think it over?
It costs the company both time and money to recruit. You have already made it through the hiring process, and as long as you are cordial, an employer should be more than happy to give you the time. In order to receive more time, you may just ask if you may have more time to consider your options before coming to a final decision on the offer. You may want to discuss the details of the job to gain a better understanding of what is being offered to you.

What else do I need to consider?
The next crucial part of the process is to evaluate the offer.  There are two realms to focus on while you are assessing the offer: expenses, and personal and professional satisfaction. When evaluating expenses, you should consider how much money you will spend on commuting, as well as things like rent, utilities, child care, and other considerations. To calculate a monthly budget, use the Dollars and $ense feature on the New York CareerZone website.  

When considering the satisfaction you can receive from the new position, you will want to think about how this position fits into your long-term career goals. Can you be successful in this position?  Carefully consider the number of hours that you will be spending on the job, and what you may be giving up, if anything, when accepting the position. Lastly, you are going to want to determine if you will enjoy working for that company, by seeing if your values and way of thinking align with the company’s way.

Now that you have evaluated the offer, you next want to determine the minimum offer you are willing to accept, your bottom line. Now you are ready to negotiate, accept or decline.

Should I negotiate?
Negotiating can be difficult for many people, but know that as long as you remain respectful and courteous, most employers will not have an issue with negotiations.  If you view the negotiations as a competition, you are likely to come across as too pushy and will definitely not get what you want.

When negotiating salary, you are always going to want to start high and work towards a middle ground. This is commonly known as highballing; with this technique you are showing that you are willing to compromise to a fair and reasonable starting salary. When requesting a salary, it is important to present a range rather than a specific number. In order to determine a fair starting range you can use the Occupational Outlook Handbook, and type your job title into the search bar.  Once you find the position, you can look at salary information nationally as well as by region. It is also important to keep in mind that salary is not the only thing to negotiate. Benefits, such as vacation days, salary review, sick days, insurance coverage, and bonuses can also be brought to the table when negotiating.

When negotiating, it is also important to continue to sell yourself to the employer. You must justify every additional dollar or benefit you request by focusing on the employer’s needs. You have to make a claim as to how you are going to benefit the company and deserve the compensation that you are requesting.  The ability to articulate what you can bring to the table assures the employer that they are winning, too. Lastly, it is imperative that you remain confident throughout the negotiating process. Thus, you must remain mindful of both body language and speech patterns throughout the entire conversation.

If, after the negotiating process, you still have not received what you feel you deserve, it is perfectly acceptable to walk away.

What if I want to decline the offer?
When declining an offer, you want to make sure that you put it in writing. The letter should be sent in a timely fashion, due to the fact that you are not interested and are taking a potential position away from someone else. When most people decline an offer, it is because they have received a better offer given their goals and interests; this is the point that the letter should focus on. There is no need to include extensive details about the other position, just that there is another position which suits you more. There is also no need to go into details about what is wrong with the current position; you would not want to insult the employer. Below is an example of a letter with the intent to decline an offer.

900 Zebra Street
Stony Brook, NY 11794
(540) 555-9009

May 7, 2012

John Smith
Zebra Inc.
111 Zebra Rd.
Stony Brook, NY 11794

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you very much for offering me the position of Assistant to the Regional Manager at Zebra Inc. While I appreciate the challenging opportunity the position offers, I have been given another job offer which I believe more closely matches my current career goals and interests. Therefore, although it was a difficult decision, I must decline your generous offer. 

Once again, thank you for your consideration, and I appreciate all of your time. I wish you and Zebra Inc. continued success and I hope our paths will cross again in the future.
Best regards,
John Doe
John Doe
I think I'm ready to accept my offer!
When accepting an offer, whether it is without or with negotiations, make sure you completely understand what you are accepting.  Now that you have accepted an offer, you must stop searching. Continuing to search can ruin your already accepted offer by portraying yourself as a dishonest person with bad character.
Good Luck, and happy searching!
Erin Tully, Career Counseling Intern

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Preparing for a Job Interview with a Little Help from the Career Center!

It’s that time of the year again, when many students find themselves applying to different jobs and internships! Whether you are a freshman exploring different interests by volunteering for the summer, or a senior searching for that full-time job after graduation, a key factor to doing well in any application process is the interview.

Have you ever had an interview that you felt went terribly? I did. I can still remember the first “real” interview I ever had. It was in high school and I was extremely nervous. In fact, my interviewer even said to me, “You look very nervous.” As expected, I did not receive a job offer, and for a while after I was very discouraged. I thought it would be impossible for me to ever do well on an interview. And if I couldn’t do well on interviews, then how was I ever going to get a job and gain experience for the future?

If you have ever had a similar experience or feel that way now, it is okay. There are many individuals that are in the same shoes! However, there is no reason to be intimidated by the interviewing process. I am a senior graduating this May, and from my experiences, I have learned that interviewing is a skill. Yes, like all other skills, some learn quicker than others and it may come naturally. But for many others, including myself, interviewing is learned through experience. Each and every time you interview, you learn from it.

A great way to prepare for a job interview, or even just to practice your interviewing skills, is to come into the Career Center for a mock interview! Our career counselors know the types of questions that employers generally ask, and the best part is that they can give you helpful and specific feedback. You will learn what your strong points are, but also what you need to work on before your actual interview. The best way to improve your interviewing skills is learning through experience, so practice… practice… practice!

I have had three mock interviews at the Career Center since the Fall 2011 semester, and I plan to have another one in the very near future! With each mock interview I’ve had, I’ve learned something new. I’ve even done a mock phone interview, which was really great! Sometimes phone interviews can feel unusual and even a little awkward. When I had my mock phone interview, I got to experience the pause that might come along when speaking to an employer, and the quick pace and style of a phone interview. These are things that you would normally read about, but aren’t really sure what they are like until you experience them. After my mock phone interview I felt more confident about the real deal that was yet to come, and I ended up doing really well!

So, if you would like to work on your interviewing skills, come to the Career Center and schedule a mock interview with one of our career counselors. I guarantee it will be a worthwhile experience that you will learn a lot from!


Denise Cheng
Career Counseling Intern
Stony Brook University

Monday, March 26, 2012

What Recruiters Look For In Your Resume

Recruiters receive many resumes at once at a job fair, not to mention the amount they see every day from their websites and places where they have posted their job openings.  So, what do YOU have to do to make sure yours stands out?
The answers are not always clear cut, as some recruiters favor certain things over others. However, I can provide you with the basics.
What is a resume?
A resume is typically a one-page description of you and is built around three areas: Education, Experience & Skills.   Experience can mean extracurricular activities, work, internships, volunteer work, and/or academic projects.   A few examples of skills that need to be put on a resume include technical (e.g. Microsoft Office) and language skills. 
What is the purpose?
The main purpose of a resume is simple: to get an interview. 
Lesson 1 – Contact Information
Make sure that your contact information (address, phone number and email address) is up to date and is professional.  Email addresses such as will most likely be pushed off to the side—no matter how good a resume it could be.
Lesson 2 – Formatting
Templates—Recruiters tend to dislike templates because they do not exemplify all that a job seeker has to offer and they lack a personal touch.  The format that many templates use can cause your information to spill onto a second page or appear too flashy, distracting the recruiter from what’s really important—your experience.   Sometimes when you are filling out a template, it forgets to ask you for  crucial information, such as your email address.  If a recruiter usually schedules interviews by email, he/she would have to go out of his/her way to call you.  Keep it simple for the recruiter.  He/she should not have to work that hard to contact you.
Objective—This is useful when applying for a specific position at a company.  If you have a resume that you use for every position you apply for, be sure to update the objective each time.  It would be a big mistake to send out a resume to an employer with the wrong company and position title on it.  An example of an objective could be:  To utilize my communication and managerial skills for the XYZ position at YOUR Company.  This is something the recruiter will keep in mind while reading the rest of your resume.
When describing your experiences, USE BULLET POINTS!  Keep your bullets short and to the point.  A resume is also used to highlight your skills and to entice the recruiter to want to know more about you.   The only way he/she can do that is through an interview!
Most importantly, make sure your resume is clear and concise! 
**For more examples of formatting, see our Sample Resumes in the Resource Library of ZebraNet**
Lesson 3 –Job Description/Qualifications
Some recruiters use a screening process to determine which applicants will be considered for an interview.  The only way a resume will pass through the screening process is if the applicant meets all of the required qualifications listed on the job posting.  Therefore, it is imperative that the qualifications are found somewhere on your resume.  Be sure to read the job description and qualifications carefully and tailor your resume to that specific position.  Place “buzzwords” that you may find in the description into your resume so they jump out at recruiters.
For example, a post for an administrative assistant at a university may be asking for applicants to have experience working with Microsoft Excel, Word and PowerPoint.  If you want to apply for the position, and you know how to use these programs, put them on your resume.  If they are not on there, the recruiter will assume you do not have those skills and will not consider you for an interview.  Most simply put, give the recruiters what they are asking for.
It is also not enough to say that you have technical and/or soft skills (organizational, teamwork, clerical, interpersonal, communication, etc.).  These skills should be highlighted in your experience on the resume.  For example, if you have used Excel in your internship or job, be sure that when you are writing your job duties, you include how you have used Excel.  If you want to exhibit your communication, organizational and other soft skills, be sure to note them in your job duties as well.
A helpful tip for any student who wants to tailor his/her resume to a particular field:  Read through multiple job descriptions and qualifications and note the similarities among the descriptions.  You will find that writing your resume just became easier because you have the gist of what recruiters in your field are looking for.
Lesson 4 – Getting Involved
Recruiters understand that as students, not all of us are able to balance school and work.  As a college student, there are numerous ways to get involved and obtain experience:
Community Service/Volunteering
Internships (paid, non-paid, credit-bearing)
Extracurricular Activities (on- and off-campus)
Relevant Coursework (including class projects and research)
Becoming a Teaching Assistant (T.A.)
Starting or becoming a leader in a student organization (on- or off-campus)
Recruiters are evaluating how you have made your experiences relevant to the position you are applying for.  A position that requires the ability to work with others could be related to being a member of the executive board in a student organization, or  working on a class project.  Leadership, helping, and communication skills could be developed through extracurricular activities, internships and/or volunteering.
Recruiters are always seeking the best candidate for the job.  Remember to read over the job descriptions and qualifications to determine if you can cater your experiences to what they are looking for.  Although you want your resume to be aesthetically pleasing, too many lines, colors and templates could distract the recruiter from what is really important: your experience and getting that interview! 
*For more resources on resumes, look for our Resume and Cover Letter Instruction Packets in your ZebraNet account in the Resource Library*
**The Career Center also provides Resume/Cover Letter Review Hours! Stop in today for one-on-one resume assistance:**
                Mondays, Tuesdays & Thursdays from 1-4pm (Walk-ins)
                Fridays from 1-4pm (By appointment only; call 631-632-6810 to schedule)
Shelly Punter
Career Counseling Intern
Spring 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Art of Thank You: The Secret of Success

During my senior year at Stony Brook University, I find myself in a position to give thanks to many people who are crucial to my success. The topic for this blog came from a little book I read by the same title, The Art of Thank You by William James, found in the Career Center’s Library (a great resource students tend to overlook). The Art of Thank You helped me to properly show my appreciation and gratitude to all of the people in my life that helped me further my career goals.

Why write a thank you note?
The purpose of a thank you note is to express your appreciation and gratitude. Some people may think that writing a thank you note is trivial; this could not be further from the truth. In The Art of Thank You, James writes, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” I am a psychology major so this quote really stood out to me; we want to feel like what we do is important and has had an impact on someone’s life. Showing how thankful you are to those who helped you along the way is one of the many ways to accomplish this goal.
When should you send a thank you note?
A thank you note should be sent ASAP. If the thank you note is meant for a professional occasion, like a job interview, it should be written within 24 hours while the interaction is still new.
What kind of thank you should you send?  
In this time and age, an email is a fast and realistic option when writing a thank you note. However, keep in mind that an employer will be expecting impeccable online etiquette. Make sure that the email is professional and that you are writing from the same email address that is on your resume.  To avoid your email being sent to spam, make sure that your subject line is short, but to the point.   
When writing a handwritten thank you note, what paper to use is something you need to consider. Thank you notes can be sent on informal stationary but that doesn't mean it is okay to use a piece of paper torn from your notebook. Find a note card that reflects your personality and that is professionally appropriate, and keep a ready supply on hand. Some stores where you can find thank you note paper are Target, Hallmark, and Wal-Mart. After reading this blog I am sure that you will find plenty of situations where a thank you note will be appropriate, for example, after receiving a gift, for help with an academic project, for offering a sympathetic ear, for being a good friend, for finding your Stony Brook ID, for buying you a meal, etc.
What if your handwriting mimics a doctor’s chicken scratch? A printed thank you note can be a suitable option, or just a thank you email.  
What is an appropriate occasion for a thank you note?
Interview- A thank you note after you have an interview sets you apart from other candidates for the same position. In your note, make sure to reiterate your interest in the position and in the organization. A thank you note can also remind the employer about your qualifications for the position; if you thought of something you forgot to mention in the interview, mention it in your thankyou letter. A hard copy note (not handwritten) is most formal and appropriate after an interview.

Job offer- A thank you note after you have been offered a position is a formal way to accept or decline a job offer. This thank you note will be different from the interview thank you note in that you are letting the recruiter know how grateful you are that they chose you for the position in the company.
Job rejections- Thank you letters should be sent to employers that have offered you a position, but that you have decided not to accept. In declining an offer, you want to express your appreciation for the offer and thank the employer for their consideration. Your objective is to reject the offer, but maintain a relationship with the employer. This continued relationship is important because if you reapply for another position the employer will acknowledge your determination and passion for the company. The world is a very small place, so it’s also a good idea because you never know how networking and making connections will come up!
Recommendations- Most graduate schools, awards applications, and job positions will require you to provide recommendations. The person you ask to recommend you should receive a thank you note. In this case, a personalized, handwritten note would be best.
Thank you samples:
Thank you email for an interview:
This can be found in the Career Center main website under the Students section. This website is a great place that has many resources aside from the thank you sample.
Thank you for an initial interview:
Thank you for an on-site interview:
Acknowledging a job offer, neither accepting nor declining:
Thank you for a recommendation  

Posted by Aline De Jesus
Career Counseling Intern
Spring 2012