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How To Avoid These Common New Hire Pitfalls

How To Avoid These Common New Hire Pitfalls

New Hire PitfallsThe interviews are over, the W4 is filled out and it’s your first day on a new job. Now’s the time to shine.

Your early days at a company set the tone for how your boss and coworkers perceive you and can have a lasting impact on your ability to advance.  

Unfortunately, many new hires fall into traps that can hurt their credibility and even jeopardize their prospects at the company. So what can you do to start off strong and gain the respect of your manager and coworkers? Here are some pitfalls to avoid.

Not asking for help

If you put on quite a show during the interview process, you probably feel like you need to prove to your manager that she made the right choice in picking you over other candidates. And in proving your worth, you might avoid asking for help to demonstrate your effectiveness.

This is common: many new hires are afraid to ask for help when facing a problem. Asking for help might reveal that they don’t (gasp!) know everything.

Newsflash—your boss doesn’t expect you to know everything from day one. Asking for help isn’t a display of weakness. It shows your new employer that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to become a valuable part of the team.

Asking for too much help

Although getting help when you really need it is a must, asking questions that you could’ve answered with independent research is lazy.

Companies need employees with critical thinking skills: people who, when faced with a problem, try to arrive at a solution by mapping their current knowledge onto new situations.

Of course, there are some processes or systems that you won’t be able to figure out on your own. Others you can look up on the company website or in training manuals. The trick is in knowing where that line falls in your company or on your particular project.

Before going to a coworker or supervisor with a question, try to find the answer on your own. If you still need to ask for help, explain what steps you took to solve the problem independently. That way the person helping you knows that you’re trying to work through the issue with minimal assistance.

Missing the big picture

In some companies, it can be hard to know how your specific role fits into the overall mission, especially when you’re at the bottom of the org chart. Ideally, you’d learn this during the onboarding process. Regardless, not knowing how your role benefits the bottom line can make your day to day activities seem pointless.

To remedy this, become familiar with your company’s mission and vision statements. Understand their products or services, even if selling or promoting them isn’t your direct responsibility. Whether you’re in accounting or customer service, understanding how you’re specifically making a difference can help you see the big picture and improve your performance.

Getting caught up in office drama

All offices have moods—some are positive and some are negative. And often, one or two people can set the tone for an entire department. If you find that you’ve been hired into a negative office environment, you must do everything you can to avoid the coworkers who are creating that negativity.

In order to make it through the day with your sanity intact, you must focus on doing your job and achieving your performance goals. If a few people continually spew negative comments or gossip about others, avoid them. If you can’t, try to steer conversations toward more positive subjects and avoid topics that tend to drift into negative territory. Do whatever it takes to remain positive. You don’t want to be associated with the office’s negative person or group. It not only hurts your prospects at the company, but it also makes each day a drag.

The first 90 days at a new job are a continuation of the interview process. Your manager and coworkers are still evaluating whether you’re a good fit for the position and the company. With a desire to learn and a willingness to work both independently and as part of the team, you can demonstrate to them that you were and are the right choice.

To make an appointment with an OPCD career advisor, click here.

 

Follow These 4 Steps to Up Your Interview Game

Follow These 4 Steps to Up Your Interview Game

Let’s face it: interviews are tough. Even seasoned professionals get sweaty palms at the thought of being evaluated on every word that comes out of their mouths. But, like it or not, interviews are an unavoidable part of the hiring process.

So what can you do to up your interviewing game? Here are 4 things to work on:

Take company research to the next level

There was a time when looking up a company’s website and memorizing their mission statement would’ve been called deep research. Not anymore. Before your interview read all of the company’s social media platforms. Check in on its stock performance. Set up alerts for any news about the company and its upper management.

Some hiring managers will test how much research you’ve done by asking questions like, “What did you think of our last social media campaign?” You don’t want to have to answer with, “I haven’t seen it.”

Here’s why: you want your interviewer to know that you want this job, not just any job. By researching the company and its approach to business, you can position yourself as a good fit for the position. This shows your interviewer that you’re sincerely interested in being part of the team.

Be honest about your weaknesses—and then follow up with a plan

When an interviewer asks you, “What’s your greatest weakness?” your tendency might be to couch your answer as a veiled strength: “Sometimes I take my job too seriously” or “People tell me I work too hard.” That’s a mistake because seasoned managers and recruiters can see right through that ploy.

A better answer is an honest one followed by how you’re already addressing that weakness.

Here are some examples:

“I sometimes get caught up in the details of a project and have trouble seeing the big picture. I’m working on that by setting intermediate goals so I can make sure my work is on track.”

“I get nervous in public speaking situations. I’m trying to improve my skills by working with a mentor who’s really good at it. I’ve started speaking up in small group meetings, and I make sure I’m always well-prepared in case the opportunity to speak arises.”

One weakness that doesn’t go over well with hiring managers is tardiness. Don’t bother saying “I’m always late” and following up with how you have a new alarm that requires you to jump up and down to make your phone stop chirping. Work on that weakness, but discuss a different one in the interview.

Be prepared for tricky questions

People tend to prep for interviews by looking up “interview questions” and then practicing their answers in front of the mirror and with friends. They walk into the interview confident that they’re ready for any “tell me about a time” questions the interviewer throws at them.

That’s a good practice, but to take your interviewing skills to the next level you should expect the unexpected. The only way to prep for a question you don’t know is coming is to be very comfortable verbalizing your resume and your accomplishments. Know your story by heart. Get comfortable talking about challenges you faced and how you overcame them.

Before the interview read over the job posting again. Make sure you really understand the job you’re applying for and be prepared to explain—convincingly—how your particular experience and achievements make you the best candidate for the position. Time spent studying what the interviewer is looking for (at least according to the job posting) will prepare you for any oddball questions that might come up.

And watch out for “Why do you want this job?” Answering with “the commute is shorter” or “I liked your website” is a red flag that signals you want a job but maybe not this particular job.

Ask relevant questions

Most interviews wrap up with this: “So do you have any questions for me?” The worst possible answer is, “No, I think you covered it all.”

The second worst answer is, “So how many days of vacation do I get and when can I start taking them?” Not that those are invalid questions—just don’t ask them in the first interview.

The best questions are questions that answer what you need to know to know to be successful: How will my performance be measured? Is there a typical career path that someone in this position might follow? Would there be the possibility of relocating in the future? How often would I be working on a team and how often alone?

And don’t ask questions that you could’ve googled before the interview. The answers to “Where are your headquarters located?” or “How many employees do you have at this location?” can be found online and don’t sound as though you put much thought into them.

It’s OK to be nervous in an interview. But the more you prepare, the better you’ll be able to be yourself. Your goal should be to come across as confident (but not cocky), relaxed (but not indifferent) and personable (but not insincere).

Oh, and keep a tissue handy for those sweaty palms.

5 Resume Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

5 Resume Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

You say you’ve applied to tons of jobs and you’re not getting any interviews. You’ve posted online, you’ve sent resumes through email and snail mail and nothing’s happening. You meet the basic qualifications for these positions, but hiring managers aren’t calling you back for an in-person meeting or even a phone interview.

Someone’s getting these jobs. Why not you?

If you’ve applied to multiple positions you’re qualified for but aren’t getting interviews, there’s most likely a problem with your resume.

Here are five resume mistakes that could cost you an interview. Luckily, they’re easy to fix.

You didn’t proofread your resume

This might be the worst mistake you can make when submitting your resume. Proofreading is more than a quick spell check–you’re looking for grammar mistakes as well as words that spell check won’t catch (their and there, it’s and its). And always make sure you’ve used the right company name in a cover letter or job objective. Use the wrong one and your resume will end up in the trash.

This may sound a little harsh. But think of it this way: your lack of proofreading shows the hiring manager that you weren’t interested enough in the position or the company to put in extra work. What does that tell them about the kind of employee you’d be?

Do whatever it takes to get grammar and spelling right. Read it out loud. Have a friend read it. Read it backward. Your resume should be absolutely error-free.

Your formatting is all over the place

Headings, job titles, bullets, fonts, indentions–these should be consistent throughout your resume. Anything less makes a recruiter have to work harder to figure out if you’re right fit for the position. Make sure your name is in a larger font size and then use boldface, underline and italics (consistently!) to distinguish each section.

You copied your current and previous job descriptions and pasted them into your Experience section

Each job title should include a short description of your position and bullet points that detail what you accomplished while you were there. A job description has too much detail–your resume doesn’t need it. Plus, job descriptions read like corporate-speak and sound awkward when used out of context.

You listed your job tasks instead of your accomplishments

Unless you have an unusual job or were assigned tasks that are not the norm for that kind of position, you don’t need to rehash your daily job duties. Most employers already know what a customer service rep does. Instead, you should include a list of accomplishments for each job. Here’s what that looks like:

Customer Service Representative, ABC Company

Task-focused: Answered phones, routed calls to other employees, handled customer complaints, filled out customer complaint forms.

Results-focused: Increased customer retention by 15% in one year by promptly addressing customer complaints and taking steps to resolve them. Decreased time to resolve customer complaints by 25% by developing a strategy designed to streamline inbound calls and emails.

 

You’re using the same resume for every job posting

Customer Service Rep. Marketing Assistant. Event Coordinator. The same resume should work for all entry-level positions, right? Wrong. Each resume you write should be tailored specifically to the job you’re applying for, even if it’s the same type of position at two different companies.

Go through the job description and notice words the employer uses in the Tasks Required and Skills sections. Do they want someone who’s fluent in Microsoft Excel? List it in your Skills section (if you have that skill–don’t lie). Are they looking for a candidate with the ability to analyze complex data? Make sure one of your bullets lists a time when you analyzed data and what results you achieved.

Time to clean it up…

Don’t let a sloppy resume be the reason recruiters and hiring managers are passing on you. A great resume will improve your chances of making it through to the first round of interviews. Follow these steps to get the basics down and the interviews will come.

For more information on resumes or interviewing or to make an appointment with an OPCD advisor, click here.

 

Getting Started in DC: A Beginner’s Guide

Getting Started in DC: A Beginner’s Guide

Working or interning in Washington, DC, may seem like a stretch goal for many students. But according to Dr. Yuval Levin, Vice President and Hertog Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington is an exceptionally open place for people who are willing to work hard. Dr. Levin spoke recently to a group of University of Dallas students about securing work and internships in the nation’s capital.

Dr. Yuval Levin

“The world of congressional staffers is quite young,” Levin said. “The typical congressional staff will consist of 7 or 8 people in their twenties who are each assigned a specific set of issues. They’re very involved in the work of legislation.” According to Levin, working on a congressional staff is the best way to learn how Washington really works. “Congress is driven by process,” he said. “Working on a congressional staff teaches you about powerful personalities and about the scheduling and tempo of legislation.”

Working for a congressional committee or for a senior member of a committee is another way to get solid policy experience. “The substantive policy work is done in committee,” he said. Many staffers working on these committees are very young as well. Levin recalled his own experience as a young staffer: “I remember sitting on the budget committee and negotiating health care issues and thinking, ‘Do they realize I’m 21?’”

Levin said that although Executive Branch staffers are generally more experienced than Hill staffers, there are many lower-level departmental positions that offer a good start for young staffers. He emphasized that a recent graduate’s willingness to work is the most important factor in securing work in Washington. “Don’t limit yourself to one office or one area of government. If you’re willing to be paid pretty poorly, there’s work out there,” he said. Outside of working on the Hill or in the Executive Branch, Levin said that the organizations that support the policy apparatus–think tanks, party committees, and PACs–are also great places for recent college graduates to gain experience that could lead to other positions.

Levin recommends that interns or recent grads think first about working as a congressional staffer. First, it’s the easiest way to get in, and, second, working on the Hill provides the kind of experience that students can use as leverage to get other positions. “You can’t pretend to understand how government works if you haven’t seen it first hand,” Levin said.

The first step to getting a job on the Hill is to contact your local congressional representatives. “Call the offices of your two state senators and your local congressional representative,” Levin said, “and offer yourself up to opening letters, doing research, whatever they need.” This approach can work whether you’re looking for an internship or a job after graduation. “DC has a low barrier to entry,” he said, “if you’re willing to do the work.”

For more information about internships and employment in Washington, DC, or anywhere else, contact the Office of Personal Career Development for an appointment.

Career Development and Alumni Relations Launch Alumni Advisory Panel

Career Development and Alumni Relations Launch Alumni Advisory Panel

Monica Abbracciamento, Alumni Advisory Panel member

The UD Office of Personal Career Development and the Alumni Relations Department have launched a virtual alumni advisory panel in which students can connect with experienced alumni and pose questions on career-related topics.

The virtual panel boasts of 33 members from a variety of career fields and graduation years. Students can post questions to the entire panel or to individual panel members. Questions and answers are posted on the Office of Personal Career Development’s blog. Students can also scroll through past questions and answers to look for topics that interest them.

Panelist Monica Abbracciamento (BA History, 2011) said that she’s serving on the panel because she’s grateful for her UD education and the impact it’s had on her professional growth. “I wanted to serve as a resource for students facing the same decisions I once faced,” she said.

Abbracciamento also believes that good mentors are crucial for the success of young professionals. “Liberal arts candidates, in particular, have many ways of adding value to business and other organizations,” she said. “I’d love to offer perspective and advice based on my own unique career progression.”

Click here to view the alumni advisors and pose questions or select the “Ask an Alumnus” menu on the OPCD blog’s home page.

To make an appointment with an OPCD career counselor, click here.

 

Students Forming
Women in STEM Club at UD

Students Forming
Women in STEM Club at UD

Why are there so few women in STEM fields and what can we do about it? Last year, students at the University of Dallas decided to tackle those questions head-on by forming a Women in STEM club at UD.

Patricia Hahn and Rebecca Kolbeck

Last spring, Rebecca Kolbeck, a senior biology major, joined a few friends for informal talks about starting a Women in STEM club at UD. “Some of the women who were in the STEM majors and were about to graduate mentored us and encouraged us to think about forming a club,” she said. They started out with a few informal events, including discussions about what the club would look like and even a trip to see the movie Hidden Figures for inspiration. Patricia Hahn, senior biochemistry major, and Tessa Rosenberger, junior physics major, are two other founding members of the group.

As the fall 2017 semester begins, Kolbeck and other members have turned to Dr. Sally Hicks, Chair of the Physics Department, and Dr. Ellen Steinmiller, Associate Professor of Chemistry, as mentors for the club. “We’re really in the formative stages now,” Kolbeck said. “So we’d like to research statistics on women in STEM majors at UD. We’d like to find out if female STEM grads actually go into STEM fields after graduation. And if not, why?”

Kolbeck hopes to eventually bring speakers to campus that can not only inspire young women to pursue STEM careers, but also prepare them for the challenges they might face in the traditionally male-dominated STEM fields. “We’d like to hear from alumni, female professionals, and UD professors about how they overcame the obstacles to being women in STEM,” she said. 

Kolbeck visualizes the Women in STEM Club inspiring the next generation as well. “We’d eventually like to talk about women in STEM fields in a broader sense, including how we, as college students, can motivate high school and middle school girls into pursuing STEM education,” she said.

For more information on women in STEM fields, read the American Association of University Women’s research report on the subject here.

For help in choosing a major or career field, make an appointment with an OPCD career counselor.

 

Applying for Prestigious
Scholarships and Fellowships

Applying for Prestigious
Scholarships and Fellowships

Have you ever dreamed about studying at Oxford University? Pursuing advanced research at MIT?  Where will you go after your studies conclude here? Is there a Rhodes, Fulbright, or Truman in your future?

Image courtesy of Fastweb

Merit based prestigious scholarships and fellowships enable select students the opportunity to undertake undergraduate or graduate studies or research experiences, either domestically or abroad. Candidates who are awarded these scholarships have achieved meaningful recognition and experiences of life-long significance. For a list of opportunities, visit UD’s Prestigious Scholarships and Fellowships website.

The road to earning these nationally competitive awards is rigorous and personally challenging. And while preparing an application for one of these awards can seem daunting, the Office of Personal Career Development and the designated faculty advisors for each award are here to help. “OPCD can also give you information about which scholarships and fellowships are available and give you advice on the application process,” said Gaby Martin, Prestigious Scholarships and Fellowships Advisor. Deadlines for these awards vary, and staying on top of what is due when is a crucial step in the application process.
         
While the major fellowships and scholarships such as Rhodes, Fulbright, and Truman require a school nomination, many others do not. For those, as well as the nominated scholarships, seek assistance from the specific scholarship/fellowship’s advisor, as well as from faculty in your area of study, your academic advisor, the Academic Success Office, and Ms. Martin from OPCD. This will ensure that each application is representative of your best work.

Although OPCD and faculty advisors will work with well-qualified individuals, it is ultimately up to you to submit a well-written application and to get the supporting documents in order to be nominated.  

For more information, contact OPCD.

Advice from an Entrepreneur
Flip Howard–Founder & President,
Meridian Business Centers

Advice from an Entrepreneur
Flip Howard–Founder & President,
Meridian Business Centers

A group of entrepreneurs spoke recently to students at the University of Dallas’ Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business. This series will highlight their best advice for those interested in starting their own businesses.

Flip Howard
Founder & President
Meridian Business Centers

Meridian Business Centers has been a trusted resource for office space in Dallas and Houston since 2001 by providing premier office solutions at an accessible price. Their executive office suites, virtual offices, coworking, and meeting spaces offer considerable value with very low overhead to small businesses.

  • While my friends were working for minimum wage, I painted addresses on curbs and made twice that much. I started my first business–a laundry service–in college. Now I own several companies, but my main focus is buying, renovating, and then leasing office space to small companies.
  • Most people think you need do something nobody else is doing in order to be an entrepreneur. But that’s not true–just take something someone else is doing and do it better.
  • Many people (especially younger ones) get caught in “analysis paralysis.” If you have an idea, just do it! I’ve talked to too many people that said they had always wanted to start something but never did.
  • I failed a lot, but I always learned something. Don’t be afraid to swing and miss.
  • Most successful people aren’t necessarily smarter or harder working; they just have confidence in themselves. They may fail, but they don’t care. They see everything that happens as an experience.
  • Find your parents’ five most successful friends and ask them to meet with you. Find out how they got where they are and listen to what they tell you.
Resume and Interviewing Tips
from an HR Executive

Resume and Interviewing Tips
from an HR Executive

Julie Allison, HR Executive

Who better to give you advice on your job search  than someone who looks at resumes and conducts interviews all day long? Julie Allison, an Irving-area Human Resources executive for a company that has hired many UD grads, shared some best practices for navigating the hiring process. Here are the highlights.

Job Fairs and on-campus events

  • Networking doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or scripted. It’s just a matter of walking up to someone and saying something like, “Hi. I’m Chris and I’m a student at UD majoring in Business. What do you do?”

Resumes and cover letters

  • If a resume comes across my desk with spelling or grammar mistakes, it goes in the trash.
  • The applicant uses the wrong company name in about 50% of the resumes and cover letters I see.
  • If your resume is short on work experience, highlight your campus and community involvement. This shows me that you are resourceful and adaptable. What I really want to know is what have you accomplished?
  • Your cover letter should state why you are interested in my company and why you think your background is a good fit for the position you’re applying for. Tell me why I should call you in for an interview.

Interviews

  • During an interview, you should be able to articulate what’s on your resume. Be ready to talk about not only your accomplishments, but also how you went about achieving them.
  • Always ask questions after an interview. Thoughtful questions not only show that you’ve prepared, they show that you really want to learn about the company. The right questions will help you figure out if the job is a good fit for you.

Once you land the job

  • When starting a new job or internship, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s OK that you don’t know everything. We don’t assume that you do–and neither should you.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Your Job Hunt Back on Track
Research, Relevance, Repeat

Getting Your Job Hunt Back on Track
Research, Relevance, Repeat

Image courtesy of pixababy.com

Has your job hunt got you down? Here are some tips to from Julie Jernigan, Director of the University of Dallas’ Office of Personal Career Development, to get your search back on track.

“It can get frustrating if you’re applying to positions and not hearing back,” said Jernigan. “And if you’re not getting interviews, you need to reevaluate how you’re applying and what materials you’re submitting.”

Jernigan says to focus on the 3 Rs–Research, Relevance and Repeat

Research

Look at job hunting websites like indeed.com and higheredjobs.com, but don’t stop there. Go directly to the career sections on the websites of companies for whom you want to work and apply directly.

Read every word of the job description before you apply. In fact, copy and paste it into a text document that you can refer to later if the job posting is removed. Read through all pages of the company’s website and check out their social media and LinkedIn pages.

Jernigan also emphasizes that you must read ALL of your emails. OPCD often sends out job leads from companies that want to hire UD students and grads. You can also sign up for mobile job alerts by clicking here.

Relevance

If you have 75% of the qualifications listed in a job description, then APPLY. Tailor your job description to the qualifications the employer is asking for. That means using strong verbs that show the employer that your experience reflects what the company wants for the position. According to Jernigan, a hiring manager should be able to tell within 6-10 seconds that your experience aligns with the job.

Repeat

Jernigan says that if you are serious about finding a job, you should be applying to 5-10 positions per week: “Realistically, it takes two hours to apply for a job because each resume you use should be different based on the required qualifications of the job.”

To keep track of all your different resumes, Jernigan recommends creating a separate folder on your computer for each job you apply to. In the folder, put the resume and cover letter you used, as well as a text copy of the job description.

Another tip: create a spreadsheet with an entry for each job you apply for. Include the company name, the job title, the contact person, the date you applied.

For help with your job search or your resume, contact the Office of Personal Career Development.