Building a Positive Professional Brand

Whether you’re job searching or starting field, let your professional brand speak for itself.

Your professional brand communicates your core values, strengths, and attitude in and out of the workplace and helps you stand out as a marketable candidate for future roles.

For your brand to be effective, however, the mediums through which you convey who you are and what you offer need to be consistent. This includes not only your job applications, Linkedin, and other social media activities, but also your personal interactions.

In assessing your brand, consider the following questions:

    • How are you presenting yourself and communicating with others online and in person? Do your email messages and nonverbal behaviors, for example, reflect the professional image and reputation you seek to project?
    • How do you respond to feedback, criticism, or conflicts and challenges? Do they demonstrate your willingness and initiative to adapt, collaborate, learn, and grow–attributes particularly critical to the post-COVID world?
    • How are you nurturing the relationships you have with others, such as with supervisors, classmates, professors, mentors, and leaders in your field?

Your professional brand will evolve as your career grows. What impression do you want to leave on others? Use this to guide the steps you need to take to refine your brand, so others can have a clear sense of what you stand for and why they should hire you.

To Expand Your Job Search, Consider Your Transferable Skills

If you feel stuck or are having a difficult time finding opportunities in your area of practice, consider expanding your job search to include positions where you can apply your transferable skills.

Transferable skills are adaptable skills that can be used in multiple settings, such as emotional intelligence, problem-solving, communication, and teamwork.

For instance, while you may have experience with policy analysis, your skills such as research and writing may be useful in communications and advocacy work at a nonprofit. Your experience in direct practice or clinical work can transfer over to program development and training, where you can contribute your knowledge of best practices for addressing the needs and interests of specific communities.

To identify your transferable skills, start by taking inventory of the different skills you have used to advance a cause or mission, whether through people, projects, or data; then, brainstorm how you can leverage these skills in other contexts. You can also review skills highlighted in job descriptions and reflect on how you have accomplished similar work. Once you start building your list, you may be surprised by how many transferable skills you have relative to various roles and careers.

Applying an Entrepreneurial Spirit to Your Career

With the world of work operating remotely, how do you stand out when the traditional means of making an impression, from networking events to coffee chats, no longer apply? Consider the framework of entrepreneurship.

An article in Forbes describes the entrepreneurial spirit as a mindset: “It’s an attitude and approach to thinking that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a mindset that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service, and continuous improvement.”

Here are some ways you can incorporate this framework into your professional identity and brand:

    • Engage in critical discussions: Attend virtual conferences to meet professionals in the field who are having important discussions about the world of work in the COVID-19 era. Use these as opportunities to connect with others, learn best practices in the field, and become a resource for your field or organization. You can also start your own communities of practice.
    • Innovate or influence: Have you been following the latest trends and practices on serving communities particularly impacted by the pandemic? Share relevant thought pieces and articles on LinkedIn so others can benefit from the knowledge. You can also publish your own articles to highlight new ideas or initiatives you have worked on.
    • Embrace the value of service: Remember the personal values that brought you to social work: helping others in need. Wherever you are, look out for the call for volunteers in your community. Contributing your time and skills will help you stay connected and engaged in a meaningful way, and at the same time, showcase your value to others.
    • Seek continuous improvement: If you’re job hunting, this is a prime time to invest in your professional growth. Whether you choose to learn a new language or further develop your technical or clinical skills, taking time to up-skill will show that you are open and able to adapt to changing needs and priorities–qualities that will make you attractive to any employer.

The world needs social workers now more than ever. Leverage your natural ability to lead the way in problem solving and effecting change! Doing so will not only enhance your chances for employment, it will also make you marketable for future opportunities.

Expert Advice Shared in the Job Search Forum

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives on many levels, leaving many uncertain on how to approach the changing market and job search.

To address these concerns, over the past three weeks, we welcomed members of the CSSW community and other experts in the field to provide insight on how to tackle the search process during these challenging times.

Below are some of the strategies that were shared:

  • Make sure you’re taking care of yourself first and going at your own pace. This pandemic is already emotionally and physically taxing, so don’t feel like you must be going at full speed during the job search. You don’t want to overwork yourself, as we must be able to take care of ourselves to be able to help others.
  • Be flexible and open to opportunities that may seem out of the norm. Take into consideration positions that at first glance may not be your first choice (title, salary, location, etc.), but could lead to better opportunities. Remember, every experience is a learning experience.
  • Be innovative. Build and market your brand to the current needs. Think thoughtfully and strategically about these needs and how you can offer a solution. Think outside of the traditional social work box.
  • Network! Network! Network! Keep in contact with your CSSW community and connect with those throughout the social impact space. Virtual networking platforms like LinkedIn are an easy way to stay connected and build new connections.***Continuing and graduating students currently have access to 1:1 career mentoring with an alum every Thursday from 6:00 to 7:00 PM until May 28. For more information, check your email or review this program overview (UNI login required).***

If you missed the series or any of the individual sessions, feel free to refer to our notes and handouts from the sessions (UNI login required).

Thank you to the Office of Field Education for collaborating with us on this event, to all our guest speakers, including last week’s guests, Andrez Carberry, Head of Global Talent Supply and Diversity and Inclusion at John Deere, Cassandra Walker, Human Resources Recruiter at Henry Street Settlement, and Iris Groen, Talent Acquisition Manager at the Jewish Board, students who attended the series, and Pam Picon for providing the comprehensive synopsis and notes!

Collaborative Care Information Session Recap with Concert Health

 

Last week, we welcomed Concert Health to present on the core principles of the Collaborative Care model and to share their experiences on providing behavioral health care remotely.

If you are interested in telehealth or opportunities at Concert Health, here are some steps you can take to be marketable for these roles:

    • Learn how to engage in all kinds of clinical interactions. Telephonic care requires a different set of skills for rapport building and demonstrating that you are present and listening.
    • Develop communication and facilitation strategies that make up for the inability to assess non-verbals in person, such as asking clients to describe their body language and how they are feeling.
    • Be flexible and open to using technology and varied modes of communication.
    • Get exposure to different populations to diversify your clinical expertise.

Thanks to Allison Kean, Virna Little, and Kathryn Sacks-Colon for their insightful presentation!

If you missed the event, you can review the presentation slides and audio recording are posted in Career Connect within our Document Library under the Presentation/Workshop folder.

Interviewing Skills Workshop Recap

Getting called for an interview is a positive sign in the job search process. With the focus on virtual interviews, our workshop last week covered tips and strategies on how to prepare for an upcoming interview and questions to anticipate. Tips included:

    • Connect with alumni who either worked at the organization or are in similar roles to gain insights into the organization’s culture and challenges
    • Test your technology ahead of time, choose a quiet, well-lit space to conduct your interview, and limit any distractions (learn more about video interviewing here)
    • Anticipate behavioral and situational-based questions and prepare answers that show how you’ve demonstrated pertinent skills

If you missed the event, you can review the presentation slides posted in Career Connect within our Document Library under the Presentation/Workshop folder.

Alumni Panel: Journey to the C Recap

Last week, we welcomed four alumni to speak about their path to clinical social work at our virtual panel discussion, Journey to the “C”, which was co-sponsored by the Mental Health Caucus. The discussion covered an array of topics, including clinical supervision, Institute training, and interview preparation.

Regardless of where each alum started their journey, there were common themes and strategies shared by everyone:

  • Expect bumps in the road, and be open to new experiences.
  • Actively engage in continuing education, trainings, and volunteer work to develop your area of expertise.
  • Seek supervision that allows you to be vulnerable or challenged — this is the most valuable type of supervision, because it will help you to grow.
  • Enjoy the process and experience with your clients and supervisors.
  • Don’t stop learning!

Thank you to our speakers Karisma Ajodah ‘02, Gale Bayer ’87, Jillian DiPietro ’16, and Eric Levanthal ‘02 for their candid insights and advice! Also, much appreciation to Ashley Leeds ’20 for moderating the panel and helping coordinate the event.

For an overview of the panel discussion, review the notes that were taken for the event, which are stored in Career Connect within the Document Library > Workshops / Presentations Folder.

Job Search Tips

As many of you begin, or in some cases continue your job and internship search over spring break, keep the following tips in mind:

    • Anticipate delays in employers responding back. The COVID-19 situation is still evolving and many organizations are changing the way they conduct business and deliver their services. The safety of their employees is also a priority, so the hiring process may be delayed. This does not mean abandoning the search. It just means managing your expectations and timeline with getting hired.
    • Be prepared to interview via phone and videoconference. While neither can replace in-person interactions, these opportunities can allow you to review and/or take notes during your conversation and help you stay focused while you are speaking. Check out additional virtual interview tips here.
    • In conveying your strengths, highlight your ability to adapt to changing needs and expectations and/or your experiences working virtually (if relevant to the organization). Flexibility and technical skills are often cited among top attributes sought by employers.
    • Update and strengthen your profile on LinkedIn, a powerful tool for job searching and networking. Start by adding your recent experiences and accomplishments and composing an eye-catching headline and summary that concisely convey who you are and how you can help support an individual or organization’s needs and goals. Additional resources on leveraging LinkedIn can be found on LinkedIn for Students site.

Appointment Updates

We hope everyone is staying safe and well.

In an effort to ensure students seeking career support have access to our services, we are adding additional appointment slots to our calendar. We are also replacing drop-in hours with regular appointment slots for the time being.

All appointments are available via Zoom or by phone. You can request to meet by logging into Career Connect and clicking on Advising > General Advising > Add Appointment. For more detailed instructions on how to book an appointment, please review this tutorial. The site also contains an extensive virtual library of resources. We encourage you to take a look. For general questions, please email swcareer@columbia.edu.

For the latest developments and guidelines shared by the school and university in reference to COVID-19, please refer to the following sites: