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Few things rock a sense of self more than getting laid off.

I should know, I’ve had 4 employers in the past 18 months.  You may immediately think, “What is she doing wrong?”  Sometimes I think that myself.

But I work in the garment industry.  Unfortunately, like publishing, the music industry, and analog media, my industry is shrinking.  And paradigms of these businesses are changing.  There is now a permanent freelance and intern class of workers.  In shrinking industries such as these, creative job searching is key.

Inevitably, after losing a job, there is a period of grieving.  I’ve found the best cure to the bruised ego is to get back into the saddle as soon as possible.  Here are my 6 tips for bouncing back, and landing a new position.

I know the word “branding” is overused, but this is the digital age, so we all must package ourselves like a Godiva ballotin. Here are some personal branding tips:

  1. Polish your resume: There are a ton of websites dedicated to helping you write a great resume. Explore and use them.  Here’s one on my faves:   http://resume-help.org/resume_writing_tips.htm
    • Don’t forget the cover letter: Even with e-mail or online applications, a killer cover letter helps get you noticed.
    • Update your LinkedIn profile: Those resume tips above work great here too.  Consider investing in a professional profile photo.  Repost interesting articles to get your profile noticed, or better yet, write an article showing your writing skills and creativity.
    • Scrub your social media presence: Hide all those pics with the red plastic cups.
  2. Assess your skill setBe humble enough to admit there is always more to learn.  Stay relevant and take classes where needed.  Some excellent free choices are: Coursera, MIT Open CourseWare, and even Lynda, LinkedIn’s online learning arm, which offers 10 day free trails.
  3. Write your elevator pitch: That 30-60 second narrative that tells who you are and why you are perfect for the job.  Practice it in front of a mirror till you have it down.

Lisa Sheridan, Communications and Media

  1. Network:  You never know where a job lead can come, it could be from a friend of a friend.  So tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job.  Do not be ashamed!
  2. Practice mock-interviews Enlist the help of a good friend and role play some interviews.  Become comfortable with talking about your accomplishments.  Gather quantifiable data about why you are the right choice for the job.  “At my previous position, I was able to grow sales by 10% by improving our social media presence.”  Our own Career Services here at SPS can provide valuable insights on this step as well as the entire job hunting process.
  3. Remember to follow up: Don’t forget the thank you notes, the follow-up phone calls, and keep recrafting your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn Profile.

Finding a new job is a full-time job.  But with diligence, creativity, and a spirit of adventure, you will land a new post in no time.

Designer, single mom, and ongoing student, Lisa Sheridan is busy juggling life, work, and academics as an undergraduate in the Communication and Media department.

2011 is behind us and now we’ve embarked on a new year, 2012.

Last year was a pretty good year, especially for me in academia.  As many students can attest, the beginning of a new semester can bring with it, new challenges, fresh perspectives and even elevated stresses.

In my experience, as a mom, full-time employee and part-time online student – organization is key.  (Notice how I rated all of my responsibilities).

First, before registration begins, I discuss my registration options with my academic advisor.  Who in my view, is a pretty awesome lady!  I know sometimes we feel that we’re capable of doing the basic things on our own such as applying to the classes of our choice – but in order to fully take advantage of your highest potential,  it’s always a good practice to seek out help from an advisor who can view your strengths and weaknesses before making a recommendation.

This tactic proved to be very successful thus far.  And while I can’t say there weren’t times when I wanted to give up, my adviser was there to lead me in the right direction.

Second, communication is vital.  Communication is a means by which two or more people interact.  If you find there’s trouble lurking or that you’re not quite sure how to get an assignment completed, talk to your professor – they’re the first point of contact.  The staff at SPS are truly great at responding to the needs of their students.  Being an adult can  sometimes make you feel like you shouldn’t ask for help.  Well, I couldn’t disagree more.

That’s the whole point of communicating!

At times home life, work and school can wear on you as an individual. But the way to come out on top is to ask for help when it is needed.  I’ve also found that communicating with classmates has proven to be fruitful.  For the past two semesters, I’ve met some really nice people on blackboard.

Third, networking is essential.  Find at least one classmate in every class that you stay in contact with, in case you’re unable to attend class or have to travel for work or family related issues.  This can serve as a backup plan.  Remember, we’re adults and should be able manage our schedules accordingly.  (Especially since we do it for our children and jobs)!

Don’t neglect your responsibilities.

Fourth, stay on track with all assignments.  Again, this is as essential as any other item I’ve listed.  Staying on track with assignments will keep you focused and also help you to remain in sync with quizzes, tests and projects, to which a portion of your final grade can/will be affected.  I’ve found, when I see myself falling behind, I remain in contact with my professor.   Look things happen, this isn’t a perfect world we live in.  It’s the professors decision to delay or extend a due date.  At most, they’re willing to help to if you keep them abreast of the issues.  If that isn’t feasible, ask your professor if they’re assigning extra credit.  I recommend all students take advantage of these extra points, since you never know what may happen down the road.

Points do add up!

Your experience is what you make it. Get ready, get set, and go!

I recently attended an SPS Career Services workshop and networking seminar lead by career expert Arlene Newman. Newman is the President of Career Bound Success and has an extensive background in Human Resources across multiple industries. Newman emphasized the importance of networking in career endeavors and divulged techniques that are useful for successful networking. I will highlight the key points of the seminar and share with you some of the points I think are effective.

Before embarking on your networking journey, it is necessary to devise a clear plan by outlining your objectives, profiling your unique personality, and highlighting your strengths. It is fundamental to ask yourself these questions so you can offer a thorough presentation and give others a clear vision of who you are and what you have to offer. This is also known as an “elevator pitch”– a 30 second to 2 minute clear, concise and carefully planned description that summarizes your personal brand.

From here on, your focus should be on building rapport through the following networks:
• Friends & Family
• Work and Professional Organizations
• Classmates, Alumni Groups and Professors
• Community, Political and Religious Organizations

It is very important to have a positive and enthusiastic attitude in your communication with others. No matter what mood you are in or if you left your last job on a negative circumstance, ensure that your comments are positive. You also must be prepared–this means having a business card ready for all networking events. Your card can display “student” and your major, and if possible, list skills on the back of the card, or even an inspirational quote that is a reflection of your principles. Follow up with every individual through e-mail or a phone call. If there is no answer, always leave a voicemail.

Keep in mind that technology is not 100% reliable, so if you do not get a response the first time, it is okay to send a second e-mail.

Research your field, as well as individuals and organizations pertaining to it. This will prepare you to participate in conversations and become aware of trends and events.

Networking has become an extremely broad concept through our technological evolution, as we now have the tools to increase our networking capabilities. Companies, graduate schools and organizations, are fully aware of this and using online search tools to investigate candidates. Newman stressed the importance of maintaining a professional online presence. To prevent the possibility of a negative image, Google yourself regularly and interact in social networks with your professional image in mind.

Key words for networking:
Authenticity
– Be proud of who you are, your background, your skills and your traits. Use this to your advantage- it makes you unique!
Consistency
– Your ideologies should remain the same anywhere you are visible
Credibility-
Build trust by being honest and upholding integrity with each person that you meet.
Unique
– In a competitive job market, it is vital to display what makes you different, in order to distinguish yourself from the rest.
Visibility
– In order to network, you must be noticeable to the world – achieved through attending events and sustaining a public online presence.

Following these networking guidelines are a start to building long lasting relationships with individuals that can assist you in building your education and career. With every person you meet, you should treat the interaction as a potential opportunity. You should also incorporate philanthropy in networking by approaching it as a two way street- expect to receive as much as you give out.

Don’t worry if you missed this workshop, you have an opportunity to attend Ask The Expert this Wednesday 11/9 at 6pm.  This SPS Career Services program and networking event features a panel of Human Resources professionals answering all your questions about job search and careers.  There’s still time to sign up!

Nivia Martinez is a senior undergraduate student at the CUNY School of Professional Studies, majoring in Communications and Culture.  Upon graduating, she plans to continue her education by pursuing her Masters in international studies and sociocultural anthropology.  In her spare time she enjoys attending cultural events and attending sport events with her 11 year old son, Esteban. 

Christy attended a small liberal arts college in Virginia.  After graduating with a degree in multidisciplinary studies, and studying arts management and dance, she worked at a local cultural arts center as a receptionist and administrative assistant doing marketing and guest relations.  But her heart called her to New York City to pursue a career in arguably the arts center of the world.  She was both excited and nervous to make the move but knew that with hard work and bright ideas she could be successful!

She was luckily able to stay with her sister who lived in Manhattan while getting settled and embarking on the job search.  One of the first things she did was call and email people with whom she had interacted while in school.  She had worked in the school’s performing arts venue and had a few friends from there that had since relocated to NYC.  Christy’s former manager at the theatre had also offered to refer her to some of her colleagues in the industry so she pursued those connections too.   She also began researching job opportunities online, familiarizing herself with industry trends, and learning about how she might best fit into an organization.  Her networking consisted not of asking for “jobs” but of asking for “advice.”  She knew that it made sense to approach it that way instead of being too bold and expecting too much from people she barely knew.  Soon after meeting and conducting informational interviews with different professionals from multiple facets of the industry, she started to pursue actual job openings.  These conversations she had with people who understood her interests and perspective, also helped her narrow her focus to working in a corporate/for-profit environment vs. in-house/non-profit settings and which types of jobs for which she would most likely fit.  Before too long, those relationships she formed started to turn into trusted confidantes, and these people started to reach out to her when they learned of openings and she landed some interviews.  She didn’t turn down any leads that were remotely related to the field as she knew each person she met was a new connection and that would only help her career.

Finally after just a few short months, Christy got a call about an opening that turned out to be the perfect match for her skills, education, and preferences and accepted the position.  It was a Marketing Assistant at a university’s performing arts center in NYC, and her direct supervisor was someone she knew from the similar position she had held in college.  This job turned into a successful 5-year tenure marked by multiple promotions and new friends.

It really is true that networking works.  Just ask Christy!  She gave a lot of effort to her job search and focused on building rapport to create lasting connections that came through for her in a big way.  You can make networking work for you too – you just have to commit to it and approach it as a 2-way street.  Join SPS Career Services as we welcome a guest presenter, career expert Arlene Newman, at next Wednesday’s “Networking Like a Pro” workshop and get started!

Shannon Gallo is the Manager of Career Services at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. When she’s not helping others achieve their career dreams, she’s cheering on the West Virginia Mountaineers.

We’ve all felt it at one point or another.  We’re scrolling through our Facebook news feed, wondering why we’re not doing something else a bit more productive, but unable to look away.  And then it sets in.  How many posts about sheep and virtual farming do I need to let run past my eyes before I need to throw up my arms and close the browser.  Or better yet, step away from the computer.

Social Networking is undeniably a valuable communication and networking tool, but sometimes Facebook makes it hard to see how.  The trick answer is that Facebook is far from the be all and end all of Social Networking, and if that’s where your experience begins and ends, you may be missing out on some extremely valuable tools for professional outreach and development.

Exhibit A: LinkedIn.  Billed as the “professional” social network, this site has established itself as a true networking powerhouse.  The crudest way to describe it is imagining it as your online resume.  Your profile should mimic a lot of what your “analog” resume looks like.  But as with most web based platforms, it offers many more robust features.  From publicly posted recommendations from colleagues, supervisors, and clients, to status updates that allow you to discuss projects you’re working on and articles you find professionally stimulating.

LinkedIn provides many other robust tools for managing your professional network.  They have dynamic group pages where you can connect with others in similar fields, people with common interests or hobbies, or classmates and fellow alumni.  (You’d better believe we have an SPS Group waiting for you!)  LinkedIn has proven itself as the ideal way to stay in touch with old colleagues, and find potential new leads as you move along in your professional development.

But don’t just listen to me.  This pitch video hits on many of the key features of LinkedIn and why it is a truly indispensable tool for all professionals.

That doesn’t mean LinkedIn is the end all for all your professional networking.  Just because Facebook is dominated by Farmville and other games doesn’t mean it isn’t a remarkably useful tool.  Just because Twitter uses a bunch of strange words doesn’t mean it can’t help to solidify your personal brand and get you a job.  We will touch on all of this and more as the column progresses.

But as we move forward, I urge all of you to explore LinkedIn, set up a profile, and join the SPS Group.  I am happy to work with all of you on this, and if anyone has questions, please post them in the comments.  Chances are you’re not alone in wondering about all the oddities that go hand in hand with joining a new social network.  As students in a school of PROFESSIONAL studies, you are at a severe disadvantage these days if you don’t take advantage of all the tools available to you.  And LinkedIn is a very powerful tool.

Shawn Abraham is SPS’ Virtual Campus Manager, which means he gets to have a lot of fun building an online community for the school.  He also has a lot of fun reading books about zombies.  These two things rarely intersect.

The college classroom, especially at the graduate level, is a valuable vessel in the process we all have come to know as networking.  Open discussions and close student proximity are necessary social lubricants that facilitate bonding between those students.  But although the reach potential for connecting may be quite extensive, the number of fellow classmates that actually capitalize on this there-to-be-taken attribute may not be robust as one might think.  While a very genuine expectation to connect with fellow students may exist, it is not a fait accompli.  It requires motivation, a personable disposition, and persistent effort.  Networking is a byproduct in the journey of the classroom experience, but it is often a road that runs parallel.

Online degree programs can be vehicles for networking opportunities as well.  Depending on how engaging the professor requires students to be, each course presents numerous opportunities for new students to introduce themselves to each other.  Group projects, team assignments, and weekly discussion boards help promote and cultivate student interaction.  Many, if not most, of the students in CUNY’s M.S. Online Program live within the New York metropolitan area.  We live here, work here, and are accessible to each other, to extent we allow ourselves to be.  Not all online degree programs can boast such claims of its constituency.  Opportunities abound provided the requisite effort is made.

In my first semester of the master’s program, I engaged in a project with a fellow student.  We got to know each other, met after work one day, and discussed the program and a myriad of career topics.  Having expressed to her that I was actively pursuing a new job, she recommended that I reach out to CUNY’s Career Services department; a department I did not even know existed.  I promptly took her advice and over the past several months I’ve established a friendly relationship with Shannon Gallo who heads the department.  Shannon has been extremely helpful, insightful, and generous with her thoughts and her time.  One day she asked if I would be interested in writing a blog for the master’s program.  Perhaps more a suggestion, her inquiry had come on the heels of a rather verbose and disappointing email I sent to her detailing my interview-of-a-lifetime with Moody’s that did not exactly result in the sort of fortunate outcome I had earnestly hoped for.   I decided to accept her invitation and gave it a go.  So while one door slammed closed, another door opened and with it came the opportunity to engage in a new endeavor: blogging.  If nothing else, this serves to illustrate that connecting with classmates in an online program can often lead us on completely unintended trajectories with unforeseen benefits.  All it really requires is that we remain engaged in the process.

John Brigantino is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  He enjoys writing, non-fiction books, traveling and the many cultural and leisure experiences Manhattan has to offer.