Posts Tagged etiquette

Requesting Strong Letters of Recommendation

Posted on November 20, 2014 with No Comments

Letter of Recommendation

Applying for a job or internship?  In most cases, employers will call your references.  For most other competitive opportunities, chances are you will need strong and descriptive letters of recommendation to help set you apart from other applicants.

Think you might apply to graduate or professional school, or for a national fellowship? Letters of recommendation will be critical to your candidacy.  You might even need letters well before you graduate, i.e. for a summer research grant or enhancement program.  The bottom line: you need to cultivate strong references while you are at UVM, and the sooner, the better.

Professors expect to write letters, but it’s your responsibility to give them something to write.  Ask good questions, and contribute to the conversations in class. Stop by office hours to clarify course material or revisit an interesting topic. Multiple contexts can also help.  Take another class with a professor you enjoyed. If you distinguish yourself, you might be asked to serve as a TA, or assist with their research if that genuinely interests you.

Consider this before asking for a letter:

  • What if any specific guidelines are provided?
  • Who could make a convincing case you are a strong fit based on direct observations of you in class, on the job, in the lab, etc.
  • A letter writer’s title can be impressive, but it is their details that count.  Don’t sacrifice the latter for the former.
  • Avoid personal (aka subjective) references.
  • Still not sure who to ask?  Seek advising.
  • Graduate School . Medical/Dental School . Fellowships . Research

Help Them Help You:

Ask, “Do you think you could write a strong recommendation for me?”  If they can’t, you want to know this outright so you can avoid bland, vague or mediocre letters.  When you get the “yes,” ask if they need other information.  Be sure to provide clear directions for submission, and plenty of lead-time.

Lastly, don’t forget to thank them.  Better yet, let them know how it all turns out.

~ Faith

How to Talk to Strangers

Posted on November 13, 2014 with No Comments

Always Talk to Strangers- The Power of Networking

Did your guardians tell you not to talk to strangers?  Now that you’re in college the buzzword is networking- talk to strangers, make new friends, and connect. Talking to strangers can make your hands sweat, voice crack, and heart race. How do I network and find out about opportunities that can inform and support my future goals without becoming nervous? Being prepared can help. The most underused job search tool is the informational interview—this allows you to seek leads and information regarding an industry or a career path. To do this well, do your homework:

1- Figure out what information you want.
2- Brainstorm people you know—that means everyone from your best friend’s cousin to your hairdresser.
3- Schedule an appointment with someone who seems interesting. It is generally no longer than 30 minutes. Just remember, people are busy.
4- Ask the right questions—here are some sample questions
5- Play the part—dress professionally and know as much as you can about the person you are talking to.
6- Get ready to talk about yourself- draft an elevator speech about yourself and where you hope to go. Bring a resume but only give it if requested.
7- The last question you ask should be, “Do you have any suggestions of other people I could talk?”
8- Be gracious for their time and SEND A THANK YOU NOTE. Stay in touch with your contacts and let them know how they have been helpful in the future.
9- Follow up on any referrals given and do it again and again and again. That job offer could be around the corner.

These tips can help you make strangers into a valuable contact!

~Kim

Don’t Forget to Say Thanks!

Posted on April 9, 2014 with No Comments

Hand writing thank you with a penSo you passed the interview stage.  Now what??

Send a thank you message within a few days of the interview.

In addition to being courteous, a thank you demonstrates enthusiasm, reiterates interest in a position, and provides another shot at selling yourself for the job.  Plus it demonstrates strong communication skills!

It’s always beneficial to add more than just “thank you.”  But what should be included?

  • Start with the pleasantries. Thank the employer for taking time to meet with you.  Tell them you enjoyed your conversation.  Discuss interest or excitement about this position and the company.
  • Get specific. Talk about a key moment or expand on an answer.  Discuss personal skills and experiences and how they would be assets for the company.  If there was an important detail left out of the interview, highlight it—briefly.  If part of the interview didn’t go as well as planned, address that here (but don’t make excuses).  Make a connection to information the employer gave during the interview.  Say something like, “When you told me about x, I thought about y.”
  • Sign off. Let the employer know how you’ll follow up, and thank them again.

Whether to email or mail the thank you depends on the preference of the employer or on the type of interview (phone vs. in person).  The time frame for notification could also dictate how it should be sent. (You don’t want the employer to receive your the note—by mail—the day after they’ve made their decision, right?)

Here are a few more tips:

  • If the interview was with more than one person, send each one a customized note.
  • Keep the thank you concise.  It doesn’t need to be as long as a cover letter.
  • As always, remember to proofread… Don’t send a note that reads “thanks you.”

After the thank you has been sent, wait.  If you haven’t heard from the employer by the time they specified, follow up by phone or email and express your continued interest.

You’ll find a lot of different advice on how to say thank you.  The most important thing is that you do it – one way or another.

~Abbey, Career Peer Mentor

Informational Interviewing for Beginners

Posted on March 28, 2014 with No Comments

Two people participating in an informational interview

Not sure how to learn about potential career fields?
Start setting up informational interviews!

What are informational interviews?
They are formal conversations you set up with people who are in one of your fields of interest. During these meetings, you will have the opportunity to ask a professional questions about their job and their career, and gain insights into their industry. You can use informational interviews as a tool to explore many different careers!

How should you go about setting an informational interview up?

1. Identify people who have exciting jobs!

  • Ask parents, friends, professors, and others for people who are in jobs you are considering.
  • Use LinkedIn to network and find people who you might want to talk to. A good group to join is “UVM Career Connection.” This is a group that gathers members of the UVM community around career development.

2. Schedule the interview

  • You can use e-mail, LinkedIn, or the phone to connect with the person you’d like to have participate in an informational interview.

3. Prepare for the interview

  • Make sure to research the person’s company and field so you can tailor your questions and your conversation in order to make the most out of the time you two have.

Once you are at the interview, try to relax and enjoy the conversation. Be ready to ask questions and take notes. However, be sure not to ask for a job during the interview. Remember this should not be a stressful meeting. It should be a way for you to obtain occupational information and further your career exploration.

After your interview, be sure to send thank you notes within a day or two.

To learn more about any of these tips and find examples of communications to professionals of interest and sample questions to ask, visit the Career Center website.

~Lauren – Career Peer Mentor

Savvy Seniors: Want to Join the Team?

Posted on March 5, 2014 with No Comments

Blue Cross Blue Shield Staff on stairs preparing for race

How to Interview like a Pro: Tips from a Local Recruiter

For most people, an interview creates a lot of stress and anxiety—it is an intimidating way to make a great first impression. For most employers though, the goal of inviting an applicant in for an interview is to get to know them. It’s a meeting based around discovery. We want to know who you are and if you could successfully fit in with the culture of our organization, the position, and the department. We also want you to ask questions that can help you make a decision about whether our company is the right place for you.

Quick tips for standing out & having a successful interview:

  • Dress for the job you’re applying for. It’s okay to ask what the dress code is when you’re scheduling the interview.
  • Make eye contact, smile, and shake the interviewer’s hand.
  • Bring a few copies of your resume with you to the interview.
  • If you have a samples of something that relates to the position you’re applying for, have it on hand (i.e. for a graphic design position, bring some of your design work).
  • Don’t over-think things. Trying to perfect every sentence comes off as robotic.
  • Be natural and be yourself; it is okay to smile and laugh! We can sense when an applicant is putting on a façade.
  • Work experience and qualifications are important, but they’re not everything. We’re trying to find someone who “fits” in with the department and the company as a whole. Try to find something in common with the interviewer and make an emotional connection.
  • As the interview wraps up, ask what the next steps are. In most instances, recruiters are happy to let you know where they are in the hiring process and when you should expect to hear back.

~Myra Fundis, UVM ‘11
Human Resources Wellness Specialist with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont

Want to learn more? Join us and special guest National Life for:
Savvy Seniors: Interview Like a Pro: Tuesday, March 18, 12-1pm at the Hub

Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wpburn.com wordpress themes