Five questions for the career experts
Navigate the job market with the right approach to branding and networking.
Careers are Job 1 for Marilyn Bury Rice and Jonathan Wray of The Ohio State University Alumni Association staff.
They run the association’s 3-year-old Bill and Susan Lhota Office of Alumni Career Management, which offers one-on-one career consulting, hosts job fairs and networking events, and presents webinars that draw attendees who live close to campus and throughout the world.
Rice, who directs the office, and Wray, who serves as a career consultant, recently sat down with the magazine to talk about today’s career development field and share advice with alumni.
1. Who can use the office?
Marilyn Bury Rice: This service is available to all graduates of The Ohio State University. We serve people in all stages of their careers, including new grads launching their careers and mid-career folks who want something more challenging or who find themselves in transition for other reasons. We serve people who are underemployed, maybe as a result of the recession or because of other factors. But then also, because Baby Boomers are still so healthy, we work with people who are eligible for retirement from a successful career and now want to start an encore career — something they’ve always dreamed of or something entirely new. Some want to rebrand themselves as an industry expert and get into consulting. Some just want to turn a hobby into a new business.
2. A job search can feel very overwhelming. Where do you start?
MBR: Regardless of where they are on their career paths, we will walk everyone through the process of career development. Whether they are new grads in the job market for the first time, people wanting a mid-career change or completely starting over, the first thing we do is walk them through an assessment.
People owe it to themselves to assess what their interests are, what skills they have that they want to take to the market. They need to define what they value in terms of lifestyle and schedule and work-life balance. So that is an important part of the conversation. You can’t just jump onto a job board anymore and expect something to magically appear.
Jonathan Wray: We’ll take a good hard look at your résumé and your LinkedIn profile, and we’ll use those to talk about how you want to be seen. These days, you will want to brand yourself pretty significantly. Employers and hiring managers have less and less time when they are in a search, and they want all the information about you that they can get, but they want it quickly. They want it to be obvious. So that’s what we mean by personal branding: how you very quickly want to be known in the market.
3. Then on to the job boards?
MBR: Actually, then it’s into the networking phase — getting out there and letting people know who you are and why you are putting yourself out there. It’s an important step, because the research says that about 80 percent of career changes happen through the “hidden job market” — positions that have not been advertised and therefore people find out about through networking. We offer many ways to learn to network effectively through both our live and our virtual programming.
JW: The notion of “Buckeyes helping Buckeyes” is real. We have all seen that many times. Buckeyes are pretty good about connecting with each other, and many of our services help facilitate that. We are also part of the alumni association and share some of its wider goals in spreading the word about Ohio State, connecting and reconnecting people who graduated from here. So we make sure we prize and cultivate and continue those relationships. Both of us have Skyped with alumni who are based all over the world. We’ve done virtual networking events for alumni on the European continent, the Asian continent, the African continent. We also recognize that the majority of our alumni are in Ohio, and we do a lot of things here.
4. What can alumni expect from you?
MBR: The one thing we have to emphasize is what we are not: an employment agency. We are career consultants. We are a support system. We are educators.
But we are not an employment agency or an executive search firm. People ask, “Can you help me find a job?” The answer is yes — we can educate, support and advise you. That’s a very different function.
We can prepare you by critiquing a résumé or conducting mock interviews that will show what types of questions are commonly asked and then do a debrief afterward to show you what was and was not effective. Alumni can use our Alumni Career Connection, where you can search for employers who want to hire Ohio State grads and also keep track of all your job applications. And anyone can use our website to access recorded webinars and job search resources.
5. Should alumni stay connected with your office in the long term?
JW: There almost always is going to be a “next step” in a person’s career, so we also offer programming for career advancement and professional development. We have offered programs around leadership, best practices for managers and supervisors, managing up, personal networking and specific industry expertise, primarily presented by alumni who are industry experts. All of those programs can help someone be happier and more valuable in the job he or she is in.
What clients are saying about the Office of Career Management:
Carol Prigan ’91 PhD:
“Thanks for the webinar on using social media for the job search. I know quite a bit about social media, but I learned more than a few things about using it for my job search. I hope you plan to have similar webinars in the future. It was convenient for me to watch and listen while on my lunch hour.”Jerome Socolof ’09 MA, ’12 PhD:
“I am currently an assistant professor at the University of Houston–Downtown, and I credit the guidance you gave me in landing this job. I owe a lot to you and the Office of Alumni Career Management.”
Elise Burgess ’06:
“Thank you for the informative and engaging career event last night. It was great to connect with you and learn more about my Strong profile as well as the services the Office of Alumni Career Management has to offer.”
“About three months ago you had helped me with a mock interview. I wanted to let you know that it not only made me more confident during my interviews, but it also helped me secure an offer.”Marilyn Stallbaum ’10:
“I am a military spouse living in California. It is so nice to learn about interviewing techniques, from not only my alma mater, but remotely and at no cost. I really appreciate the ability to connect with my school and get quality information despite our mobile lifestyle in the Navy. It is so nice to know even after I graduated, I’m still important to Ohio State!”Joan B. Davis ’83, ’85 MA:
"Once again, an excellent and timely presentation! I was sad that I was unable to attend on the originally scheduled day, but thrilled that you offered the webinar recording on your website. I viewed it at lunch today, as I will be meeting with a recruiter tomorrow and was rather nervous about what to expect of him. This presentation put me at ease. The presenter did a fabulous job explaining the process, types of recruiters and tips to being noticed in the sea of applicants.”