Career Center Wins National Award

We are officially an “Exemplary Career Center”!

We are proud to announce that the EBRPL Career Center was awarded the “Exemplary Career Center” award at the National Career Development Association’s 2019 National Conference in Houston this summer.

The Career Center was nominated by career counseling colleagues from LSU and BRCC and endorsed by a number of former clients who added their testimonials to the nomination. A big thank you to our nominators and supporters.

We were recognized for the large variety of services which our program offers, including one-on-one services (such as career counseling or mock interview), groups (such as job club), a broad seminar program, and our community outreach. Last but not least, the quality of our work was deemed outstanding, as evidenced by our numerous testimonials.

If you want to learn more about what the Career Center offers, please read our FAQs. If you are interested in taking advantage of any of our services, give us a call at 225-231-3733.

Written by Anne Nowak

Freshman Year for Free™

Do you want to get the equivalent of a year of college for free?

This might just be possible through the relatively new and innovative non-profit organization Modern States Education Alliance. Modern States is not a college and does not grant college credit directly. Instead they are taking advantage of the college credit by exam system, such as Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP). https://modernstates.org/freshman-year-free/

how it works

Modern States partnered with top universities and created online courses that prepare students for the AP and CLEP exams. The online courses claim to teach in a few weeks what the same college courses would take one or two semesters to achieve. These online classes are basically test prep courses. However, it is entirely free to register and take them. After completing a class it is then up to the student to register for and take the respective AP or CLEP exam on their own. Through a voucher system Modern States will reimburse the exam fees. This way it is possible to take a year’s worth of college credit entirely for free. Take a look https://modernstates.org/about-us/who-we-are/

a word of caution

Modern States is open about not every college accepting AP and CLEP credits. They include a feature on the website where you can check which university accepts those credits, and, in the case of AP, what the minimum acceptable score is. https://modernstates.org/affiliated-universities/universities/  In any case it is recommended that you check with your college of choice directly also. While some colleges do accept CLEP and AP, they might be limiting the number of credits they are willing to honor. Or they might accept AP/CLEP for Biology but not for Calculus for example. The website will not go into such detail for each institution.

advantages

Regardless of the above concerns, this is a legitimate way for many students to start working towards a college degree. It can be useful to current high school students or recent grads, as well as adults who are looking to start college for the first time or continue their previously interrupted studies. Current college students who wish to get through their degree faster than the normal four years could benefit from this initiative as well.

If you are unsure where your college or career path will take you, the Career Center can help. You can call us at 225-231-3733 or visit in person at 7711 Goodwood Blvd. We also have a number of CLEP study guides available for checkout.

Written by Anne Nowak

Tech Talk: Learning Express Job and Career Accelerator

The East Baton Rouge Parish Library recently acquired a new resource to assist jobseekers: the Job and Career Accelerator service of the Learning Express database.

How to Access It:

The Learning Express database is free to anyone with an East Baton Rouge Parish Library card. Go to the library website, then click on The Digital Library. Choose to search the “A-Z List”, then find “Learning Express 3.0” which takes you to the Learning Express database. Now click on “Job and Career Accelerator”.

How it’s organized:

There are six sections to this resource.

Find a Career Match: These assessments can be a good career planning tool for people who don’t know where to start. The Interest Matcher asks you about how much – or how little – you are interested in doing certain types of tasks.  The Skills Assessment is similar, except it asks about what skills you already have.  Each assessment will, based on your answers, provide you with a list of professions and types of work which match your interests or skills.

Explore Occupations: This tool provides detailed information about 1000 different careers.  There are several different options for how to search and narrow down results. For each job title, the database gives information on job description, average salary, projected demand, education needed, skills preferred, and more.

Search for Jobs and Internships: This takes you directly to job postings and internship opportunities on Indeed.

Tools to Get Hired: This section provides samples of job search-related documents, including resumes, cover letters, networking letters, and post-interview thank-you notes. There is also a how-to-interview tutorial and a resume-building tool.

Career Library: This section has in-depth guides on how to start a career in several common fields, including healthcare, teaching, paralegal, police, and culinary arts. There are also specialized guides for how to change careers and how to use social networking in the job search.

School and Scholarship Finder: The Scholarship Finder helps you search among 24,000 different scholarships to find scholarships for which you might qualify. The School Finder helps you locate a school that meets your educational goals and needs. It includes a Quick Match tool that helps you find schools that might be a good match for you.

What do we like most about this resource?

One-stop shop: This database brings together a lot of resources for different aspects of job searching and career planning under one roof. You can take an assessment, choose a career, write a resume, apply for jobs, and find a school, all under one roof. That can be very convenient.

Good information: There are lots of tools here to help you become a savvy jobseeker. For instance, the sample letters in the Tools to Get Hired section are helpful examples. And the guides in the Career Library are extremely informative, if there is a guide for your chosen career.

Resume Keywords: This was our absolute favorite part of the database. The Resume Builder contains a list of Job-Specific Keywords which you can use to plug into your resume. For example, if you look for “Accountant”, a long list of keywords and skills related to accounting and finance will come up. You can then choose some of those keywords to fill out the “Skills” section of your resume. This is a great way to make sure your resume bursts with the key skills that will grab a hiring manager’s attention.

What do we dislike most about this resource?

Derivative: This database has very little in it which is original. The job postings come from Indeed. The career information comes from ONET. And the general structure of the resources comes from Career Cruising, another career database which we’ve discussed extensively.

Resume Builder: We know, we seem to be contradicting ourselves. We said that we loved the Keywords section of the Resume Builder. And that’s true. But we found the rest of the Resume Builder inflexible and hard to use. It uses a one-size-fits-all formula for the resume template, making it difficult to tailor a resume to suit your specific skills and audience. We much prefer referring our patrons to our own resume templates, which are 100% customizable.

Written by Richard Wright and Lynnette Lee

New Career Center Books

One of the most difficult workplace skills to master is the skill of getting along well with people. Not to worry, though: the Career Center is here to help. Our newest crop of books from the Harvard Business Review features several guides focusing on people skills.

The Harvard Business Review is a paragon of helpful and accurate career advice. Each guide in this series is written by subject matter experts and crafted to give readers a step-by-step plan for achieving the goal at hand. Whether you need help with handling conflict, leading and managing groups, or general emotional intelligence, these books can be a great place to start.

HBR Guide to Emotional Intelligence
How well do you know your own emotional intelligence? This guide aims to teach you to determine your strengths and weaknesses, manage your emotional reactions, make smart decisions, and bounce back from difficulties.

HBR Guide to Delivering Effective Feedback
Do you want to ensure that you’re giving your employees the right kind of feedback – for both positive and negative performance? This guide aims to help supervisors fairly assess performance, motivate top achievers, handle defensive employees, and create individualized development plans.

HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict
What are your methods for handling workplace conflict? This guide aims to help employees identify causes of conflict, explore options for handling disagreements, manage emotions, and develop resolutions.

HBR Guide to Leading Teams
Could you use some help in getting your team to work together and achieve things quickly? This guide aims to help managers choose the right employees to build a cooperative team, set clear goals for employees and groups, hold people accountable for bad behavior, and keep the team focused and motivated.

HBR Guide to Coaching Employees
Would you like to mentor, inspire, and empower your employees? This guide aims to help supervisors create realistic growth plans, engage employees in development, teach employees to problem-solve, and give effective feedback.

All of these books are available for checkout from the East Baton Rouge Parish Library.

Written by Lynnette Lee

The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Searching, Part 7

This is the seventh post in a series of posts about the most common and damaging mistakes jobseekers make. Read the full series here.

7th deadly sin: not negotiating salary

You read our blog posts about the first six deadly sins of job searching  and pulled off a top notch search. You reap your reward and have an offer for a great job on the table. They offer you what seems like a fair compensation package. Now don’t commit the 7th deadly sin of job searching and accept the package without negotiating!

Why you should always try to negotiate

Higher salaries compound over your lifetime. Let’s look at a theoretical example: If you start working at 21 and retire at 65 at a starting salary of $20,000 and you receive 5% yearly raises, this makes for lifetime earnings of $3 million. If you had negotiated 6% yearly increases instead, your lifetime earnings would be $4 million. In this example, negotiating translated into a $1 million difference (you can find this example and others in Jim Hopkinson’s very good book Salary Tutor).

Surveys of hiring managers show that 84% of employers expect applicants to negotiate!

Some ground rules

Timing – Salary negotiation is the last step of the interviewing process. It should only take place at the very end of the hiring process when you have been offered the job! If a potential employer or their HR representative asks you for salary requirements early on in the interviewing process, they only want to see if your requirements broadly fit with theirs. This is not the time for negotiation.

Preparation – Never ever go into a salary negotiation unprepared! Lots of variables go into the compensation equation, so do your research.

  • First of all, you need to be aware of your own requirements. Establish: 1) the minimum you need and are willing to work for, 2) a realistic salary for the desired position, and 3) your “slam dunk” number.
  • Your numbers have to be grounded in good information: Employer variables are: level and seniority of the position, size of company (large companies often pay better than small), industry (an investment bank will pay its administrative assistant more than a hospital or university), location (a job in Louisiana will pay less than the same job in California) Your variables are: education, length and relevance of experience, special certifications or skills.
  • The following websites will help you in your research of realistic salary ranges: www.glassdoor.com, www.salary.com, www.payscale.com . As always, your best source of information is from a contact that already works for your desired employer.
Compensation is more than just salary

So, what if you scored your dream job offer, but the money is not what you would like it to be? You are negotiating, but the company is maxed out on salary and can’t go any higher than what it already offered you. In this case, it’s time to get creative. There are other benefits that can be negotiated. You could ask about any of the following if applicable: sign-on bonus, yearly bonus, performance and salary review after 6 months instead of 12, guaranteed minimum number of hours, health benefits, car allowance, tech allowance (phone, tablet, laptop), vacation days, tuition reimbursement, training, stock options, payment of professional association dues, paid conference participation and so on.

“My industry doesn’t negotiate compensation”

That’s unlikely. You can try to negotiate in any industry. We have seen clients successfully negotiate salary or other benefits with government employers and hourly retail positions, both not known for their flexibility or generosity. Of course, there is no guarantee for success, but you owe it to yourself to try.

Additional Resources

Salary negotiation is difficult and uncomfortable for most people but there are a lot of resources that can help. Some of our favorites are:

  • Stanford University professor Margaret Neale, her negotiating advice is great overall but especially for women who still face special hurdles in this arena. Look her up on Youtube.
  • Jim Hopkinson’s book Salary Tutor is excellent, especially in explaining negotiation techniques.
  • Last but not least, any book in the GetFive (formerly 5 o’clock club) series is good, including Kate Wendleton’s Mastering the Job Interview and Winning the Money Game.
  • Of course you can always schedule an appointment at the Career Center and we will help you one-on-one with your salary negotiation strategy. Call us at 225-231-3733.

Written by Anne Nowak