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How To Find Jobs

The Secret Keywords for Your Job Search: Unveiled!

Have you spent hours searching job boards for position listings?

Do you know what you want but get too many search results when you look for it? 2159980025_4e6b965217

Did you know employers and hiring managers are very sophisticated when they look for candidates, and know just the right key words to use?

Here are a few examples of how recruiters scout candidates 

C++ java -jobs -samples intitle:resume OR inurl:resume AND Cleveland
this is an example of a Google Search for software candidates in Cleveland

("business analyst" OR "systems analyst" or Analyst or BA) and (Retail or POS or "point of sales") and (ecommerce or e-commerce or web or internet) and (inventory or SCM or "supply chain") and ("crystal report*)
this is a search string from a recruiter challenged to find candidates for Business Analyst positions with experience in Crystal Reports. This search string is one that can be used inside job boards.

Today, we're going to help you level the playing field.

I'm working with the recruiting industry insiders who built the products used by 70% of the Fortune 500 to find candidates. We are going to give you a customized string for your job search.

After years of helping companies identify candidates to find jobs, my friends Chris Forman and Tim McKegney founded StartWire, a private social networking platform, to help job seekers find the right jobs.

If you join StartWire by Monday and complete a profile that share your interests--ideal job title, industry sectors of interest and location, Chris and Tim will provide you with your own custom Boolean search string you can use to save time.

Registering on StartWire takes less than five minutes, and you'll get your search string within 48 hours--at the latest. Sound good?

To your success,


(P.S. StartWire will help you find keywords to search for the right job, if you need help finding keywords for your resume, check out this post I wrote on how to find the best keywords through a tag cloud.)

Cross-posted on Secrets of the Job Hunt. Photo by Cayusa.


The Six Reasons You'll Get the Job (Learn 'Em in NYC 10/14)

My friend and former colleague Elisabeth Harney Sanders-Park has just co-written her second book, the 6 Reasons Why You'll Get the Job (Penguin). I am pleased to announce that the NYC Job Seekers 6 ReasonsGroup, the grassroots job search group that I host in Manhattan, will be offering a special four hour workshop with Elisabeth and her co-author, Debra Angel MacDougall, the morning of October 14, 2010.

There is no cost to sign up. For additional details--including hours and location of the event--please sign up for the MeetUp group and RSVP.

Hope to see you there!

On the Job Hunt & The Listening Effect

I am pleased to announce that I've joined Susan Joyce and a host of other career management professionals on

I'm serving as the New Grads Job Search Expert on Job-Hunt, and will be writing a monthly column for the site. If you haven't checked out before, I encourage you to do so. The site is very easy to navigate and includes comprehensive information to help you throughout your job search process--from getting started with your first job search to how to work with recruiters and deal with a tough career transition.

In my first piece for Job-Hunt, I shared stories from my own first job, work in career management, and lessons learned from rocket scientists as well as the proverbial "water under the bridge."

This month, I focus on the importance of listening. It's not a skill that you find frequently in aListening-ear position description, but your ability to be a strong active listener can make all the difference in the interview process--and once you get hired.

For the past year, I've been taking classes in storytelling from Narativ. I'm learning how to tell stories that make an audience lean forward. I'm learning strategies to tell what happened instead of how I feel about a situation. The Narativ methodology is helping me to become a better storyteller. But mainly, I am learning how to be a better listener...without listening, you lose impact--in your job, in your ability to work with others, in your ability to communicate.

The process of finding your first job--and positions after that--can be fraught with anxiety, self-doubt, and doubt: Am I really qualified to do this job? Do I have the experience that it takes? All too frequently, you may miss a really obvious skill---one that can make all the difference--and that you already have. The skill I am referring to, of course, is listening.

Several years ago, I watched an Ivy League senior with a 3.98 GPA from a relatively unpopulated state (let's call it Nebraska) participate in the selection rounds for a Rhodes Scholarship interview. He had a long list of organizations he'd been involved in as well as measurable achievements for his extracurricular efforts. But there wasn't a single activity that he was involved in that he didn't hold the top title--President, Captain, Chair. As he told the committee, "I just prefer to be in the leadership role."

He didn't get picked. The committee went with other candidates who had experience in simply serving as a committee member, a participant, a team player.

In the midst of everything, never forget: Employers are looking for great listeners who can follow directions! Often, they will hire you for this singular ability--and then teach you the rest.

That's my two cents on listening. Now I want to hear what you have to say...

Free e-book (Collective Wisdom for Share)

In my spare time, I've been spending time with Narativ, a Manhattan-based organization that helps people tell stories. Not stories as in fibs, but personal storytelling. Narativ teaches the mechanics of storytelling. Take one of their classes, and you'll learn how to nail an interview question, how to tell a story with a Storytelling detail that makes people remember your name--or the story forever--or simply how to keep your audience awake the next time you talk in public.

I digress. In the last paragraph, I intended to share with you one of Narativ's core beliefs about storytelling: Narativ believes everyone is "hardwired" to tell stories. We all want to tell stories, sometimes we just don't know how to start, how to shape the middle, or how to end. Or we don't know who our audience is.

As a writer who talks a great deal about careers, I'd like to think that I'm a decent storyteller. But I recognize that the stories I tell won't resonate with everyone. That's the beauty of an anthology, right? In reading through multiple stories, there's a better chance you will find the story which resonates with you--and which makes all the difference.

I wrote this post to share with you a new resource that has amazing stories. Penelope Trunk and Rich DiMatteo have conceived of and executed on a great, free e-book, especially made for the millennial job seeker. The e-book is called What I Know About Getting a Job and you can find it through the site Corn on the Job.  

There are 18 job search experts on the list, all of whom have been ranked as one of the Top 25 Digital Influencers in HR by HRExaminers. I am pleased to have gotten to know several of the people on this list: Mark Stelzner wrote the foreword for the Twitter Job Search Guide, Jason Alba contributed, and Peter Clayton is a great guy who runs a wonderful career radio show,Total Picture Radio.

You should download this book. Because in addition to having great advice, everyone who is in this e-book tells great stories about careers, and one of them may be just the thing you need to hear right now.

To Your Success,


Turn Off The Computer, Tune Into What’s Happening, & Heat Up the Job Search

As I have mentioned previously on this blog, I am a member of Career Collective, an online community of career professionals who share multiple takes on a common theme each month. June’s focus: How to heat up your job search this summer.

I’m beginning this post with a confession: I have a seasonal summer disorder. If I could spend 12 weeks a year working from a porch, swimming in lakes, and swinging by farmer’s markets Watermelon_slice and eating vanilla ice cream with strawberry rhubarb sauce, I would. When Twitter and LinkedIn announced a partnership last fall, it was said that they go together like “peanut butter and chocolate.” For those of us who share a common love of flip flops, fresh tomatoes, and barbecues—sometimes the summer isn’t quite as compatible with job search.

This post is for those of you who share my affinity towards summer. Here are three ways you can continue to move your job search forward without sacrificing your time outside:

  1. MeetUp and Network! Attend social and recreation gatherings and mix and mingle. If you don’t belong to yet, check out the site and evaluate potential interests groups to join. (I run the NYC Job Seekers MeetUp in Manhattan.) There are many job seekers groups across U.S. cities, but there are even more interest groups related to personal interests, sports, and professional fields. The NY Tech MeetUp has over 13,000 members, and a monthly meeting after party filled with entrepreneurs, start-up employees, and tech industry leaders. I also enjoy the #140 meetup run by Jeff Pulver.
  2. It’s no longer location, location, location. It’s Geolocation, and it’s getting big. Through start-ups such as FourSquare, Gypsii, and Gowalla—you can stay in touch with your friends and networking contacts and meetup spontaneously. Flight delayed at the airport? Check in and see if you have any friends nearby. My prediction: We’ll soon be able to find great seat buddies for Southwest airlines flights with a quick interest scan via cell phone and geo apps…
  3. You don't have to stay home and search. Get listings sent to you via SMS. Through, you can sign up to have jobs that match your location, industry, and job type, sent to you via text message. You can also upload your resume so that employers can see it. During the time I’ve been writing this post over 3,723 jobs have been sent out. What are you waiting for?

For more suggestions on heating up your job search, see take-aways and suggestions from my Career Collective Colleagues. (You can follow them on Twitter using their "handles" listed below; mine is @chandlee)

  • Note to Recent Grads: Advice Worth Ignoring

    I worked on college campuses for over a decade before starting my own business, and I've seen a lot of Pomp and Circumstance come and go. I've watched graduates saunter out into great jobs in a strong economy, and I've watched more than a few turn around and go straight back to school in a down economy. But regardless of whether you graduate this year, next year or you graduated five years ago, here are three statements that you can expect to hear--and which I think you should ignore.Hne

    1. This is the worse job market in ___ years. You will never get a job. (Assume this is right and don't apply for jobs, you can guarantee you won't get one.)

    A CEO I once worked with loved to tell the story of a man who was angry with God because he hadn't won the lottery. He shook his fists and shouted at the sky, "Why haven't I won? I deserve it. I'm a good man, I've worked hard. Why won't you help me?"

    The clouds parted, a loud voice spoke. "My son, buy a ticket."

    Moral: You have to apply for jobs in order to be in the game.

    2. You need a stimulus package to get a job. A recent Op/Ed in the New York Times pleaded for a stimulus package to incentivize employers to offer new grads entry-level jobs. While a stimulus package may very well help, it's important to remember that people are getting jobs--with regularity.

    According to the Department of Labor, nonfarm payroll employment has expanded by 573,000 since December. The number of unemployed is under 10% nationally. It's true that there are more unemployed recent graduates now than there were two years ago, but it doesn't mean that you don't have a chance of landing a job. You just need to pay attention to where the jobs are--both in terms of industry sector and in terms of location.

    Action step: Take a look at Indeed's job postings per capita or industry employment trends. Consider refining your search based on what you find!

    (I found a job in a recession post-college, when I decided to make a contrary move. I moved to DC instead of New York to seek out a job as an Editorial Assistant in book publishing. My job search took three weeks.)

    3. You will enjoy living with your parents--forever. Every year, the percentage of recent graduates moving back home to live with their parents increases...While this may not be your plan "A," it may not be your parents either. Take a look at this New Yorker Shouts and Murmur's piece.

    Not sure whether to laugh or cry? If your mom tells you they are moving to a new house so that there is less space to clean up, you may want to take this as a subtle hint. (This really happened to a friend of mine...he was finally told "we love you but we don't have anymore room.)

    Bottom line: Ignore the naysayers, and the gloom and doom statistics.

    Your job search isn't about numbers. It may be a numbers game to find positions, but in the end, people hire people--not resumes or online applications. Proof positive: All of the recent grads who were guest bloggers on this site last summer to discuss their "hire me" strategies have jobs. Full-time ones with benefits.

    For the most part, the best way to get hired is the same as it was 15 years ago:

    • Know what you are good at
    • Learn what employers need
    • Target the market and research potential opportunities
    • Build a community/network
    • Apply
    • Articulate how you can meet employer needs

    Yes, social media has complicated the process, but it's also shortened the distance between people and opportunities. (Earlier today, I reached out on Twitter to share a piece I wrote for Career Hub about Olympic Gold Medalist, Natalie Coughlin. She wrote back. How cool is that?)

    What are you waiting for? Get out there! (Then let me know how I can help.)

    Starfish, JobAngels and Making a Difference

    Over the holidays, I took a sunset walk on the beach with my nieces and family friends. The South Carolina winds were cold enough to require my thickest fisherman’s sweater. But the sea was calm and the light was spectacular. With less than a week before the New Year, we set out with thoughts of good cheer and optimism.Starfish

    This was a familiar beach to all of us, and we were looking forward to finding conch shells and sand dollars, stepping over jellyfish, and watching periwinkles dig deep back into the sand as the tides receded. Instead we found thousands of starfish washed up along the beach at the edges of the shore.

    I began to throw the starfish back. One at a time, I pitched many of them back into the sea as far as I could toss them. (Truth be told, I don’t have a long reach with my pitching arm.) I threw the starfish back because someone told me to: I remembered reading a story many years ago, about a boy who encountered a similar situation of countless starfish along a beach and a grumpy elder who said, “you will never save them. The boy replied “but I made a difference to that one.”

    So I threw many of the starfish back as far as I could hurl them. After watching me for about ten minutes, my niece Amelia, turned to me and said, “Aunt Chandlee, I think you are playing favorites—you’ve only tried to save one gray starfish. All of the others you’ve thrown have orange spots.” I have to admit that she was right. I was naturally drawn to save the orange ones because they looked more alive than the gray ones. So I started to throw back the gray starfish, too. I hope that I made a difference, but it’s quite possible they were all already dead—victim of extreme weather conditions or a change in tidal patterns. (The local paper reported that about 50,000 dead starfish also washed up on an Irish beach in November.)

    I’ll never know if my “made a difference to one” starfish campaign worked, but I do think it provides a great metaphor for this month’s Career Collective theme of making the most of the New Year: What will happen if you could make a difference for another person?  A year ago on January 29, 2009, Mark Stelzner (@stelzner) asked a simple question on Twitter, “Was wondering what would happen if each of us could commit to helping one person find a job? Are you game?”  Three hours later his question had become the #JobAngels movement on Twitter, by November over 1,000 job seekers had secured new jobs as a result of the collective outreach. (To learn more about JobAngels and to sign up as a volunteer or job seeker in need of a little help from a friend, visit

    While you may be reading this post in an effort to help yourself, I challenge you to seek out ways to help another person out along the way. It might lead to new opportunities for you as well, and it may just help make you feel better. As Sir Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

    This is my thought for on2010, see what my colleagues had to say here:

    Follow us on Twitter with our hashtag #careercollective and read these posts:

    @KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Art of Being Gracious: Much Needed in Today’s Job Search,”

    @MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes,  Career Trends and Transition 2010

    @heathermundell, life@work, Kaizen and the Art of Your Job Search

    @barbarasafani, Career Solvers, Looking Into the 2010 Careers Crystal Ball

    @resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog, The Resume and Your Social Media Job Search Campaign

    @kat_hansen,  Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, New Year: Time to Assess Yourself and Your Career

    @keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, Help for job seekers in a rut

    @heatherhuhman,, Job seekers: 5 tips for making the most of 2010

    @DawnBugni, The Write Solution, Ya, but

    @ErinKennedyCPRW, Professional Resume Services, Advice to Job Seekers in 2010–learn Yoga?

    @Chandlee, The Emerging Professional, Starfish, JobAngels, and Making a Difference

    @ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, Is Your Job Search Strategy a Snore?

    @debrawheatman, Resumes Done Write, Making the most of a new year

    @walterakana, Threshold Consulting, Starting anew – tips for truly managing your career

    @careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, The Year of the Tiger

    @WorkWithIllness,, Dogs Can Do It, Can You?

    @JobHuntOrg,, Lifelong Learning for Career Security

    @AndyInNaples, Career Success, What Are You Getting Better At? Make This the Year You Become the Best You Can Be!

    @GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, A Flash of the Blindly Obvious

    Alexandra Levit's New Job, New You

    A book review to kick off the new year…Alexandra_levit_

    If you’re looking for it, there are hundreds of different sources of career advice. What’s important is that you find a source that speaks to you when you need it. Some job seekers prefer straight forward how-to guides. Others prefer videos or podcasts. I’ll read anything, but my favorite sources of career advice are the ones that come with stories attached: When I can see how other people have made a transition, it’s easier for me to see how I might make an adjustment myself. Have you ever found that to be true? What works for you?

    One of my favorite sources of career stories is Alexandra Levit, author of “Who Scored that Gig?” and “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.” A career columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Alexandra is also a great story-teller. Today, I’m writing to give a plug for her latest book “New Job, New You.”

    Ever experienced a moment in life where your “out of work” experiences make you want to refocus your career priorities? Or simply hit a wall at work and know that something has to change? Such realizations can be exhilarating—and paralyzing, especially when you don’t know what to do next.

    Enter Alexandra and her comprehensive conversations. In New Job, New You, Alexandra tackles seven common “game changers” that can lead you to re- examine your career—family, the desire for independence, the quest to learn more, the pursuit of money, passion, setbacks, and sheer talent (or the natural gifts you’ve been given). She ignores celebrities and the “exceptionally lucky” and provides five “real life stories” of career exploration and change for each “ball game” followed by practical advice.  Reading the book is the equivalent of having 35 intimate conversations with people who’ve been there, and then leaving with the “questions you need to ask,” and a short list of resources to get started in forging your own path. Naturally, this doesn’t do your exploratory work for you in your own career search, but it’s a great start and an easy read for 20 and 30-somethings interested in making lifestyle changes or another career transition.

    Footprints and Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays.

    This post is one in a series of posts by members of the “Career Collective,” a community of job search experts who provide different perspectives on a common theme each month. This month’s theme: the holiday job search!

    December is traditionally thought of as the “sleeper season” for job search. Conventional wisdom seems to run that as the days grow shorter, so do the opportunities—and that the holidays postpone hiring plans until after the New Year.

    In all actuality, December is a great time to recharge your job search and to strengthen and build connections across your network. Here are three ways to do it:

    1. Include your digital “career” footprint in your e-mail signature. Providing others with a link to your LinkedIn or Visual CV signature can lead a “gingerbread” trail back to the web version of your resume. (It’s much sweeter than sending out a resume in your e-mails; if you “tweet,” you can also include your Twitter handle.)

      Tip: To create your own customized LinkedInURL, edit your "Public Profile" settings and create your own customized shortcut. If your first and last name are already taken, consider adding location or profession - e.g. NancySpragueNYC or NancySpragueHRDir

    2. Consider joining a professional association by year’s end if you’ve been meaning to do it—and haven’t gotten around to it! It may be tax-deductible. A win-win, considering that local events and larger conferences can facilitate in-person connections and frequently provide job leads.

      Tip: You can find directories of Associations by area of interest through the American Society of Association Executives or Weddle's Association Directory

    3. Open up your ears at holiday parties. The more you learn about what other people need, the more you have an awareness of how you can help. And the more you demonstrate your willingness to help and take action when you can, the more likely you are to find it yourself the recipient of such leads when karma springs back again…

    Use the following three approaches and you may find yourself under the job search mistletoe, take the additional advice from my colleagues in the Career Collective and I guarantee that you will!

    @MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, "Season's Greetings and your Job Search"

    @GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, "It's Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?"

    @KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, "The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs"

    @resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,"Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob"

    @heathermundell, life@work, "Have a Holly Jolly Job Search"
    @LaurieBerenson, Sterling Career Concepts, Three Resolutions to Take It Up a Notch

    @KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search
    @ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, Navigating the Mistle Toe of Job Search



    Get a Green Job in Two Years (& Save $$$ on Training)

    There's no doubt about it: Green is the new black. It's hip, cool, and sexy to work an environmentally friendly position that allows you to "do good." (Apologies to my mom, the former English teacher, who will scold gently remind me that the phrase "doing good" violates all rules of good grammar. But I digress.)


    Virtually every article I've seen about bright spots in the job market recently highlights the increasing demand for green jobs. So does my own homegrown research. Anyway you slice it, green jobs are in vogue--and there are more openings for workers in other field.

    But, even with all of the employer demand, there's a slight wrinkle: Many green jobs require technical training and an area of expertise in order to get hired. In many cases, you may find it very difficult to get an interview for a green job if you don't have knowledge of the field or industry in which you'd like to work. Unless you are a technical sales rockstar, and want to work in "green sales" related to a project you've worked on before, you may find that you need additional training--even to get to the interview.

    Many colleges and universities are rapidly expanding their environmental science and curricular offerings in order to meet student interest and employer demand for green jobs. But college can be expensive. Which is why I really loved this article from CNN Money on how you can train for a green job in two years.

    The secret (according to the article) is to attend community college. Many community colleges are offering innovative two year programs designed specifically to meet regional industry needs: it's a great way to hedge your bets for employment security. So check it out, if you are so inclined.

    I'm going to digress (again), and close with a bit of a love letter three reasons why community colleges can be terrific places to boost your credentials:

    1. They cost less than many other colleges and universities.

    2. In general, the academic job market is very tough for individuals who want to teach at the college and university level. And frequently, positions go to people based on their scholarly and research work--not just based on their love of teaching.

    So frequently, you can find devoted and --outstanding teachers--at the community college level. People who want to teach--not to publish the definitive last word on ____________.

    3. Community colleges often have great feeder relationships with other schools--and you can still get a four year degree by transferring if that's what you want.  Some states have stellar linkage programs between community colleges and state universities (The University of Virginia, for example, has great relationships and linkage programs with community colleges in Virginia.) If this is something you are interested in learning about, research this.

    Over the 8 years I worked at Ivy League schools, I met with several individuals who went to community college before "getting into an Ivy." All of these students had a great experience at the community college level. They credited their Ivy League admission in part to great teachers and mentors who believed in them and encouraged them. One of these students, a Philosophy major who had earned a 4.0 GPA at her new school, said that she missed her community college professors because they spent more time with her.

    I'm not saying that community colleges are better than Ivies, or that Ivy League professors don't care about their students. I'm just shedding light on the options--and a potentially hot one for this economy. Take a look--especially if you are thinking about going green!

    To your success,


    Where the Green Jobs Are

    I'm pleased to be participating in Job Action Day for the second consecutive year. Through Job Action Day, you can find a spate of career advice designed to help you jump start your job search or stimulate your own career management--regardless of your current employment status.  Job_action_day 

    This year, the theme for Job Action day is "environmental jobs" and my friends at the Career Collective and I are painting the web green with information on trends in " sustainable jobs." We've been challenged to present strategies providing workers and job seekers with information, ideas and concrete steps to secure their futures in a changed economy.

    I spent eight years working inside the Ivory Tower. My friends kid me that sometimes I have the tendency to "go academic in my blog." Today, I'm showcasing my inner geek and enjoyment of raw data. Where's the best place to find a secure future?

    Make sure you know where to go: Study the trends and demand for workers at both the senior and entry-level!

    Here's a chart I put together comparing the "war for talent" in the c-suite (where executive recruiters receive their business) and starting salaries.

    Top Industry Growth by Search Firm (ExecuNet)

    Five Highest Starting Salaries by Major (NACE)



    Clean/Green Technology



    Business Services

    Chemical Engineering $64,902

    Computer Engineering $61,738

    Computer Science $61, 407

    Electrical Engineering $60,125

    Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering $58,358

    Think this is a new trend that came in with the Obama administration? Not a chance...Take a look at the numbers for the last four years here.

    My recommendation for Job Action Day? Before you start a job search, talk to at least three people who work in your intended field or job search function of interest. Find out:

    • The skills you need
    • The projected hiring outlook
    • How can you strengthen your skills to meet the needs of your intended field and job function?

    Then, position yourself for the market to show that you can meet these needs!

    That's my tip for Job Action Day, I'm off to read the others from my friends at the Career Collective. Check it out:

    Meg Montford:  Job Action Day: Finding Your “MOJO” After Layoff

    Debra Wheatman: Plan B from outer space; or what do you have in case your first plan doesn’t work out?

    Heather Mundell: Green Jobs – What They Are and How to Find Them,

    Erin Kennedy: Cutting Edge Job Search Blueprint

    Grace Kutney: Securing Your Career While Navigating the Winds of Change

    Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa– Why Our Job Search Advice is the Same but Different

    Gayle Howard: The Enlightened Jobseeker

    Laurie Berenson: Making lemonade out of lemons: Turn unemployment into entrepreneurship

    Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter: You Can Thrive In, Not Just Survive, an Economic Slogging

    Rosalind Joffe: Preparedness: It’s Not Just for Boyscouts

    Rosa E. Vargas: Are You Evolving Into The In-Demand Professional of Tomorrow?

    Dawn Bugni: Your network IS your net worth

    Miriam Salpeter: Optimize your job hunt for today’s economy

    GL Hoffman: The Life of An Entrepreneur: Is It for You?

    Katharine Hansen: Job Action Day 09: His Resume Savvy Helped New Career Rise from Layoff Ashes

    Martin Buckland: Job Search–The Key to Securing Your Future Career.

    Barbara Safani: Where the Jobs Are: 2009 and Beyond.

    Heather R. Huhman, Take Action: 10 Steps for Landing an Entry-Level Job,

    Career Resources for Climate Change

     I am pleased to be participating in Blog Action Day 2009, a unified effort of the blogging community to discuss a common theme. This year's theme is "Climate Change."    

    I'll be talking more about the green jobs market in November (stay tuned for Job Action Day from Quint Careers). In the interim, here are three suggested strategies for pursuing a professional career that can make a positive difference in contributing to the health of our environmental climate.   

    Educate Yourself

    OneWorld Guide to Climate Change (from the UK)

    Cuncil on Foreign Relations' Crisis Guide to Climate Change (Council on Foreign Relations)

    Climate Change: A Guide for the Perplexed (The New Scientist)

    Explore Opportunities

    Green Energy Jobs: Careers in Climate Change
    Look beyond the introduction page to find information on jobs and opportunities.

    Green Biz Jobs
    Job listings from renewable energy to sustainability

    Making the Difference
    A Guide to Opportunities in Public Service from the largest employer in the U.S.--the federal government!

    Consider a Trip Back To School

    Many U.S. colleges and universities offer state-of-the art programs in Environmental Studies. Here are two innovative programs.

    GreenCorps: The Field School for Environmental Organizing

    Columbia University
    Master's Degree in Climate and Society

    To Your Success,


    "Come Recommended" (Or How to Avoid Job Search Surprises)

    Chocolates All too frequently, the job search process is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates: You never know what you are going to get! Just as chocolate obscures the marashino cherries I try to avoid, you can land in a job that isn't a fit even if it seems perfect for you. Lurking under the smooth polish of the hiring manager's desk --hidden Internal politics, mis-aligned job functions, and unhappy previous employees.

    I don't know about you, but I don't like surprises. And neither do employers. If you've ever worked in a job that's the wrong fit for you, you know how painful it can be. In order to avoid this, I advocate research: An look for clues on organizational dynamics throughout the application process--from talking to others who've worked there before, to asking questions about work environment and culture--and observing interactions between colleagues during interviews.

    This week, I wanted to let you know about a new service designed to help job seekers and employers know "what they're getting into." Come Recommended features job opportunities for internships and entry-level positions that requires all participants--both employers and potential employees--to have three recommendations before you can join. I asked the Founder of Come Recommended, Heather Huhman to explain how the site works, and how to get great recommendations. Here is our Q & A:

    1. Tell us about Come Recommended: Why is the site an efficient way to find your next opportunity?

    Come Recommended is an exclusive online community connecting the best internship and entry-level job candidates with the best employers. Unlike other exclusive recruiting networks, Come Recommended requires both candidates and employers provide at least three recommendations before accessing the community and its features.

    As someone who has been in nearly every employment-related situation possible, I founded the site--in part--as a result of my passion for helping students and recent college graduates pursue their dream careers. I wanted to create a community that made this possible in an easy and affordable way--particularly in this tough job market. Additionally, as an experienced hiring manager, I know the difficulties employers face when looking for that perfect candidate. A community like Come Recommended can help close this gap and make the hiring process easier for everyone.

    The idea behind Come Recommended--creating an opportunity for highly recommended employers and candidates to meet and network in an online setting--just makes sense. Internship and entry-level job candidates and employers can “pre-screen” each other via comprehensive online profiles, real-time instant messaging, webcam interviews, and of course, detailed recommendations, all on the same Come Recommended platform.

    2. How do you recommend users prepare to "get recommended"? Can you share best practices for job seekers to use in providing information to those who recommend them? (i.e. current copy of resume, example of what they've done in past positions, etc.)

    I have two “golden rules” when it comes to references:

    Rule #1: Ask your intended references if they would be willing to serve as your references.

    Rule #2: Ask your intended references what they would say about you if called by a hiring manager. You don’t want any surprises!

    Don’t think you have individuals in your life who could serve as job references? For internship and entry-level job candidates, references can include current or previous employers, industry professionals (who you know well and who know you well), professors/teachers and other non-family members who can speak about you either professionally or personally (i.e., your character).

    No one fits the bill? Make it your number-one priority to develop references. Typically you are asked to provide three (at most, one personal reference). While you will likely update your reference list throughout your career as you meet and work with new people, your initial group will help you secure positions throughout and immediately after college. It is essential you make these connections.

    3. What's the biggest mistake you've seen job seekers make in terms of "how to get recommended"?

    Not following the two rules above, or faking references completely.

    4. How does Come Recommended potentially change the hiring process from the employer's perspective? From the candidate's experience?

    Instead of the reference check coming at the end of the hiring process, Come Recommended moves it right to the beginning. This is huge, particularly on the employer’s end. Knowing you haven’t wasted your time conducting several interviews with a candidate just to be disappointed during the reference check is game changing, in my opinion.

    Of course, most recent graduates leave their first jobs out of college within two years, and the experience typically leaves a very bad taste in their mouths—possibly encouraging them to rethink their career paths altogether. So, if the candidate is more informed before even getting to the application process by reading a profile of the organization not found anywhere else, this situation can possibly be avoided. Again, game changing.

    5. What inspired you to create Come Recommended, and how can individuals become part of the community?

    Well, it all started when I set out to fill my very first job as a hiring manager—an entry-level position for a small public relations firm. We received nearly 100 applications after posting the position to both Craigslist and I scoured the stack looking for ways to “weed out” candidates and identify ones with potential.

    Finally, I narrowed the list down to five and started making calls. My “phone screens” have always been fairly in-depth because of the position I held with this company. If I brought someone in, he or she would meet with the principal of the firm, and I certainly didn’t want to waste any of her valuable time. I vividly remember loving one candidate for this position in particular on paper and during the phone interview—at least until I asked if she had any questions. Her question? “So, what do you alls do over there?” No, that isn’t a typo.

    I remember feeling so frustrated that I had just spent 45 minutes of time on this candidate—not to mention the time sifting through all the applications—that I could have been billing to clients. There had to be a better way.

    I think I knew then I would found Come Recommended, although I didn’t have the name picked out or all the details firmly outlined. That moment came much later—after interviewing countless candidates and hundreds of young professionals and hiring managers in my role as the entry-level careers columnist for Even though I recognize there will never be a “perfect” solution or a “one-stop shop” for candidates and employers, Come Recommended is certainly a step in the right direction.

    Many experts now claim traditional online job boards are dead. They have become behemoths, bogged down by fake or misleading job ads and résumés of unqualified candidates. And although I encourage candidates not to leave combing the job boards out of their search plan, that action alone simply isn’t enough anymore.

    The way hiring managers seek out and employ individuals is changing—rapidly. With the slumping economy, they are experiencing cuts in their staffs, resources and overall budgets. Now, networking, referrals and references reign supreme. And on the flip side, it is taking candidates longer and longer to find internships and entry-level jobs, again because of the economy. But, the problem is, even when the economy recovers—and it will, with time—the days of only posting your position on a traditional online job board or blasting out your résumé to potential employers is over. Both sides deserve more.

    Registration on Come Recommended is straightforward and free. Simply visit and click “Create Account.”

    Thanks, Heather!

    What To Do After Your Internship is Over (Keeping Up Momentum)

    This is for those of you who've just completed an internship--or other gig you enjoyed. Find yourself wondering: "What's next?" or "What am I going to do next in a rotten job market?" Train

    Take a deep breath: Here are five strategies to make your last experience work for you even if it's over. 

    1. Be vocal about your interests for future additional work together--if it is a possibility. If a short term position was a worthwhile experience for you and you areinterested in working for the organization in a full-time capacity, let your supervisor know. Internships can be a major pipeline for full-time hires--even in a down market: in 2008, 36% of all employment offers reported to the National Association of Colleges and Employers were made by companies to former interns.

    2. Ask for a written recommendation that you can keep--or better yet--store in a credentials file at your institution so that it can be sent out on your behalf in the future. (Remember that employee transition is relatively common: your supervisor may decide to move on from the company--and you don't want to lose a record of what you've done).

    LinkedIn recommendations are also cool.
    (If you had an exceptionally good experience, offer to be an "ambassador" for your organization on campus or in speaking with other students. This can keep you "top of mind" for the organization.)

    3.  Update your resume and ask your supervisor to help you in describing what you've done. Your supervisor should be able to help you articulate the impact of the concrete tasks you've performed: What was the significance of your work on the organization as a whole?

    During my college years, I experienced this first-hand after an internship at a Fortune 500 company that specialized in paper manufacturing. One of my major responsibilities was to edit the corporate phone book. This involved calling company employees all over the world (but mainly in the U.S.) to verify their phone numbers. It wasn't the most exciting project ever, but when it came time to write it up, my supervisor changed my resume description of "verified numbers for company phone book" to "One of two employees responsible for accuracy of information in corporate telecommunications directory for multi-national corporation." Which sounds more impressive to you?

    4. Stay in touch. One great way to do this is to follow-up with your previous employer with periodic updates on what you are studying and your interests, as well as by providing information that is of interest to them. For example, if you find an article online or stumble across an item you feel would be of potential interest, forward the URL and let them know that you are thinking of them.

    5. Even if the experience was a "dead-end" in terms of potential for future opportunity, reflect on what you've learned: how did the internship help you refine your career goals of what you do and do not want to do? (I once had an internship of one day--I volunteered for a handgun control organization and discovered my job was to read through magazines and maintain a database of gun types. I decided quickly--not for me!)

    Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to helping your short-term opportunity "have legs" that will help you progress more rapidly as you start the next phase of your career.

    To your success,


    Are you LinkedIn? (And a Special Grad Guide)

    The last time I checked, 50-somethings were the fastest growing demographic on Facebook. We all know which generation adopted Facebook first.Linkedin

    Millennials love to poke fun at Baby Boomers for being late to the game. But the truth of the matter is that many college students and other "Gen Y'ers" have been late to dance on adapting LinkedIn. And in professional circles, LinkedIn is often considered to be the premier site for business networking, job leads, and information sharing. There are many good reasons for this: where else can you find a question & answer forum, a searchable database of companies and people, and identify your relationships within three degrees?

    As of September 2008, the median LinkedIn user was 41 with an household income of $109K. Not bad.

    Since that time, LinkedIn has grown exponentially--and they've also made a great strategic decision: they hired my friend Lindsey Pollak, author of College to Career, to partner with them in growing their presence on campus.

    I sat in on a webinar Lindsey ran for Career Services professionals last week, and got the latest stats on LinkedIn: The site now has approximately 45 million members, and is adding another million users every two weeks or so. Each second, a new member joins LinkedIn.

    Are you LinkedIn? If not, consider it. And if you're a recent graduate, take a look at LinkedIn's 2009 grad guide, and see their special "networking offer."

    It's Hurricane Season: How to Prep Your Career


    "Sun shines on Biloxi,
    Air is filled with vapors from the sea
    Boy will dig a pool beside the the ocean
    He sees creatures from his dream underwater
    And the sun will set from off towards New Orleans."

      - Jimmy Buffett, "Biloxi"
    Lyrics by Jesse Winchester

    I've always equated summer with fun at the beach: water sports, barbecues, body surfing and sand dollars. I still do, but after spending two weeks in Biloxi post Hurricane Katrina, I've also learned to keep a close eye on the weather channel... After witnessing what a storm can do first hand (see bridge after storm surge on right), I will never forget that hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30.

    Before I went to Biloxi, the idea of hurricane preparation generated a to-do list "as seen on tv":

    1. Buy plywood and board up windows.
    2. Stock up on clean water and flashlights.
    3. Have an emergency contact plan to meet your family.
    4. Evacuate.

    My time in Biloxi taught me that this list was not enough. I went to the Gulf Coast two months post-Katrina, and I partnered with a group of students (at the time I worked at Dartmouth College), colleagues and other volunteers to create a temporary "job search" assistance center at a community relief facility. We advertised our programs on the radio, called over 200 people, and put up flyers everywhere--but we had very few takers.

    We discovered that a majority of hurricane survivors had concerns that dwarfed their employment needs: housing, insurance claims, and a looming question of whether to rebuild or relocate. In a city where volunteers were putting up handmade street signs to "retag" neighborhoods two months after the storm, job recovery also took time.

    Hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed by the storm. I'll never forget seeing the wreckage of Biloxi's casinos in particular: Many of them were built on barges that traveled over the street lights of Highway 90 and deposited on the other side of the Gulf Coast highway. They weren't let down gently.

    Many businesses closed for months, others have never reopened. Some reopened in different locations, but not all employees chose to relocate. Bottom line: A hurricane can wreak havoc on your work life, even if your housing remains stable and intact.

    So with that in mind, here is my annual "how to prepare your career for a hurricane" post.

  • Maintain contact with others through an e-mail address/phone number that is portable. Store electronic lists of contacts in e-mail accounts that have regular back-up. (E-mail accounts from local internet providers may not be as accessible as those provided by Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc.)
  • Store copies of your resume and other important documents electronically (Google Documents and Microsoft Office Live Workspace are two options), and
  • Ensure that you have enough identification to complete an I-9.
  • Evacuate with one clean set of "interview" clothes that fits you well, and will help you get through gatekeepers in any official lines.
  • Solid contact information for your references.(Phone number alone is not enough; bonus points for having recommendations and information on sites such as LinkedIn.)
  • Know your employer's back-up plan, and have cell phone numbers for company "emergency line" and at least three colleagues.
  • Fortunately, it's a rare summer storm that results in loss of contact with employers or employment altogether. But, just because it's rare doesn't mean that it won't happen to you. If you feel that there is only a remote possibility that you or someone you know will be personally affected by a hurricane--think again. 

    By taking these simple steps, you can make a jump start on "hurricane proofing your career." Are there any additional strategies you recommend?

    If yes, share!

    To Your Success,

    P.S. If you'd like to volunteer with recovery efforts, I highly recommend Hands On Disaster Response


    How to Navigate a Career Fair

    After attending several career fairs in Manhattan with only 14 employers, I'm starting to see small signs of a turn-around: longer (if not "2006 long") lists of employers attending career fairs. Nice. With that, and the impending arrival of fall career fairs come September, here are my suggestions for navigating a career fair.

    1. Take it seriously. Unless you are a visual art major and it's a "casual career fair," dress well--no 479608_shaking_hands jeans, tight clothes or white sneakers. Think: Summer's over, even if it's still warm outside. Ties, jackets, dress pants, dark shoes and socks for men. Shirts that don't show the navel and skirts or pants that don't defy gravity for women. Err on the side of conservatism. "She wore WHAT?" is always a perennial discussion among recruiters.

    (Also, breath mints are always in vogue. Chewing gum at the fair or smoking outside--bad idea.)

    2. Bring copies of your resume, but don't be disappointed if the employer prefers not to take it. Companies have rules and internal procedures regarding applicants. Occasionally, these rules will dictate that they can't take resumes. (Did you know some employers are legally required to preseve any comments they write on your resume at a career fair?")

    Most employers will require you to apply for positions online to be considered as an official applicant. So don't be turned off by the line, "To apply for a position, go to our website.

    3. Know who you want to talk to in advance, and have something interesting to say. Chances are good that you've heard a lot about the elevator pitch, and for good reason: You'll have under 30 seconds to introduce yourself to employers.

    Here's a cheat sheet to know what to say: Every good introductions should include two pieces of information:

    • A summary of who you are and what you are looking for, and
    • An ice breaker that shows you are familiar with the organization's project and services--and culture. (I often recommend searching Google News by organization name, reviewing websites, and reviewing employer profiles such as Hoover's, Vault, and WetFeet.) Many job seekers don't do this, and taking the time to read in advance can help you stand out.

    Not sure what you want to say? Check out, and the site's pitch wizard. It will help you condense and revise your "stump speech."

    4. Don't be afraid to spend time with the "lonely employer." Job fairs can feel like popularity contests with lots of candidates in one line, and other booths that are almost empty. Stop by and say hello to the quiet tables, too. You may be surprised at what they have to offer, and it can be a great time to get one-on-one advice from the employer's perspective.

    5. Get to know other job seekers at the event--especially when you are in line. Your next lead could come from the person standing in front of you or behind you in line. Making friends with others interested in the same company may seem self-defeating, but it isn't--especially given that you may have different interests, skills, and experience in terms of job function. Remember the common job search rule of thumb that over 60% of job offers are the direct result of networking!

    6. When you talk to employers, keep your conversation focused and brief. Introduce yourself with a small handshake. Job fairs often feature long lines of candidates, and can be daunting to employers. Keep your ears open as candidates before you talk to employers, and consider introducing the employer to the candidate behind you in line if the discussion veers along a path of mutual interest. You demonstrate you are a team player when you introduce your "competition" with ease and present their interests, "This is Ben and he's also interested in brand management." When you demonstrate a high level of cooperation and courtesy, you can make an employer more willing to share their own business card--which, in turn, gives you a great vehicle to follow-up after the event.
    7. Come early or stay late--and help employers or event organizers out if they are interested. Career fairs can be an exhausting endeavor for employers and fair exhibitors: Volunteering to help someone out can be a very smart way to get your foot in the door later--and to stay top of the employer's mind later.

    This is my career fair "short list." What is yours?

    Making the Most of a Social Media Resume

    Recently, a CBS piece on innovative job hunting strategies caught my eye. I asked one of the segment's featured participants, Robert "Bobby" Hoppey, to share tips with us. A native of Setauket, NY, Bobby is a recent graduate of Elon University  in North Carolina. He is seeking full-time work in New York (leads are welcome). Here is his story--and his suggestions for how you can create your own social Bobby_hoppey resume.

    I am one of the country’s many job hunting 22-year-olds and my background to date lies largely in public relations and social media.  I am an open book when approaching career prospects, but I ultimately want to do work that is creative, relevant and (with any luck) located in my favorite city in the world--Manhattan.

    It recently occurred to me that the concept of a resume is deceptively simple. Don’t get me wrong: It is an essential document to market oneself and will never go out of style.
    However, when looking over bullet points summarizing some of the accomplishments I am most passionate about, I felt there was a certain spark missing. 

    I wanted to provide prospective employers with a window into who I am, as well as capture the elusive “way to stand out” in today’s undeniably competitive market. Like most of my peers, I am well versed in Facebook. I also worked as a social media communications intern for General Motors. So, making greater use of social media seemed a logical next step for my job search. I chose to create a social media resume on

    The Visual CV site serves as a colorful and interactive supplement to my traditional materials.  Created fairly recently, my page has already opened doors for informational interviews with established professionals and was featured on a national segment for CBS Evening News.  This summer, I am on a 4,000 mile cross country cycling trip to raise money and awareness to help individuals with disabilities. I'm keeping a blog to document my trip, and am maintaining networking leads through my use of social media in preparation for my full-time job search. 

    If you are a social media resume rookie, and would like to supplement your own job search with a Visual CV or other resume, here is some advice:

    • Think buffet style. When crafting a social media, don’t hold back in terms of diverse content.  If you have created multimedia assets in your professional or educational endeavors, show them off!  My VisualCV page includes videos, a podcast, writing samples, screenshots, a PowerPoint presentation and web site links that are easily aggregated together.  If you don’t have similar resources under your belt, or would prefer a more simple approach, you might consider alternative ways to make things pop and encourage a viewer to learn more--graphs, photos, etc.    
    • Don’t take yourself too seriously. This is not to suggest a radical breakaway from professionalism, but rather a chance to have some fun and provide a broader look at who you are.  On my page, I have included a comedic (yet tasteful) YouTube video I created for a presentation, as well as photos of me "cheesing it up" at some of the places I have traveled abroad.  By including possible items as simple as a filmed introduction to the page or photos of you engaging in your favorite hobbies, you are presenting a well-rounded depiction of yourself and can stick out in the applicant pool. (As I see it, it is easier for people to relate to you when you've shared information about yourself.)
    • Shout from the rooftops. Once you have created a page to be proud of, don’t allow it to linger in "cyber" obscurity!  While your competitive side might be hesitant to let your personal network in on the still-emerging social media resume trend, these people may ultimately be the best place to start.  I opted to announce the creation of my page (and request feedback) on both Facebook and Twitter, while also incorporating it into my email signature and “link” section of online spaces such as LinkedIn.  By choosing to throw myself out there, I was able to establish relationships with new job search advocates and even receive news coverage.  There is no telling where your page could lead!
    • Make it a committed relationship. Once you have made the rounds with your eclectic, exciting page, there is no reason to let it fall to the wayside.  Whenever you have a new accomplishment or professional undertaking that enhances your credibility, pass ‘Go’ and report directly to your social media resume.  By consistently keeping your page fresh, you are maintaining an accurate living document online and advancing your personal marketability at the same time.

    Hats off to Bobby for sharing his advice! If you have any additional suggestions or leads, please share 'em!

    Kelly Giles: How I Tweeted My Way to a Full-time Job

    The following is a guest blog post from Kelly Giles (@kellygiles), a recent college grad who I met via Twitter. I’ve been following Kelly’s job search since early this winter, and quickly identified her as a “walking example” of how you can conduct a job search while you are still in college even if you are still figuring out what you want. Here is her story:Me

    I'm one of those Web 2.0 success stories you keep hearing about. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill on May 10, and I started working full-time as a social media strategist for on May 26.

    I tweet, blog and Facebook about job search strategies and help people make the most of Optimal Resume's software.

    I’d be lucky to have this job in any economy, but especially in this one. It matches my interests and skills, the company and environment are great, and I'm able to contribute and learn a lot.

    So where did the Web 2.0 come in (aside from the job title)? Here’s a hint: even though Optimal Resume is based in Durham, NC (where I’ve lived for the past two years), my connection to the company started in Maine.

    Here's how I landed the job.

    Sherry Mason, a career counselor at Bowdoin College, introduced me to @OptimalResume on Twitter, which was really Optimal Resume’s COO. From there, we exchanged Twitter messages and set up a meeting. Within a week, I had a job.

    Now here’s the back-story of how I met Sherry and why she introduced me to Optimal Resume. (You could also see this as "best practices for using Twitter in your job search learned along the way...")

    Be clear about your interests and skills in your bio.

    When I joined Twitter in January, I was debating between going to law school and venturing into the real world, and my bio said so. It also said I was looking for a way to be strategic, creative and efficient.

    Find people to follow.

    Your job search probably won't work if you don't increase your network. You can use to find people in your industry, and to find people near your desired geographic location. Once you've found people tweeting about things that interest you, reach out and connect with them.

    Be genuine in sharing your thoughts, interests, and goals. It will expand your community.

    For a job seeker, it's important to strike a balance between providing value to your followers and demonstrating that you're up on industry news (most often done with links to articles) and showing that you're a real human. To do that, sprinkle your tweets with personal commentary.

    I started tweeting what was on my mind, which included everything from law school essay topics to job-search strategies to how I thought UNC’s Career Services could improve.

    That’s how Sherry at Bowdoin found me. One day I tweeted that I thought Career Services should teach personal branding, and she messaged me to ask what else I thought they should do.

    Share what you learn, and ask for input and advice.

    A few days after I joined Twitter, I started blogging about Web 2.0 job-search strategies for college students (thinking I should put all the research I was doing to good use), and I asked Sherry for her input about content.

    As luck would have it, she not only helped with that, but as a former practicing lawyer, she talked with me about my law school decision. She’s one of the people who helped me decide it wasn’t for me.

    Continue to engage your network.

    Once that decision (not to attend law school) was made, I kept tweeting about articles that interested me, and that were relevant to my job search. Sherry and I also kept in touch, tweeting and e-mailing occasionally, and one of those tweets was the introduction that landed me this job.

    My story is a lesson in how it pays to be authentic and active in your social media use. Yes, I joined Twitter and started blogging because all the job-search articles said those were two keys to jump-starting a job search, but I didn’t blog and tweet what I thought employers wanted to hear, or just advertise that I needed a job.

    I also didn’t talk about how I was procrastinating on term papers or eating a ham and turkey sandwich.

    I stayed “on brand,” while talking about things that interested me, things that were naturally on my mind, and I found a job (or a job found me, depending on which way you look at it) that matches.

    Thanks, Kelly! Do you have any additional "optimal" tips for the Web 2.0 job search?

    Why You Should Open Your Wallet in June

    This post isn't about Uncle Sam.  It isn't about taxes or the Fourth of July. It isn't about your resume. It is about your school, and my friends Amy, Catherine, Annie, Bill, Beth, and a host of former colleagues. All of these friends and colleagues share something in common: high stress in June. You see, they raise money to support the institutions they work for, and June 30 represents the end of the fiscal year for fundraising.

    There are some grumblings that are universal no matter where you went to school. One of these is the request--generally made in your senior year or shortly after graduation--to give money to your school. The response: "I've paid tens of thousands of dollars for my education, why should they expect me to give more? No way." This is often followed by a shrugging of the shoulders, and another statement "After all, I have loans to pay." Uncle_sam_pointing_finger

    I'm writing to suggest something wildly unpopular. Essentially, I ask you to open your wallet today, and send money back to your school. Here are a few reasons why it's important:

    1. Many schools have less money this year to cover basic costs, including the cost of tuition.

      A majority of schools use supplemental financial support in order to cover the full cost of student tuition. While you may think your tuition bills were high, they could be higher. Many programs and operating expenses for schools are often paid through the interest earned on a campus's overall endowment. In a down market, the stock market also drags down endowments.  Many institutions have lost millions this year--even before alums started writing smaller checks or no checks at all.

    2. When schools have less money, they may trim class offerings, reduce services, and do less maintenance on campus. All of these things can affect the health of the institution--as well as overall rankings.

      Imagine that you are enrolled in a Master's degree program. You have completed half of your courses, and then the program is eliminated. At some schools, this is a reality.

    3. A key measure of institutional success is the alumni participation in annual giving campaigns. When you give, you are supporting your alma mater and recognizing the role that they played in your education. That participation rate says to the world, "Our alumni are proud of the education they have received. They are successful. We produce good outcomes." Which, in turn, helps the institution maintain it's reputation--and helps you.

      If the institution has gotten more selective since you graduated--it helps you look smart. If the quality of the programs and overall reputation have decreased, your school may not look as good.

    Naturally, my friends would encourage me to advocate for giving as much money to the institution as you can afford. After all, it's been a down year, donations are down virtually everywhere and the economy has affected more than most of us would have imagined a year ago.

    That being said, it's your personal decision to decide how much to give. Even a $5 donation will enable your institution to count you in the participation rate. And as one annual giving officer said to me sometime ago, "Yes, it's important for me to make the annual giving goal set by the school, but the participation rate is more meaningful to me."

    If your employment status is less than ideal or if you are currently not working, here's a suggestion: Consider a small donation to the annual fund--and include a note that says that you are unable to give more due to your circumstances. Update your school on your job search. Let them know what you are looking for, and ask them how you can connect with other alums who may be able to help you in your search.  Career Services is a natural place to start, but annual giving staff regularly talk to donors in many different fields--including those who have had highly successful careers. You may find that giving helps you land your next job--especially since alumni of the same school are often pre-disposed to help one another.