Monday, April 12, 2010
Slurping while interviewing for a job? It happens!
Occasionally, members of the college’s Executive Council or their designees submit columns in this space. Today, we hear from Jennifer Nordstrom, associate vice president for undergraduate admission and strategic marketing.
Dear students, faculty and staff:
In about a month, many of our students will be graduating. Some will be going on to graduate school, some will be entering the work force, some will be exploring their options, and some will be taking a well deserved break. As a hiring manager in a department that attracts a lot of résumés from recent college graduates, I thought this would be a good time to share some experiences I have had reviewing applications and interviewing candidates. While some examples seem like they couldn’t possibly be true, they are.
The Résumé. Availability of literature and training on types of résumés, layouts, when to include certain types of information and when to not, etc is abundant. Candidates can focus so much on these items, that sometimes they overlook the small stuff. It is common practice to submit résumés electronically. However, what looks good on your computer screen does not always look good when printed out. I once received a two page résumé that looked just fine on the screen, but once I printed it out – the two page résumé became a six page résumé with the header on one page, the left hand columns on two pages, the body of the résumé on two pages, and the final page with one line on it. I had so many other résumés to review, I didn’t have time to put together a puzzle and set this particular résumé to the side. Always print out your résumé and make sure it looks absolutely perfect.
There is much debate over whether a résumé should include an objective statement or not. In my opinion, this is a personal preference and it personally doesn’t matter to me if a candidate includes one or not. However, if you do choose to include an objective statement and are applying for many different types of positions, adjust your statement accordingly. I once received a résumé stating the applicant was seeking a position within a manufacturing company.
In addition, the name of your résumé file and the file format are important. I have received several files that I could not open because of the file format. It is safest to save as a Word document. I have seen files with all sorts of names. Some sent to me are entitled "doc1;” some are named by résumé type such as "sales;” and some are even named after another organization to which the candidate is applying (for example, "Sundstrand.doc”). My suggestion is to use your name in the title, such as "MSmithResume” or "MarySmithResume.” If you have multiple versions of your résumé, add a number at the end to differentiate. And speaking of using your name, please, please create a new e-mail address if your only e-mail address includes a nickname, sports team, hobby, ironic statement, etc. While your friends may refer to you as "peanut,” it is not an appropriate e-mail address to use.
The cover letter is a key part of the application process. For me, a well-written cover letter will compensate for a lack of work history. A thoughtful, engaging letter shows initiative and conveys sincere interest. Initiative and interest are qualities that every manager seeks. Once your cover letter is complete, make sure that you have others read it – spell check doesn’t catch the difference between "there” and "their,” and it doesn’t catch words in all capital letters (as in the case of the applicant who misspelled his home state of "WISCOSIN”). You should also read your cover letter aloud. Sometimes your brain will skip over missing or incorrect words when read silently.
The Interview. Again, there is much written about making sure to show up 15 minutes early, making sure to engage with the front desk person, bringing copies of résumés, etc. The one piece of advice that is frequently given that shocks me when people do not heed it is to research the organization at which you are interviewing. With all of the information so readily available on the Web, this critical step is so easy to do.
Having conducted several phone interviews, I feel it important to highlight a few experiences I have had. It has happened more than once where I have called a candidate who answered the phone "Yeah?” or "What?” and after I ask to speak to John Doe, the person responds "Who is asking?” in an agitated tone. If you have your résumé out there, answer every call as if your future boss is calling.
Some candidates become very comfortable over the phone because the interviewer cannot see them. This level of comfort can lead to the use of slang and inappropriate familiarity. Ever wonder if the person on the other end of the line can hear you trying to suck the last bit of pop through your straw? Yes, we can. And we also hear it five minutes later when you think the ice has melted enough that there might be some liquid again. When asked to give an example of multi-tasking, one candidate explained that he was carrying on a conversation with me while watching TV. My suggestion for phone interviews is to dress up, sit upright in your chair, put on a smile, put down the pop and turn off the TV. Treat the interview as if you were in the same room with the person on the other line.
The Follow Up. It is good to ask the interviewer what the next steps on the selection process are as well as a timeframe for those steps. My pop drinking candidate asked this question, but added "because I need to know what I am doing after this weekend.” If the person gives you a timeframe and you do not hear back, a quick call or e-mail expressing your continued interest in the position is appropriate. Do not have your friends call and leave messages telling the hiring manager how great you are and that you really deserve the position.
I am absolutely shocked at how few people follow up an interview with a thank you note. This was once common practice and now seems to be a rarity. Always, always send a thank you via e-mail or postal mail the very next day. It goes a long way towards further demonstrating interest and sincerity.
Resources. Another important thing to do, whether in your cover letter or résumé, is to communicate the value of your Rockford College education. Students at RC are very lucky to have an education grounded in the liberal arts. You need to be able to articulate what this means to prospective employers. Not only have you learned about your field of study, but you have learned to think critically, write, speak, analyze and take action in a purposeful way. Think about these highly valuable skills and tie them to what you have accomplished inside and outside of the classroom in order to demonstrate these abilities.
Rockford College is very lucky to have Kelly Cooper in our Career Services Office. I strongly suggest that all students starting their job search work with Kelly on their résumés, cover letters, and interview skills. Her office is on the second floor of Nelson.
For seniors wanting to learn more about careers, the job search, and hear more stories from me as well as other RC alumni, make sure to stop by the Connect the Dots event tonight in Grace Roper Lounge at 5 p.m.
Have a great week!
RC to host ambassadors from Japan and Thailand next Monday
Ambassadors to the U.S. from Japan and Thailand will join U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo in a Forum on Global Economic Recovery April 19, 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. in the Fisher Chapel. The event is free and open to the public, though reservations are requested and may be made though the college box office, 815-226-4100. It does count as a Forum event.
Manzullo will be joined by ambassadors Ichiro Fujisaki from Japan and Don Pramudwinai from Thailand for the forum, which will touch on issues and trends affecting U.S. trade relations with East Asian countries and efforts to bolster the world economy. The forum will be moderated by Ray Baker, professor of economics, business and accounting at Rockford College.
HEARRR sets next forum for April 15
The next in a series of presentations sponsored by the Higher Education Alliance for the Rock River Valley (HEARRR) is April 14, 6:30 p.m. at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford. The session is entitled "Learning from Others: Best Practices from Communities that Confronted – and are Overcoming – Similar Challenges.” It features Mayor Larry Morrissey, Max Reim, principal with "Live Work Learn Play,” and special guest: Graham Richard.
A former Indiana state senator and business entrepreneur, Graham Richard brought his expertise in both politics and best business practices to city government in 2000 when he began his first term as mayor of the second-largest city in Indiana (Fort Wayne). During his two terms, he helped turn the Fort Wayne city government into a lean, results-producing, customer-focused driver of an economically thriving city. Currently, he is principal of Graham Richard Associates, a consulting firm helping to develop high performance government.
Musical ‘The Glorious Ones’ set at Rockford College April 22 – 25
"The Glorious Ones,” a musical based on the novel by Francine Prose, will be performed here April 22–25 in the Cheek Theatre. Both slapstick and serious, the musical follows a traveling band of actors in 16th century Italy as they search for immorality and love on a journey that leads right to present day. Characters include the charismatic leading man, the sly harlequin, the quack "dottore," the old miser, the voluptuous leading lady, the devoted dwarf, and the elegant Moon Woman.
Hailed by the New York Times as "a valentine to the actor's life – joyfully naughty, with buoyant music by Stephen Flaherty and a bawdy book by Lynn Ahrens," the show contains mature content. The production is directed by performing arts professor Jeff Hendry.
Performances are Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. Cost is $10 general admission; $7 for students and seniors. For more information, call the Rockford College box office, phone 815-226-4100.
Forslund to speak at AAUW event on Edith Roosevelt
Prof. Catherine Forslund, history, is giving a lecture to the Rockford area branch of American Association of University Women AAUW on April 13. Social hour at 6:30 p.m., talk at 7 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 425 Riverside Dr. in Belvidere (it's 1.9 miles east of I-90). The talk is entitled "The Other E. Roosevelt: Edith K. Roosevelt, Wife of President Theodore Roosevelt."
‘Opportunity Knocks’ is Wednesday
Another in a series of workshops called "Opportunity Knocks,” a leadership explosion trilogy, is set for this Wednesday from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. in the Faculty Dining Room in Burpee. The event, sponsored by Student Activities, this week focuses on leadership in performing arts and is presented by professors Deb Mogford, theatre, and Timm Adams, choral music.
Register now for speed networking!
Juniors, seniors, and December 2009 graduates: Save Thursday, April 29 from 4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. for speed networking! Registration begins at 3:45 p.m. in the Grace Roper Lounge. Speed networking is similar to speed dating, but involves meeting multiple professional contacts in a short period of time!
Back again, the 6th Annual Student Showcase
The annual Student Showcase this Thursday presents the work of more than 40 students, with exhibits and poetry and fictional readings. Runs from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the Grace Roper Lounge. Also enjoy poetry and fictional readings at Howard Colman Library by our talented creative writing seminar students from 11 a.m. – noon and 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. A valuable door prize will be awarded to one lucky person just for attending the student showcase. So plan to attend and make sure you register to win! A selected winner (for a $50 gift certificate) will be drawn from the students who are participating in the showcase. The student’s faculty adviser will also win a $50 gift certificate! Come and enjoy the fine work of our students.
RC student creates art for Alzheimer’s fundraising event
Therese Rowinski, a BSMS student at Rockford College, created art that was auctioned off for the Alzheimer's Association Unforgettable Art Event Saturday night. She created a fantastic piece for this very important cause!
April 12 – April 18, 2010
April 12 & 13
Higher Learning Commission Annual Meeting
Rockford Area Economic Development Council Education Solutions meeting
Higher Education Alliance of the Rock River Region Lecture Series: "Best Practices for Communities that Confronted - and are Overcoming - Similar Challenges” University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford
Welcoming Smart Money Week Kick-Off Breakfast Guests to Rockford College
Dinner with Congressman Donald Manzullo and Ambassadors from Japan and Thailand
Open house at 5100 postponed
The open house for students, faculty and staff to view our new facilities at 5100 E. State St. on April 21 has been postponed due to continued construction at the site. Another date will be announced later.
Learn ways to improve the environment at Rockford College’s Green Expo
A Green Expo featuring products and services aimed at improving the environment will be held at the college, April 23 from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the college’s Burpee Center Regents Hall. The event, sponsored by the college’s Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement (JACCE) and the campus Rotoract chapter, is an opportunity for local businesses and organizations to promote achievable ways to go green to the community.
Some 15 vendors are expected to exhibit at the event including Shaklee, Solergy Alternative Energy Solutions, University of Illinois Extension, Green Communities Coalition, Amazing Foam Insulation, Shelter Box USA, and others. Residents can also participate in a community shredding event, compliments of Cintas.
The Green Expo is free and open to the public. For more information, call JACCE at 815-394-5143. The event is one of many campus activities coinciding with Green Week at the college, April 19 – 23.
Volunteers needed for commencement
Commencement is quickly approaching and what better way to honor your fellow graduating classmates than to volunteer? Volunteers are needed the day of commencement, May 16 from noon – 4 p.m. As many of you know, tickets are required for admission to the commencement ceremony. Volunteers do not need a ticket and can watch the ceremony backstage. Contact Cassie Swanson, marketing, at email@example.com if you are interested in volunteering.
Speaker at RC to discuss sustainable cities
Kimberly Gray, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northwestern University, will present a talk entitled "The Modern American City: Can We Ever Make it Sustainable?” April 20, 4 p.m. in the Maddox Theatre.
Gray’s work is motivated by a commitment to protect and improve the environment, and a drive to solve interesting problems in science and engineering. In her talk, she discusses the various perspectives on "sustainability," a term that means very different things to different people, and makes the case for why this is a pressing issue to be addressed sooner rather than later.
The program, part of the college’s Forum Series, is co-sponsored by the American Chemical Society-Rock River section. It is free and open to the public though tickets must be reserved. For tickets and other information, call the college’s box office at 815-226-4100. For more on the Forum Series, see www.rockford.edu/?page=ForumSeries.
SAAC continues care package drive for soldiers
Just a reminder that a drive to collect donations for care packages destined for our troops is still going on. The Student Athletic Advisory Council will be accepting donations until April 16. Donations can be made in any of the boxes around campus or by setting up a time with Tim Patrick, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you have any names and addresses of individuals that you would like packages sent to, contact Tim.
JACCE collects for Arbor Day
The Jane Addams Center is collecting donations for plantings to be installed on Arbor Day, April 30. Donations are being collected at a table directly across from the mail desk in Burpee. Requested donation level is $5.
Out and about
A weekly feature on events the Rockford College community and their families would be interested in.
April 14, noon – 1:15 p.m.: Guest presenter: Susan Kivikko. Location: Fountain View Room at Womanspace. Cost: Freewill offering-suggested donation $5. Walk-ins welcome! Join us for a very special presentation by a local beekeeper. Susan loves to spread the word about our cute and fuzzy little friends who make the world a better place. She'll also show us a basic hive set up and take your questions. Whether you're a novice or active "greenie," this group is a fun and positive way to share information and accept the challenge of helping our environment. Bring a sack lunch.
April 1, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.: "A Tribute to the Butler Family” at the Ethnic Heritage Museum. Mother’s Day is right around the corner. The Ethnic Heritage Museum will salute three generations of local women who have made many contributions to life in Rockford, the Butler Family. The event will feature an unveiling of "A Tribute to the Butler Family” featuring E. Faye Butler who will greet visitors, explain the display and sign her latest CD, "A Circle of Firsts.” The exhibit examines the accomplishment of Elizabeth Peterd-Standfield; her daughter, the late Elizabeth "Liz” Butler and her granddaughter, E. Faye Butler. For more, see www.ethnicheritagemuseum.org.
RC in the news
- Prof. Lynn Newhart, sociology, was quoted in a story in the Rockford Register Star last Monday on the vulnerability of 18 – 24 year-olds to be victims of identity theft. Incidentally, the Register Star, part of the GateHouse chain of papers, often shares its stories with other GateHouse papers around the U.S. This particular story was picked up by about 10 dailies from Connecticut to Hawaii. And all included Prof. Newhart’s quote and affiliation! Click here for the complete story.
- Prof. Mary Weeks-Baxter, English, was profiled in a "Get to Know Me” feature in the Register Star last week.
- Channel 23 carried a story last Friday featuring Prof. Jules Gleicher, political science, discussing the retirement of Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens, and conjecturing on Stevens’ replacement.
- Our "Take Back the Night” event last week was covered by the Rockford Register Star as well as channels 17 and 23. Student Katy Langenfeld was pictured on the front page of the Register Star.
- Gary Lubbert, BSMS, was featured in a story last week on Channel 17 about adults returning to college.