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US News & World Report, best known for their annual college rankings, has recently released a list of the 100 best jobs.  Rankings of any kind are dependent on the criteria used, and often open to debate, especially in an area so personal as choice of occupation.  In this case, US News compared professions based on criteria they determined mattered most: number of expected openings, advancement opportunities, career satisfaction and salary.

The ranking supports trends that have become more evident over the past decade, as the top 10 occupations are in either the technology or health care sectors. However, it's interesting to see how other occupations were ranked, and view the information covered about that job based on the aforementioned criteria.  Job market and job satisfaction information can be very helpful in career decision making.

Under each occupation you will find an overall review of the work and job outlook, information about training or education requirements, as well as reviews and advice from real people who work in that field.  In addition, salary information, stress level and flexibility of this occupation are noted.  Finally, there is a link to these specific job openings in your geographic area, a job board powered by Indeed.com.

In case you're wondering, the # 1 ranked occupation is software developer and # 100 is painter.  Find out about the other 98 rankings by checking out The 100 Best Jobs!

Additional resources concerning occupations and the job market can be found on Explore Majors & Careers on the Career Toolkit.

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'Tis the season of the summer internship. On the commuter rail every day I see new and unfamiliar faces, young professionals in the making, many of them undertaking their first workplace experiences.

But questions arise for these workers: what to wear to the office? What is and isn't proper behavior? How do you know what to ask for, and when? How do you relate to your supervisor? And 1,001 other questions.

Hence this handy collection of resources, which includes articles, photos, and videos that can help resolve some of these vexing issues for workplace newbies. Here they are:​

Enough about how you look. While appearance and first impressions certainly matter, what about the substance of your internship experience?  What are you going to put into it, and what are you supposed to get out of it?

  • What to Expect on the First Day of Your Summer Internship - Popular wesbite HerCampus offers some great advice on starting out, and then some - meeting your fellow interns, meeting your supervisor, lunch, and more (including, yes, some dress tips as well).
  • 10 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Internship - Now we get to where the rubber meets the road:  what will you get out of your internship? Website Career Attraction provides insight about making the most of your internship experience.  For example, "Tip #2. Deliver - You want to make sure that you complete any assignments, whether easy or complex, by the deadlines. 'The dog ate my homework' (or its digital version) will not resonate here." 

And finally, videos. One set is from our video content partner, CareerSpots. The other video comes from fellow collegiate career office and New England neighbor, Brown University:

  • CareerSpots on Internships - Several of these 2-3 min. videos address topics such as how to handle yourself in the workplace, how to convert your internship into a FT job, etc.
  • Maximizing Your Internship Experience- This concise (running time: 5:07) and engaging video captures pretty much everything you need to know about doing an  internship and pulls it all together for you.

And don't forget all the resources at your disposal here in the CEC. You can always come by during drop-in hours or set up an appointment to speak to one of our coaches, as well as avail yourself of the resources here on our website.

To all you eager, budding young professionals out there in your summer internships, make the most of it, have fun, good luck, and see you back on campus in the fall!


Photo: Courtesy of HerCampus

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Whether you're an undergraduate deciding on a career direction or a new grad contemplating enrolling in graduate school, an important and practical step in the process is to do some market research to make an informed decision. Be sure to research and find the answers to these two questions: 

  • What does the job market look like for that particular career?
  • What are my chances of finding employment in that field?

The good news is that most liberal arts majors have many options, so if your research reveals a particular career path is not showing much growth in jobs, you can choose another option.  For example, a degree in English can prepare you for entry level positions in a variety of industries -  education, publishing,  business, and public relations to name a few. 

Within those industries, there are numerous areas and employers for whom you could work. If you decide on publishing, will it be in editing, circulation, sales, production, marketing, advertising, promotion or administration? And for what segment of the publishing industry will you work? Will it be trade publications, newspapers, university press, educational publishing, magazines, independent publishers, or alternative media?

Because there are so many choices, it's important to do market research so you will know the job market trends in that particular field. In addition, research provides information about the skills and experience you need to develop to make you an attractive candidate. 

Most majors in liberal arts are also good preparation for careers that need advanced professional training like law or higher education.  Doing market research can confirm the availability of jobs after graduate school and alert you to both the potential of a challenging job search and/or the possibility of relocation to where there is more demand for the specialty.

Where can you go to find information about which industries, functions and locations have the best outlook for employment?   Here are two good sources:    

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the OOH is considered the source of occupational information. You'll find  information  about nearly 1,000 occupations, including the nature of the work, working conditions, training and educational requirements, career advancement, and job outlook over the next ten years, earnings potential, and more.

O*NET - Also created and maintained for the U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET provides comprehensive information about thousands of professions, with detailed descriptions of job responsibilities, required skills, preferred interests, general work styles and environments, and more.       

Additional links to other online resources are available on the Beatley Library Career Guide on Career Exploration.

Photo: Courtesy of reumetarget.com

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OK, Class of 2014. You've been out of college for (gulp) over a month now. You walked across that stage on May 9. Why, you're yesterday's news! And you still don't have a job or even the faintest clue what to do next. So what's the first thing you should do? 

Don't panic! Believe it or not, history is on your side. As shown in this infographic with outcomes data from the Simmons Class of 2012 Employment Survey, while only 36% of students had their jobs by graduation, fully 60% of those in full-time jobs were in them by three months out, and 82% were employed within six months of graduation. The latest data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers for this year's graduates is trending in the same direction. 

There is more good news for you fortunate Simmons grads. We know that 40% of your predecessors found their jobs through the most tried and true method --- networking -- and when they landed at their first destination, 90% of them were in a position related to their major.

Lucky you: the rebounding job market is also on your side. Not too long ago the US unemployment rate was over 10% and jobs were hard to come by, especially entry-level positions. But this year, as previously reported in this space, the market is in your favor and the hiring outlook for new college grads is up. Companies across a range of industry segments are growing and seeking new talent again.    

The job market in New England, where over 80% of you choose to stay year after year, is also looking stronger. While the national unemployment rate is improving and was last reported at 6.3%, Massachusetts is looking even better at 5.6%, the the lowest monthly rate in six years and the first time since July, 2008 that it's been under 6 percent.

We also know, however, that mounting a job search takes time - on average, six months from initial steps to landing a position. So those employed Simmons new grads who went before you were probably getting underway with their search by now.   

Even if you are throttling back and taking some time off this summer after you busted your you-know-what for four years, you can still harness the power of the Career Education Center to aid in your next steps. The CEC website is packed with helpful tips and information to get you started, including the wealth of career guides maintained by the experts in Beatley Library. There are over 60 of them, most of them discipline-focused, and numerous others on helpful topics such as "Job Hunting Online."  

So, whether you're Bio or Comm, English or Poli Sci, Nursing or Psych, there is an online guide for you. And once you've poked around in there and found some items of interest you might want to think about connecting with a career coach in the CEC. Even if you are not local and cannot meet face-to-face you can set up a phone appointment. Heck, we've already Skyped with a Simmons grad on the other side of the world this spring!

You'll also want to check out another recent blog entry from one of our CEC coaches with ten tips for new grads.  

Once you commit and take those initial steps and get a plan going, then start to reach out to target companies and begin to network your way in, pretty soon it will be you negotiating with an employer, getting to yes, and getting that coveted handshake. And when you've landed, you can share the good news with us in this year's first destinations survey - e-mail the CEC and we will send you a link to the survey.  

We're here all summer long -- for you. Let us know when you're ready to get going.

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Negotiating is a process in which two parties come to an agreement that is "mutually beneficial." It should be conversational, not adversarial.  When you have received a job offer, your future compensation and perhaps your job responsibilities are impacted by your ability to negotiate well.  Although the salary range in many entry level positions is limited, it is in your best interest to not settle for less compensation than the employer was willing to offer.  Paying attention to the following key ingredients will set the stage for a "Win-Win" outcome of your negotiations.  Your preparation should:

Inventory strengths:  Be able to articulate your key strengths and accomplishments.

Know your value added:  Ask yourself these questions, Why should they hire me? How do I stand out? Review the employer's problems that you can solve and present yourself as the "problem solver!"

Establish criteria:  Research and reflect on your own criteria about salary, benefits, job responsibilities, etc. Do market research through networking sites such as salary.com that provide labor market ranges. Ask yourself, salary you want? Salary you need? Your "walk away" bottom line. Remember: money left on the table is lost forever

Respond appropriately when an offer is made:  Once you receive the job offer, follow the guidelines below.  Be sure not to negotiate at this time!

1. Thank the employer and show your enthusiasm.

2. Clarify position responsibilities.

3. Clarify salary and benefits.

4. Request additional information, if needed.

5. Ask for offer in writing.

6. Ask for time to evaluate offer.

Prepare for negotiation session:

First, compare their offer to your requirements and determine item(s) you want to negotiate.  Second, develop the rationale:  What is your "value added?"  Not "I need the money."  Sample Problem:  Limited presence on social media compared to competition. You:  Previous experience with building organization's brand by creating Facebook and Twitter pages. Third, plan for the negotiation meeting and very importantly, practice out loud!  Thinking something through does not guarantee that you will deliver a well thought out rationale.  For more detailed information on negotiations go to Steps for Effective Negotiations on the CEC website.

 

search jobs.jpgGraduating without a job offer is not unusual; recent college graduates typically take some time to make the transition into the labor market.  In 2014 the trend continues, with less than 20% of college graduates reporting they had a job lined up, according to a survey by After College.com, a job matching service for recent grads.  Even as the economy steadily improves, the job market remains quite challenging.  

Here are ten tips for grads who don't have a job by graduation:    

     1. Remember that you actually do have a job - finding one! Finding a job is a full time job so approach it that way.  Create your job search project plan and get up every morning and work at it full time. Identify the kind of job (s) you want to pursue, research employers, set networking appointments etc. Then hold yourself accountable at the end of the day. What worked? What could you do better? Make necessary changes and work your plan every day.  Review the Job Search Checklist and other information on Manage Your Job Search for ideas to get started.

    2. Enlist a job search buddy and build in accountability. Check out this previous blog for ideas.

    3. Spend less time responding to posted positions and more time uncovering the "unpublished jobs" -  the jobs that are filled by employers before they need to be publicized. Employers often use staff promotions, employee referrals and networking to fill a position without posting it. Since 70 % of all jobs are found through networking (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), shouldn't at least 50% of your time be spent that way?

    4. Develop effective marketing tools.  Be sure your resume and cover letter highlight the skills and experience most relevant to the job.  Analyze the job description to be sure you are using language and key words that demonstrate a match.  If you're getting calls from employers for interviews, your marketing tools are working.

    5. Take a temp job.  You'll meet new people to add to your network, and could develop relationships with employers that could lead to a permanent job offer.  Some employers purposely hire employees on a temporary basis, which serves as a probation period, before committing to full time employment.      

    6. Build your online brand by creating a complete profile on LinkedIn. According to a recent survey by Jobvite, a social recruiting system, 94 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to source and vet candidates.      

    7. Join a local job search support group. Most members are professionals with experience and connections.  They will be happy to share advice, information and referrals with someone at the beginning of her career.  Check your local library or newspaper for an upcoming meeting.

    8. Volunteer part-time at a non-profit whose mission you support. It's a great way to network and build new skills. It can help you stay positive, but don't let your volunteer job interfere with a job search.

    9. Stay optimistic and don't give up.  The average new graduate takes six months to find a job. Expect there to be some rejection during the process. To keep motivated, reward yourself for your commitment to your goals and your persistence in working your job search plan. You have no control over the job market, or the economy but you do control your job search.      

10. Make an appointment at the Career Education Center and use our Career Toolkit.  As an alum, you can continue to use our services and online resources  and we're glad to help!

Photo compliments of mbahighway.com

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As we all know we are in the thick of Commencement season. Podium wisdom is being dispensed left and right over the course of these several weeks by distinguished elders, typically accomplished adults who have been there, done that and are sharing their hard earned life truths.    

But wait a minute - here's a distinguished elder who just got fired from her job, in a very public way, from a very presitigious and visible role. What would she have to tell us? 

I am talking, of course, about Jill Abramson, the former Executive Editor of the New York Times who was dismissed by Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. just prior to her scheduled appearance as Commencement speaker at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

As Abramson told the assembled graduates and their families and friends, "What's next for me? I don't know. So I'm in exactly the same boat as many of you!'' Abramson also averred that "like you, I am a little scared, but also excited." 

Now, have you ever wondered why they call it "Commencement" when it is the very LAST thing you do in your entire college experience?  Why it is called a beginning when it is quite obviously an ending?

Well, because it is the beginning, the beginning of the rest of your life! And as Abramson learned and related, life doesn't quit, no matter what age or how accomplished or how celebrated you are. It keeps happening, keeps coming at you.

Unlike some of the other colleges that rescinded their Commencement speakers' invitations this season, Wake Forest kept their promise and followed through with Abramson, even though she had just been knocked off her high perch. Astute university President Nathan Hatch asked her to speak about the importance of resilience, and she did, quoting her father who, Abramson said, was less interested in how his daughters' dealt with their successes than how they dealt with their setbacks. That's when you have to "show what you are made of", Abramson's father told his children.

'''And now I'm talking to anyone who's been dumped," said Abramson, "not gotten the job you really wanted, or received those horrible rejection letters from grad school -- you know the sting of losing or not getting something you badly want. When that happens, show what you are made of.''

Despite having recently swallowed such a bitter pill, Abramson was upbeat and told the audience that it was "the honor of my life to lead the newsroom" of the New York Times. That's keeping things in perspective.

I recommend that you take 11 minutes out of your life and watch Abramson's speech. And as you make your way on life's not-always-so-straight path, remember her advice. Things will not always go as planned or to your liking. And at those times, you will need to bounce back, to get up off the mat, to "show what you are made of." To paraphrase Abramson and her father, when life deals you a lemon, make lemonade.  

Photo: Courtesy Boston Globe / Jason Miczek / Reuters  

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It's that time of year, when college seniors robe up and cross the stage to receive a handshake and a sheepskin. All of them are proud and excited but many of them are also apprehensive about the real world and their employment prospects.

Well, some very positive news on the job market has come out recently, which should help ease the anxiety of this year's crop of graduates. The Department of Labor  just released figures for the month of April at the end of last week, and the national unemployment rate fell to 6.3% (from 6.7% in March), the lowest it has been in over five years, since before the big meltdown of the Great Recession in September, 2008. (This happens to coincide almost exactly with my time as Associate Director of Employer Relations here at Simmons, so this is welcome news indeed.)

Also in April, employers in the US added 288,000 jobs, the most for a single month in the past two years. "Not only is job growth continuing, but it is accelerating,'' said Patrick O'Keefe, director of economic research at the accounting and consulting firm CohnReznick. Read the full article from Friday's Boston Globe.

​And the beat goes on. The Massachusetts unemployment rate for March, the latest month for which figures are available, was also at 6.3%. See the dramatic ups and downs of the employment market over the last ten years in this infographic depciting both the state and national unemployment rates that accompanies the Globe article.

And. . .the beat goes on! As the National Association of Colleges and Employers (aka, NACE) reports in their April 16 press release on the hiring outlook for new college grads, "employers plan to hire 8.6% more Class of 2014 graduates than they hired from the Class of 2013." This data comes from the spring update of their hiring outlook survey with employers nationwide.
 
The story was picked up by CNBC which also ran an article on the improved employment outlook for college grads on its website.
 
Click through the links above to to get more detail in the stories and the breakdown by industry.
 
So take heart, graduates!  And remember: you only need one job to get you going. So get that resume and cover letter polished up along with your elevator pitch and get out there and take advantage of the upswing in the market. You can do it. And congratulations on your degree! 
 
 
Photo: Courtesy CNBC/Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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So often our non-verbal speech is louder than our spoken words.  A few years ago, after listening to a presentation I was making, a well-repected consultant at Simmons offered me feedback I have never forgotten. He commended me on how well prepared I was on the topic, but noted that my welcoming comments had failed to capture the audience because they had not been accompanied by a warm smile and a sufficient show of enthusiasm for what I was about to share. In other words, my non-verbals had not validated my spoken message. 

Preparation is an important component in helping to build your self-confidence, but mindful attention to your non-verbal speech and body language, is equally as important in getting your message across. This becomes critical when you are called upon to market yourself in networking situations, interviews or job negotiations.  You might spend a great deal of time carefully crafting words to send just the right message.  However, your non-verbals can either convince the listener or undermine what you say.  

Oftentimes, women in particular do not own and convey the inherent power that they have through non-verbal communication.  Research has shown that men generally take up more space than women and thus often gain a power advantage.  In the context of a job search, confidence is a key to creating your own space and thereby gaining credibility. This concept is so important that career coaches have been known to advise clients to "bluff" confidence even when the person is unsure of herself.  

Certainly, your posture affects you as well as other people.  It's hard to feel "in charge" if you have your knees together, your elbows close to your sides, and are leaning forward!  Practicing the "Power Pose" before an important meeting, interview or negotiating session gives you a real boost. Try it! Spread your feet to shoulder width, put your hands on your hips, stand very tall and look up to the sky. Hold this pose for two minutes. Taking more space makes you appear and feel more relaxed and confident. It isn't just the quality of your answers during an interview that will impact the outcome.  It's also your non-verbal messages that will go a long way toward persuading an employer to hire you!

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Bon voyage and best of luck! Following are fifteen pieces of real world advice I want to share with you as you transition from college to career:

 

 

1.  Go for it! Don't delay the job search after graduation as you may not realize that it takes several months, so if you haven't  already started, start now.

2. Know yourself. Know your passion, strengths, aspirations and what you want out of life.  You are in charge of your career. Know there are many ways to express your passion in a career and there are multiple paths.

3. Know the organization. Do your homework and research the organization to understand the culture and what the employer seeks.

4. Build relationships. Find professionals in your industry and seek their advice and guidance by asking good questions.  You can learn how they got a foot in the door and how they grew their career.  They may also have other contacts for you.

5. How you present yourself is key to your success. Share your story that demonstrates your interests, experiences, accomplishments and special qualities.

6. Let go of limiting beliefs and take risks. Have a positive outlook as that will impact everything. You may need to take some risks and from them you will always learn something whether you succeed or fail.

7. Not all advice is good advice. Your parents and friends may have good intentions, but know that in a changing economy, the job search process has changed.  Seek advice from professionals and career experts who have a pulse on the job market.

8. Apply for jobs that are a good fit. Don't jump at the first job offer if you are not excited about it.  You may feel pressure to take the first job you are offered in order to pay the bills, but research shows that you won't last long.  When you are motivated by a job, you end up accomplishing more and feeling more satisfied.

9. Create a strong online profile. Polish your LinkedIn profle as today more recruiters are sourcing for candidates online.  Make sure to show your strengths and what is unique about you.

10. Have perserverance in the job search.  If you are not chosen for a job, look at it as a learning experience and understand that the hiring process is complex and not an even playing field.  Ask yourself if you are presenting your best self in the interview.  If so, accept the loss and move forward.

11. Your attitude, energy and outlook matter.  Be aware of yourself and demonstrate with enthusiasm  the strengths you bring to the table. Also, stay on top of market trends and what employers seek in job candidates.

12. Exhibit a professional demeanor: Dress professionally and be aware of basic manners. Stand out from the crowd by being polished and polite.

13. Manage your expectations. Although you may be ready to leap to a higher position, accept the fact that you may need to take the necessary steps to position yourself for the future.  The more you do to master your job, make a contribution and prove yourself, the greater are the opportunities to grow your career.

14. Your first job is a starting point.  Your first job is not about making a decision for the rest of your life, but see it as a jumping off point towards your future.

15. A career is not a straight, but windy path. Discover what you like and do well that aligns with your values and this will serve you well throughout your life.

Andrea Wolf is Director of Simmons Career Education Center