I Watched Eight Hours of AmeriCorps Alums Webinars… Here’s What I Learned

Did you know that AmeriCorps Alums archives all of their Career Webinars? I found this bsg binge watchout recently, and I might have gone a little overboard. (Alright, maybe not Fred and Carrie watching Battlestar Galactica-overboard, but it does get kind of addicting.) Now that I’ve come up for air, here are some reflections on some of the ideas I heard repeated, often in different ways, in multiple webinars. Enjoy!

What I Watched:

Translating AmeriCorps Onto Your Resume
Smart Networking
Best New Jobs For AmeriCorps Alums
LinkedIn: More Than Just a Website 
Write a Cover Letter That Won’t Get Ignored
Interviewing & Salary Negotiation Strategy
AmeriCorps Alums Career Panel

What I Learned:

Be your best and most genuine self in everything you do. 
– This includes the connections you make,
– your service year,
– your social media accounts,
– and your LinkedIn page.
– Be honest and upfront about your motives- if you’re approaching someone about an informational interview and they work at a company where you want to be hired, let them know that. “Make it so easy for them to say yes and so easy for them to say no,” says Denise Riebman, AmeriCorps Alums’ Career Coach. Also, always ask permission to use their name in your Cover Letter or Application.
– “Think of every interaction you have with a company as part of your interview”  warns Brittani Tanhueco, a recruiter for a nonprofit called Boys Town and an AmeriCorps Alum. From the receptionist to the CEO, be respectful and professional.
– Know that your passion is important to organizations when hiring, so let it shine.

Always do your research.
– Research the company or organization and their employees before you write a cover letter or send a resume.
– Research the state of the field and the speakers and/or RSVP’d attendees before you go to a conference or networking event.
– Research the field, the position, and the people you’ll be speaking with before you go to an interview, informational or otherwise.

Most people are exceedingly human and generally decent.
– Many more people will agree to connect with you and help you out on LinkedIn and at conferences, etc. than you would think.
– They’d rather hear about your personal motivations, interests, and accomplishments (impact) than those of your organization.
– They also really want to hear about themselves and how they fit into your story.
– When people are asked for help they feel good about themselves and it strengthens your relationship.
– Talk to everyone- talk to retired people who have had successful careers, talk to people when you volunteer, always be building your network.

You need to put yourself out there in order for good things to happen.
– You are 10x more likely to be contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn if you share links, articles, etc. from your profile once a week.
– When applying for positions, reach out after seven to ten days. It could just be to confirm that they’ve received your application or to check on its status, but it shows that you’re serious and sets you apart from other candidates.
– In regards to salary negotiation, it is fine to advocate for yourself and ask for more; the worst a manager can do is say no (this is not a conversation that will make employers recind their offer).
– A great way to learn about different career options is by jumping in and just going to conferences to see what you like.

Take control of your own narrative.
– “In a digital age, your personal brand is extremely public and extremely important” – Denise Riebman, AmeriCorps Alums Career Coach
– Talk about the skills you’ve gained from your experiences in strategic ways on your resumes and cover letters, and always target them towards the organization and position to which you’re applying.
– Understand how the skills you gained as an AmeriCorps member can transfer to other realms, and don’t undercut your skill level.
– “If you really want a job but it’s not extremely apparent why you would fit, you need to be upfront and explain how you will be able to excell in that position and why,” explains Denise, once again.
– On LinkedIn you may only have 50 characters to catch someone’s eye. We have to be able to share what makes us unique in this public forum.

This is a powerful community.
– There are a whole host of AmeriCorps Alums, and they really just want to help others out.
– People in the AmeriCorps Alums world want to share their experiences and help others succeed.
– Be sure to use your existing relationships to their full potential when job searching, and put in the time to figure out how you can leverage your network to help both them and yourself.
– Clearly explain your AmeriCorps experience on your LinkedIn profile- many people have connections to AmeriCorps but don’t fully understand how all the specific programs are related. These connections could help you down the line, so be sure to make them possible.
– Finally, Denise warns that “50% of jobs don’t make it to job boards,” showing how  important it is to know people, and for them to know what you’re looking for.

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