University of Phoenix provides all students and graduates with access to a wide range of career services including career coaching, resume and cover letter writing, brand development, interview skills and how to take charge of your career. Read on for a deep dive into some of the University’s most popular career-building services.
At University of Phoenix, you have access to academic advisors and counselors who are dedicated to helping you build a career unique to your goals. Our career guidance teams can also help you touch up your resume and. Private career advising can cost over $200 an hour, but at University of Phoenix, many of these services are built right into your degree program at no added cost for life.
It can be difficult to navigate your career, but at University of Phoenix, you don’t have to go it alone. Although the job market demands that you know how to write a powerful resume, build your online brand and interview like a pro, this can all be difficult if you are not familiar with best practices.
To help, our students and alumni have access to the PhoenixLinkTM Network which includes resume and cover letter templates. We also provide career exploration tools and rich content libraries with videos that can help you identify a career path that is right for you.
We provide several online tools for our students, but there are also people you can lean on. We also have career advisors who can help you explore different career options, learn how to transition to a new career, develop a job search, create your online brand and practice how to interview.
Built into every certificate and degree program is context-relevant instruction. We understand how valuable your time is, and we strive to provide our students with knowledge and access to training that can help develop skills applicable in the real world.
All of our programs are built around industry needs and trends, and our faculty members are all accomplished professionals with an average of 26 years of industry experience. We also offer over 100 programs that are aligned with over 300 occupations in a variety of industries and verticals, and we provide access to networking, training and support services to help you succeed at whatever you put your mind to doing.
Resumes and Cover Letters
What makes a great resume? Effective resume writing is all about understanding the employer’s needs and then proving that you have what they’re looking for. It’s not just your qualifications but also the words you use to describe why you’re uniquely qualified.
Most employers use applicant tracking software that searches for keywords to determine how well your resume matches a particular job description. Everything in your resume should convey that you understand what is important to a potential employer and why you are the best person to help them achieve their goals.
To do this, you must analyze the job listing for the core competencies the employer is looking for and then tailor your resume to those competencies. Study several job descriptions for the role or job type that interests you and identify the main responsibilities and skills that those jobs require. This is how you identify what employers want. Be sure to align your experience and training to the role or job that most interests you. Highlight achievements and accomplishments that speak to your strengths in the areas or skills the employer needs.
It is also important to choose a design and format that is easy to read because employers will likely sift through hundreds of applications per open position, and you want to stand out from the crowd. Here are just a few tips for putting together an effective resume:
With an easy-to-read resume that is tailored to a specific job posting, you can start strong to ensure the hiring manager knows you are serious, interested and qualified. If you don’t have as much real-world work experience, don’t worry. You can clearly define your skills and showcase what you learned in school if you don’t have a lot of work experience. Also, add any job-relevant credentials such as licenses or awards to show your qualifications and initiatives. Avoid common mistakes such as stretching the truth, using an unprofessional email address, or having grammar and spelling errors.
Whether you’re dusting off an old resume or entering the workforce for the first time, career advisors can help ensure your resume is a good fit for the roles you are pursuing. It can also be helpful to periodically refresh your resume by updating your summary skills, and current position as your career progresses.
These general best practices can help most job seekers, but for overly experienced and inexperienced applicants, things are a little different.
Having a Lot of Work Experience
If you have a lot of work experience, you either have been working for a long time, or you had multiple short-term placements. Both situations require some finesse in how you handle them.
If you’ve been working for over 15 years, being overqualified for a role can keep you from being considered for a role. To bypass this issue, don’t start with how much experience you have. Instead, use dates for the bulk of your relevant experience, and add a section titled Additional Experience for other relevant roles you may wish to include. If you focus on your skills and experience, you help the recruiter consider your value and not the number of work years you have under your belt.
Stay focused on what you want to convey to the recruiter. Keep your resume under two pages, and tailor your resume for each position that you apply to. Casting too wide a net with a cookie-cutter resume can do more harm than good, even if you can more easily apply that way to multiple positions in a shorter amount of time.
If you need to cut content out to keep your resume within the two-page limit, use bullet points and a process of elimination to leave out experiences that may not add much value to your application.
College Graduate Resumes
If you are fresh out of college and do not have much work experience, you should define what you want in a job and showcase what you can offer the employer. Include a professional profile at the top of your resume and don’t limit yourself to entry-level roles that do not require experience. Every student, irrespective of their age, has something to offer, so you can highlight achievements such as projects, presentations or a high GPA as indicators of your abilities.
You can also include any volunteer experiences, relevant hobbies or coursework that is relevant to the job requirements or prospective company as a while. Use keywords from the job posting to connect what you can do with what the employer needs.
Studies have shown that cover letters can help showcase your individuality and make you stand out from the competition. A cover letter can help make you more of a person to the hiring manager rather than just another applicant among hundreds to consider. It also allows you to add additional information about your skills and experiences and a chance to convey your enthusiasm for the role.
While your resume will focus on your experiences, your cover letter should focus on accomplishments and skills that highlight your fit for the role. Customize your cover letter for each job post, and be sure to highlight transferable skills even if you do not exactly match what the employer is looking for. Start with a heading and greeting. Then, introduce yourself and explain why you are applying and what makes you the right person for the job.
Add additional paragraphs for each relevant experience or skill and connect them to specific needs at the organization. You can use bullets in your cover letter to make it more readable. Be sure to proofread your cover letter and have someone else take a look at it for you if possible. Nothing looks worse than a typo or formatting error on your very first interaction with a potential employer.
Building Your Personal Brand
Branding yourself can help you stand out from the candidate crowd. As such, your personal brand does more than help you land your next job. It can demonstrate your goals, reputation and the value you bring to the workplace.
In a competitive job market, it’s important to be intentional about creating a personal brand that clearly communicates who you are and what you have to offer. Start by choosing five qualities that describe you. If you don’t know where to start, think about compliments you have received, the job you want to have or the skills you admire in people who inspire you.
Defining your goals starts with one question: What do you really want?
Thinking broadly about what you want from your career will help you develop a brand that aims to achieve those goals. Here are questions to consider.
Remember, these goals do not need to have a timeline attached to them. Instead, they are designed as a guide for developing your personal brand and helping you get what you want out of your career. Your personal brand should attract the right people but figuring out who those people are and what is most important to them can be overwhelming.
To help with this, identify your target audience by focusing on the industry and companies you want to work for. Put yourself in their shoes and research their needs and skills. Reach out to people in the roles you are interested in to understand what it is really like to work in that type of job or for a particular company.
Once you know what is important to your target audience, you need to communicate the value you bring to the table. Follow this framework to create a mission statement: I help my target audience do or understand something that can help them achieve a desired outcome.
Now that you have your personal brand, you can put yourself out there. A few ways to get started include completing your LinkedIn profile, building and sharing your personal website and participating in networking at key industry conferences.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site designed to connect people to opportunities. It is important to remember that LinkedIn is a professional social network and not a personal one. While it is a form of social media, the platform is not the same as Facebook. On LinkedIn, you should be professional in all of your posts and interactions.
Many people think that LinkedIn is just an online version of a resume, but it is much more than that. Professionals use LinkedIn for opportunities to connect, learn and build their brand, which are important for managing your career. Relationships can be your competitive advantage. Every business decision, from recommending a colleague or hiring a candidate to promotions and employee referrals, flows through people. If you fail to build a network of support around you, you can make it difficult to achieve your professional goals.
The opportunity to learn is also available on LinkedIn. That’s because your network is a valuable source of knowledge. LinkedIn also has a learning platform called Lynda that allows its premium members to take online courses in various topics in order to learn new skills.
Finally, LinkedIn allows you to build a strong brand by establishing a professional online presence. It is an ideal place to build your online brand because when you create a LinkedIn profile, you become part of the world’s largest online professional network.
More than 600 million professionals use LinkedIn including decision makers, hiring authorities and business leaders. Over 40 million of these LinkedIn members hold director-level positions and above. Nine of 10 recruiters use LinkedIn to find talent and vet candidates before an interview. They look for clues about your cultural fit and what others have said about you through their recommendations. Almost seven million LinkedIn members are C-level executives, and on LinkedIn, they can likely be within your reach.
Here are five specific strategies we recommend to build your online brand with LinkedIn.
Having a complete profile on LinkedIn is the easiest way to make your profile more visible so you can be found. With this, you are 40 times more likely to come up in recruiter searches. A complete profile means you have all of the following:
Profile Photo: This should be a high-quality image with a neutral background where you are dressed appropriately for your profession.
Education: This allows recruiters to find you by searching for the school you attended or the degree you earned. It also allows other alumni to find you, which is great for networking purposes.
Location and Industry: This information also makes it easy for recruiters to find you when they are looking for talent by region or industry expertise.
50 or More Connections: If you have less than 50 connections, it indicates that you are not engaged in your professional life or maintaining your professional relationships.
Skills: List a minimum of three skills. These act as keywords since they are searchable by recruiters who are looking for people with your specific talents.
Experience: List your current position with a description and two past positions.
Write a Compelling Headline
The second strategy is to write a compelling headline and summary. Your headline is the information that appears right under your name. This is one of the first things people notice about your profile other than your name and photo. It’s also the main thing recruiters see in a search result.
You want to make sure this captures your personal brand. By default, LinkedIn uses your most recent job title, but you should customize this to better capture your brand and stand out from people with similar roles. You have up to 120 characters of room to do this.
The summary is the information that is underneath your headline. Your summary should give people insight into your personality, not just your credentials. You have 2,000 characters for this section, which is plenty of space to tell your career story. Only the first 220 characters will be shown unless you click the option to see more. You should make sure that you instantly communicate who you are and what you do.
The trick to creating an effective headline is to make it searchable. Use keywords here that would help a recruiter find someone with your skills. The headline should also reflect who you are as a professional. You do not need to use your job title, but you will need some sort of title that explains the field you are in or aspire to be in.
For example, if you are an accounting student but lack work experience, you could call yourself an aspiring accountant. If you are already in a career you love, go ahead and use your current job title such as business analyst or HR generalist. However, if you are unemployed, you can just indicate the industry or area you are a professional in, such as listing yourself as a marketing professional. This way, your brand is not determined by your current job title.
You also need to describe what you can do or what you know. Using the same example of an aspiring accountant, perhaps you have taken classes to become QuickBooks certified. This would be a strategic skill to add since this is an important tool in accounting. The point is to be very strategic about what you say about yourself. Do not use vague or cliché words like result-oriented, motivated or team player.
Create a Personalized Summary
The LinkedIn summary is the heart of your profile. This is where people will learn a bit more about what you do and why you love it. A LinkedIn summary should never be copied from your resume. Instead, it is a unique opportunity to say something more extra about yourself. It should be written in your natural voice and use small, easy-to-read segments instead of lengthy paragraphs.
There are three basic components to a LinkedIn summary: intro, body and conclusion.
Intro: You should start with an attention-grabbing lead to make the summary more engaging and interesting to read. This could be a statement that captures the essence of what you do and how it benefits others, or it could be a statement about a belief or a philosophy you have that drives your career, which you then explain in the rest of your summary. It’s really up to you. Just make it clear to your audience.
Body: This is where you elaborate on what you do or aspire to do. You may want to share career highlights such as specific achievements, past experiences or a bit more about your purpose or passion for what you do. The point of the body is to make sense of your career journey so it is coherent and people understand what you’re good at or where you are headed.
Conclusion: This is where you wrap things up. You can include a call to action that might be an invitation for people to connect with you or a suggestion to check out your portfolio with a link included. You could also share information about who you are outside of work to help the reader get a sense of your personality or insight about your cultural fit for an organization. This could be done with a simple statement like “Outside of work you might find me—” and then insert a couple of hobbies or interests. Whatever you share, be strategic and reflect on how it may help show you in a positive light.
Follow Companies and Thought Leaders
The third strategy is to follow specific companies and thought leaders. This allows you to build up your market intelligence and industry expertise. Create a list of companies and experts to keep on your radar and get the inside scoop on the latest news and trends.
You can follow your dream companies to stay in the know about what they are up to. You can use this technique to prepare for interviews because you will be well-informed about the company. You should also connect with people you admire like CEOs of major corporations and industry thought leaders. By doing so, you can gain wisdom from their posts and insights that you could not have gained otherwise.
When you follow a company or thought leader, their posts are included in your daily feed. If you simply spend five to ten minutes a day browsing through these posts, you can learn about important developments in the markets or new resources and tools that can help you in your job. In this way, LinkedIn becomes a powerful tool for learning from your network.
Expand Your Network
Your fourth strategy is to expand your network. It has never been easier to connect with people and maintain relationships. At the simple click of a button, you can send invitations to connect with former colleagues, people you meet at events or current coworkers.
Start by connecting with people you already know and join groups related to your professional interests. As you interact with people in person and online, feel free to invite them to connect with you.
When you want to connect with someone, you should always personalize your invitation. Another great way to expand your network is to request informational interviews. An informational interview is a conversation with someone who works in your desired industry, company or role that you would like to get insight from.
This is never about asking for a job but rather about gaining insight or advice. With this type of message, you will be surprised how many people are willing to speak with you just to offer advice as long as you do not request too much of their time and never ask for a job. You have to actively engage people in conversation and make an effort to build relationships, which brings us to the final strategy.
Your fifth strategy is to add value to your network. In just five to ten minutes a day, you can position yourself as a valuable resource, someone who is helpful and offers valuable information to your network. This is all about supporting your network through consistent micro-actions such as liking, commenting on, sharing other content or endorsing skills. All these actions can be performed in a matter of seconds.
Preparing the Job Interview
Like any other skill, succeeding at job interviews can be learned. Here are a few steps that can help you nail your next job interview.
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for an interview is research who you may be working for. Look for their mission, vision, values, and any recent accomplishments. The best place to start is the company’s About Us page and LinkedIn profile.
Bring a few essentials with you to the interview as well including at least three copies of your resume, professional references and questions for the interviewer.
If it’s a virtual interview, make sure to email those materials ahead of time. For in-person interviews, arrive on time, and for virtual interviews, log in five to 10 minutes before the scheduled interview time. Being early indicates you are serious about the position and are respectful of the interviewer’s time. Also, as the saying goes, dress for the job you want. The more confident you feel, the better you are likely to perform, so always dress formally and professionally for interviews.
Common interview questions give the interviewer a chance to learn more about your work history, strengths and motivations. When answering these questions, visualize your resume and tailor your responses to the specific job opportunity.
With behavioral questions, the interviewer will expect you to share specific examples of situations where you have used skills relevant to the job. We recommend using the STAR method to structure your response: situation, task, action and result.
Tough questions are an interviewer’s way of seeing if you are a good fit. These questions can show how well you work with others or if you can meet deadlines. You aren’t expected to answer immediately, so think before you speak.
Once the interview is over, that does not mean you are finished. You should follow up after the interview to convey your continued interest in the position. Send a simple thank you note and ask the recruiter for the next steps and approximate timelines for whatever is next. And that’s it!
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is here to help working adults in their careers by learning what they need to learn to excel in the workplace in a flexible, customizable and schedule-friendly way. Choose classes that interest you, lock in the schedule that works around your busy home or professional life and embark on a life-long journey of learning and discovery. Visit https://www.phoenix.edu/ to learn more about our programs and how University of Phoenix can help transform your career.