Author: Tom Snee
A pithy resume, freshly pressed formal wear, and a firm handshake have always been big parts of a successful job search, but today, it’s so much more than that.
LinkedIn, Google searches, online footprints, and self-branding are now just as important, if not more so, than those traditional job-getting tools. The University of Iowa’s Pomerantz Career Center is now offering a class to help juniors and seniors learn more about those tools and how they can help them land a job or internship.
“It shows the students what they need to know to leave the university with a plan, and to know the nuts and bolts of getting not just a job, but a great job that leads to a great career,” says Garry Klein, director of career coaching in the Pomerantz Career Center who teaches the Advanced Job Search Skills classes with James Seyfer, senior associate director for career coaching. “It increases the return on investment that the students and their parents make in the University of Iowa.”
The class is open to juniors and seniors from any major, he says. Instructors and career advisors show students how to use the Pomerantz Center’s HireaHawk.com online job posting system, listings and use Google to research prospective employers. They show them how to use professional networking sites like LinkedIn to build an online presence, and take a photo they can use on their LinkedIn page.
They also bring in hiring professionals from local and regional companies to explain what they look for in a resume or during a job interview, which paid immediate dividends for one student.
“I was making changes to my resume right there during the class while she was still speaking,” says Alex Dixon, a senior from Council Bluffs. “What she said made me think of things just a little differently, and take another look at how I presented my resume.”
In addition to traditional career advising, the career center also uses a new job coaching model that requires a deeper commitment on behalf of the coach and the client that is more in-depth, ongoing, and personalized.
“A coach helps you understand what motivates you and pushes you to keep going,” he says.
So students learn more than just resume writing or interview skills, they ask themselves who they are and identify their own values and how that might be reflected in their careers. All of this, Klein says, helps students choose the right first job.
Tiana Bark, a senior from Camanche, is finding that part of the class especially helpful.
“I’m learning more about my strengths and weaknesses so I’m more comfortable going into an interview now, more confident in talking about my strengths and addressing my weaknesses,” says Bark, a business major who’s looking for a career in human resources or finance. “It presents problems in a way that you can figure out how to fix them.”
All of that will help students down the road, too, because the modern economy has become so fluid that it’s highly likely that graduates will flip jobs many times during their careers. Some studies show that workers stay at their jobs an average of only 4-5 years before looking for, or being presented with, something new. The skills they learn in the search class and Pomerantz’s other services and programs will keep them in good stead everytime, Klein says.
The two credit class is in the pilot stage this year, with two sections offered last fall and this spring for 40 students each semester. They hope to expand the number of sections offered next year and help even more students prepare for a career.