50 Ways to Get a Job has been my favourite career advice website on the internet since I first stumbled across it a year or two ago. The website is managed by DreamNow, a Canadian “charitable organization that produces ideas that do good for the world.”
Here are 6 things I love most about it:
It’s beautifully designed. The tiles are vibrant and clear and there’s no ambiguity about it. It’s a responsive design, so it looks just as good on a phone, tablet or laptop.
It is immensely practical. Each task has easy to follow instructions and clear outcomes. There’s even a check-list function so you can tick off the tasks as you go. Many career resources describe useful tasks, but lack concrete and detailed instructions.
The categories or stages are familiar and immediately understandable. Self reflection comes first, then the practical job search and application tasks. Career educators will see a resemblance to the DOTS model, ABCD blueprint, or similar career education framework.
However, the categories and the tasks within each are a lot more creative than is often seen in career education materials. There is a clear focus on creativity and innovation, balanced with practicality.
The individual pages are very concise. I’m often dismayed at the wordiness in career resources, so to see pages of just 150 to 300 words is extremely refreshing.
It’s not a sales pitch. It is based on a book and managed by a charitable organisation, but it doesn’t push either hard, if at all. There are outgoing links to several organisations or book recommendations, but they are sincerely curated and not pushy.
I would love to one day be able to have a product of this quality of content and design in my portfolio.
Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of workshops for La Trobe university students on how to use Linkedin.com. Most students know that Linkedin is useful as an online resume and networking tool, but few of them have explored some of the other great features.
My favourite feature right now is the alumni finder tool. In addition to expanding your network, I’ve found this tool incredibly useful in exploring the answer to the question the question “what can I do with a degree in XYZ?”
Basically, this tool helps you limit your search to alumni of your chosen institution, their field of study and field of work, among a few other filters. By browsing around the results of similar people, you can build up an idea of typical career paths, job titles and organisations, necessary further training, or many other factors that are shared by the people you find.
To help students use this tool, I initially planned to make a screencast video to demonstrate how. But after a little planning, I realised that the actual steps required to use the tool are so simple that a video seemed to be overkill. Then, with perfect timing, this post about using animated GIFs in learning design by instructional designer Mel Milloway popped up on my twitter feed.
GIFs were perfect for this project. About one hour later, I had created four small looping GIFs that stepped through the alumni finder tool with great clarity. I like how the images repeat, so the viewer only needs to observe the image for a few seconds to get the full idea. GIFs also look great on social media such as Twitter and Facebook, so I’m interested in using GIFs some more as the most micro of micolearning tools.
In my previous post, “the Problem with Employability Skills in Career Education”, I explained why I’m dissatisfied with the way students are introduced to the concept of employability skills. In this post, I’ll share an engaging and effective lesson plan that I have used to help students understand the importance of employability skills in the context of their own professional field.
I created this lesson as part of Career Passport, a three-stage career education program that I developed for RMIT Vietnam, and have continued to use the basic idea at La Trobe University. Rather than share the step-by-step lesson plan, I’ll describe the key activities and principles in broad detail, to allow you to adapt the lesson to your own context and the needs of your students. This lesson is easily adapted for face-to-face, blended, or online delivery.
Stage one: warming up and activating key vocabulary
Learning outcome: students activate their prior knowledge of employability skills
Ask the students to form groups and together list as many universal employability skills as possible. This can either be a recall exercise, if they’ve been provided with a list of employability skills already, or a prediction exercise if they haven’t. In a classroom, they can record their answers on paper or on the whiteboard. Online, they can edit wikis or list their answers in a discussion board.
Stage two: the set up
Learning outcome: students recognise the importance of context in employability skills
Display a mock resume which simply lists skills with little or no context.
Ask the students how effectively they think the resume demonstrates the capabilities of the candidate. Give them plenty of time to debate and discuss and perhaps poll their opinions to see if there’s a consensus or if they disagree.
Some students will recognise the weakness of the resume. Others may think it’s fine. That’s good for us as the teacher, because we can capture their attention when we tell them that actually, this resume is awful.
Elicit the reason why from the students by asking about the nature of the communication or teamwork skills and experience of this person. When students can’t answer, they’ll begin to understand the point. But to really drive the point home in a fun way, move on to stage three…
Stage three: the fun bit
Learning outcomes: students can deconstruct specific demonstrations of a skill, identifying key sub-skills and qualities
Tell the students that they’ll see a couple of videos of people using their communication skills in their workplace. Ask the students to take notes as they watch:
what is their job title?
what is their mission or purpose?
what personal characteristics are important?
what sub-skills are they using?
You can include any number of videos: cheesy telesales presenters, 911 operators, sports coaches… the more unique the better. My students especially love the drill sergeant and we have fun discussing how he would perform as a kindergarten teacher.
When the students review and compare their notes, they should be able to see clearly how important context and specificity is when it comes to talking about their employability skill.
Extension activity one: resume writing
Learning outcome: students can write a resume experience description with suitable context and clarity
Get the students to choose one of the videos and then, in groups, write a resume experience description for that person’s role. Help them find ways to quantify, qualify, and contextualise their descriptions and remind them to use a range of expressive action verbs. This would be a great time to teach students Google HR bigwig Laslo Block’s formula for expressing achievements.
Extension activity two: STARL structure for interviews or key selection criteria
Learning outcome: students can deliver an interview response using the STARL structure.
If your students are familiar with the STARL structure for behavioural interview responses, they could have fun practising in the role of the occupations from the video. I’ve had whole classes in stitches as we role play behavioural interviews for drill sergeants, used-car salesmen, or carnival touts.
Tell me how it goes
If you use this lesson, either as I describe it or in some inspired form of your own, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and tell me how it went for you and your students.