Walden Student and Recruiter Shares Her Secrets On Navigating a Challenging Job Market

Recently, a new business administration student named Iris Edmond reached out to connect with Career Services via LinkedIn.  In reviewing her profile, I noticed Iris had an extensive background in recruiting, so I asked her if she’d be willing to share her job search tips with our students and alumni for our blog.  She kindly agreed.

I mentioned that our students often wonder why they don’t receive responses to job applications they submit.  Iris stated that recruiting on the agency side is a metrics-driven activity.  Recruiters are trying to collect as many resumes and potential candidates as possible.  However, that said, the top way to get a job is still referrals and networking.  In her opinion, 60% of hires come from referrals, as it’s too easy for resumes to fall into a “black hole.”  Iris is a big LinkedIn user and fan – as she said, “Troll the groups.”

Iris also gave valuable advice for working with staffing agencies.  She said their goal is “fill and bill” – if they can bill you out, they’ll take on trying to place you.  For the best chance at success, build relationships with staffing agency recruiters.  Don’t stop at submitting an online resume – instead, follow up with a phone call to verify they received your resume.  If you’re lucky, they’ll sift through their resumes and talk over your qualifications with you – and perhaps you’ll be called in for an interview.  Be friendly and build rapport and a positive relationship with them.  Keep calling to check in with them – persistence pays off.   

Iris has used some very creative strategies in building her own network.  When offered a gift card by a hospital to make up for poor customer service she received, she stated, “I’m currently looking for a job, so if you could put me in touch with your head of HR, I’d much prefer that over the gift card.”  Her “outside the box” approach landed her an excellent informational interview with the head of HR who said he would keep her in mind for available openings.

Finally, Iris advised job hunters to talk to everyone – store clerks, vendors, service folks, etc. – tell them you’re looking for work and ask how they got hired.  Once again, it’s not just what you know, but who you know. 

Thanks so much to Iris for sharing her tips with us and we wish her the best of luck in her new academic pursuits at Walden!

Written by Lisa Cook, Director of Career Services  

Wearing Many Hats: Job Search Tips from a Walden PhD Student, Recruiter and Outplacement Coach

Sue Way is a Walden doctoral student in Industrial/Organizational Psychology – I connected with Sue through the Walden University LinkedIn group and met an energetic individual who wears many hats!  She works for a large outplacement firm as a career consultant, has her own private coaching practice called enCompassLifeCoaching, has an IT recruiting background, and in her spare time, pursues a Black Belt in Karate.  I asked Sue if she would share her tips for navigating today’s challenging job market for our blog – and here they are…

Sue advises that a job search should begin with a self-assessment of your strengths to effectively market your qualifications to potential employers.  Sue likes StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, a book which offers an online assessment to rank order your top 5 strengths.  This assessment was instrumental in Sue’s decision to pursue her degree at Walden.  Sue is a “maximizer” –  someone fascinated by individuals’ strengths – so organizational psychology is a natural fit for her. 

Once you know your strengths, you’re ready to put together your tools to showcase your accomplishments – your resume and your 30-second elevator speech.  Your resume needs to get the reader’s attention in a mere 10 seconds – Sue favors a chronological resume to make it easier on the recruiter to screen for your key qualifications.  Focus on your accomplishments/results in your resume rather than the specific duties of your previous jobs.  Sue advises that employers are most interested in how you use your strengths to accomplish 4 key results: making money, saving money, reducing risk and improving quality. 

In starting your job search, treat it as project management.  Random job searches no longer work in today’s competitive market.  Target the companies and positions that are best for you – do your research to determine the right fit.  Know your deliverables – your strengths, your marketing tools, and your end results.  Meanwhile, map out what you need to do each week – how many contacts to make, how many follow up calls to do, how many informational interviews to conduct, etc. 

Always remember to take care of yourself well during a job search – eat and sleep well, exercise, do whatever gives you energy to stay motivated.  If you lack the necessary qualifications for your job targets, volunteer for a non-profit to close the gaps. Remember to network with a complete LinkedIn profile as well as face-to-face networking through professional association meetings and informational interviews. 

In summary, by focusing on effectively communicating your strengths and results, developing key marketing materials and strategies, proactively networking, and managing your search like a project, you’ll maximize your efforts and come out on top!

The Career Services Center is happy to assist you in your job search efforts so please take advantage of our individual advising services.  If you would like to connect with Sue Way, she may be reached via the Walden University LinkedIn group.  We thank Sue for sharing excellent advice and wish her the best of luck in her career pursuits and finishing her doctoral program!

Written by Lisa Cook, Career Services Director   

A Walden Career Services Center Success Story

Last week, the annual Minnesota Career Development Association was held in Minneapolis.  Our Career Services Center staff attended and two of our Career Services Advisors, Nicolle Skalski and Dina Bergren, presented a breakout session on the topic of: “Post-Job Loss Reinvention for Mid-Career Professionals.”  They thoroughly researched their topic, including labor statistics and practical strategies to assist individuals experiencing long-term job loss.  Their presentation was well-received – one participant encouraged them to take their presentation to the national conference and another stated it was the “best breakout session” she had attended at the Conference.

We often encourage Walden students and alumni to build their professional reputation or brand outside their immediate workplace through professional associations, volunteer work, networking, building their online presence, and other activities.  I think it’s important to convey that “we practice what we preach.”  Our staff is very involved in our professional association through our various roles and presentations.   We deliver evening workshops in the community for unemployed jobseekers under the Walden Service Network.  We’re always reading and learning something new about our field, whether it’s tracking a relevant LinkedIn group, reading a new book for this blog, or developing a new workshop or webinar.  We enjoy what we do and it’s reflected in our efforts at continuous professional development.   

Though not a student success story, I wanted to post this to let you know we “walk our talk.”  Whether or not one is in job search mode, it’s important that we all continue to proactively manage our careers, especially in these challenging economic times.  Are you tracking your work accomplishments in a journal at home?  Are you on LinkedIn and joining relevant groups and list-servs to track your field’s hot topics?  If you want to brainstorm career enhancement ideas, we hope you’ll schedule an appointment with us.

Hope your spring season is off to a great start!

Lisa Cook, Career Services Director    


Walden MPA Alumnus Enjoys Online Teaching

Enid is a Walden University graduate with a master’s degree in Public Administration.  She recently contacted Career Services to thank us for help with her resume as it helped her land an online teaching position teaching undergraduate students about cultural diversity.

Enid stated that she had applied for a position with the same university before and had not had any luck.  Then she contacted Career Services and we broadened her experience to focus more on her area of expertise – developing and delivering cultural diversity training to adults, rather than her specific audience, which was police officers.  Her newly revised resume, which highlighted her subject matter expertise and transferable skills in training adults, gained her an interview and she was hired to teach online.   She stated that her online degree from Walden also was important as she knew the needs and concerns of online learners.

Enid is busy managing a “patchwork quilt career” now.  She wears three hats – as a Staff Analyst for her city’s police department delivering EEO training, as an online instructor teaching undergraduate students in cultural diversity, and as an Avon representative.  She loves teaching and is pleased that earning her MPA degree from Walden gained her a promotion encompassing greater responsibility with the police department.   She is also developing her professional network through maintaining membership in the Walden University LinkedIn group and joining the National Association for Professional Women.

We thank Enid for getting back in touch with us to share her success story with the goal of inspiring other students interested in online teaching.  We wish her the best of luck!

Lisa Cook, Director of Career Services

Success Story: Transitioning Into a Career in Higher Education

Crystal was a Nursing Home Administrator before she was laid off from her position in 2009.  She earned her MBA in Healthcare Administration and worked for over 10 years in her field.   Losing her job propelled her to make a major career transition into Psychology and pursue a new career in higher ed teaching.  She currently teaches at a local community college and a state university.

Crystal enrolled in PhD in Psychology- Educational Psychology at Walden after speaking with an academic advisor who inspired her to pursue a PhD.  She obtained a position at a residential treatment center for males to gain hands-on experience in her new field.  During PhD residencies, she attended networking and career management skills sessions, and was inspired by a residency presentation on how to teach for a college. 

After gaining effective networking and job search skills, Crystal contacted a local community college and introduced herself to the Dean of Psychology and Dean of Academic Affairs.  Crystal believes that her program at Walden has opened doors for her.  She impressed them with her knowledge of Psychology, work experience, and enthusiasm, and was hired to teach her first Psychology course.  Additionally, she may obtain a full-time position in the Distance Education Department. 

Crystal continued to network with co-workers, former professors, and others in her community.  She informed everyone that she was looking to teach Psychology.  She gained insider information from a former co-worker who told her that a local university needed an instructor to teach a Monday evening course and she was hired to teach Developmental Psychology. 

Crystal continues to network with current and former classmates and professors.  Recently, she saw one of her former professors at a library and asked him who she can talk to about adjunct positions at her alma mater.   This opportunity is currently pending.  We expect Crystal to have many more successes in years to come!

Written by Career Services Advisor Dina Bergren

If you have a success story to share, please email us at: careerservices@waldenu.edu

International Networking and Marketing: A Recipe for Success

Anita’s dream is to someday teach and live in London, England.  As an AMDS student living in California, Anita sought assistance from Career Services to help her advance in meeting her goal.  We improved her curriculum vitae (CV) and researched London business schools.  At the same time, Anita continued to build her face-to-face and virtual networking connections using LinkedIn and Facebook.  Recently we received an update from Anita:  she was asked to present at a National Women’s History Month conference in London on the topic of Financial Security for Women!

Career Services helped Anita by improving her marketing materials and researching organizations and universities abroad.  We reorganized her CV, highlighted relevant teaching experience, and discussed international CVs.  Subsequently, Anita was well equipped to apply for national and international opportunities. 

How was Anita able to present at a conference in London?  She connected with a member of the professional networking site, LinkedIn.  They connected through common, professional interests and communicated almost daily.  Through several different networking contacts, Anita was connected with a marketing director at a private organization in London.  The marketing director reviewed Anita’s newly revamped CV and forwarded it to Human Resources.  In this way, Anita was able to connect with recruiters in London without ever meeting any of the individuals who helped her get there.  Not only did Anita gain the opportunity to travel to London to present at the conference, but one of her networking contacts in London is now planning to deliver a workshop with her in the U.S.

Networking connections can lead to new opportunities and collaborations.  With increasing numbers of people connecting through professional networking sites, professional relationships are not limited by geographic borders.   A combination of strong marketing materials and diverse connections is a recipe for career success!

Written by Career Services Advisor Dina Bergren

If you have a success story to share, please email it to us at: careerservices@waldenu.edu.

Enhancing Qualifications Through Virtual Volunteering

Janice has a strong passion for and commitment to youth in her community.  For more than10 years she has made a difference in the lives of children through coaching, one-on-one behavioral training, and leading parent support groups.  In 2009, Janice moved from California to Tennessee and enrolled full time in Walden’s PhD in Psychology program to help her further promote social change.  She met with Career Services to discuss her long-term career goal of making a greater impact in the lives of troubled youth. 

When Janice contacted Career Services, she wanted to focus her efforts on her education rather than seek full-time employment.  Nevertheless, we encouraged her to gain substantive experience by seeking out volunteer opportunities in alignment with her future career goals. Janice researched volunteer opportunities on www.volunteermatch.org  by doing an advanced search and selecting “virtual opportunities.”  Her efforts paid off.  She landed a virtual volunteer position where she designed a comprehensive Life Skills Guide for other life skills coaches at a non-profit organization. 

Janice applied her knowledge of effective group facilitation to develop materials for other behavior specialists to use with their clients.  This project gave her train-the-trainer experience and advanced her expertise to the next level; she plans to develop additional life skills resources and market them to organizations.

Janice demonstrated that volunteering can be a great way to build one’s resume, acquire new skills, and develop expertise in a particular area.  She plans to continue her volunteer efforts and combine them with paid work in the future, all while fostering her social change mission.

Written by Career Services Advisor Dina Bergren

If you have a success story to share with us, please email careerservices@waldenu.edu.