Career Planning Tool for NOVA Students

All NOVA students have access to FOCUS 2, an online, interactive, self-guided career and education planning system that can help you:

  • Select a program/major based on your interests and aspirations
  • Discover occupations matching your personal preferences and attributes
  • Map out your career plans, present and future
  • Make informed career decisions

View a Getting Started with FOCUS 2 handout.

Follow the steps below to begin using FOCUS 2.

  1. Visit NOVA’s Career Services website
  2. Select Career Planning System – FOCUS 2
  3. Click FOCUS 2 button
  4. Click REGISTER button
  5. Enter “NOVA” for the access code
  6. Enter your NOVA student e-mail address in the e-mail box
  7. Provide requested information
  8. Check box to acknowledge terms and conditions of system
  9. Click CONTINUE button

Contact Christy Jensen (chjensen@nvcc.edu) if you have any problems accessing the system.

CHOOSING AMONG JOB OFFERS

First, make sure you know enough about the organization, the job, and the details of each offer to weigh one offer against another. If you lack information, seek it out by asking the employer, researching the organization, and talking to others who work at or are familiar with the organization or job. Ask your career services staff if they have had feedback from past students who have taken jobs with the organizations you are considering, and check to see if your career office has an alumni adviser to help you make contact with alumni working for these organizations.

There is no perfect formula for making your decision, but one of the best ways to begin is by making a list of all of the features that are important to you in your first job. These may include such items as the type of work you’ll be doing, the organization’s reputation/prestige, training program, salary, specific benefits, location of job, opportunity for advancement, work environment, opportunity for free time (evenings and weekends), opportunity for travel, colleagues with whom you’ll be working, and so forth. Add every possible item you can think of to your list.

WHAT MATTERS MOST?

After you have all the features on your list, rank them in order of their priority to you. For example, type of work may be most important to you, followed by salary, and then specific benefits.

Next, look at each job offer you are considering, and rate the features of each using a scale of one to five (with five being excellent and one being poor). For example, if ABC Company’s offer provides a great starting salary, you’ll most likely give that feature a “5” under ABC. If XYZ Company’s offer provides a lesser starting salary, XYZ might earn a “3” rating for salary. (See the sample below.)

After you have finished rating all the features for all your offers, add up the scores for each offer. Although this is an inexact science, it is a way to demonstrate which offer provides you with the most of whatever features are important to you.

WEIGH YOUR OPTIONS CAREFULLY

In the final analysis, remember to weigh carefully what is most important to you. Don’t be unduly swayed by the job title or the prestige of the organization and how it will impress your relatives. While it is helpful to get advice from family and friends, you are the one who will be going to work every day. You need to be sure that your job will be a good experience for you and will allow you to achieve your initial goals. Remember, though, that no job is perfect or able to meet all your needs. Consider the factors that you are willing to compromise on or have met in other ways. For example, if you enjoy travel and your job provides little opportunity for it, you can use long weekends and vacations for this interest.

NOTHING IS FOREVER

Keep in mind that while you want to make the best possible decision at this moment in time, your decision is not irrevocable. The odds are great that you will not remain with your first employer for your entire career. As you progress in your career, you will continue to learn which features are of highest priority for you (your priorities will also probably change with time) and how to find the best opportunity to have these priorities met. Good luck!

Sample Rating Sheet for Multiple Job Offers
FEATURE
(IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE)
ABC
COMPANY
MNO
COMPANY
XYZ
COMPANY
Challenging work 4 5 4
Advancement opportunities 3 4 2
Medical benefits 5 5 5
Salary 5 3 5
401(k) retirement plan 4 4 3
Dental benefits 4 4 4
Training program 3 4 4
Life insurance 4 4 3
Job location 5 4 4
Workplace environment 4 3 4
Opportunity to travel 4 2 2
Tuition reimbursement
for grad school
5 4 1
Total Rating: 50 46 41
Create your own list of features that matter to you and list them in order of importance, with the most important feature appearing at the top of your list. Then, rate the features of each company’s offer on a scale of one to five (five=excellent; 1=poor). In the sample to the left, the offer from ABC Company has the highest rating, indicating that ABC’s offer provides more of the features that matter to the sample job seeker. This is one way to compare job offers.

by Marcia B. Harris and Sharon L. Jones. Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

As part of the NOVA Online NCDM Webinar Series 2019 – the How to Research a Company webinar is being offered today at 12:15 pm.  Learn more and register at https://nvcceli.wufoo.com/forms/q1gb5zwz17m8jt5/.

4 Ways to Focus on Your Career Development

It’s National Career Development Month (NCDM).  Below are four things you can do to focus on your career development this month.

  1. Visit NOVA’s Career Services website to learn more about career development.
  2. Participate in the Career Development Webinar Series – a lunchtime webinar series created to help you make informed decisions about your academic and career goals.  All webinars are free, but registration is required.
  3. Check out NOVA’s Events calendar for information about programs supporting NCDM being offered across the college.
  4. Follow NOVA Online on Twitter to receive a daily inspirational quote.

Your Final Semester is Almost Here!

 

Congratulations to all students who will be preparing for their final semester !  You have almost reached the finish line. The following are a few things to do in preparation for graduation:

Apply for graduation. Access NOVA’s graduation website to view the Crossing the Finish Line: NOVA’s Graduation Program video and complete the Graduation Application Form.  The deadline to apply for graduation is March 1.

Update your resume.  Review an action plan you may have created in FOCUS 2.  Utilize resources in Career Connection.  Connect with a career advisor/counselor.

Prepare to conduct a job search if you will be looking for a job or a new opportunity.  NOVA’s Career Services website is a great place to start.

Review websites of potential transfer institutions for information about applying, if you are planning to transfer.  Don’t forget to look for information about financial aid and scholarships as well.  NOVA’s Plan to Transfer website has many helpful tips.

Participate in employment and transfer focused programs.  Check out NOVA’s Events calendar to see what is happening around the college.

Don’t forget, in addition to daily blog posts, NOVA Online is offering a lunchtime webinar series this week focusing on topics to help you with preparing for your next semester. All webinars are thirty minutes and begin at 12:15 pm. Learn more about the series and register at https://nvcceli.wufoo.com/forms/q17oo4ni0mszh1v/.

 

 

Are Your Career Plans in Focus?

As you plan your schedule for your next semester, prepare to transfer, or get ready to begin a new job take a moment to focus on your career development.  Are you attending NOVA to pursue a certificate or degree, but unsure about what career options might be available to you? Have you decided on a major, but have difficulty answering the question – “What can I do with a major in _____?

Do you need to fine tune your skills or add to your skill set in preparation for a career change? Learn more about career options by utilizing FOCUS 2, an online interactive self-guided career and education planning system that can help you:

  • Select a program/major based on your interests and aspirations
  •  Discover occupations matching your personal preferences and attributes
  • Map out your career plans, present and future
  • Make informed career decisions

FOCUS 2 is free for NOVA students.   Learn more about and access the system at NOVA’s Career Services website.

Don’t forget, in addition to daily blog posts, NOVA Online is offering a lunchtime webinar series this week focusing on topics to help you with preparing for your next semester.  All webinars are thirty minutes and begin at 12:15 pm.  Learn more about the series and register at https://nvcceli.wufoo.com/forms/q17oo4ni0mszh1v/.

Earn a Chance to Win a Padfolio

During National Career Development Month 2019 earn a chance to win a padfolio by following the steps below –

  1. Participate in any career development program/event being offered across the college. Recommended events – any webinar that is part of the NOVA Online NCDM Webinar Series 2019.
  2. Access the NOVA Online Virtual Student Union during November 6 – November 30.
  3. Select Discussions.
  4. Review the Discussion Board Rules located at the top of the discussion board main page.
  5. Select National Career Development Month 2019 Contest from the list.
  6. Click the Reply button and respond to the following:
    1. What was the name, date, and location of the program/event in which you participated?
    2. Why did you select this program/event?
    3. How does participating in this program/event support you with your career development and achieving a career/professional goal?
  7. Click the Post Reply button

Students also trying to win a Rocket Book may not post about the same program/event in the Advising Week Spring 2020 and National Career Development Month 2019 discussions.

While you are in the discussion board, although not required for the challenge, we encourage you to read and respond to someone’s post.

Throughout November, read the NOVA Online Student Blog for posts with information to support your career development, participate in career focused webinars, and follow NOVA Online on Twitter to receive daily inspirational quotes.    Also take advantage of other programs/events offered across the college.

Are Your Career Plans in Focus?

As you plan your schedule for your next term/semester, prepare to transfer, or get ready to begin a new job take a moment to focus on your career development.  Are you attending NOVA to pursue a certificate or degree, but unsure about what career options might be available to you? Have you decided on a major, but have difficulty answering the question – “What can I do with a major in _____?

Do you need to fine tune your skills or add to your skill set in preparation for a career change? Learn more about career options by utilizing FOCUS 2, an online interactive self-guided career and education planning system that can help you:

  • Select a program/major based on your interests and aspirations
  •  Discover occupations matching your personal preferences and attributes
  • Map out your career plans, present and future
  • Make informed career decisions

FOCUS 2 is free for NOVA students.   Learn more about and access the system at NOVA’s Career Services website.

Don’t forget, in addition to daily blog posts, NOVA Online is offering a lunchtime webinar series this week focusing on topics to help you with preparing for your next semester.  All webinars are thirty minutes and begin at 12:15 pm.  Learn more about the series and register at https://nvcceli.wufoo.com/forms/q16k19iv1fjyzmb/

 

LinkedIn Professional: Profile Development Tips

by Tiffany Waddell Tate

LinkedIn is a tool for students and alumni to build connections, but frequently, many don’t quite know how to maximize their digital presence online. LinkedIn is one of many tools you can use to create a digital stamp that embodies your personal and professional brand.

If you are curious about how to create or update your profile to make your brand statement clear and noticeable, check out these five tips to make your profile pop today!

Profile Photo

Make sure your photo is a professional headshot. No need to pay for a full photoshoot, but I highly recommend having a friend or colleague snap a photo of you with a solid light-colored or natural background behind you. Once you have a few that you like, crop one to include no more than your mid torso and above. If you are in education or recruiting, you can likely have a bit more fun with your choice of dress in the photo, so let your personality shine through! Profiles with fresh headshots definitely get more traffic than those without.

Headline

Instead of writing a boring snippet that just includes your job title (that’s in your experience section anyway!) try thinking of a brief, but creative description of what you do or what you’re particularly adept in. Who are you, independent of your professional title? For example, if you started own your company, instead of saying “CEO of Fran’s Cupcake Company” try “Dessert aficionado with a passion for sprinkles” which will make your profile stand out. If you work in a more traditional or conservative space, however, it is also a good idea to highlight the core skill set or motivation that drives your work. For example, if you work for a creative marketing agency, you might try something like “marketing manager with a keen eye for design.”

Summary

While many people think of LinkedIn as an online resume, it’s more than that. The summary section allows you to craft a (brief) statement that tells your story. What are you passionate about? What drives you? Specifically, what are you good at and how does it assist you in making things happen? Are there topics or experiences that you have that contribute to your overall value that may or may not be tied to your current position? Write about it here. LinkedIn tends to come up in the top five results when someone Googles your name, so make every word count!

Vanity URL

Like most social networks and blogs, you have the option within your profile to create a “Vanity URL” which is a shortened web address for your page that fits nicely onto a business card or e-mail signature. Vanity URLs also make your profile easier to find in online search engine results.

RECOMMENDATIONS

I like to think of recommendations as “living references,” because your personal brand is not just what you say about yourself—it includes what others have to say about you, too! Asking colleagues, clients, or former supervisors for LinkedIn recommendations can only strengthen your professional digital presence.

Bonus pro tip: it is better to give than receive! If you ask someone to write a recommendation for you, offer a recommendation in return—or at least send them a thank you note. It’s only proper!

What tips do you leverage to make your profile pop?

Tiffany Waddell Tate, former associate director of career development at Davidson College, is now the associate director of national engagement in the Office of Alumni Engagement at Wake Forest University.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Social Media In Your Job Search

Social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and relatives, but it also can be a useful tool in your job search. Employers are using social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to both promote their organizations and connect with potential job candidates.

While social media can help you research employers (critical to your job-search success), be sure to use it more actively—as a way to connect with potential employers. By following a few basic tips, you can use social media to get in front of hiring managers.

Get Noticed

There are a few key points to keep in mind when using social media as a job-search tool.

Create a Profile That Gives a Positive Impression of You Think of it as your online resume: What do you want it to say about you? Hiring managers can get a stronger sense of who you are, and if you’re a potentially good fit for their company, through your profile.

Be Aware of the Keywords You Include in Your Profile This is particularly true for sites focused on professional networking, such as LinkedIn. Many employers do keyword searches to find profiles that contain the skill sets they’re seeking in potential hires.

Don’t Include Photos, Comments, or Information You Wouldn’t Want a Potential Employer to See

Don’t Mix Personal With Professional The social media you use in your job search has to present you as a potential employee—not as a friend. Follow the rules for writing a resume.

Make Sure Your Profile Is Error-Free You wouldn’t offer up a resume rife with misspellings, would you?

Choose Appropriate Contact Information Your e-mail address or Twitter handle should be professional—a simple variation on your name, perhaps—rather than suggestive or offensive.

Connect Many organizations have embraced social media as an extension of their hiring practices, and provide information that you can use to research the organization and connect with hiring managers and recruiters.

    • Check your college/university’s social media groups: Many times, employers join such groups.
    • Check social media groups that are focused around your field of interest or career.
    • Search for the social media pages, profiles, and videos of organizations that interest you. Many organizations post job descriptions, information about salaries, and more.
    • Ask questions. Even something as broad as “Is anyone hiring in [industry]?” may bring responses, and asking questions about a specific organization—“What’s it like to work at Company X?” can give you insight into the organization and its culture.

Stay Connected Keep in touch with recruiters or other decision makers you may interact with in cyberspace.

There may not be an available opportunity at their organization right now, but that could change, and you want to be considered when it does.

Finally, in addition to maintaining your network, use social media tobuild your network. Don’t just establish a social media presence—work it. Reach out. Interact. You will get out of social media what you put into it.

Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Job and Internship Database for NOVA Students and Alumni

Trying to find an internship?  Looking for a job?  Whether you are near a computer or on the go, a great place to begin your search is by accessing the Jobs and Internships Database for NOVA students and alumni.

The following are some benefits of using the system.

  • Search for jobs and internships.  Take a look at many local positions available now.
  • Build a new resume with the Resume Builder feature.
  • Upload your resume and make it searchable to employers.
  • Check out over 1,000 career articles written by industry professionals.
  • View career videos and listen to podcasts on topics including resume basics,  interviewing, and personal branding.
  • Browse and sign-up for upcoming workshops, programs, and events at NOVA and in the surrounding area.

Don’t delay – follow the steps below to begin using the system.

  1. Access the Jobs and Internships Database
  2. Select Students or Alumni
  3. Follow on screen instructions